We talked and planned so long for this trip, that even up to the moment of departure, it did not seem real to me. I went through the motions of buying nylons, crease-proof dresses, raincoats and the like, listened to the advice of other travellers, packed and labelled bags, stored away valuables, and still did not believe in my own mind, that we were actually going! John remembers Father coming home in a bit of a daze - he had just spent eight thousand dollars ($55 thousand in Y2K money) on tickets and letters of credit in one day!
But the day finally came, and without too much last-minute flurry we locked, up the doors and windows, counted our bags and wraps in what was soon to become a regular routine, climbed in the company car at about 2 pm, and were off for Malton airport.
June 30: The flight from Malton to Dorval was smooth and uneventful, though exciting enough for the children, who had never been up before. No one felt queasy, and we enjoyed our dinner on the plane. We had an hour's delay at Dorval, but finally climbed into our Stratocruiser, and were off across the ocean. We all curled up and the children were soon asleep, in fact. Grace was so sound asleep that she refused to wake up even when they served us a full course dinner (at midnight, our time.) However, she woke up when we reached Gander, and went off to the terminal with the others. This time it was Janet who was too sleepy to move, so I stayed behind with her. Later, though, she woke up, and explored the plane. I stepped outside for a few moments, to gaze upon what little I could see of Newfoundland; the air was so pure and cold, I wanted to drink it in, in great gulps, after the rather stuffy atmosphere of the pressurized cabin. We watched them re-fuelling the plane and checking the, engines, and in an hour we were off again.
The flight was so smooth, we might have been sitting in an arm-chair at home, except for the vibration of the great engines. I woke several times during the night; during most of the trip there was nothing to see but a solid bank of clouds below us. But about three o'clock we had our first glimpse of the sea, between great mountains of white clouds. It gave one an odd feeling of being suspended in space- the blue above, the blue below, and we and the clouds floating between. Later, when we were all wakened for breakfast, it cleared even more. We even saw a ship far below us, like one of John's little models. We found the best view was from the cocktail bar downstairs - imagine a plane having a cocktail lounge, or a downstairs at all.
July 1: We arrived at Prestwick about 2:15 pm British time. The customs inspection was limited to the outside of our bags, so we were free in a very short time. And as we came out into the main room, we were met by a cheerful little man in a chauffeur's uniform, who told us that our car was waiting. We had originally been offered a small British car that would have crammed us in like sardines even with our luggage on the roof. So instead we climbed into a limousine - a big polished black Humber Pullman which was to be our home for over a month, and the little man proceeded to show us every button and lever. The children were especially intrigued with the buttons on the arms of the back seat, which raised and lowered the glass partition between the back and front seats; very exclusive. The driver seemed very anxious about the welfare of his car; he insisted, on seeing both George and Charlie drive for a few blocks before he would relinquish it, and in parting, he said wistfully, "You will put oil in her sometimes, won't you, sir?" With which, he finally left us, and we were off - on the left side of the road. It certainly did feel funny at first, especially when we went around a traffic circle the wrong way (or so it seemed). Charlie said it was several days before he got over the impression that every car on the road was rushing directly at him. Actually, both of our drivers adjusted very quickly. I think we started out only once on the wrong side; that was on coming out of a one,- way street, where we had been driving on the right side. George found it harder to get used to the curves in the English roads, which are apt to be much longer and tighter than ours: we really squealed around one corner before he found out that when an Englishman bothers to label a curve with a road sign, it is usually a 45 degree angle or better.
Our first stop was at the Bay House at Gouroch. Our hotel window looked out on a corner of little shops which might have come straight out of Dickens, and up a steep cobblestone street with a quaint old clock tower near the top. After dinner, the younger ones having gone to bed, George, Charlie and I climbed the hill, and found ourselves on top of a long ridge, which looked down over the harbour. The houses along this street were very substantial, though like most mansions in Scotland, their architecture was very plain and uninteresting; just solid, grey stone boxes. But their gardens were beautiful, and the view was lovely: they looked down a long, steep grassy slope right to the water's edge. To the right we could, see an number of small ships anchored, their lights reflected on the waves: to the left, the Firth of Clyde extended, with a mass of smoky blue hills heaped behind it along the horizon. The thoughtful Scots had placed benches at intervals along the hill, so one might sit down and admire the view, and the cloud effects across the water were striking. Finally, one became a bit too impressive, and we hurried back to our hotel, getting slightly damp on the way. So we knew we were in Scotland.
