Category Archives: Letters home

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 1

1 July 1999

Greetings from the UK.

All is well and Ewart and I are happy in this English summer. It is hot and everything around here is really pretty.

We have been asked whether we get news about NZ on TV and in the papers here. No, one would think NZ didn’t exist at all. The only news we are getting from home is what we are receiving from friends and family and of course the world cup cricket games. When our sports teams aren’t over here NZ doesn’t exist at all for the English. They do like NZ lamb and anchor butter though, and of course the zesprey is available in all the local markets, along with Cox Orange apples grown in NZ.

All NZ produce over here is a lot smaller than we are used to getting back home. Apparently the English are used to only eating small portions for things like fruit. None of the really nice crisp apple varieties grown at home such as Pacific Rose are available here. At present we are eating rock melons, bananas, cherries (yummy, large & very cheap), strawberries, nectarines & raspberries (grown here on site). It is fun going to the markets on Saturday mornings to buy our supplies.

I am being kept pretty busy teaching now. I start at a new school on Monday (tomorrow). It is Goff’s Oak JMI School. I will have 8 & 9 year olds. Their teacher fell off a desk when putting up displays. A little boy moved a chair thinking he was helping her, unfortunately it was just as she went to stand on the chair so she fell breaking ribs and rupturing a lung. She got out of hospital on Friday but the word is that she is still far from well. I will be teaching her class until the end of term (28 July I think).

On Friday morning I drove up there to look at the school taking Ewart with me. We had a hang of a job finding it, found ourselves in Potter’ s Bar three times!!! Of course we weren’t meant to go to that town at all!! When we finally found the village we found that we had been very close early on in the trip. We have now written down the name of the road so I should be Ok on Monday. I’ll leave early in the morning just in case. The school is at Goff’s Oak which is just beyond Hatfield about 20 mins from St Albans, when you go the right way that is. It took us an hour the way we went!!!

We spent a lovely morning there meeting the staff and students and had our first taste of school dinners when they gave us lunch. A two course lunch costs 1.25 pounds per day. (sorry, can’t use a pounds sign, this software doesn’t have the symbols font installed). I also got to spend time with the current South African supply teacher. He goes off touring in Scotland with his wife for the next two weeks before returning to South Africa after having been here for six months.

After lunch, being my first day off for a few days, Ewart and I travelled up to Leighton Buzzard for the afternoon. We visited the bank, Sheila and George and spent a couple of hours with Thelma at Wing. We also spent a couple of hours with John Wallace (the chap in on the screen saver on our home computer). It was a hot sunny day and everyone was pleased to see us. The countryside is really beautiful through Bedfordshire and we enjoy travelling through it although it plays havoc with my asthma at this time of year, lots of fields in full pollen at the moment. The rape fields are bright yellow and stand out vividly for miles.

We haven’t seen any movies over here yet. Adult tickets cost 10 pounds ($30 NZ) so we watch movies on TV. Prices will seem very expensive to us until we start earning AND spending British pounds.

I have decided to ask the supply company I work for to send me to primary school  assignments only at least until the end of term. Although a lot of the college kids are really nice and none swear at you, they are REALLY noisy and only stop for teachers who shout at them. I thought it was just my differences to start with but then I started to watch the English women teachers with their classes. They all shout for attention!! B——r that!. By lunchtime you have hardly any voice left, apart from the fact you get sick of the sound of your own voice!! I had some lovely classes but the noisy ones drive me nuts. I’m also getting rather sick of being asked if I am Australian every lesson and hearing the song “Skippy the Bush Kangaroo” when I come into a room. At least when we lost the cricket to Pakistan they wanted to talk about cricket. I can live with that. England lost worse than we did.

I don’t regret having tried it though because I have met some really nice kids and it has been interesting getting to view England through their eyes.

