February 20, 1940
Received your letter of the 27th yesterday and was glad to hear from you. By this time, you should have received several letters written from various points en route. At present, I am sitting at a table drawn up in front of the fireplace in the sergeants’ quarters, where I am room orderly for the day, because my boots are worn too thin for parade and the Quartermaster’s stores haven’t any at present. I have just returned from leave which I spent in Devonshire visiting the Aunts. I saw them all with the exception of Aunt Lila, who was sick in bed. They were extremely glad to see me and Auntie May insisted that I stay with her and made my visit most enjoyable.
She has a sweet little cottage situated near the sea and has a very attractive garden and lawn which are cared for by a gardener. The house is equipped with running water, electric light and coal gas, and has a cute little fireplace in every room. Breakfast was served every morning at 8:45 by the maid, who is a Jewish refugee, lunch at about one, tea at four o’clock and dinner at eight. We were invited to dinner by a certain Mr. and Mrs. Pitt, who seem to have lots of what it takes, and were served in the usual manner, multiple courses and all with our choice of scotch or wine, with roast pheasant to satisfy our hunger. After which, coffee was served in the drawing room (quite the thing, don’t you know).
I met a very nice English girl there by the name of Phyllis Gardiner, who was both attractive and agreeable, so what? I went to see Aunt Margaret and found her quite nice, although very much the old maid and after lunch went to a show (cinema), which being American, proved difficult for her to understand. I also went with May and Margaret to look at the new flat Margaret is moving into. The house is owned by a widow, a Mrs. Martin, who has had a great deal of money and the place is simply filled with wonderful furniture. It appears that the house is being altered to make four flats. I think the main reason being to avoid taking the evacuees who are the terror of the wealthy house-holders. Later on in the week, we went by taxi to see Aunt Madeline, who lives well out in the country. She has a very comfortable cottage and seem to be quite happy.
We had a rabbit pie for lunch and enjoyed it very much, as the English rabbit is much superior to ours. We had tea at four and returned to Budleigh. Both Aunt Margaret and Aunt May received letters from you while I was there and promised to enclose my love. On Sunday, I had to return to camp and left Budleigh loaded with cakes and sandwiches, etc. enough for several soldiers. Aunt May came as far as Exmouth, where we were met by Margaret, who added still more to my load. After thanking them both for their many kindnesses, I took the train for Exeter, where I changed to the Waterloo train. I liked Auntie May the best and found her just as I had always pictured her, sensible and kindly.
Well, I will close now and enclose some comic cards for Lorna.
P.S. I saw an English robin, about the size of a large sparrow.