July 2: The next morning we started off with a good Scotch breakfast: oatmeal porridge (there is only one kind of porridge in Britain, but it is usually well made) bacon and eggs, toast (cold and dry, of course, and standing in a rack) and marmalade, tea or coffee. The coffee was just as bad as we had been led to expect. They use a South African coffee, which has a different flavour, and it is generously mixed with chicory, added to which they boil it for some time, I think, and serve it very strong, with a pitcher of hot milk, with which you are expected to dilute it half and half. It is quite a trick to pour the two pots simultaneously, as they do, and we had great fun practising. I don't like hot milk, so I diluted mine with the hot water which they provided with Charlie's tea. With coffee, they serve brown sugar, a form more crystalline than we usually see at home.
Packing up our car, we set out, our first destination being the Erskine ferry, across the Clyde. Driving along as narrow road, with a stony wall to the left bordering a beautiful woods - probably some old estate, -we came to a line of cars bound for the ferry also, and were told we had ten or fifteen minutes to wait. So we got out to explore, and found a little shop. There was a veteran's hospital nearby - in Britain you can never forget the War for long - and this shop sold their products. We bought a sturdy wicker picnic basket with leather clasps, and had quite a chat with the old fellow running the shop, who obviously enjoyed having a conversation with someone. I suppose customers were not too frequent. Having no picnic supplies we used the basket temporarily to hold a number of hats, that had been bouncing about among the baggage.
Then followed a delightful drive, along the shores of Loch Lomond and among hills, valleys and moors. The passengers enjoyed it mightily, but Charlie, who did most of the driving that day, especially toward the end, found the narrow, rough and unfamiliar roads, and the concentration on keeping to the left, very tiring. So it was a relief when we reached Glencoe, where the road was much better and we knew we were on the right path. All through the Glen, the scenery was magnificent; great towering mountains almost overhanging the road, shadowy and purple in the approaching twilight. Then we came to a little one-track road that wound off across the moor, and was labelled "Kingshouse" so, a little doubtfully, we took it, and it curved around, across a little brawling mountain stream, and into the inn yard. Of all the places we stayed, Kingshouse is one of our pleasantest memories. It was really just an old farmhouse, I think, and had only seven bedrooms, of which we occupied three. The bedrooms were so low that George's head brushed the ceiling, and the walls sloped. The girls had a little bedroom opening off ours, in cosy fashion; the beds were heaped with soft comforters, and great was our delight to discover a hot stone "pig" nestling in the depths. There was no running water upstairs, and we washed in a basin set into the washstand, with a cork in the bottom. When you pulled out the cork; the water ran into a pail underneath. The toilets were downstairs in a separate room. Everything was spotlessly clean, and though there was no choice of menu, the food was plentiful, home-cooked and good. After doing full justice to the dinner, we put on all our warm clothes, for the air was clear and cold, and went for a stroll. The children played in the stream, but I was most interested in the moor. It was rather swampy, and covered with low, scrubby bushes, out in between were numbers of flowers, most of them unfamiliar, and great clumps of moss such as I had never seen anywhere except in the swamp at home; moss several feet thick, in soft pastel shades of pink, yellow, mauve and lettuce green. It made me feel quite at home. The whole texture of the ground was springy, like a sponge, and in some places, the water was too near the surface for comfort.
By the time we returned from our stroll, the day's excitement and the crisp Scottish air had made the younger adventurers quite ready for bed, so we tucked them in with their 'pigs' under the voluminous quilts, and went down with George to the sitting room. No one paid any particular attention to us, but it was very cosy, sitting in the little low-beamed room with a blazing and very welcome fire, and listening to the casual talk going on around us, in the broadest of Scotch accents. Some hikers who arrived very late were given a tray of food by the fire, and related their travels. Soon we were glad to climb into bed.
July 3: Next morning, after a fine substantial breakfast, (and some of the best oatmeal porridge I ever ate) we headed for Corpach, where Father had a business call to make. We found that we could take a ferry across one of the lochs and arrive fairly quickly, or drive thirty miles around; intoxicated by the lovely Scottish hills, we elected to take the longer drive, and did not regret it. Scottish hills do not look like anything we see in Canada; they have no trees, except where they have been artificially re-forested (with trees brought from Norway.) They are covered with grass or heather and other low-growing plants, and this gives them a velvety look that makes you long to climb them - and perhaps roll or slide down, if you are under twenty. At a distance they look misty and mysterious, especially with clouds drifting around them. At their feet are shining lochs, so crystal clear that the reflections are unbelievably perfect. About noon, we reached a point roughly opposite the place we had left, and found one of those delightful country inns which we were to discover and enjoy so often. Here we had an excellent meal, and then went on to Corpach.