Yesterday Ewart & I drove up to Luton to visit Jennie Pugh and her sister in law Elsie. We travelled in the little red Ford Fiesta I have hired to get to work. It is lovely to drive. Ewart’s cousin Dennis Tearle designed the suspension system. We found out when we travelled in it up to Bedford to see him! Small world!

Jennie is 83 and very active, still does her own gardens, lawns etc and is a beautiful little lady. She was really excited about our visit and rang to tell us this morning. We spent until 4.15pm talking family and history. Her home is filled with beautiful family historical artefacts. She likes talking to us about them because she knows we have a genuine interest. We then took Elsie into town to go to the chemist then headed on to Wing where we had dinner with Thelma and her mother Millicent. Once again we had a lovely time talking family history. Ewart then comes home and writes it up onto the computer so we will have record when we get home.

Thelma is the president of the Wing Historical Society (among other things) and in a place with such deep history gets to learn marvellous stories to tell us. Recently she has been fighting with others to retain the old Wing school which had been built for the village by the Rothschilds – really beautiful stone building. Many of the Tearle family went to this school and they fought ard to keep it. But, the council sold it to a property developer who has pulled it down to build houses.

As is usual around here, by law the site then has to be checked by archaelogists before buidling can commence. Sixty graves were found. On further excavation one grave was found to contain an Anglo Saxon coin dating back to 937. This brought in the BBC who interviewed Thelma and others in the village this week. The BBC are now paying to have DNA testing done on some of the bodies in the graves and also test some of the locals to see how long some of the present families have been in the area. Don’t we miss exciting things living in a country with such a short history.

The countryside, including here in town, is lovely. There are lots and lots of beautiful big trees. They are valued here and once they reach a certain height become protected even if they are on private property. This week has been sunny and really hot. Not at all what we expected. Much hotter than our last visit. Today it is grey and drizzling but still quite warm. The coolness brought by the rain is very welcome. Everyone’s gardens are beginning to fill with flowers and most people go off to the garden centres at weekends to fill in any gaps in the garden that appear now that flowering has begun. On talking with the staff at schools I find that most people change almost all the plants in their gardens every year. Sounds an expensive exercise. No wonder many of the English tend to have quite small back gardens compared with ours.

We rang Joalene and Deirdre Mark and Neil (ex Otorohanga) this morning but they weren’t home. We suspect they may have gone to France for the weekend. Thousands of people have gone over this weekend to get cheap duty free goods. The govt has cancelled duty free shopping with the continent, effective on Monday. I think they must have seen Ewart and I coming! We have let a message on their phone with the hope of going down to see them in Neasdon sometime in the next few days. I will write to Jimmy and Dos again once we have seen them. It will be new territory for us to travel in and will take us very close to Central London.

Ewart has applied for over 60 jobs now and is waiting to hear back. We have at least six which we know are definitely live. Like some parts of NZ employment decision making processes are very slow here. He is applying for jobs every day and regularly ringing the agencies so they keep him at the top of the list. He is being very good about it.

Well, love to you all. It’s time for me to go to prepare some school work for the little darlings tomorrow. Hope you are all having a happy and successful year. We look forward to getting some email from you.

Love Elaine

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 01

01 July 1999

Dad

Looks like I might be going down to Hamilton this weekend so it will be good to catch up with Grandma and Grandad Pond. Also looks like I will be going to Hahei with Angela at the end of the month so will definitely drop in on the Tearle Grandparents and let you know how they are all keeping. Taking this keeping in touch of the family thing on your behalf as well as mine seriously. Don’t want contact to be lost just because you guys aren’t here to keep it going.

Genevieve


I am impressed.

Firstly by your visiting both grandparents. That’s a lovely thing to do. I’m very pleased you’re taking this seriously. Mum will talk cricket and rugby and love you for it. Talk to Dad about his letters to and from England. Thelma and Clarice love his letters. There may be others.

