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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


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.




Letters home, 1999, July 4

4 July 1999


Still haven’t got a job – this is driving me NUTS. My reserves are under pressure, but I’m still expected to front up. I’ve got about 8 CVs being evaluated, and 3 are quite hot, but none of them is a job, you know, with real cash. It is very frustrating and I feel under such pressure.

Never mind, today I ran 6 miles. That’s 10km. My book (Bruce Tulloch, a aery good English middle distance racer from my high school days) says that training at 8min per mile is about right, so my 6 miles at 47:06 is fine – I don’t want to be going any faster. I realised this morning that 8min/ml is about 5min/km, which is the time I’ve always used as a benchmark. What Bruce says, tho, is not to go much faster than this in training.

Ok. What counts is total miles in a week, and the length of the longest run. So I shall do 6ml one day, 10ml another and 4ml another. That’s a total of 20 miles. It’s not really long enough. It should be 30ml. Well, not yet. I’ll have to do a couple of weeks at 6/6/4 before I go to 6/8/4 and then a couple of weeks at that before 6/10/4. I’m loath to do 4 days of running, but I’ll put in an extra day if I feel good – you know, no muscles under pressure or any pains.

Now, he’s also got a thing I haven’t heard of called fartleck. Awful name. It refers to running 50m more or less at a sprint, followed by a 150m trot. Then you do the 50m again and the trot. 4-5 times in the length of one of the training runs. I’m going to do it on my 4ml night. I’ve done one turn so far, and it leaves you a bit the worse for wear, but not injured. That’s why I’ve left a 4ml night in the training sched.

So that’s how it stands at present. Pretty boring, eh? As Caroline said, “You should get a job.”




Letters home, 1999, July 5

5 July 1999

Dear Joni

I have an interview with a Kevin Fordhan at Tech-Aid, 11am on Wed 14 July. His company is Tech-Aid and they recruit fro only the top 500 companies worldwide. His address is 14-16 Lower Regent St, London City. Yeah, in the City.

I go to Picadilly Station and walk 200m from there.

You got goosebumps yet?

The company he’s recruiting for is Compaq.

You got goosebumps now?

The job will be based in Reading and pays about 32k pounds, plus benefits etc. I don’t know what the bens and etc are, but I’ll let you know.

The company I went to see yesterday said I should be applying for IT Managers jobs. This will get me in the door of one of the biggest players in the world, and an IT Manager’s job shouldn’t be too far away. Go directly to 50k, pick up your bonus on the way.

Now ….. don’t get too excited, I’m certainly not …. but it’s so nice to see something happening at last.

And don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it after the interview.



Letters home, 1999, July 7

7 July 1999

Frances Rawlings, Otorohanga

I’m pleased your mum Frankie is improving. Give her a kiss from me. That will cheer her up!

I have lots of emails I do every day searching for that elusive contract, but I do have 8 CV’s at present being submitted by various IT agencies to prospective employers. One of them will say yes, soon, don’t worry.

If you’ve been watching Wimbledon, which isn’t far from us, you’ll have noticed that the weather is a little changeable and sometimes showery, but it’s quite warm and very pleasant.

Elaine finishes her first full week at school and this contract goes till the end of term (ie end of July). During the holidays we hope to find her different work, but so far at least it’s pounds and not kiwis. Have you seen the exchange rate lately – 28.8c Ahhhhhh!

Never mind …. we’ll cope.



Letters home, 2000, July 16

16 July

Dear Mum and Dad

Remember the Fernleaf girl, in the advertising soap about the family that was breaking up? She became the Anchor girl when Anchor took over the brand? She’s here on our TV now, for Volvo. She and her boyfriend are way out in the woods with a huge mountain backdrop and the boyfriend is trying to cook dinner over the fire. The result is horrible to his taste, so he sneaks around the tent and drives off in the Volvo 4X4 coming back very quickly with two big pizzas. She opens the box, is about to say something and decides better of it. Tucks into the pizza. You’re never far from civilization with a Volvo 4X4.

