Category Archives: Letters home


Letters home, 2001, August 22

22 August 2001 – From Elaine

Dear Mum & Dad

It is school holidays here at present until 3 September so I am enjoying six weeks of basking mainly in sunshine while Ewart travels daily to London to work by train, but has lovely lunch breaks on the banks of the Thames near the Globe theatre.

We are now safely back after a week in West Sussex and have had a lovely break. The weather wasn’t that great and at times wet and quite cold but it didn’t stop us having fun, especially me…not quite so much for Ewart as he still had to go to work each day but we went out exploring together at the weekends and enjoyed that. We were house sitting for friends and this gave us the opportunity to explore a different part of the country.

While away we had a cat called Muffy (who got to like us and enjoy our company during the week), three guinea pigs, 9 gerbils (a bit like mouse/rats sort of) which became 14 on our last night, a pool and a big house. We had hoped to use the pool but the weather wasn’t suitable so we just kept chlorinating the pool as we were asked. I had a couple of days that I stayed at the house and watched TV and slept because I had got quite tired and the rest of the time I did lots of sightseeing.

On the Tuesday my friends Liz & John (ex Goff’s Oak JMI school) came over and took me to Lewes for the day. We did lots of exploring and had a lovely lunch at a restaurant, and attended a rather wierd art show which included a little exhibit which caught us a little off guard. Part of the show was set in a beautiful garden. We passed a large bright orange pole shaped like an arrow (exhibit No1), then not that impressed followed a lovely path between two hedges. As we went through Liz and I heard a woman sobbing and sobbing. We peared through the hedge and could see no-one. This went on for some time, then John came to assist, still no joy but we were beginning to get quite concerned. Suddenly Liz noticed a black box suspended in the hedge. We had “been done” It was an audio exhibit as part of the exhibition!!!

The experience was quite unnerving, but not to be put off, we decided to look at the rest of the exhibition, just in case it improved. There were video, sculpture and photographic exhibits – not always to our taste, but I was pleased to have been able to have the experience. Some of the pieces really made you think… On our return, John & Liz stayed for dinner once John had collected Ewart from the station. The extra travelling to work meant really long days for Ewart but he was really good about it. The trains weren’t that reliable for him either so it was quite an eventful week for him.

The first weekend Ewart and I went to Ferring and had a lovely walk in the breeze along the pebbled beach, saw our first beach huts and talked with a lady who owned one, then had lunch at a lovely thatched tudor style pub. We met an artist, had a long talk with him and looked at his paintings. From there we went on to Bognor Regis. There is a large Butlins there on the beach front – quite ugly but seems to be a very big business. We didn’t go in to look because you have to pay, but we went for a long walk along the beach front and looked at the rest of the area.

During the week I set out on my own each day after dropping Ewart to the train. I went to Brighton – saw the lanes, walked right to the end of the pier watcing all the families on the rides and went into the Royal Pavilion which has recently undergone a lot of restoration. It is beautiful, but at the same time quite strange in that it is Indian on the outside and Chinese inside but very bright, ornate and colourful throughout. It was the home of George V and William 1V and for a short time, Queen Victoria, but finding it too open to the public, Queen Victoria gutted it of its possessions, took them to London and the buildings were later sold cheaply to the city of Brighton, which still owns them to this day. The pavilion has since been returned to its previous glory and is well worth a visit.

The next day I went down to Littlehampton, arriving quite early. I walked along the beach front until the shops opened, went into town, looked around the shops and had a capuccino then went further around to The Body Shop International Headquarters where I took a factory tour. I buy some Body Shop products and had learnt about Anita Roddick and her business philosophes when I worked at the Enterprise Agency so found it a very interesting trip to do.

The last part was spent at the factory shop outlet where I stocked up on my usual Body Shop purchases. I then went on to Arundel, went to a village Art & Craft Show, visited the castle and wandered through the lovey little village poking around in antique shops before heading back to Horsham to collect Ewart from the train. Arundel is absolutely gorgeous and the castle the best I have seen so far. The Duke of Norfolk has made a wonderful job of restoring it. It is absolutely gorgeous.

I even managed to climb the keep (most unusual for me as I absolutely hate heights) but I didn’t stay up there for long as the wind was gusting heavily through the turrets and I felt quite unsteady on my feet – got quite dizzy and was very keen to get down. For me the library was the best part. It is the most beautiful library I have ever been in. It would be a lovely place to sit and read. The Duke of Norfolk’s son, daughter-in-law and five grandchilden live at the castle. It is the second largest castle in Britain and built along the same lines as Windsor.

