Friday 8:30 am
Not often I write you at this time of day -started doing so last night but found it impossible with all that was going on.
I had better give you shortly the week's doings. Sunday night turned from rain to heavy snow & we woke up in a white world on Monday & it has remained nice, although it is thawing today. Yesterday [?] road looked like the toboggan slides in [?] Park there were such crowds using it. Both Monday & Tuesday were rather hard days at work - cold & bright - really lovely weather - but [?] work & cold moving & waiting about in the snow. On Tuesday morning we had a 3 hrs [?] scheme - had a lovely & very pretty march of [?] up & down hill - rather bad underfoot [?] - & we got thoroughly warmed - then we had to hang about in a field on the crest of a hill - set up portable tables on tripod stands & in the deep snow - of course our return march warmed us again. The Scotch & Irish men all [?] after lunch - the rest of us continued drills [?] till 6.30. In the evening about eight [?].....................a few minutes lights out was sounded. the [?] alarm since I left Woolwich. However it [?] no nearer to us - was probably Folkstone was [?] got it rather badly as usual - but we could not hear that with hills between.
We had our usual 7 am Roll Call parade in the dark & snow on Wednesday & after breakfast [?] for our passes. Round ours were only [?] more than all the rest - so of course a good deal of grumbling but actually we get promised 6 & 4 day - although only 8 days [?] at home - the others gain - & it is owing [?] Office Regulations that no home troops must be [?] between 21st & 26th or during the New year [?] end. So we go back a week today - & will [?] Saturday & Sunday in camp doing practically nothing of course. We have no cause for "kicking" [?]. The other days are being kept clear for those on leave from the front - which is only [?].
Next we paraded at 9.30 for pay - had to stand in the cold shed till 10.30. When the Adjutant came [?] that owing to the Air raid the night before the money to pay us had not arrived & as he had only Â£800 he proposed to pay the permanent [?]. It was a blow to a lot of men who had not enough for their fares. I had just enough. I cleared off & packed my small suit case [?].............................................snow storms in our absence, paraded for 4 [?] tickets to London at 11.15 & did not get mine [?] 11.40 so had rather a rush to get down to Uckfield for the 12.30 special train - some of the hills very bad [?] foot & a rather heavy bag to carry. Just did [?] the train was very punctual. Our money arrived before the train so the adjutant Pay Sergeant brought it to town with us - arrived at Victoria at 2 - were paraded on the platform till the found a place to pay us - which was the Soldier's Hostel some quarter of a mile [?] in Buckingham gate - There we had another wait in a cold basement corridor - & eventually [?] very early on the roll I got mine at 3.30. [?] 73/-, not quite as much as I expected for back pay since September. There may be more to come & of course it is very acceptable for the holiday. I got to King's Cross by [?] in time to miss the 4 oclock train north, so I went out & had some tea at one of Lipton's [?] (had not had lunch at Maresfield) poached [?] potatoes (bread substitute) & caught the [?]. A very heavy train run in two parts, and full of home men going on leave & quite a few men from France - covered with mud as [?] & burdened with all their fighting equipment [?] of white banded Cadets as well - of various[?] as on the relief half of the train - & we were 50 minutes late by the time we got to Doncaster at [?]. Got a tram up in a short time & after nearly breaking my neck coming down the hill [?] in the dark - reached here. They had not received my letter of the day before - but on Sunday I had said I might be home at midnight Wednesday or later - so they were going to sit up for me. Got a surprise to find Kathleen & Gordon had already arrived - they had come about five o'clock - not at the same time as each other but nearly so. Miss Cooke also here but she had retired for the night. Mother looking fairly well & the girls all right. I had some supper & of course we sat up pretty late talking, & Gordon and I talked on later still as he & I are in the same room.
Yesterday morning we got out about [?] thirty & did some shopping - met Muriel & Kathleen in town & came up with them. Gordon & I went down again in the afternoon - as he wanted to get some cards for his boys - but we found all the shops closed. They usually keep open the Thursday afternoon before Christmas. We came up by way of Mr Waite's - the family dentist & I made an appointment for tomorrow ............[?] afternoon tea - found Lily & she at home. We had a long talk till 5.30. Morris is having a very "cushy" time in Egypt - an administrative [?] in some town - He is still unfit for active service. We got home for our own tea at 5 & spent a quiet evening talking around the fire - later on putting on the Gramophone for a while.
No letters from you this week yet - the last was dated Nov. 14th so they are getting [?] than ever. There has been two from Berk this week - he is still alright. They were promised rest after their heavy fighting but were only out for a day & then had to take over another part of the line. Edgar was hoping to get Christmas leave but now expects it in nearly in the New Year.
Ian seems to be enjoying himself altho his foot does not heal up. There is a raised ridge [?] the sole which keeps filling up. His leg up to the knee has healed up - altho Miss Cooke (she lives [?]) says it looks as if a red hot poker had been drawn up it. She says it is marvellous how he gets about hopping - at a terrific rate even up the stairs - carrying his crutches under his arm.
Food is getting a big problem these days - [?] does not hear of it, of course at a camp - though we grumble at our short rations [?]. However I will leave that subject until Sunday.
Hope all is well & that you are very well. Wish you could be hear to join the rather circle now. Mrs Thompson said yesterday I was to tell you that she hoped [?] would be able to bring you to see her before another year was over.
I must close -
With much love