We had a lovely, lovely local weekend. We went to the market yesterday morning as we always do to get the veges and any other groceries. It is cultural festival time in St Albans and there was a group down by the clock tower doing a medieval mummers play. This one was a puppet play with big puppets. The one we saw was a kind of comical adaptation of the story of George and the Dragon with lots of audience participation and a huge colourful dragon held up high. Eventually, George gets to teach the dragon a lesson – in these environmentally friendly days it doesn’t do to kill the dragon, of course – and marry the beautiful princess.

This afternoon we drove up to Beachwood Green near Luton airport to the home of my cousins Donn & Sylvia Heath. Your great grandmother, Sadie Tearle had three brothers, Joe, Fred and Tom Adams. Ivor Adams is the grandson of Fred and Donn Heath is the grandson of Tom. We had a very interesting moment while Donn Heath absorbed the fact that the only difference between me and him was my accent!

Anyway, in the village today Donn and Sylvia were helping to organise a village open garden festival with local home gardens open to the public. We visited all of them, finishing with cream teas in the garden of a very large home, known locally as “the big house” or “the manor” although it is quite modern. It was lovely and sunny this afternoon so it was nice to be outside after all the cold and wet weather we have been having lately.

When we got home our neighbour Karen had her dinner with us then we went off to Ivor’s so I could work on his scanner. Iris gave us some beautifully fresh raspberries from her garden so we have just had a raspberries & ice cream supper.

I start my new job with Tescos tomorrow morning. Elaine is coming with me to Luton hospital to have my eyes checked, although they are now greatly improved. They think I caught some sort of virus thing in Belgium. I will then go off to work at Welwyn Garden City.

We’ve just come home from a really great night out. There’s a fellow who sings traditional English folk songs in French Row, just outside the Cafe Vicolo where we sit and have a cup of coffee every Saturday morning when we go to the market in St Albans. He calls himself John of French Row and he sings for the MS Society charity. He invited us to the Bull pub in Redbourne for a songs night. And we went tonight. It was just beautiful … all those lovely old songs that Butch and I used to sing in my university days at Waikato.

Also on Saturday, I updated my running shoes – that is, Elaine bought me some new ones for my birthday. On my first run on Sunday afternoon at least I did 4 miles under 30 minutes, and this afternoon I did 4 miles in just under 29 minutes. I’m looking to see if I can do the Great North Run in Newcastle, or maybe do the Garden City 10-mile again. So we’ll see how it goes. The first day at work in Tosco was a bit unusual – I didn’t know the answer to any of the questions that any of the callers rang in about! That’s a bit of a worry, but I am confident that I will pick up the patterns soon ….

Yes, well, I have just finished my first week at Tesco and it was quite interesting. I haven’t driven in England much before now, so driving to work has required a bit of education, too; although I haven’t actually got lost, I have driven home about four different ways, none of them intentionally. Progress House is in Shire Park which is on the edge of town, so I don’t get to see anything of Welwyn Garden City, but the group I am a sort of a member of has taken me to lunch at the Crown and Anchor pub in Tewin, a little country town 10min away, we’ve been to the Shire Club where you have to have a security pass to get in or it costs you 50p entry fee, and we’ve been to the cafe on the ground floor. Elaine makes my lunch, so none of that has cost me anything, but they are interesting places to go.

Tesco hasn’t yet organised too many of the tools I need to start work – my door pass arrived only yesterday, as did my AHD logon, but that’s all. I haven’t got a system logon, so Simon logged me on – illegally – as him, I haven’t got Lotus Notes so I can’t get or send messages, I haven’t got a telephone logon, so Simon let me – illegally – use his. And I haven’t got a mainframe logon, so if anyone rings me about problems with the mainframe, I can’t help them. All the servers were turned off on Tuesday, so we couldn’t help anyone at all and some of us couldn’t even log on.

