30 Cdn Air Survey Liaison Sec, RCE
Cdn Army England,
24 Jan 45
Your letter seems to be delayed this week, so will not wait any longer to get this away. Before I forget, we did enjoy the brown sugar in one of your last parcels. It was a real treat on our porridge. A belated parcel from Haggman's came along last week, with Kate's cake as usual, and up to her usual standard too, also it had a limburger cheese in it, which needless to say, Harry and I are enjoying to the full. By the way, it might be an idea to see if there is any rochefort type cheese at the Bay when you happen to be there sometime, and those little Oka or Trappist cheeses are fine to. The alarm clock is doing 100%, and it is a boon. Took some of the thing over to Morrises last Sat, rode over on my bike for the air and exercise. Came back before dark. Ecila was away, but Mrs M was there, and was glad to see me. They have a woman and child in the house to help a bit, and it seems to be working better than some of the previous trials. It is a good thing for Ecila too, for she can get away. Her nerves get a bit ragged when she is tied down to the house, and she wont leave her mother alone.
Sunday Bill Hall and I went up to an establishment north of Nottingham, to see some work which is of interest to us, and one of Bill's best friends from the Desert War is on the staff there. We stayed two nights, leaving yesterday am early. Bills friend is an exceptionally fine chap, and they had a new baby daughter to show Bill, who is to be the Godfather. They have a very old little farm cottage not far away from the village, and we spent both evenings there, but returned to the mess to sleep. The country is the beginning of the Pennines, a small range of mountains, so there are plenty of hills, it was a refreshing change of landscape, and the weather was clear and cold, with snow all over.
On the way back, I detrained at Derby, and caught the Nottingham bus which goes through Sandiacre, where the Smedleys are. Got there about 1030, and found the little ehouse, but instead of going right in, called at Mrs Lord's, next door, and asked her if they were still there. She remembered me and said that cousin Bernard was still there, and that cousin Bertha had died last year. So then she went in to Smedleys with me, and announced to Bernard that there was a visitor to see him. He was sitting in the old chair in the kitchen in front of the typical English cottage stove, (these are more like a fire place, as the fire is open, but ovens etc are built around). I was relieved to find the old man was in quite good shape, poor old fellow, is living there alone, and batched most of the time, and was a bit sensitive about the mess the kitchen was in however I think I put him at east to some extent by telling him I had batched and knew what the problems are. Needless to say he was very pleased to see me, and his mind and conversation are clear and coherent, although he stops sometimes to think out what he wants to say. Later on I asked him how old he was, but he smiled and said he doesn't think about his age any more, but is happy to keep on as long as can make out, and as long as the Lord intends. He must be about 82 or 83. He says that good old Mrs Lord, his tenant, flits in and out of the house about 20 times a day, doing a bit for him as she gets time, but she is getting old now, and hasn't been too well, and has an invalid husband, so quite a few things just don't get done. I noticed that except for the kitchen, the house is tidy and clean, if a little dusty, and the bathroom-toilet upstairs was clean & respectable, so they must give the place a going over for him occasionally. He wanted me to stay for lunch, but I thought better not so said I had to catch the train at Nottingham. We did have a tot of whiskey though, and some biscuits, the latter out of an ornate glass jar in the traditional manner of England. Bernard said he had written me in your care, telling me about Bertha. He was very interested to hear about you and Mary, and still had some snaps that either I gave him or you had sent perhaps. Evidently his wife passed away peacefully last summer some time, he did say, but I've forgotten. Fortunately he has a nephew in the village who must be a good scout, for he had Bernard stay with him after Bertha went, for 6 weeks, and treated him like a prince. The nephew is well off and must be a good bloke. He was away at sea or else Bernard would have taken me down to meet him. He goes for short trips or tours of duty on coasters, and comes home between voyages Bernard is the last definite connection with Mothers family, he is her full cousin. There are some other more remote branches, one in Detroit, and the ones here in Nottingham. One of these is a widow, and has written me each Xmas. She lives with her sister who is a Smedley. At Nottingham I had time before the train to nip up their address, and found the unmarried one at home, middle aged, and of course a bit old maidish the other one is probably more interesting, and interested in the Smedley family, unfortunately she was out for the day looking after some aged friend. Apparently they did not hit it off too well with Bernard's Bertha, who was a fire brand alright. I liked her the more for it. Well dear, this is a bit boring, but had to get it off my chest.
Things are OK, and am fine.