That weekend Ewart and I went back to Arundel so I could show him the lovely village. The castle wasn’t open because the Duke was entertaining friends there but we saw a wedding going to the chapel and having photos taken. The guests were beautifully dressed. We went back to the art show then on to Chichester where we went to the market, had lunch, wandered around town, explored the cathedral then went to walk through the Bishop’s Garden. While there we saw a beautiful tree covered in berries.

We met another family there. The tree turned out to be a Mulberry tree. The family showed us what to pick and we had a lovely chat and fruity treat under the tree with them. Mulberries are sweet and absolutely gorgeous. Who would have thought that a berrry looking like a loganberry, but much sweeter, would come from a huge tree when other berries like that come from vines – most strange, but well worth tasting. It was a real treat for us. On the way home we headed out to the coast and stopped at little coastal communities all along the way. We were intending to go to Brighton to watch fireworks at 10pm but stopped at Littlehampton for a seafood dinner, got talking to a lovely waitress and left it a bit late to be on time. We weren’t worried bcecause the traffic in Brighton would have been horrific as it was Gay Parade Day.

This week I have been back at the flat but out every day. Ewart bought me a month’s membership to a local gym so I have been working on fitness machines, using the steam room and sauna, swimming in the pool and relaxing in the spa pool (called jacuzzi over here). On some days I have enjoyed the relaxation it brings so much that I have sent up to four hours using the facilities. I have been meeting some nice women my own age there too.

On Monday evening I had a lovely surprise phonecall from Genevieve’s friend Kate Abel. I had never met her but Genevieve has mentioned her in emails over a long time so I felt as though I did. She is now in the UK for 2 yrs and also travelling in Europe. She came up on Tuesday on the train. I collected a parcel for her that had been sent to us for her by her parents, met her at the train then we went exploring by car through Herts, Beds and Bucks for the day.

We had lunch at Kingsbury Mill then after picking Ewart up from the train at the end of the day walked at Verulamium Park, up to the Fighting Cocks pub for a lemonade then walked through the grounds of the cathedral before dropping her back at the station to meet a friend in London for dinner. Kate is a lovely girl and we had a really happy day together. She is currenly travelling on the continent but we hope to meet up again once she gets back.

On Wednesday I went to Hatfield to Michelle’s place. She and Steve used to live in the flat above us. We had a long chat together (I am helping her to prepare for job interviews), went to the Hatfield market and ASDA for food supplies then back to my flat for the afternoon. Steve picked her up from here after work as he works near here and that allowed him and Ewart to catch up over coffee too. He is an IT contractor too. They are getting married in April in St Lucia so it was lovely to hear of all their plans.

On Thursday I took Thelma out for the day. She rang and asked if I could help her with her shopping. We were supposed to be going on holiday together to get her some sea air but she has not been well enough to go. She gets very short of breath these days even with very simple tasks, but we managed to have a nice time together on Thursday and she was a lot happier for being able to get out of the flat for a while.

She has been ill for 11years now and is getting quite sick of it. She says she likes going out with me because I take the lead from her, others apparently tell her what to do and wear her out. To go to the places she needs to go now we stop outside each building in the car. I use disabled parking spaces as she now has a special sticker for that. That is really helpful. She goes in and does what she has to do, comes out, I drive a couple of buildings down the road an she goes into the next one after a short rest in the car. Even working this way she gets very breathless so we have to be careful. In the afternoon we go back to her flat, Thelma sleeps on the couch sitting up so she can breathe and I read until she wakes up, make her a cup of tea and then come home to pick up Ewart. Ewart and I are going to stay with her this bank holiday weekend and we will take her for a few short outings to give her a break. (this weekend)

On Friday I spent all morning at the gym. Did a good workout then spent time in the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. Wen I got home I was really tired – think I overdid it, so spent a bit of the afternoon asleep on the couch in front of the TV. Was supposed to be watching NZ v Aus at cricket but missed it due to falling asleep.

On Saturday we didn’t need to go got the market because I had done the shopping during the week so we went for a drive into Bucks and Beds to follow the Icknield Way. Ewart had done some research about it on the internet so we went to find some of the trails. We went to the Ivinghoe Beacons, went to Ivinghoe township and Church, Pitstone Windmill, Great Gaddeston and lots of little villages along the way. We did lots of driving in the countryside, mainly on B roads and lanes.

