Holidays 4

We had a lovely but exhausting time. I’m afraid I opted out altogether one day and read at home(!) for the sake of being sociable on the others. We went to the beach and for a day to a well-done hot pools area and went to see a Bond film among other things. Good fun. The hot pools area was very good. They had 12 different pools of varying heat from sauna (which I could hardly put a toe into but saw one boy swim underwater in!) to fairly tepid ones for the end of some slides. We went down that several times, the 3 kids trying standing up. X got really good, Y could do it to half way down and Z seemed somehow to keep stopping and sort of hopped half way down before finally sitting down, much to the amusement of those waiting!

[Postcard from Ibiza] The old city is really lovely, up on a hill behind great fortifications of a lovely pinky-yellow rock. But the part down by the bay where all the hotels are is being terribly ‘developed’ and will soon be solid concrete! Our hotel is so nice with its own swimming pool (I haven’t been in yet but today is very warm and tempting). Tomorrow we are taking a coach tour all over the island and then we plan to hire bicycles!

I had a long letter here when we got back 2 days ago ago. I’ve written re dates and said to make all arrangements as I don’t mind what I do or when. I’m getting so used to making no decisions and just going around where I’m told and loving it! X and I had a marvellous car trip together and stayed in some wonderful places. I think I really enjoyed the little self-contained lodges in National Park where you looked after yourself re feeding but fires lit and place cleaned by the boy and washing up done! We cooked on a wood stove – made a gorgeous milk pudding as the fire slowly went out after supper and the oven lasted warm for a long time. On the way to the mountains we are staying again in a little lodge on a great lake with X and daughter who is my god-daughter. After all this grand living I shall be quite happy to sit for a bit. It has been extremely interesting and I’ve met some very nice people. Anyway I’m so glad I came and it’s all so easy now. Gosh how I fussed!

X and I left last Saturday from Salisbury and stayed 2 nights with her eldest son and family in their married quarters. Chaotic family – various relatives there too as there was a big dance in the mess that night. Then on to Bulawayo. Very comfortable and Bulawayo biggish pleasant town. Went to a drive-in cinema to see film about Ahmed the Largest African Elephant and masses of other game. Hadn’t been to a drive-in since Jamaica. Then on to the Ruins near Kyle Lake where we are staying in a little round thatched chalet. Communal lavs and bathrooms with wonderful hot water. We do all our cooking on a wood stove that is lit for us by an African and he does all washing up. Luxury camping. The ruins are quite extensive and consist of walls made entirely of granite ‘bricks’ – some still 20 feet high and about 15 ft wide. Also on top of nearby hill more ruins like the others – stiff climb up but magnificent views from the top – the whole thing is set in the middle of bush and no one knows why or when they were built but as it must have been done by primitive people it’s an incredible feat. These camp sites are all in National Parks and very well maintained – you can also have cottages or lodges with more accommodation – the chalet we have costs about £1 per night inclusive of sheets, cooking equipment, light, wood and baths – very comfortable and snug. Going on tomorrow to a hotel at Hot Springs where you can swim in the baths and drive through the nearby mountains. We’ve another 2 stops after than and back to Salisbury.

Lap of Luxury – Am certainly living it up and shall have to live on bread and water when I leave X both for the sake of my purse and my figure. Never mind it is all enormous fun. We have had 2 nights in a very pretty hotel looking out over Kariba Lake which is vast and one looks across the lake to a lovely mountain range. Visited the dam, crocodile farm and a delightful quiet trip on the Ark which was a ship from which Operation Noah was organised when they rescued so many animals when the valley was being flooded. A middle-aged couple bought it and turned it into cabin cruiser and live there all the time. We anchored in a quiet backwater and watched birds and natives fishing – all v. peaceful and pleasant.