Not a good idea to do exercise outside in freezeng conditions. You get very cold air down inside hot lungs. I’m not sure what I’m going to do once winter arrives here. They eat a lot of fatty stuff here, so that makes it hard to keep one’s weight down without lots of exercise. I was a growing boy there until I got back on the road again! The waistline is only now down to a reasonable size, although I’ve no idea how much I weigh. The belt tells the story. Now, tho, lots of muscles are beginning to show and there’s a good amount of hardness in my arms and, of course, my legs. It just feels better.

I’m going up to 6 miles. That’s nearly 10km . Wish me luck. Wish I could find a race or two; it would give all this exercise a bit an edge.

PS: Lunchtime score

Edgebaston Test
NZ 19 for 2

Ye Gods! Please don’t make it worse.

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 2

2 July 1999

Bob

I’m hanging out for contract jobs. They pay a lot more and last about 3-6 months, usually with a rollover or two. Eg they usually pay my skills between 17-20 pounds per hour, or 25-35k pounds per year. 25 pounds per hour is 51,000 pounds per year, and there’s no way I could get a 51k ppa job. But so far, I am not working. I do have lots of hope, though, and there are people I ring nearly every day and hassle to death. One day … soon, one of the cages I’m rattling will yield me a job. Fact. I have more than 60 agencies I’m signed up with and I have 6 jobs where CV’s have been sent out, and I ring about 14 agencies almost every day. Something will give …

In the meantime, it’s summer here, of course. I’m not so dumb as to come here in winter; that will arrive soon enough. In spite of how things may appear for Wimbledon, which is not far from here, it’s actually very pleasant and so far I’m enjoying it.

I’ve been to see many of the family already, but there are a few to go yet, and some new ones who I wasn’t able to meet last time I came.

St Albans is on Watling St. Isn’t that cool? There are Roman ruins and Roman roads all about. It’s like looking down a time tunnel.

By the way, I suppose you know it’s July 1999 and Nostradamus says there’s going to be a big fire from the sky that will consume us all. And here I am in the northern hemisphere ….. Look after yourself, mate. Thanks for writing, and yes, I’ll keep in touch. Lots of love to Linda, I’m very pleased for both of you. Hope things go
well.

Ewart

17Mar/15

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.

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 23

23 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

Mum will reply to this tomorrow but at the moment …

1. Don’t confuse Mum’s 90 quid a day with real money, because it’s not. It’s no different from $90 per day, and that’s a fair bit less than you’re earning. It’s only $3 to the pound when it’s sent to NZ. In England, because of the high cost of everything 1 pound is about or even less than $1 in NZ.

2. Try NOT to drive into things, Dear …. It’s cheaper that way.

3. Parkinson’s Law: “Expenditure rises to exceed income.”

4. We’re going to LB on Friday to see the bank and then Thelma.

5. Jenny Pugh rang tonight and we’re off to see her on Saturday in Luton. She doesn’t sound all that well, either. Her voice is really very shakey. It will be nice to see her because she is such a lovely lady.

6. I’m still running – about 30-40 min 3 to 4 times a week. Since I did 6 miles / 10km on last Sunday, I’m not going to do 4 runs this week, just the three. This morning I thought my legs were going to fall off, they were so tired after about 20 min, but don’t worry, I still did 40 min – about 5 miles – and I’m not injured, because I’m not going very fast, yet.

7. Another 11 job apps tonight. Makes more than 60 all told. I’ve got a list of 46 names from 45 agencies I’ve applied to. SOMETHING is going to fall over and give me a job – just you wait!!!

Lots of Love

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 24

24 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

There’s 100 pounds per WEEK for car hire, then there’s tax to come out, then it’s 80 pounds, anyway – they only paid the 90 pounds once because of Mum having to hire the car especially for them for that one day.

Then there’s 60 pounds per month for med insurance – and it won’t cover existing conditions, which are the only reasons Mum goes to the doctor …

And we’re not paying rent, yet, which will be between 350 and 700 pounds per month for some cheap flat somewhere.