The trees are beautiful and leafy at this time of year. We explored lovely little churches and went to one garden centre. We looked for the Buddhist Monastery but must have been on the wrong lane (little back road) because we managed to miss it this time. We were told at the garden centre it was worth seeing. It is those sorts of times that it is great to still have a kiwi accent.

Frank used to always quote “Wing, Tring and Ivinghoe, three little churches all in a row”. We have now visited all three – something we planned to do before leaving home. At Ivinghoe Church we bought a copy of the church newsletter and discovered a tale by the Minister about discovering a wonderful new breakfast cereal from a company who cared about its customers and even put a newsletter in the box!!!! You guessed it, Hubbards has arrived in the UK and is available at Tesco supermarkets!!! We are delighted and bought a copy of the parish newsletter to send to Dick Hubbard who I met some time ago at a Mentor briefing I attended in Auckland for the Enterprise Agency.

On Monday I took Jennie out to lunch to the Raven pub near my school in a little village called Hexton. This meant that Jennie could have a nice day out in the countryside in the sunshine. After that we went exploring at the Poplars Garden Centre at Harlington. Garden Centres here are huge, lots to buy and wonderful places to go exploring. Around here we are really spoilt for choice for them. There are quite a number of very large ones within a very short drive from here.

The last couple of days I have been giving the flat a treat by cleaning and tidying it…been a bit of a gad-about these holidays. Our neighbour Christine dropped in some ripe bananas so I made a couple of banana cakes when I got back from the gym today. She took one back to work for her staff for afternoon tea and Ewart and I have the other. It is a lovely sunny day today so I did a big workout at the gym, had a steam in the steam room and jacuzzi then dropped Ewart’s car off at the garage for repairs – that done I walked close to four miles home then spent a quite afternoon at the flat cooking and cleaning to give my poor little feet a chance to recover!!

They did not like walking that distance in my sandals at all. Should have been sensible and changed back into my running shoes I guess, but I got a bit lazy walking in the lovely sunshine. I am currently in training to run the St Albans three mile fun run at the end of September. I have managed to get together a group of young girls from the flats around here to do it with me so it should be fun.

Tonight after dinner we have been invited to have supper with Ivor and Iris.  It is a lovely evening so we will walk round.

Hope you are having a great winter. I understand you already have some signs of spring appearing. That doesn’t bode too well with our summer continuing does it?

Love from Elaine & Ewart


Letters home, 1999 June 22

22 June 1999


Good heavens!

Don’t you ever go to bed?

No, you don’t; you sent that at 11:42. Well, well.

I’ve sent another 17 job applications off, and this afternoon I got a call from Scott of Computer Futures. Says he’ll send my CV off and try to get me a job asap. I hope so. I hate this being a kept man.

I keep ringin’ and emailin’ and generally bangin’ on the door and I KNOW it will fall in and grant my wish. I have 4 jobs waiting for the prospective employer to decide if I get an interview and I’ve got 52 job apps that I’ve emailed to. One of these days, soon, something out there is going to give. I’m extremely lucky that Ivor has this office upstairs. Firstly, it’s up out of the way from the very loud TV set downstairs – Ivor is quite deaf – and secondly, it has a desk in it hat I have been able to set up the laptop and attach to the phone and get on-line. Of course this entire trip was predicated on the assumption that I’d have internet access. It’s been very difficult because the line is giving me a huge amount of trouble. But I have been able to get out my emails each day (at least once a day) so, however frustrating it has been, I have been able to make progress.

Elaine is teaching again today in Harpendon and we’re off to Leighton Buzzard on Friday to use the car. It’s 30 pounds per day or 100 pounds for a 7-day week, and no mileage payment except for gas, so we may as well use up the couple of days we have it more or less for nothing. I’ll tell you what, though, gas isn’t cheap – it’s equivalent to $2.50/litre. Can you imagine paying that much for petrol? Good grief.

Hello, Elaine’s back. I’ll get her to write to you.