On the far side of Corpach, we discovered, with some difficulty, our hotel, which was set away back from the road, up a winding drive, and looked like someone's private castle - which it may have been - all grey stone and turrets, and a most impressive entrance hall. The front room was, I imagine, the one intended for us, but when the girls saw it, they uttered such cries of delight and settled down in it with so much satisfaction, that we, coming up later, had not the heart to dislodge them. The rooms really were very nice; high and with many windows, each framing a charming landscape. So if the shaving water was not very hot, and the electricity was turned off at twelve o'clock, those were trifling matters. Besides, how often do you find a hotel with a lovely wood in-its backyard, attained by crossing a bridge of stone slabs over a ravine carved by a mountain stream, which dashed downhill towards the bay in a series of cataracts and waterfalls, elaborately framed in ferns and rhododendrons? Add to these attractions a dainty blonde kitten and a friendly goat, and the children were ready to settle down in the Auchdenlieu indefinitely.
That evening Mr. Goss (of the British Aluminum plant, which Charlie had come to visit) phoned us and asked us over for the evening. We tucked the girls in first, still happy about their pretty room, and then went over to the Goss home, a very pleasant lived-in sort of place like our own, so we felt quite at home. Mrs. Goss was in the hospital having some tests, we learned, But the honours were capably done by the daughter Josephine - about eighteen - and the younger folk, Gillian and Greg. We spent the evening pleasantly chatting, and had coffee and cakes before starting back to our hotel. Where we had to finish getting to bed by flashlight, I may add.
July 4: Next day was a lovely unhurried day. The men-folk went off with Mr. Goss to visit the aluminum plant. The Goss children came over to play with ours, who had risen early to go down and play on the beach. I sat on the lawn in the sun until the Gosses arrived, to tell them where to find my offspring, and visited with some trippers who had just arrived on this stage of a bus trip. Then I went in and did a bit of washing, as I always did whenever we stopped in one place long enough. Josephine Goss joined the children and me for lunch, and just as we were eating, our menfolk returned. I hadn't been sure they would not be invited to lunch at the plant, but it appeared we were invited for dinner instead. So in the afternoon, we drove the children all back to the Gosses and left them, while we went on to Fort William to shop. This was our first real shopping expedition in Britain, and we found it very amusing. It was like stepping back forty years in time. There was a pharmacy, with its crowded shelves and tall jars of coloured candies, (where Charlie replaced the sunglasses that fell out of his pocket while we were stopped on a hillside to admire the scenery,) and the ironmonger's, which reminded me of nothing so much as our old Mitchell's store, with its shelves of all kinds of assorted hardware, and a dish department upstairs. And the nice old Scot that waited on us belonged to the same era. After pawing through drawers and boxes hopefully, he finally provided us with a tiny spirit stove and kettle, for our tea-making - surely a project to appeal to the worthy Briton - some clothes-pins, and a bit of line thrown in free. I had brought plastic cutlery with me. After shopping, we picked up the children, who had been having lemon squash and biscuits at the Goss abode, and drove over to the foot of Ben Nevis. We had hoped to climb up it a little way, just "for the book", but found the road we had been advised to take, while affording a wonderful view of the mountain, was actually on the other side of a small river. By piling stones in the water and leaping like a gazelle, we got across to a small island, but on the far side, the stream, though narrow, was deep and swift. So we just enjoyed ourselves where we were, while the boys and Grace climbed part-way up the mountain on the other side of the glen.
Returning to our hotel, we got dressed in our best, and I was much relieved to find that my dress travelled as well as I had hoped, and was quite fresh-looking and uncreased. We left John and the girls to have dinner at the hotel by themselves, not without some misgivings on Dad's part at least, and picking up the Gosses - Mr. and Mrs. G. and Josephine - we drove over to the Staff House, where the mill manager, Mr. Bullen, had invited us to have dinner. It was a truly wonderful dinner, too, topped by a splendid chocolate sponge that was the cook's specialty. Mrs. Goss, a very gay soul, had. kept the party going until after dinner, but then the men took over, and we just sat and listened. I was quite pleased to see what an intelligent part George was able to take in the discussion, and the extent of his technical knowledge.
July 5: We were all very sorry to leave the Auchdenlieu next day, but finally packed and were off. I remember the packing with a faint shudder. Just as we were leaving, I turned to the girls and said, "Now, you want to establish a routine. Just before you leave, open every drawer and cupboard, even if you are sure you haven't used it," and lightheartedly flinging open a bureau drawer by way of illustration, discovered all their good dresses, which I had laid there to avoid creases. I don't know who was more impressed by the demonstration, the girls or I, out at any rate, none of us ever left anything behind after that.