Operation Noah

We flew up here to the National Game Park – over 5000 acres and have been out in little buses seeing the game. That has been very exciting and we’ve seen masses and some gorgeous birds – lovely bright colours, very decorative. Lots of baby elephants and zebra. We saw the perfect picture of a young leopard sitting in a tree – just looking straight at us but too far to get a photograph with my camera I thought but very clear with the binoculars – and even without. There is a water hole just in front of the hotel and about 3 lots of elephants came down at lunchtime and were so funny chasing the wart hogs off. Lots of ear flapping and trumpeting and showing off – only a ditch between us and them so it looked as if they were right in the garden. This is an interesting new hotel only built in 1972 – central main area with 2 large bedroom wings – 2 floors only. The central area has a dome open to the sky with a fountain and plants growing up. The walls are covered with large pieces of local stones all varnished. We’ve seen loads of game and even get up in the freezing cold at 5.30 a.m. to go out and see them. Soon gets warm when the sun gets up.

Have had a very extravagant tour last week with X – such gracious living as I’ve never known but it’s been marvellous. It’s been a wonderful holiday – I got quite brown at the Victoria Falls but it’s colder here out of the sun. I freeze until the sun gets really hot. I never want to be really cold again it is so marvellous to have sun.

 

On Wednesday we went to Orakei Korako which is a thermal reserve. The reserve itself was most impressive. It was mostly around several acres of large flat ground with numerous bubbly ponds breaking through the crusty surface and having a long wall of very white silica as backdrop. The whole thing was made more effective by the vivid orangy greeny algae that live on the rocks over which the hot streams pass. On Thursday we spent the morning in the hot pools in Taupo. They’re fantastic. At 98 F they reduced my desire to swim to nil in about half a length and thereafter I just lay, occasionally opening one eye to make sure the kids hadn’t drowned – exhausted by my morning exertions, I slept all afternoon.

 

Coming through Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, it was thick snow, just like fairyland. With all the Christmas tree forests shimmering in the sun. Greece was a bit warmer and we camped by the sea and the pine forests. Istanbul was a great place, really interesting, the Bazaars were a sprawling honeycomb of dimly lit passages laden with merchandise. We went to the Blue Mosque and explored the waterfront and ate fish steaks down by the Bosphorus.

 

We spent three days in Toronto, staying with some kids we’d met on the train. It was grey and snowy and cold, but we had fun. Went to Niagara Falls one day. Then we went up to Montreal and stayed a few days there. I loved it there. Such a change to be in an old city again, with winding, cobbly streets (in the old quarters), and the whole city has got such a good spirit. Can’t really define it, but it’s a great place. We were staying with some kids in the French district, and although the whole city was under hundreds of feet of snow, it was all lovely.

 

We drove through the pine forests to Troy and explored the ruins, then we went on to see the ancient city of Ephesus. We drove along the coast and we saw the Dardanelles and Greek islands. The scenery was very beautiful.

 

After we left Denizli we drove high up into the mountains over 8,000 ft, and it was thick snow and freezing cold. We saw wolves, eagles, and tribesmen galloping on horseback across the snowy plains. On the Russian border, near Mount Ararat, we saw a bear. The country was really wild. When we drove across the border into Iran it was snowing. The roads were really bad. Tehran was fun, Isfahan was beautiful, the mosques are wonderful, all green, gold and blues mosaic work. There was a very old palace there, and some fabulous wall paintings, still being restored. The Shah Abbas hotel was wonderful, all the best craftsmen in Iran have contributed their skills, it is a national showpiece. The ceilings and walls have lovely paintings and mosaic work. They did beautiful engravings and jewelry, and the carpet factories are very interesting. They make the most intricate patterns and lovely colours. We went on to see the ancient city of Persepolis which was very interesting.

 

The desert was a wonderful place – so peaceful and still. Great plains of stony ground covered with little silvery and yellow bushes. We climbed up and down mountain ranges, saw mirages, and eagles. Once we came out upon a high plateau and saw before a great blue lake in the middle of a plain, surrounded by shimmering salt flats and there was a little mud village beside it. In the mornings and evenings it was really freezing cold, we used to burn the bushes for camp fires and cook potatoes in the ashes. We used to come across the odd primitive mud village and a couple of shepherds and flock of goats, and little donkeys laden with firewood.