Kindest regards



Letters home, 1999, June 23

23 June 1999


We’ve been about a bit.  Elaine has hired a car for this week because she’s at a school almost every day and none of them is on a bus route.  Today it’s Hitchen, so that’s about an hour away because of how slowly you have to drive to get there.  Oh, it’s diabolical!  Many of the roads here are just two-way, but cars can park on both sides of the road, almost closing it off.  One car has to stop and let opposing traffic come past the parked cars, and then on you go for a while again.  It’s a nonsense having a middle line, because with the cars parked, there is often only the narrowest of single lanes available.  

Lovely, lovely little villages; beautiful countryside but the roads are terrible and there’s always a car right up your tail-pipe.  Like driving in Auckland in that way – no matter what you’re trying to do, or which sign-post you want to read – it’s always in a strange place, and there’s always someone beeping at you to hurry up and make up your mind.

Better go, it’s 2:30 and Hitchen is an hour away.




Letters home, 1999, June 11

11 June 1999

Some of England is really good fun like the day out in London yesterday. But some of it is just hard work – like trying to get a job. I know I haven’t been here long, so I shouldn’t be asking for too much, but you know the pressures everyone puts you under. I have about 20 job apps live at the moment, so I’ll keep pounding at the door until it breaks!

Money’s ok so far, so that’s a relief, but you have to watch VERY carefully because the dollar is 3 to the pound, and they spend pounds here like we spend dollars in NZ. So far the agencies have been very positive, so I think it’s just a matter of time, and I wish people around me weren’t so damned impatient.

I can’t see the point in keeping Waitomo Computers alive, or the name waicomp, or its web page, or its domain.

I get a few pages on Virgin, so I’ll have a look into it. I don’t know about a domain name, yet. I think Virgin supports Frontpage Extensions, so it won’t be too hard to get a web site up and running once I have a house of my own and a PC that doesn’t continually drop off the net, like this @#$*^% little Zenith laptop does.

Virgin doesn’t charge for access.

After asking for the second time, wave is now sending my email on to me. I still curse long emails, though, because of the fragility of the link from this PC.

Be cool

I’ll keep in touch


Letters home, 1999, June 16

16 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

I watched the cricket. It was very enjoyable, but when the kiwis couldn’t knock over the openers, the writing was on the wall. Their fast bowler was the difference between the teams. There are at least three teams – England, India and Sri Lanka – who finished behind us, who are supposed to be better than were are. I also think that Fleming is not as good – not as intense – a one-day captain as Nash. And I reckon we missed Nash. It’s probably not possible to have two different captains, one for tests and one for ODI’s.

We won’t see any All Black rugby here. TV is horrible here; 5 channels of bleak desert, and if they do have cricket on the BBC they swap it from BBC1 to BBC2 during the day, whenever they feel like it.

Mum’s having her second day at school today, in a high school with 5 classesof English and Geography. She reckons she’s going to be SO tired. I reckon it’ll be great fun. She was telling a visitor last night that all last year she was saying to herself, “I’ll tell him tomorrow I’m not going.” So far she’s enjoying it here. I think she will end up LOVING it.

The British High Commission is no better than the Home Office. Better to contact your favourite travel office; they have better contacts and can get you the info faster than the Brits will bother to do. The Commission (like the Home Office) is not being paid to service the hoi poloi – so they don’t – the travel company is.

Your fingers are cold? Is it cold in NZ? My, my, it’s soooo nice and warm here. About 25 degrees, I should think … nice and sunny, too.

I have another 3 job apps out there (33 in total) and I have two job apps waiting for the prospective employer to invite me for an appointment, one of which is a co-appointment with Mum. I also have a list of 4 agencies who I am to ring today – just to keep up the contact. Looks a bit dismal, doesn’t it? Never mind.

Keep banging on the door.




Letters home, 1999, June 16

16 June 1999

Dear Elizabeth and Ross

Elaine will probably send a reply to your letter in due course but here, it’s about 25 degrees and sunny, only lightly overcast.

Day 3 of the drought.

Elaine is having her second day of teaching, with two more promised on July 2 and 5. She’s at a local high school teaching English and Geography. All day. Six classes. I reckon she’ll love it. She really enjoyed her stint on Tues with the year 4s. She doesn’t want to continue teaching, but I think this is a good introduction to England and besides, how else is she going to get to a shopping spree in London if she hasn’t earned any pounds? When she gets paid, she/we can go to London, if she wants.