But, yes, teaching certainly is the best paid job around. And from Select, that’s only 10 pounds per hour, don’t forget. It seems more of the others pay around 100 pounds per day. We have found out the schools are paying around 120 pounds per day. Don’t worry, we are talking to other agencies.
As Steve says, “All agents are LIARS.” Specially GM’d, you know, for the task – born to it. Bred for it.

I was not up late – it was about 11:30pm when I fired off the last note to you. I am not getting tired or sick – that’ll come in winter, you know, just as you have it. I am very fit and very healthy. Mum’s got lots of coughing, but there’s plenty of rubbish in the air to cause that.

I have remembered where the Waicomp CaskLink (my accounting program) files are; they are on the hard drive I carefully sent wrapped up in one of the Red Boxes. It’s here, but I need to put it into a PC and copy the files onto one of these Zip 100 disks. Maybe John might help me when we go to LB tomorrow. All I need is a spare PC for a few hours.

I sent off another 10 or 11 job apps last night, so I’ll follow them up today and see if I can rustle up a job.

I’ve sent 32 job apps since the weekend! More than 60, all told, and today is only thu morning. I’ve just had a ring from Elaine Harding who is going to put me forward for a job in Frimley – near Farnborough. I sent that job app out last night. Come on, someone ……….

Be cool

Lots of love

Dad

PS I’ve applied for a job with the All Blacks because I can do 3km in under 15 min. I’ve applied for Jonah’s job, because he can’t and because the money’s all right.

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 25

25 June 1999

Steve

Yeah, it’s a bit of a worry, all right.

I have over 60 job apps out now and have about 6 “firm” promises that at least they’ve sent off my CV. I am ringing them – the ones I’m hoping for most, but about 7 or eight of them per day – every second day. I hope the shear pressure of numbers will cause the wall to fall and a couple of interviews will come my way.

I know I haven’t been here very long and none of these people have had a chance to get to know me, but, a job would be nice …..

Today was the end of week 3 and the beginning of week 4.

Worry, worry.

Ewart

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 29

29 June 1999 (to Dave Hearn, Te Kuiti)

Dave

It’s wet – if you’re trying to watch Wimbledon, you’ll see how wet. Temperatures are mild, though. I have applied for more than 60 jobs and 8 are still in the system. Plenty of hope. Elaine has had lots of teaching, so she’s keeping us going in the meantime. There’s no suggestion she’ll keep teaching for very long after I get a job.

The roads – and the traffic – are diabolical. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, the roads are crowded. It’s like driving in rushour Auckland traffic all day; and no matter where you are, or what you are trying to do, there’s always a car right up your exhaust pipe. We went to Goffs Oak to take Elaine to the school this morning, for instance, about 20 min from here, and between 8:00 when we went up the road and 9:00 when I tried to come down it, there was a 2-mile long (20 min in the queue) traffic jam.

The roads are too small and they allow cars to park on both sides of the road, so that parts of it are one-car only. There’s also only one road out of this town, and that road has two roundabouts, a set of lights and a stop sign at the top. The town has about 2000 population and they all work in London. Incredible. The roading system here is almost at a standstill. Trouble is, there’s only a very poor public transport system that no-one wants to use because it’s slow, expensive and cumbersome. And when there is rain, you get hell of a wet using it.

Otherwise, it’s beautiful here. Absolutely gorgeous little villages and towns; richly textured landscapes and large fields of commercial crops like wheat, oats, barley and brilliant yellow swathes of oilseed rape. Everywhere there are huge trees, the landscape is glorious with them. The fields are all ringed with trees and the roadsides, both in the country and in the cities are heavily lined with these massive oaks, sycamores and walnuts. Takes your breath away. England is far more wooded than NZ. There’re way more trees.

I’m glad to see your email is working. Nice to hear from you.