We could not have imagined that the scenery could be any lovelier than it had been the day before, but it actually was. The road was narrower than ever - just one car's width, but at intervals there were turn-out places, marked by a white triangle on a pole. With no trees on the hillsides, you could see other cars approaching a long distance away, so whichever was nearest a turn-out just pulled in and waited. Thanks to the natural courtesy of British drivers, this system worked very well, and gave the boys a chance to take quite a few interesting pictures, while the girls ran about and picked wild flowers. Here we first saw heather in bloom, and little yellow iris growing wild in the fields. And everywhere, of course, stone walls and sheep. Stone walls that made houses and barns and roads and bridges and sheep-pens, or just wandered off across fields and even ambled over the top of quite high mountains. And sheep that huddled by hundreds in the stone pens, or crowded the otherwise deserted fields, or even wandered up on the road and trotted along beside us, or blocked our passage entirely till we honked at them.
Presently we came to a small settlement and an odd collection of buildings labelled as a government fish hatchery. Naturally, John had to investigate that, so we stopped and found our way inside. There was really not very much to see; just shelves of tanks, mostly empty just now, and big wooden vats sunk in the lawn outside, with murky forms swimming in the depths. But it was interesting. Coming out, we saw a little grocery store, and discussed buying picnic material. Why we didn't, I do not recall, but we began to regret our decision soon after. For our road now led down a wild and rugged glen, without any sign of human habitation anywhere, and wound on for miles and miles. The scenery was magnificent, with purple hills, mighty rocks, dashing mountain streams and waterfalls, but in spite of it, we all began to feel the pangs of hunger. I pacified the children for a time with some gum left from the plane trip, but as the glen went on and on with no end in sight, I was mightily relieved when in the middle of nowhere, we saw a gas station, and a sign stating that the fine old residence on the hill behind was an inn. It had obviously been a private home, and was possibly run by its former owners, as many of the old pictures and ornaments were still in place, and there was a cabinet groaning with ancestral silver. The place was spotless, especially the linen, and we had a wonderful meal, beginning with the usual lentil soup (not unlike Canadian pea soup) and one of the most delicious curries I ever ate. The children were intrigued with the wallpaper - a Chinese pattern in gold and black on Chinese red - and the great black marble clock on the mantel, shaped like a Grecian temple with pillars, and flanked by blue glass vases full of peacock feathers.
Duly fortified, we were able to enjoy the wonderful scenery again, and just before we reached our destination, we saw our first real castle, on a tiny peninsula jutting out into the lake far below us. When we got to our hotel (on Loch Duich) we could see the castle at no great distance, so, once settled in, we set out in that direction. It was a delightful walk, just at sunset, across an arm of the bay and along a woodland road, with ingenious staggered fences to permit the passage of people but not of cattle. We had been told that no one was in residence at the time, so when we reached the big iron gate across the stone causeway, we slipped the bolt and went on. This castle, called Ellen Donos, belonged to the head of the Clan of McCrea, and although completely mediaeval in architecture, was evidently habitable, as we saw curtains at the upstairs windows, and pipes running down the back suggested that some modern plumbing had been added. But the most interesting thing about the castle was that someone had had the bright idea of turning it into a war memorial for the whole McCrea clan. A great bronze tablet on one side, flanked by cannon and decorated with wreaths, bore the names of all the McCrea clan who had fallen in the war; from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States - all over the world. And at the top, the words of a famous McCrea: the poem, "In Flander's Fields." We wandered around for a long time; the children intrigued by the first real portcullis they had ever seen - I imagine it still worked, too. George and Charlie stood discussing the tactical value of the castle's position, commanding the whole lake, while the children investigated the delightful treasures to be found on a seashore at low tide, for Loch Duich is actually an arm of the sea, and you can even see Skye in the distance. Then we strolled home to dinner and a quiet evening, making plans and writing letters home.
July 6: Next day's trip was leisurely and brief, and in no time we were at Kyle of Localsh, where we found one of the most luxurious hotels of the trip. In fact, we liked it so much that we made reservations at another British Transport hotel in St. Ives for a couple of weeks later. Long distance calls in Britain are so inexpensive that Charlie always made our reservations a few days ahead, by phone, consulting a folder which listed all British hotels, with descriptions and ratings. We have many jolly memories of that hotel: the stoppers for the bath, shaped like tennis balls of heavy black rubber; the emergency bell over the bathtubs, which for some reason amused Grace immensely; the children's first herring, and their admiration at George's masterly dissection of it. (Being George, he studied it quietly for a few minutes, decided exactly how it was put together, and then neatly flipped the whole backbone out at a touch, while the rest of us were wallowing in bones. John fondly remembers that the waiter, seeing his lean and hungry look, offered him more dessert, and, waiting vainly for him to cry, "Enough!" gave him all the pink souffle and ice cream that remained in the dish. And Charlie still chuckles at the expression of the waiter who was standing near an open window with a tray of bread, when a sea-gull swooped in and made off with a sizeable hunk. "That Domned seagull.'" expostulated the dignified waiter. Seagulls are protected in Britain, and consequently are as tame as chickens. And windows are almost never screened, for Britain seems to have no mosquitoes and very few flies.