Things children say 2

My aunties took me to the zoo and we saw two politicians.

seeing the politicians

 

To acquire votes, one must kiss old people and babies and that spreads disease.

It is easier to have a baby if you are a cat.

On Saturday we were having dinner with some friends including the headmistress. After about an hour’s conversation – during which time both the girls had been asked if they would like to read – or even watch TV – X announced, suddenly, that this conversation was getting even more boring and could we change the subject and she’d tell us a joke… The headmistress who is used to 1000+ kids jumping to her every command was somewhat taken aback, needless to say!!

[Dictated letter of thanks from 4 year old] I bought a cash register with my money. It has money and a credit card. It has a scanner that goes ping. We play shops with it with mummy and the boys and daddy and my friends. We play libraries too. We have been to X with the youth group. We went biking up the hill. We saw swans and ducks and horses. We loved the horses. They went galloping. We played on the park there. I like the swings.

X has been having rough time with his group friends – hopefully solved now. I gathered yesterday that whatever rejection he’d been experiencing wasn’t entirely unreciprocated and he’d been name-calling. When asked, he told me he’d just been using ‘extraordinary, grown-up words and X didn’t understand’ – Hmm!!

Teacher’s question: What do you do if you’re hungry? Answer: I eat my boiled egg and Mum will eat the yukky bits.

I use the purse quite a lot for putting my money in it. It is usufall because my other purse has just brock.

Mummy gave me a culb [corrected in father’s hand to cube] and X mucked it up for me (I was glad because I wouldn’t dear tough [corrected in father’s hand to touch] it. I was scard to.) Our trip was grate and pusy was very good she sleept and walked around. [Well, a letter is not to be sneezed at even with spelling mistakes!]

Dear X. I guess she is only being ‘normal’ but, oh dear, it is very trying. She has a very cunning ability to pick one bit out of a conversation, and use it totally to her own advantage … I’m not used to such cunningly contrived and clever conversations, and she usually has me floundering at least once a day. The trouble is – when do clever quips become downright insolence?!!

We started the term with a language unit on Noah’s Ark. The kids did some stories today telling the story from one point of view or another. Some of them had lovely bits of dialogue e.g. God said to Noah, “Build an ark, there’s going to be a flood.” “But Go-”. “No buts.”! Or after Noah had told the three sons how to build the ark they all said, “Got you.”!

DIY ark instructions

 

He seems to have no concept of time when he’s actually playing. He’ll clap it right and then play it quite differently and say he’s done it the same – “I AM doing that.” Oh dear. I tried a tape recorder and he just grinned and said, “Well, I like it better that way”!

We were fascinated with two tidbits of news [grandchild] gave us – one she told the people she visited after us that her family was coming south and may be staying with them – which rather surprised the wife!

Children 3

X gave a fulsome introduction to the man proposing Y’s health which went v. well and Y much affected replied. He’s the most modest boy. [Grandmother] said how well all the boys had grown up and [mother] was a wonderful mother and had made such a good job of them – no mention of [her son, the father]!

X was despondent with her daughter who went into her teens by dyeing her hair pink and had a nose ring and was threatened with being expelled. X says she’s got old rather sooner than she’d expected!

the teenager

 

Isn’t it fun X [grandchild] being a mouse in the ballet? Evidently all went well.

Well, I eventually wrote to X [‘grown-up’ grandchild] with a copy of my letter that had made her cross, and she coloured in all the bits she didn’t like and answered by number … So I replied in kind and trust we’re not now cut off. Her affectionate ending didn’t really make up for verging on being impertinent, but I did say I thought that was because she needed a dictionary. [And in a later letter] The fracas got quite out of hand ending with a venomous letter. I’ve now burnt the file, but it simmers inside me.