There are some people from Novell working on the servers in the basement on pain of death if they don’t get things rectified, and the system administrators can’t set up any new accounts (like mine) otherwise everything is FINE. I sat at Simon’s elbow from Mon till Wed, then on Thurs I sat with Kevin, watching how the infrastructure worked and how the calls were answered and trying to see what were the most common problems. On Friday, two helpdesk guys failed to turn up and on Monday one of them is leaving, so they put me to work on Friday afternoon, fudging all the legal niceties as I said above, and I fell into the deep end. In the course of the afternoon, I took ten calls of about 15min each and I resolved ALL of them. None of them was left open, and none of them was referred on. One guy said “I can’t find the trakworks.ini file.”

I said, “That’s nice, where is Track Works?”

He said, “You haven’t been here too long, have you?” He was still most impressed when he went off with his program working properly.

So that’s it, I am now on the Helpdesk and working at the craft. The contract goes until 02 Feb 2001, but the manager says that it should go on much longer than that. We’ll see.

The only thing wrong is how COLD the place is. I know this is summer, but it looks like I’m not going to get much of it because where I sit is right under one of the cooling fans and I have to wear a jersey inside all day. When I get into the car, I find the day is roasting hot and I have just missed it. Because Elaine is now on holiday, we have six weeks to find another car. That shouldn’t be too hard. The Metro Centre wants to sell us one of theirs so we should be able to get a really nice little car for about 200 pounds.

Yesterday morning we decided we’d better chase up my new car, so we went round to the Metro Centre on the London Road and had a look at a couple of the cars he had for sale there. One of them was in our price range (300 pounds) it was quite tidy and the MOT for it was current till March next year. Also, it had seat belts for the rear seats. It’s exactly the same colour as the one we already own. Metro cheese. He said he’d make sure everything was tidy, legal and running smoothly and we’d pick up the car probably next Friday. So there you go, two cheese-coloured Metros in the parking lot.

We did get to the Gardens of the Rose yesterday. We went to the market first to have our cup of coffee and had a good chat with John of French Row, the folk singer. While we were talking to him we heard Eine Kleine Nacht Musik – played too fast, but rather well – coming from a small orchestra the other side of the clock tower, so we went to investigate. The orchestra had two violins, a viola and a cello and they had obviously played together a few times before – their tone was deep and very co-ordinated.

They went on to play the William Tell Overture and quite a few other family favourites. Apart from their excellent sound, we also loved the way they got kids up to help them and they danced and gestured as they played. It was a delightful 1/2 hour we spent listening to them. For some reason you get very good acoustics if you stand in front of the clock tower and no-one has to have any form of amplification in order to be heard perfectly well by a crowd of about 100 grouped under the robinia. It is just so romantic.

We decided to go to the Gardens of the Rose even tho we would get there at about 2:30pm. It’s a beautiful place, all right; the house is an old manor, but I don’t know anything about it other than it is now the HQ for the Royal National Rose Society – patrons, Princess Anne and Lord Runcie. They will obviously have to get a new vice patron, because Lord Runcie, retired Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of St Albans, has just died.

The gardens are in 30 acres of rolling Hertfordshire countryside and are actually in Chiswell Green (pronounced Chissel Green) but that’s only a suburb of St Albans anyway. We had a quiet and contemplative afternoon in the warm sun wandering around admiring a beautiful garden of 30,000 roses. One section of the garden was called the Peace Garden and was a collection of all the most famous roses that are descendents of the Peace rose. I didn’t know that Superstar was a “Peace Rose,” but there was a bed of Superstar and all its descendents in the Peace Garden. We got a really awful bright red plastic rose fridge magnet as our memento. A good day all told.