We found the weather very cold, though clear, and were glad of our raincoats over our suits and coats, just for warmth. The girls and I strolled into the village and found a little shop that specialized in knitted goods, so Grace and I each bought a pair of warm gloves. When we told John, he went in too, and bought not only gloves but a rainbow-coloured tarn, which he wore all over Scotland and Switzerland. (We were all very disappointed when he lost it, either on the Channel steamer or at his London hotel.) Then we took the ferry over to Skye - a very short distance- and rambled about the hills, intrigued by the old stone houses with slate roofs, and the slopes would soon be ablaze with purple heather. We had dinner at a small hotel on the island, and then ferried back in time to catch the steamer to Portree. Tales of the rough and precipitous roads had discouraged our first idea of motoring the length of the island, so this seemed our best chance to get a good view of it. There was occasional mist and rain, which prevented out getting any very good pictures, but we did get a very good idea of the coast, the grandeur of its wild, rocky mountains and bays, with queer caves eroded by the pounding surf. We did not stay at Portree long enough to go sight-seeing, and indeed, I do not think there was much to see in the town itself; probably plenty of little shops for the tourists,,but we already had our souvenirs of Skye, for we had bought a gay plaid afghan, and John had acquired a Royal Stuart tie.(We were all very tartan-conscious by this time, for everyone in this part of Scotland wears his tartan; the girls in suits or skirts, the men as scarves, ties, or not infrequently as kilts.) The trip home was uneventful - more rain, but I found a sheltered place to sit, and enjoyed the conversation of my fellow-passengers. We were rather late home, and Charlie worried a bit for fear dinner would be over, but all was well. We had a wonderful dinner, with appetites to do it full justice, after a whole day in the open air, and just enough energy left for a hot, luxurious tub (how George appreciated those long British bathtubs) and a grand sleep.
July 7: Next morning dawned bright and sunny, so we went shopping for picnic supplies. I found some plastic dishes (very expensive, we thought) and a bread knife, and then collected some food: bread and butter, potted meat, salad cream, lettuce, tomatoes and fruit. These, with tea and milk and jam, were to be the basic ingredients of our lunches for weeks to come. Then we started back the way we had come, branching off after about twenty miles and heading for Loch Ness. The country here was wild and rather barren, but we ran into a very interesting bit of new construction work going on. A dam was being built, to turn one of the mountain rivers into an artificial lake, and at the same time, a new road was being built part way up the mountain, as the old road would soon be under water. A tunnel was also being built to convey the water from the new lake to a powerhouse being built below. It was somehow astonishing to see all this ambitious construction going on in the midst of a primeval wilderness, where nothing more ambitious than a sheep-pen had been built for a thousand years.
We had our first picnic by the side of the rocky stream that was so soon to be harnessed for industry, and it was so wild and lovely that we hated to think of It being dammed up, and its rocky bed, fringed with ferns and shaded by great pines, lost forever to view. But such is progress. The stream was so fascinating to the children that we stopped again, well beyond the construction area, and rested on the pine-needles, among the ferns, while the youngsters scrambled over the rocks, looking for the perfect spot for a snapshot.
The road from here on was good, though narrow, and when we reached Loch Ness, we found a fine paved highway, actually wide enough for two full-sized cars to pass. The country here was much lower and rolling, with farms and cultivated fields instead of just sheep pastures. As we were driving along at a good clip, drinking in the beauty of sunny fields and sparkling water, someone shouted, "Look, a castle! A ruined castle!" As the car braked to a stop, the children were out in a bound, and before anyone had time to say a word to restrain them, they were off, through the fence and down the steep slope that led to the loch. Alarmed, we hurried after them, but had to make our way a little more slowly among the pushes and briers, so, long before we reached the bridge across the ancient (and empty) moat, they were waving to us triumphantly from the top of some high and very insecure-looking ruins. We had not yet learned how well the National Trust looks after its ruins, and fully expected the walls to collapse under them, so we shrieked at them to descend. At the sound of our voices, an elderly Scot, the caretaker of the place whose duty it was to welcome and instruct the tourists and collect his shilling, came out looking quite bewildered. Apparently we had passed the proper entrance some way back, and the first he had known of the children's arrival was the sound of their clattering feet and happy voices high above his head.
He seemed very glad to see us - time probably hung a bit heavily in that out-of-the-way spot, with little to do but cut the grass on the smooth lawns around the ruins - and told the children wonderful stories, in which the murdering "Black MacDonalds" played a prominent and villainous part. We spent a happy hour in that lovely spot, and bought quantities of postcards - it was, after all, our very first ruined castle, and had we not discovered it ourselves, without benefit of guide-book? - and left It with regret. We saw too our first English robin, and dozens of little wild rabbits who apparently lived in burrows in the sides of the moat. But we did have to get to Inverness in time for dinner, so we finally dragged the children away.