We are waiting for a tour company to contact us inviting us to an interview – me to look after their network and Elaine to look after their staff training (3000 of them, although not all at once.) We’ll keep you posted. She’s also applied for a marketing job with Luton City Council and with Hastings CC, doing almost exactly what she did with WEDA. If she gets one, I’ll look for jobs in that area. I have 33 job apps out there and 2 are waiting for invitations for interview.

I watched the cricket, too. The BBC had it for once. It’s an odd system, here, because most sport isn’t shown live – of course – but if it is, the BBC swap it randomly from BBC1 to BBC2 whenever it suits them throughout the day. Five channels of dismal desert. The government is moving to ban cigarette advertising; the GM debate is hotting up – Paul McCartney is spending 3m POUNDS ensuring that no GM material is in the Linda McCartney branded food products. That’s dedication. Someone is cloning human embryos and killing them at 14 days – something to do with their not being human by then – but it’s been pointed out that while it’s not illegal in the US, it is illegal in the UK. It’s disgusting wherever it’s done. They’re finding bodies and graves by the score in Kosovo, killed by the police amongst others, and sackloads of destroyed passports. Nice one, Slobba. (The headlines here are brilliant.)

I’m still running. Did 40 mins yesterday, about 8km, so my fitness is coming back after a 6-week layoff in NZ.

I’m sorry Elizabeth had to kiss the dummy, what did she expect from a CPR course? Arny? Brad Pitt? You have to make sacrifices in the pursuit new knowledge; it wouldn’t be a sacrifice unless it was unpleasant. Next time she goes to the US she can bash Brad Pitt with her brolly and then she can demonstrate her CPR skills. Work doesn’t have to be unpleasant.

Be cool



Letters home, 1999, June 19

19 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

This internet connection is still driving me absolutely NUTS – it is sooooo poor and so @#$%^ unreliable, I can usually only get a connection ONCE a day. I am pleased I have got such a wonderful temperament, so calm, so patient, otherwise I’d be outside torching cars, I tell you.




Letters home, 1999, June 20

20 June 1999

Dear Marlene

Thanks for the letter. The answer to the questions is YES and NO.

No house
No car, but got a hired one for two days last week and whole week this week(hellishly expensive to buy or hire)

Job? None for Ewart yet. None for me exactly yet either, except that I am working – relief teaching. Have been to three schools so far and all want me to go back permanently so I guess that’s something, except as you know it is not teaching work I really want… But, it is money. Currently I get 85 – 90 punds per day, minus tax, minus NHS and anything else they want to take out. Haven’t had my first pay yet.

I taught at a primary school in Hitchen Wilshere Dacre – lovely kids, really old buildings, nice staff, lovely young woman principal – I got on with her really well and I like this school best so far.

Next I taught at a secondary school – Roundwood Park in Harpenden – Kids have rich parents, some classes great, others noisy and quite dependent. I’m off there again for three days this week. Thursday I get to teach religious eduction all day – that should be interesting – haven’t been to church for about 23 years! Had to teach it on Friday at a primary school – looked at the sheets and found out it was all about Moslem religion – know nothing about that, but you know me, I learnt quick!!!

I taught at Ougthonhead Primary at Hitchen – beautiful buildings, wonderful friendly staff and supportive lady headteacher – some tricky kids though. One threw a wobbly but I survived that. Kids are not great at sports period, yell at each other, sulk etc – not exactly my cup of tea – had two periods of PE that day and I go back there again on Wednesday.

Tomorrow while I am at school Ewart is dropping me off at Harpenden then coming back by car to St Albans and canvassing local schools for me (at my request). Its too darned expensive doing all this commuting. I asked Select for schols in St Albans but they have sent me everywhere else!!! Nice couple of girls in there though and I am being sent where I am needed
so I can’t complain – at least I have some work. I have also learnt from other teachers that Select pay teachers the least so I am looking at other options.

We haven’t done anything about a house yet because which ever way we go it is really expensive so we are holding off until one of us has permanent work. Ivor and Iris are OK about this so that helps a lot. We are very happy here.

I sent off two job applications to councils tis afternoon – at Hastings and Watford. Both are interesting jobs. I ave previously sent off my CV for these jobs but they sent me an application pack. Had to tick a box to say I am white again!!! Lots of employers around here specify that they will NOT accept CVs. It is a damned nuisance because filling in all those forms is
time consuming and the final product ends up looking like a dog’s breakfast. I hope the other applicants’ ones do too. They specify ink and then send a form with paper which smudges ink!!!