This morning I have been for a six-mile run and it was a respectable enough 43:54min. I haven’t done much work since the Petersfield 1/2 marathon, but it looks like the work I did in Belgium on the cross-trainers wasn’t wasted effort. I found out there that my highest heart rate is 178 and my resting pulse here at home at 42. I have bought the latest Runners World magazine and at last I have a new pair of running shoes, so I am lining up a couple of races for next month.

We’ve got the first of the leaf drop happening with the early-wintering birches, but there’s no sign yet of general colour change in the trees.  When I’m in the Tesco building, the trees around us make it look like we’re in a forest. We can see to a horizon that’s about 10 miles of rolling countryside away, and everything in view is trees, we can hardly see the rooftops because the trees are so big and they grow so densely. Every single tree was planted by hand. The fields all around us are deep yellow with ripe wheat, maize and barley and we can see combine harvesters at work on most days.

Many fields have large stacks of wheat or barley straw bales waiting for the truck. Some fields have even been re-ploughed and we can see the dusting of fertilizer sitting on the ground. The fields around Beds/Bucks/Herts are on beautiful, gently rolling countryside, they are 20 to 50 acres in size and all are ringed in magnificent oaks, elms, ashes, chestnuts and sycamores. The entire countryside looks like a gigantic park.

We went to Knebworth House yesterday. It used to be just an old Tudor manor, and home of the Lord Lyttons since about the 1450’s but in the 1840’s (around the time we signed the Treaty of Waitangi …) it was added to considerably and they put up towers and added gargoyles and laid out some lovely gardens. It was used as Wayne Manor in Batman! And I thought the entire movie was shot in America. The outside has been about one quarter renovated so it will look very impressive once the work is finished, but in this week’s paper Lord Cobbold says he may have to sell the place because the work is too expensive.

They used steel reinforcing rods in the 1840’s additions and in England’s damp and cold the rods rust, which breaks up the stone. The Victorians got very energetic with lots of these manor houses and all of them (I know of another 3 in the area) now have to have huge amounts spent on them removing the rods and fixing the damage. The Victorians thought the rods would make the building last longer. Anyway, it’s a fantastic looking building and the gardens were a very pleasant afternoon’s stroll. And, it’s not far from here, off the A1(M) near Stevenage.

One of the more recent Lord Lyttons was Viceroy to India in the 1870’s during the British Raj and it was he who organized for Victoria to become Empress of India. Winston Churchill was a frequent visitor here and his painting of the Banqueting Hall now hangs there. Queen Elizabeth the First also visited here in the 1570’s (I told you the place was a Tudor manor house) and the Lord Lyttons were all knights of the garter. One of the more unusual paintings is of a nun and a monk holding a baby and grinning widely. It’s described as “Tudor anti-Catholic propaganda.”

AND we have the fridge magnet of the house ….

We went to Southend-on-sea for the day on Sunday. It was such a fine sunny morning and I’d already been for my 12-mile training run, so we thought we’d go and look at the sea. I’ll tell you what … you wouldn’t go to Southend-on-sea twice. It seems the kids in various schools your Mum teaches at have said with great enthusiasm that “You gotta go there!”

We took the M25 at London Colney, past the Stanstead turnoff and on down to junction 29 where we took the A127 to Southend. The prettiest part of the trip is in Hertfordshire; once you get into Essex, the scenery gets much more industrial and scruffy. There are lots of untilled little fields lying fallow and full of weeds, many of the fences are in poor condition, there are unpainted warehouses dotted along the sides of the roads, that sort of scruffy.

Southend is quite big and it took a bit of navigating to find the beach. The town would have to be at least as big as Hamilton, but the beach is narrow, pebbly, with a bit of sand and heavily fortified with groins running out to sea trying to stop what little beach they have being washed away. The town is on the banks of the Thames and does not look out to sea, but across the river to tall chimneys and industrial installations on the other bank, at least 5 miles away. The view is dominated by a long jetty swinging from the far end of the beach to about a mile out to sea and we could just make out a few people walking on it and a little train running along it. Behind us, the beach carried on for another 2 miles before it turned left and the Thames met the Atlantic.