Ewart

17Mar/15

Letters home, 2000, Sept 10

10 September 2000

Dear Dora and Ian

As you know last weekend was our wedding anniversary, our 26th. We went to the market in St Albans in the morning then decided to go back to Old Warden to the Shuttleworth Museum to follow up a car we found last time we were there. We are pretty sure it is one of the cars driven and worked on by my grandfather, Arthur Tearle, when he worked for Lord Rothschild. It is an 1897 Panhard Levassor and was owned by Lord Rothschild at Wing …. it was even loaned to King Edward V11 to drive him to the races at Ascot in the early 1920s.

Anyway, while we were talking to staff about the car, there was suddenly a roar in the sky. We rushed outside to find a Spitfire doing a beat up of the airfield. We watched while it performed a series of aerobatics over the airfield and then came into land right in front of us. We had been told to wait “for a man called Ken wearing white overalls who was refuelling planes” so we could ask about the car. Elaine saw someone matching his description so she hopped under the barrier to talk to him.

It turned out they were having a problem with the fuel tank so they called a few guys to help to push the Spitfire into the hangar so I went to help. This left Elaine to walk back to the hangar with the pilot. It turned out that he and four other Spitfires had been flying for a couple of days at Eastbourne assisting an American movie called “Pearl Harbour” to be released later this year. The movie will tell the story of how the Americans won the Battle of Britain – according to the pilot. He had had fun doing lots of aerobatics but said the Spitfire was pretty heavy to fly so he had come back very tired.

When we got into the hangar most of the other civilians had drifted away and Elaine and I were left with three ground crew who look after the plane. Elaine told them that her dad’s friend Maurie Andrews had flown Spitfires in The Battle of Britain so they were very happy to talk to us and show us the plane. Shuttleworth is full of enthusiasts, mostly volunteers. I asked if they would allow Elaine get into the cockpit. They told me this was not usually allowed but they looked around, and seeing we were the only civilians, they closed the hangar door, told her to take off her jacket and watch so nothing would catch on any part of the plane, opened the door and assisted her up onto the wing and then into the cockpit.  I took several really good photos of Elaine sitting in that cockpit. You could see she loved every minute of it! Sitting in a Mark Vc Spitfire.

After leaving Shuttleworth we explored the beautiful little village of Old Warden and photographed its extraordinarily beautiful cottages, many of which are thatched, and then found the local church – a really gorgeous old Norman church with some of the most beautiful stained glass windows we have seen in England and deeply carved wooden pews. A lot of the carving had orginally been purchased from the bedroom of Anne of Cleaves, one of Henry V111’s wives.

The area was originally owned by Lord Ongley and later purchased by the Shuttleworth family, Joseph actually. He built up a huge estate, the home is now Shuttleworth College (a tertiary college) and the Shuttleworths had two sons. Frank was given the estates in Bedfordshire (where we were), his brother was given he family estates in Lincolnshire that we have not yet seen.

Frank Shuttleworth married Dorothy when he was 57 and she was 23 and they had one child only, Richard. Richard was very sporting and flew aeroplanes and raced racing cars extremely successfully. He went to the war as a pilot and although this little district sent about 70 of its young men to war and only 4 were killed, Richard, the only child of the lord of the manor, was one of them – killed on a test flight for a new aircraft. The little St Leonards Church at Old Warden is full of huge, beautiful, stained glass windows donated by his mother as memorials to him, his father and grandfather. S

he also added the little church foyer and door in his memory. His mother also bought and built the Shuttleworth Museum to house his plane and car collections which have subsequently been added to. All a wonderful tribute by a mother for her only son. We also found the Shuttleworth family graves.

So, we went back to the Shuttleworth airfield on Sunday afternoon to see the Spitfire Elaine sat in last week flying and lots of other WW1 aircraft, mainly bi-wing aircraft and one tri-wing. I have taken lots of photos. An excellent way to spend our 26th wedding anniversary weekend.

That Sunday morning we went to Welwyn Garden City where I ran the Garden City 10 (a ten mile race which I also ran last year). It was quite cool in the morning but turned into a lovely day and nowhere near as hot as last year. We packed up our picnic and rug with all our souvenir badges from this trip, our incentive to have fun … and headed to Welwyn Garden City.  Elaine found a good spot to wait and watch the runners prepare then I set off with all the others, about 575 of them!