Our hotel was the Palace, and. quite nice, but after the one at Kyle we were spoiled, I'm afraid. However, during dinner, we heard pipers marching past, and the waiter told us they were on their way to "The Island," where there was to be a concert. The Island was actually an island, though barely separated from the city, and the City Fathers had been wise enough to make it into a charming park. We drove down till we came to the footbridge which gave entrance to the park, and went in. After strolling along a pleasant path for some distance, we came to an enclosure with tiered seats, so paying our customary shillings, we sat and watched the show. The pipers were splendid in full regalia and marched about in quite complicated manoeuvres, considering the smallness of the enclosure), while they played. Some quite young girls did Highland dancing, accompanied by a solitary piper - we were not impressed, having seen better at home - and finally a dance orchestra took over, and everyone danced. The dances were rather different from ours - the people danced in couples, but did different figures to different tunes (as we do the Rye waltz). Grace was dying to dance, but none of our menfolk would oblige, not knowing the local steps. So we strolled back to the car, after a very pleasant evening.
July 8: Next morning we went to see Inverness Castle, but it proved a disappointment. It is still in use, as a City Hall, and looked and smelled just like any other City Hall inside, despite its imposing exterior. We shopped for food, and set out again.
Another lovely warm, sunny day! How much sunshine adds to a rural scene; such contrasts of colour, such charming shadows of hedgerow and haycock, such sparkling lights on the water. Then, too, we could picnic so pleasantly; this time, by a wide river, bordered with tall white blossoming plants, as big as hydrangeas. We startled several small boys who were bathing au naturel. Luckily they did have trunks with them, and when we disturbed them, they scuttled behind the bushes and returned more modestly clad. The scenery changed abruptly here, and became smooth and rolling, with beautifully coloured fields and clumps of trees surrounding old stone farm buildings. We were perplexed by the odd appearance of the few hills which were wooded, till we learned that they had been artificially re-forested. All the trees were the same age and size, and all grew in geometrically straight lines. They were planted so closely that no sunlight could penetrate; stepping into such a grove on a call of nature, I found myself in actual darkness.
We stopped at Elgin to see the famous ruined cathedral there. It was a most impressive sight. Built around the thirteenth century, the Cathedral Kirk of Moray was in its day described as a masterpiece of ecclesiastical architecture. It survived two disastrous fires, being repaired and rebuilt each time. But the last Bishop, before the Reformation became established, decided there was no future for his church in Britain and that he had better look after his own future instead. So he embezzled most of the property on which the cathedral depended for its revenue. No Protestant body took over the old church, and it soon deteriorated. The Regent Moray had the lead roofing stripped off, exposing it to the weather; Cromwell's men, quartered there, mutilated the statues and carvings. At last the great central tower fell, and for a century the ruins were used as a quarry by the builders of the locality. Eventually public opinion was roused; a caretaker was installed, and finally the Ministry of Works took it over.
Like all the ruins we saw in Britain, it was beautifully kept; the lawns velvety and free of refuse, and guides available to tell you its history, sell you picture postcards, and tell you the ancient legends: the heart of Robert the Bruce is supposed to be buried at the site of the High Altar. We climbed the ancient towers, and thought we had found a hidden chamber (but a climb up the walls and surreptitious peep revealed nothing more mysterious than a power lawn-mower.) Particularly memorable were some of the epitaphs on the ancient stones in the graveyard. As for instance:
"A holy virgin in hir yonger lyff
And nixt a prudent and a faithful wyf
A pious mother who with Chrstien care
Informd hir children with the love and fer
Of God; and vertuous acts; who can express
More, (reader) by a volum from the press." (1675)
Another, commemorating a glover and his family, and dated 1687 shows a glove and shears, and reads:
"This world is a cite
Full of streets &
Death is the mercat
That all men meets.
If lyfe were a thing
That monie could buy
The poor could not live
and the rich would not die."
The chapterhouse, with its quaint faces of animals and demons grinning down from the corbels of the windows, was the best preserved part of the structure.
After leaving Elgin, we drove along briskly to Aberdeen, where we went to the Caledonia hotel. Here we had a very good dinner, and because John had the bright idea of asking for ice-cream with his souffle, we all had double desserts all round. There seem to be only two desserts on British menus: "Coupe something-or-other", which is ice-cream and fruit, usually stewed; and souffle or mousse, which are both a gelatinous sponge, usually pink. We did wonder what had become of the famous British pastry, and would even have welcomed a Trifle or a Gooseberry Fool. Whatever other complaints we might have (none, really) no one could say that we did not have enough hot water. The taps in my room were reversed from the usual order, and when I went to rinse my hands under the cold tap, as I supposed, I scalded my wrist, not badly but quite painfully. That was one night I did not get my usual washing done. So we spent the evening quietly chatting, making plans and phoning ahead for reservations.