We parked our car about half way along the beach and walked west, with the sea on our left and the road on our right. We stopped at a Louisiana 30’s style eatery for lunch and although he was unkempt, the chef could cook. Elaine had a seafood platter and I had fish and chips … for the first time in England someone knew how to cook chips.

When we got to town it was the sort of place that was made for kids; we could see why the kids in school had recommended the town so enthusiastically. But actually, it’s horrible, noisy and loud. Every second place is a casino or games joint, there are three tattoo parlours, every other place is an eatery, and on the shore side of the road opposite the town there is a narrow strip of sideshow sort of attractions clambering over the rocks – flume rides, adventure rides, flying swings, pirate ships, that sort of thing – all with their music turned up and all flashing their lights and waving their flags.

Kids heaven, I should think, but sort of down-at-heel and tawdry and the people who walked about chewing their Southend rock looked sort of desperate for fun with their new tats and their hot, screaming kids. We bought the fridge magnet of a brightly multi-coloured sailing dingy and found a badge for the blanket. We ate some of the locally-made sticky peanut fudge and watched the traffic wardens sticking parking fines on the cars that hadn’t paid-n-displayed. Next stop Blackpool, I suppose …

The very best wishes

Ewart and Elaine


Tearle, Charles, 1894, Preston, UK (Loyal Nth Lancs Regt)

Here is his service record from CWGC

Name: TEARLE, CHARLES Initials: C Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.
Date of Death: 30/11/1917
Service No: 36932
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 8.

Charles was killed during the Battle of Cambrai, which started on 20 Nov 1917. When the Germans regrouped and attacked on 29 Nov, after initial Allied success, Charles was killed in the following 5 days of fierce action. Cambrai Memorial was established to commemorate those who have no grave.

Son of Charles 1860 of Preston and Jane nee Swarbrick. His mother was Sarah Tearle 1831 who had made her way up to Preston following her father and brother, hoping for a better life. She married Thomas Hoole in Preston in 1868. Sarah’s parents were Joseph 1803 of Tebworth and Mary Ann nee Smith, who died in 1849. Joseph’s parents were Richard Tearle 1778 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Pestel. And Richard’s parents were Joseph Tearle 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.

There is a lot more written about the story of the Preston Tearles here, some of it occasioned by the discovery of the story of Charles Tearle, soldier.


Pte Charles Tearle 1st/5th Bn The Loyal North Lancaster Regiment.

The army record of gratuities to his family (below) show two sums sent to his father, Charles, in Preston.

Charles Tearle UK Army Effects


Here is the Cambrai Memorial in the grounds of the Louverval Military Cemetery.

Cambrai Memorial Louveral Military Cemetery

Cambrai Memorial Louverval Military Cemetery

Across the countryside Louveral Military Cemetery

Across the countryside Louverval Military Cemetery

The headstones in Louverval Military Cemetery mark the graves of fallen soldiers; however for those whose bodies were never found, the names are inscribed on the Cambrai Memorial.

Charles Tearle in Book of Remembrance at Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Charles Tearle in Book of Remembrance at Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Charles Tearle on the Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Here is Charles’ name on the Cambrai Memorial.


Tearle, Albert Ernest, 1889, Sutton, Surrey, UK (RFA)

Died 16 Apr 1917, Mesopotamia.

Mesopotamia is not a country, or even a region, it is a Theatre of War. Since he is buried in the CWGC Baghdad War Cemetery, this points to Albert being killed in Iraq.

Here is his service record from CWGC:

Name: TEARLE Initials: A E     Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Acting Bombardier
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery
Unit Text: 8th Bty. 13th Bde.
Date of Death: 16/04/1917
Service No: 46587
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: XIV. G. 8.

