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.