July 9: Next morning, we had a date to visit Lyle MacDougall's uncle, who has a real-estate and livestock business here. We called on him in his quaint little office, and he proved to be a delightful old gentleman. He invited us to have coffee with him in the tea-room of a near-by cinema, and seemed to enjoy our company. (The children had gone off to find a playground they had seen from their hotel window.) He was strongly convinced that many of our nutritional lacks were due to using artificial rather than natural fertilizer, and held forth on this topic with great enthusiasm; also told us of his family, who, in true British fashion, were scattered all over the Empire. Apparently liking our company, he insisted on meeting us after lunch and showing us the sights of Aberdeen.
But when I returned to the hotel, I found Janet in tears. I am still not sure whether she was really sick, or whether the others had hurt her feelings or frightened her. But she looked miserable, and her head was hot, so I was frightened and would not leave her. We had given up our room, but the kindly matron let me take her into her own quarters, and put us in her young son's room, as he was away at school. He had a shelf of children's books, so Janet was quite happy, and after a good nap, looked more like herself. While I was reading her "The Wind in the Willows," the others were exploring the fish market (I gather the most impressive part of that is the smell) and the University of Aberdeen. Yesterday had been their Convocation, and several family parties were celebrating, at our hotel including one young lady who had just graduated in medicine, and whose friends had her paged as "Doctor -" which amused everyone greatly.
When the family returned, we set out for Braemar, fortunately a short and easy drive. We admired the beautiful gardens of some of the Aberdonian homes, especially the lupins, which grow higher and more frequently profusely than our delphiniums, and in such vivid colours, red and orange. As we got farther from the city, the scenery changed again to wilder glens and hills, with the lovely River Dee dashing over the stones or under ancient stone bridges, till we reached Balmoral. The castle is well hidden from the road, but a handsome young Scot in kilts, who had been chatting with George in the hotel the night before, had told him of a place where, by crossing a sheep field and looking up the river, one could get quite an interesting snapshot, so George and John each took one. We also passed two other castles: one, at a distance, we learned belonged, to the Laird, a Captain Farquharson, who owns the whole side of the Dee not belonging to the Queen; the other, smaller and quite near the road, had been occupied for some years by Lady Tweedsmuir. Finally we arrived at the Invercauld Arms, a delightful spot.
As we were finishing an excellent dinner, we heard the pipes outside, and found a small group of pipers who apparently were accustomed to come up to the hotel and perform every Saturday night. So we sat on the grass and watched them, and a group of little girls doing Highland dances. Then I tucked the girls in and went for a solitary stroll down the dark, sweet-scented country road. The air was heavy with the scent of sweet clover, and doves were cooing softly in the dark pines outside the old castle. It was a night to remember.
Coming back, I met Charlie, strolling also, and we went on in the other direction, up into the little town, with its quaint shops, some bearing the Royal crest. A few bits of old stone wall mark the site of an ancient castle that once commanded the glen. Tradition has it that the dread Plague broke out in the castle, and the country folk, in terror, brought artillery and destroyed it, burning it to the ground.
July 10: Such a wonderful birthday. Asked what I would like most to do, I asked to go to church in the Crathie Church, which me had passed on our way. So we started out, but rather late, which we were to regret, for on our way, we suddenly saw a whole herd of real Highland cattle quite near the road - shaggy coats, long horns and all. They probably belonged to the Laird. We were so late that we did not stop to take a picture, and of course when we returned, they had vanished. And, after all, church was not until eleven-thirty, so we stood about for some time in the sunlight, watching the local people arrive. We knew the Royal family would not be there, but we did see the royal box where they always sit, and enjoyed the dignified service and the fine organ. As an added touch, the Boys' Brigade from Aberdeen attended the service, and marched up to deposit their colours on the altar during service. While we were watching them line up and march away, John slipped back into the church to take some pictures, but the elder, a real old Scottish elder with the dignity of his position heavy upon him, rebuked him sternly; no one took pictures in the church without his permission. John for once was wise enough not to argue, but said meekly, "I'm sorry, sir, - but it's such a beautiful church." and started sadly out. The dour old elder let him get almost to the door, and then said gruffly, " Verra weel, you have my permission noo." So John got his picture.
We went back to our hotel to pack up, and then set off for our next stop; the Bridge of Allan. The road from here on was a terrific climb, though gradual, and culminated in the famous Devil's Elbow, but old OYK surmounted it masterfully, and we soon found ourselves in a more populated area, mostly noteworthy for its lovely gardens. The roses made us quite homesick. Our hotel was a pleasant one, almost on the "Banks of Allan Water." However, we did not spend much time there, as it was getting late, and we wanted to see the Wallace Monument.