The man talked to me and seemed pleasant and said they hadn’t expected to have their son with them, and be free to do their own thing. The son was a v. large 30-ish man with big black beard and dressed in black leather all over. Later I was talking to him; he was ready to answer any remark but didn’t initiate anything. When I asked if he had any friends near he said most of them were in X, and I didn’t click until I got home his father had said, ‘He has problems’… I went over and asked our ex-neighbour if she knew anything I didn’t and told her of the remarks made, and she was very shirty with me, and said she couldn’t possibly ask them what he went to the hospital for, which wasn’t what I’d asked her. Only as I was walking out of the door said, ‘I only know he’s schizophrenic.’ I called over to say hello yesterday. The father looked pretty downcast. Poor dears, anything like that is so much worse than our tribulations, and we’ve had more than our fair share, I think.

We arrived with them before dark so had some time with the boys too – rescued the little one having a ball with large pot of Vaseline from bathroom cupboard.

I took them to the rec – walked – and that was marvellous. X was a bit indignant when I had to help him down the ‘fireman’s pole’ – but suffered me to help him onto it as his arms are too short!!!

Holidays (3)

We’ve been talking about a little holiday for so long I got onto that and was all agog to go to Kakadu up in the Northern Territory of Oz – but the rather dubious promoter wanted the earth for the trip – all based on coach trips. We put it off and really I don’t think a coach trip would be any good for X – he’d sleep his way through Australia and hate being woken up to look at aboriginal paintings etc – and the flies!! So I turned to the Islands again but they look v. artificial apart from Norfolk where we’ve been – and where Y and Z went on their honeymoon. The coach tour was organised for hotels and meals – which appealed to me – tho’ usually I hate the vast amount they expect you to eat. Now X says let’s go to the Bay of Islands.

fw 001
asleep on the coach tour

 

X invited Y [younger relative] to stay so he went down on Sunday to come back the Tuesday week. By Saturday X was looking for an early flight! … I gather they went swimming & McDonald’s, hydrosliding & McDonald’s, ice skating & McDonald’s, movies & McDonald’s etc.

8 adults, 6 2/9 grandchildren, 4 cats and 10 bikes, trikes and scooters – a recipe for chaos? We all arrived at a very smart 4 bedroom house … Just at the moment I’m relaxing at the hot pool cafe while the 1st instalment of family change for the pool.

She said X had told her I’d always wanted to go to Georgia and she said it was very handy to Delhi and I must go and stay. I’ve just had a look at my globe and think it must have been Tibet we were talking about, the other place I want to go to! and yes Tibet looks possible.

We think we’ll try and organise ourselves ahead of time and go to Tasmania next year – all the crowd we used to go round with lived there at one time. I don’t think it’s as exciting as some places I’d choose but doesn’t move so fast!

We found a large stand of kauris and found them quite awesome – very odd such huge trunks and funny twiggy branches on top.

Friends just back from there [Cairo] found it dirty and rather frightening – apparently not changed from our time there, except the pyramids are crumbling so much you can’t climb them. I gathered from an article I saw recently ‘they’ had found some new burial places – aren’t we hypocrites? – once the bones are dry or crumbled it’s okay to dig them up – earlier it’s the most heinous crime of body snatching.

Spelling

We went to Harry Potter and the pholpersers stone. It was realy funny because Hadrige kept on saying I souldn’t of told you that. At the end Harry was in the hospital win because he was very badly ingered. He had berty bots every flavour beans and propheser Drubledore had a ear wax flavour.

I liked the friends and relitives we visited. As for the food, I loved it all especialy: the ice cream topping, the cocolate mouse, the picnic’s ect. 

fw 006
making the cocolate mouse

Give up the earnest job and take to dress designing and creating from your eerie! (How on earth is an eagle’s nest spelt? I am sure ‘eerie’ is wrong but can’t think how it should be and I appear to have tidied my dictionary away!)

Funny – now she’s got a spell check cos it doesn’t pick up incorrect usage. It said ‘a bout 6 months’ and ‘little room to spear’!

A real estate office had a notice in the window advertising ‘560 acre’s of land with a calved drive’!

[From dyslexic child, as written, in flowing and beautiful handwriting! – some guesswork required!]