I ran about 4 minutes off my last year’s time for the same course and came in 42ndVeteran runner in the M50 class. A lot of veterans run in this race, it is the Hertfordshire Championships and British Champions also compete so times are very fast. The top time was just over 51 mins so my time of 72:27 min was not bad and it was nice to have an improvement on last year.  Another thing I was pleased about was that only 12 women beat me and none of them were W50 or older. Most of the people who run are from clubs. I took 208th place over all, which is ok for someone running only his third competitive race.

People were still finishing the race when we left just on two hours after I finished. I always does a sprint finish and I heard the race commentator say, “We never usually see sprint finishes like this he said, and from an unattached runner!” (meaning not a club runner). It paid off though, because I passed a vet in that sprint … so I was 43rd instead of 44th. People come from all over the south east to race. We heard of people from clubs in London and the Lake District as well as all the other areas within about a 2hrs drive.

I have signed up for the Cabbage Patch 10, which is a 10-mile race run by the Cabbage Patch pub in Twickenham, that’s the weekend after next.  On 15 October we are off to stay with Jack and Kate Dalgliesh in Leicester for the weekend.  Remember that we stayed with them for a few days earlier in the year and went to Bosworth Field to see where Richard III met his end.  

This time I shall be running the Denstone ½ marathon.  Denstone is in Staffordshire a little north of Uttoxeter and a little east of Stoke-on-Trent.  It looks like three houses and a tent on the map and since the listing says H for hilly, I guess it will be interesting countryside, and I won’t be looking for too quick a time … I have also signed up for next year’s London Marathon.  I know … daft.  However, they don’t tell me I’ve been accepted to race until December, so I can’t say until then whether or not I’ll actually be running.  I am looking forward to it, though.

The days are positively balmy, even warm, and there hasn’t been much rain; a very nice late summer going into autumn.  The trees are just turning colour even though there have been no frosts around here yet and the coolness one associates with autumn hasn’t snapped in.  We have a beautiful big bushy Superstar rose that has a dozen large flowers on it and Elaine’s impatiens are in full and glorious flower.  One of the things that is always so surprising about England is how vigorously everything grows – like a tropical garden – and how intensely the plants cram their flowers onto every available twig.  

We’ve been researching our ticket home.  Believe it or not, we’re going to buy our ticket from a NZ travel agent because it will cost us less than HALF what it would cost to buy the same ticket here.  The same ticket … it boggles the mind, doesn’t it?  At the moment it looks like we arrive in NZ on Sun 17 Dec and leave on Fri 12 Jan, but all that still has to be confirmed.

No doubt you’ve heard about our strikes and blockades over the cost of fuel?  Elaine says that there are very long queues outside petrol stations.  We are ok for the next week or so because our tanks are full and we run little cars, but if things drag on, life could get a little stark if we can’t go to work and therefore don’t get paid.  It’s never dull here!

Lots of love

Ewart and Elaine

17Mar/15

Letters home, 2000, Sept 14

14 Sep 2000

Dear Dad

Thank you very much for the parcel today … I’m not intending giving away the beautiful bowls you made.  We’d love to use them ourselves, to put them on the table and say my dad made them when people ask us where they came from and what the unusual looking woods are.

And what a wonderful surprise the stop-watch is!  Grandad Dawson, after whom I am named.  I am thrilled, Dad, it’s such a wonderful treasure and I didn’t even know it existed. Please thank Mum very much.  When I am working on the helpdesk lots of people ask me what sort of name Ewart is and I am so pleased for Mrs Youngman’s research, and for Mum’s stories, that I can tell the asker that the name is Irish and was my mother’s father’s middle name.  I now have something tangible and very personal (it would be a safe bet that he used the watch to time his horses) that belonged to my mother’s very loved father.