Rosemary Tearle of NZ found out about this chap, whom I had found in “Soldiers died in the Great War”. This is what she told me:
I did know about Albert Ernest Tearle, although with a slightly different place of death. Michael’s Aunt Evie (Evelyn Mary West nee Tearle) sent me some family history info before she died. She had Albert Ernest “Killed in action in India 1917 – He was single”. I will amend my records here accordingly.

For the record here is what I know of Albert Ernest.:
Albert Ernest Tearle, born 2 Jan 1889 at Sutton Surrey. Parents: William James Tearle 1860 and Lucy Ann nee Laine. (Tearle Grandparents, James 1834 and Sarah Ann nee Jones; great-grandparents, George Tearle 1808 and Elizabeth Tearle 1810)

Siblings: William Charles 1885, Reginald Arthur 1893 (who married Edith Maud Tanner and is in the wills section) and Grace Ellen 1900.

His brothers were butchers and his sister married a butcher, (he also had an uncle, John Thomas Tearle 1871, who was a butcher in the 1901 Sutton census) so perhaps he may have done a bit of butchering before he went to the War. William Charles Tearle also went to the War – he was a driver in the Service Corps and was mustard gassed. I don’t know if Reginald Arthur Tearle was in the War.

Enlisted Kingston-Upon-Thames, died Mesopotamia 16 April, 1917. He is listed on the Sutton Memorial in Manor Park, Carshalton Rd, Sutton.

I think the cause of the error in Aunt Evie’s report to Rosemary was because the 13th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, of which the 8th Battery was a member, fought with the 14th (Indian) Division in Iraq.* It was composed of battalions of the regular British Army, the British Territorial Force and the British Indian Army.  This does not mean that Albert ever lived or served in India. The 14th Division was engaged in battle in Iraq from 14 Dec 1916. In March 1917, the 14th Division had fought the Second Battle of Kut, and then captured (or freed from the Ottomans, depending on your viewpoint) Baghdad, under the leadership of Major-General Sir Frederick Stanley Maud. On 30 April 1917, the 14th Division fought in the Action of the Shatt Al Adhaim, but Albert never saw this. His record of Army gratuities, below, shows that on 16 Apr 1917, he was killed in or near Basra, and at a later date his body was removed to the GWGC cemetery near Baghdad. I shall let you make what you will of this document. It is very interesting. I ought to point out, too, that a Bombardier in the artillery was the equivalent of a Lance Corporal elsewhere in the army during WW1. So in this case he was an Acting Lance Corporal. Even so, he had responsibilities and duties to go with his new rank.

* Moberly, Brig Gen F. J. , The Campaign in Mesopotamia 1914-1918, 1923, London, HM Stationery Office.

Albert Ernest Tearle UK Army Effects

Albert Ernest Tearle UK Army Effects.

Rosemary was absolutely correct; Albert is remembered on the Sutton War Memorial. Here is the memorial itself, in the 4-acre grounds of Manor Park that have been set aside for it “For ever.”

Sutton War Memorial Manor Park Carshalton Rd

Sutton War Memorial Manor Park Carshalton Rd

Here is the dedication of the memorial for the casualties from Sutton:

Dedication of the Sutton Memorial to the war casualties.

Dedication of the Sutton Memorial to the war casualties.

And finally, here is that part of one of the many panels on the memorial that contains Albert’s name:

Bom Albert Earnest Tearle on Sutton War Memorial closeup

Bombardier Albert Earnest Tearle on the Sutton War Memorial, closeup.


Tearle, Alfred Edward, 1897, Watford, UK (1/Herts Regt)

Here is his service record from the CWGC
Name: TEARLE Initials: A E Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private Regiment/Service: Hertfordshire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st Bn. Date of Death: 10/05/1916 Service No: 4605
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. R. 8.

His parents were Alfred George Tearle 1872 Watford and Minnie M nee Cyster. His grandparents were Jabez 1844 Borehamwood and Susannah nee Payne.