I have also applied for an IT job, referred by an agency Ewart is in contact with. They have accepted a dual application from Ewart and I so we are waiting to see whether we have been shortlisted. It is with a very large tour company. The jobs sound quite interesting. Ewart has a couple of agencies who have asked him to contact them on Monday so we hope that means
something interesting for him to do.

We watched the full coverage on TV of Sophie and Edward’s wedding yesterday. It was great to be doing it in England. We are hoping to go down to Madame Tussard’s shortly. We are keeping a pretty low profile at present to use aslittle money as possible – basic things cost like crazy. We are just contributing to food costs and paying for transport and try to keep away
from other expenditure at present.

Course I miss you guys!!! Still having fun though and I am glad I came.

Best of luck for Te Kuiti. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.
Must go to bed. School in the morning.

Love Elaine


Letters home, 1999, June 22

22 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

Golf can be addictive, you know! I must say that 55 over 9 holes is a pretty fair score. If you are a left-hander, the set of clubs my mum gave Jase are still in the garage in Whawharua, if they are not under the house, or in the studio.

I’m still running. On Sunday I went 10km, that’s about 6 miles. Whichever way you say it, it’s still along way. I’m still suffering today, but I thought I’d better not let a bit of suffering put me off, so I have been to the Jolly Sailor and back this morning. The Jolly Sailor is at the top of the hill just on the outskirts of the city centre, about 2 miles from here. I reckon the return trip is about 5km, but it’s difficult to tell. Here, they still use the old imperial system of miles and yards, but they run in kilometres! It’s a bit of a trial trying to get some distances that will compute. I need to track out a 5 mile course (8km exactly) and a 6 mile one (close to 10km). Any less than that and the conversion is too difficult. The terrain around here is a bit hard, too. It’s not hilly, but there are lots of slopes everywhere I want to run, and that makes life hard.

I was getting horribly fat, and I am still carrying weight, but it’s beginning to burn off. I dread winter!

Keep up your golf; it gets you outside having exercise in all weathers and it’s a great game for making you a hero one day and a total loser the next. That’s very good for the character.

I’m now waiting on decisions from two more prospective emloyers to interview. So that’s four irons in the pot, and 42 job applications – with CVs – out there. Sheila said she’d send me the job opportunities mag from Milton Keynes. She says ther are hunddreds of jobs in it. That’ll be interesting. The latest two irons are in Frimley and Farnsworth – quite close together.

When Elaine went to Hitchen I took the car and went to Stanbridge. I went to pay respects to James Tearle, my great-great-grandfather and to see Lorraine Simons. I didn’t have any flowers, so I managed to find some in Sainsbury’s in Leighton Buzzard. I went to see Levi, my great-grandfather, in Wing, said hello to him and Jase and left some flowers there. His gravesite is rather badly overgrown. What a silly notion only to keep clear the grass in the newer portion of the grounds. For the extra 1/2 hour per week it would take to mow the grass around the entire grounds …

I went around to see Thelma for a moment or two, but she wasn’t home, so I left some flowers for her anyway. We’re off to LB this Friday, to talk to the bank again, so we’ll put her out of her misery as to who left the flowers.

I went back to Stanbridge and left the flowers for James and went around to see Lorraine Simons again. This time she was home and very pleased to see me. She is one of the church wardens and was so kind and friendly to us when we went to the church the first time with John L Tearle two years ago. She has been very sick and still looks like she hasn’t got long to go.

She wants Elaine and me to come and see her and her family one weekend about three weeks hence, so we are making arrangements. The church expansions are coming along slowly, and they are selling blocks (with your name on them)

for 10 pounds each. Won’t that be nice; Tearle names on the church again. Arthur, my dad’s father, was the last Tearle to be christened in Stanbridge Church. Before that, we go back in the church records for almost five hundred years – to 1562. Levi got married in Stanbridge church then moved to Wing on the other side of LB to set up the smithy, but he came back to Stanbridge to christen Arthur. All the other children he and Sarah had were christened in Wing. Arthur was born 12 Dec 1874.

The same day, once Elaine had finished at the Hitchen school, we went up to Bedford to see Dennis and Betty. Hitchen is over half way there, from St Albans. Dennis never knew Levi! Thelma, Jenny Pugh and Alec all remember him, but Dennis was too young. Anyway, he was brought up in 13 Stewkley Rd, Wing by Harry Tearle, son of Mahlon and Mary nee Paxton. That address is the rightmost Ebeneezer Cottage when viewed from the road.