Also, thank you very much for the offer to stay with you, but we are already booked into the Pauanui house.

I have signed up for the Cabbage Patch 10, which is a 10-mile race run by the Cabbage Patch pub in Twickenham, that’s the weekend after next. On 15 October we are off to stay with Jack and Kate Dalgliesh in Leicester for the weekend. Remember that we stayed with them for a few days earlier in the year and went to Bosworth Field to see where Richard III met his end. This time I shall be running the Denstone ½ marathon. Denstone is in Staffordshire a little north of Uttoxeter and a little east of Stoke-on-Trent. It looks like three houses and a tent on the map and since the listing says H for hilly, I guess it will be interesting countryside, and I won’t be looking for too quick a time …

I have also signed up for next year’s London Marathon, to be run in April. However, they don’t tell me I’ve been accepted to race until December, so I can’t say until then whether or not I’ll actually be running. I am looking forward to it, though; you run across Tower Bridge and you can’t cross that on foot at any other time.  I want a time of under 3hr 30min.

The days are positively balmy, even warm, and there hasn’t been much rain; a very nice late summer going into autumn. The trees are just turning colour even though there have been no frosts around here yet and the coolness one associates with autumn hasn’t snapped in. We have a beautiful big bushy Superstar rose that has a dozen large flowers on it and Elaine’s impatiens are in full and glorious flower. One of the things that is always so surprising about England is how vigorously everything grows – like a tropical garden – and how intensely the plants cram their flowers onto every available twig.

You would have loved it here, Dad, if you’d have been able to make the trip.  St Albans is such a beautiful city and the old people here who know a thing or two, recognise the name Tearle and say that it is an old St Albans name.  The Tearles have been here since about the 1760’s.  The countryside around here is like a huge park, all closely manicured and carefully managed, the accent of the locals is light and sweet, the little children are beautifully dressed all the time, and the entire city is quiet and orderly.  The history of the place is deep and intensely interesting, filled with many of history’s greatest names.  We have felt very at home here, and we have met lots people who have treated us with kindness and genuine friendliness.  We love our little flat and Jersey Farm is like Pauanui.

No doubt you’ve heard about our strikes and blockades over the cost of fuel? It’s never dull here! A couple of stories now about the fuel crisis:

A garage in Flitwick, up the road from Luton, is selling petrol at 2.00 pounds a litre instead of the usual price of 83p

Some guy in Luton stored 70 gallons of petrol in beer barrels. They leaked into his basement and the whole street was evacuated while the petrol was flushed away.

The local councils want the secondary schools to close because if teachers can’t get to work, they can’t guarantee the safety of children and teachers who can get to school.

Believe it or not, Elaine and I have HEAPS of petrol. Almost all the garages around St Albans are advertising “Nothing except 4* (LRP.)” Well, that’s what we run on. Our little old Metros only use 4* petrol. Now that my tank is full, it will go for about 2 weeks, just to work and back.

We have lots of supplies left in our millennium cupboard, so we won’t starve for a while.

I keep thinking, oh, dear … why me?  They know I’m in England but they don’t know where, so they’ve sent this huge fuel crisis to flush me out.  Well, I won’t go.

By the way, here’s a note from our travel agent:

Thanks for your email Ewart, the petrol situation is incredible and yes it is on the news here plus the inflated costs at some petrol stations. We have had rises here to and it is now 1.15 per litre.
I have great news. JAPAN AIRLINES IS CONFIRMED NOW to depart London 14 December at 6.15pm and arrive here on Saturday 16th at 11.50am and then to depart Auckland on Saturday 13 Jan with the free night at the airport hotel in Osaka and arrive London Heathrow at 3.20pm on Sun 14th. Cost is NZ$2260 plus taxes and does not have to be paid in full until 45 days prior to departure.

Now we know our home and return dates …

By the way, our gas in England is $NZ2.48 per litre – I guess you can see why the locals aren’t too happy about that.

Love

Ewart