We just went up to X; (hears our ajender) Day one: find camp ground, set up srunk tent, drink coke eat porky bats, go see X (daddys Godmothr) Day Two: go to beach laze around on beack and in shrunk tend. (and go to balhs). Day three; same as day two. Day four; drive to Y lion Safri, and have ago on, the hrydo slide, the mini golf the train (mini) the pedel boot to the tobgan, and we saw a magic show and a star tallin quest. (we also so the lions, tigers, bufflo, deer etc.). Then we went to Pizza hut had dinner went to X’s house and whatched star trek (the motin pitcure).

X was there with Y. Z has a queer decease ?hands, feet and mouth which is evidently rampaging round the preschoolers.

The future and posterity

[From the days before computers etc. when phone calls abroad were booked and cost a fortune] It was lovely to hear you the other day – it never ceases to be a miracle to me – and surely it can’t be long before we’ll be able to travel that way.

On the subject of grandchildren, there is still only one who is married, and no sign of offspring – two are living happily in sin, one is gay, and three are still playing the field. So much for posterity.

This typewriter is being a great nuisance. It seems to have stopped refusing to reverse the ribbon at one end, which it was doing for a time, but now the platen and rollers are refusing to grip the paper, so it won’t wind on properly – and often refuses to accept the paper when I first feed it in without scrumpling it up at the edges.

She was a remarkable old lady – daughter of a skilled cabinet maker – who lost her mother in childbirth when she was ten, and thereafter was ‘mother’ to the family until the first world war, when her three brothers went off to the Front as they got old enough. She got a job in the Income Tax department, which she lost again with peacetime. Her father remarried a lady with a boarding house in X, and her brothers also soon got married so she was on her own and determined to see the world (which meant accepting a post as a cook in New Zealand with a £10 passage). She only had one contact there, apart from her prospective employer, and that was a Kiwi who had stayed a couple of years before in the [boarding house]. She had never met him, but her father gave her the name and address. In due course she got in touch with him. And at their second meeting he proposed and was accepted! That was the late 20s, and she was rising 40, but they had four children, including a set of twins.

The general principle behind the government’s Social Welfare programme seems to be that everyone should save like mad all their lives, in order to pay for their own old age and eventual demise; and the idea I was brought up on that any money you inherit should be regarded as a trust for your children, with enjoyment of the income only, is almost regarded as subversive!

The service started with a 3 1/2 year old boy singing the 1st verse of Away in the Manger. He and an 8 year old girl were brought out from an orphanage in Rumania / Russia?? – both very weakly. In 18 months they’re speaking fluent English and healthy and delightful. Their adopted parents are wonderful, having brought up their family, starting again.

Children (2)

X as awkward as ever. I fear he dreads coming into our house, and there’s a free fight even getting him out of the car – really most shaming for us. I don’t know what started it all off – no, I haven’t spanked him or even shouted at him once!!!

unwilling visitor

 I’d love to know about all the other misdoings at her school her daughter got up to, do tell me more.

X is a real delight – gets handed round like a parcel and beams on everyone. She could only go backwards then – and was trying to pull her leg up by holding her clothes – but a few days after she was off – so now the gate has to be locked by the stairs.

X has been elected form captain which was v. good for her morale – I have a suspicion that she’ll be unbearable – in the nicest possible way!!

She’s having a rough ride at work. I don’t think she’d realised how completely unstructured the school is. If her little dears (8 year olds) get bored or cross they go walk-about and come back when they feel like it. Also several of them can’t read…

I asked X (re that couple) about babies a while ago and she made it sound not to be mentioned.

The children fell upon her as though they had suffered tortures during the fortnight (when grandmother and great-aunt were in charge), but needless to say they had been well and truly spoilt really and got away with a lot of minor sins without reprimand – and with a great deal of demanding favourite food and more ice-cream etc. that no doubt mum would have dealt with much more severely than grandmother did – although even she rebelled when the youngest tried to get away with putting golden syrup on a chocolate wheaten biscuit! Ladling it on to a scone was one thing and licking the spoon with a ladleful of treacle in it just passable, but the idea of it on expensive choc bics was too much!!