Next time I see Dennis, Alec or Thelma, I’m taking a pen and I’m going to gets some dates and sequences right about the cottages and when they were owned.

By the way, remember the Wing School was about to be demolished for houses? It is demolished, but the developer can’t biuld the houses – something about planning permits. Anyway that beautiful old school is gone, just a wasteland, now. The local historical society is very concerned that Thelma tells them all about Wing and her family’s part in it, before all that stuff gets lost, too. Good idea. She does not look good. I said we’re going to LB this Friday to see the bank, so of course we’ll drop in to see Thelma.

Love, Dad


Letters home, 1999, July 3

3 July 1999

Dear Genevieve

We got all enthusiastic and raced off to London on Saturday. Bad move. Talk about expensive. I’ll tell you what, I won’t do it again before I’m working and earning pounds.

But anyway, we went to Madame Tusauds. There’s a 50min queue. Yes, it’s about 150m long. Once you get in, the whole set is in three sections – modern (with the royal wedding, lots of prime ministers and movie starsand that sort of thing) The idea is that you pose with these statues and get your picture taken – photography is allowed – so it looks like you’ve met the real person. The statues are very lifelike. Then there’s the Chamber of Horrors with vistas of the French Revolution and the guillotine chopping people up, as well as medieval torture chambers and Newgate Prison.

I’ll tell you what – if you ever wanted to see man’s inhumanity to man, esp in the name of religion, you won’t be able to go past this. Why treat people like that? Why not just kill them, if you have to, but they went to so much trouble to torture them! Why bother? Then there’s London Story where you jump into replica of a London Taxi and get raced through little scenarios of the history of London in about 10 minutes. The time taken is about two and a half hours. We arrived at 11:00 and, after queuing for nearly an hour, left at about 2:30pm. With very sore feet.

Hey, you see the damnedest things in the most peculiar places. I found some Jane Austin writing paper there. I’m sending it to you. It is absolutely beautiful. You’ll be very reluctant actually to write on it. Mum found you two neat little tops. When summer arrives, you’ll be THE cool one.

After this we caught the underground and went to Westminster Bridge. Elaine had her photo taken on Westminster bridge because her mum says one of her ancestors commissioned its building. She doesn’t know which one – ancestor, I mean. The whole day’s train fare from St Albans to London return and anywhere around the underground is 8 pounds each and it goes until the last train leaves at about 1:00am. From Westminster Bridge we took a City Sightseeing boat cruise.

It can’t be much of a city because the boat only went from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge – about 3 miles! You see what City Cruises means now? Yeah, The City. Not London city, which one would think at first. Well, the trip cost 4.50 pounds each and then, when we got to Tower bridge, the crew passed around the Captain’s Hat so we could pay for the commentary! The crew did the commentary because the owners didn’t want to make the fares more expensive by hiring a professional guide. Yeah, right.

We took the return trip, which of course was nearly double the single trip, and they passed the Captain’s Hat around again when they got back to Westminster Bridge. Needless to say, we didn’t put money in either way. We thought the trip would go a lot further and hoped to see the millennium dome and a few other interesting sights. Most of London’s most interesting sights are hidden from the river behind ghastly modern glass structures you can see any day in Auckland and even in Hamilton. You wouldn’t want to pay to see those.

We took the underground back to Leicester Square, had a nice but cheap meal upstairs in a pub where we saw the day’s cricket test highlights on channel 4 (the Kiwis lost) then we had a wander around Leister Square itself. There was an Australian singer and a Gypsy band we listened to for a while each, then had an ice cream in the Sanyo centre, took a quick trip through Planet Hollywood, where Mum bought a T-shirt and went back via underground and train to St Albans. £100. Please. No more trips to London until I’m earning. There’s lots of other things to do, like Whipsnade Zoo, Woburn Abbey and even lots of the free local attractions and sights before we have to bust a gut going sightseeing in London again.

That reminds me – I’m off to London on Tuesday afternoon. One of the IT agencies (ITA) contacted me and has asked me to sit a test in London at 2:00pm on Tuesday. I said yes, of course, because if I do well at it then that will be a qualification all by itself. They are only offering a permanent position, but we’ll see how much they are willing to pay before I say definitely that I won’t take the job.. I suppose how much I’m paid may depend on this test. Wish me luck.