Jabez’ parents were George 1818 of Dagnall and Annie nee Haws, who founded an Australian family. George’s parents were Able 1797 Edlesborough and Hannah nee Frost, and of course, this Able was the son of the famous Fanny 1780, possibly the daughter of Thomas 1737 Stanbridge and Susannah nee Attwell. So that makes Alfred a member of the branch Thomas 1737.

I note from the Hertford site that the 1st Bn in 19 August 1915 was transferred to 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, and on 29 June 1916 was transferred to 118th Brigade, 39th Division. Since Alfred was killed on 10 May 1916, he was never in the 39th Division. If you look up the activities of the 2nd Division, the poor chap never stood a chance of lasting the war. It looks as though he was killed between Loos and La Bassée during the battle of Loos.

His Army record of gratuities to his family shows only that he was killed “In Action”, and that two small gratuities were sent to his sister.

Alfred Edward Tearle UK Army Effects

Alfred Edward Tearle UK Army Effects

Alfred Edward is remembered on the War Memorial in All Saints Church, Hertford.

War Memorial All Saints Hertford

War Memorial, All Saints, Hertford.

War Memorial header, All Saints Hertford.

War Memorial header, All Saints, Hertford.

WW1 memorial names EA Tearle LJ Tearle All Saints Hertford

WW1 memorial names E A Tearle L J Tearle in All Saints Church, Hertford.

The second Tearle soldier on the memorial above is Leslie James Tearle of St Albans

The gate - Guards Corner and Windy Corner Cuinchy

The gate – Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

The massed graves of Windy Corner Cuinchy

The massed graves of Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Alfred Edward Tearle Windy Corner Cuinchy

Alfred Edward Tearle headstone in Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Alfred Edward Tearle in the Book of Remembrance Windy Corner Cuinchy

Alfred Edward Tearle in the Book of Remembrance, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.


Letters home, 2000, Dec 13

13 Dec 2000

Finished work today, we’ll be on the plane tomorrow.

There’s a plane stuck on the runway and lots of flights have been delayed, but that’s life. Every now and then the train you are on will just stop on the tracks and the usual joke is that the driver has seen a leaf on the track and he’s gone out to sweep it off. The standing excuse for trains being late is for either leaves or snow on the track. In 150 years of British Rail they still haven’t come up with a cure for either. I suppose it’s the same for planes, not for leaves or snow, but some pathetic excuse that will hide the real story of someone’s incompetence.

Never mind, neither rain nor tornado can stop us now! We have had lots of cards wishing us well and about a dozen phone calls from friends and family. Jenny Pugh has rung, as has John Tearle, Clarice, Thelma, and Roland.  Pam and Tom took us to dinner and Liz and John Stredwick made us a beautiful dinner in their lovely Goff’s Oak home. Ivor and Iris will be looking after our car and I have insured mine so he can drive it, and then again for Elizabeth Marshall who’s coming to see us for a couple of weeks as soon as we get back. Here, it’s illegal to drive a car without the basic insurance.

Elaine made some Afghans for her work and for mine and they went down a treat. It’s also traditional here to give a Christmas card to one’s fellow workers, so I found some really good cards (20 for GBP2) and they were quite impressed with my cards. I got them from the Saturday market. So a card and an Afghan each for all 20 of them really got them talking at work. They also hadn’t tasted Afghans before and they were pretty envious that Elaine and I would be on the beach in summer for Christmas. I promised to show them my new tan when I got back. They are a very nice group of people and it’s a pleasure to work with them.

We have spent an hour or two touring St Albans looking at the decorated houses and we are sure that there are lots more than last year, many with Christmas trees outside their back door beautifully lit and lots of houses with brightly lit windows flashing with coloured fairy lights. It’s dark at 4:30pm so there is plenty of evening before 10:00pm (when most people switch them off) to show off one’s own lights and to go around town admiring the efforts of others.

But now it’s homeward. We’ll see you soon.

Lots of love

Ewart and Elaine