The monument stands at the top of a high hill, which is kept as a park. We had quite a climb, but the road sloped gradually, and we were soon at the top. The monument was very impressive, and so was the view. One odd feature of the monument was a "rope" carved so cleverly from the stone that it seemed almost real. This encircled the building (with even an occasional knot) and wound up the tower, which I believe contains a spiral staircase which one can climb. We were there after hours, and the door was closed. However, I had John take my picture standing at the entrance, with the statue of Sir William himself over my head.
Then we strolled down the pleasant walk again, and drove over to Stirling, to see the Castle. It, also, was closed, but we saw the very impressive exterior, and the Bruce Monument, besides a Memorial of the Crimean War, and it was interesting to see all the young soldiers reporting to quarters (after, I suppose, a week-end off,) all in their Black Watch uniforms, for the castle is still in use as a barracks. The distant view from the castle was beautiful, in the sunset, but the buildings just below the ramparts were distinctly slummy, and some showed evidence of bomb damage. On our way back from the Castle, we visited the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey. Only one tower remains standing, but the lines of foundations showed its former size. In the centre stood a stone tomb, which Queen Victoria had had erected because her royal ancestors, James III of Scotland and his Queen, Margaret of Denmark, were buried at the Abbey. We wandered about for a while in the fragrant dusk, then went home to bed early in preparation for a long day ahead.
July 11: The next morning we made an early start, as it was to be what we came to call a "here-to-there" day. It was our first really long drive, and scenically, the least interesting, for we were soon out of the hills and into the more populated lowlands just outside Glasgow, which we were by-passing. Here for the first time we met modern highways, straight and wide, but made no better time, for the traffic was very heavy: great trucks full of coal, and huge busses; often we followed them slowly for miles before we could pass, as the roads were still winding. It was hot and dusty. Still, we felt it was only right that the children should see a glimpse of Britain as a great industrial nation; not all picturesque wilds and rustic beauty. At one town we stopped to shop. I bought some dish towels, Janet acquired a little Scottish doll, and John got such a nice reversible waterproof "jerkin" - we had some trouble making it clear to various clerks what we wanted, the word "windbreaker" meaning nothing here. The jerkin was royal blue on one side and grey on the other, and we all admired it. Later, we came to Gretna Green, (though we did not stop to see the old smithy where the runaway marriages used to be performed), and said a regretful au revoir to Scotland.
Gradually the hills disappeared entirely, and the stone walls gave place to hedgerows. Houses in the towns began to be made of brick, all very much of one pattern, with neat bay windows in front and a small square of lawn or garden. We picnicked at noon by a pretty stream, full of smooth grey boulders worn Into the most fantastic shapes, but made no other stops, until late afternoon found us entering the famous Lake District. Here we could easily have believed we were back in Scotland; the same low, purple hills and shining lakes, even the stone houses and sheep pens. It was lovely, driving along Lake Ullswater, and our hotel was right on the lake, with beautiful grounds.
We were fortunate in having a big corner bedroom, with a splendid view of the lake, and also a side window. The girls were wild to go swimming, and the water was cold but very pleasant, though the ground was stony.
After dinner, we went for a long stroll - that is, Charlie, George and I, for the children were glad to go to bed, for once. We followed a darling little stream up a winding road, bordered with a colourful but unfamiliar flower: a yellow lily with a red spotted tongue. Soon, however, we too were glad to seek our very comfortable, beds, happy to think we did not have to move on next day and leave this lovely peaceful spot.
July 12: Another beautiful sunny day, so immediately after breakfast I did a large washing. Nylons could be done every night, but heavier things, such as flannelette pyjamas and sweatshirts, had to be done when they could have a full day to dry. The maids were kind enough to hang them on a line behind the hotel, so they were dry before nightfall. Then we bought our usual picnic supplies at the corner store, and found a delightful picnic place on the river bank, just below a bridge. Here we lunched, and the children took off their shoes and played in the stony shallows. On our way back, we passed the boat dock, and at John's insistence, we went in and hired a motorboat, and had a very delightful trip almost to the end of the lake. George had been doing most of the car driving, but now it was John's turn, as he had learned to handle a motorboat at the Houston's summer cottage, so he piloted us proudly. On the way back, we stopped at a tiny island just opposite our hotel. It had fascinated the children ever since they first saw it, and they loved it. It was just a child's sized island; a rocky shore, with one natural anchorage and tiny beach, a grassy knoll surmounted by five pine trees, clumps of purple and white heather and wild flowers, and a little lame sandpiper that hopped along the shore. I wanted to stay there and play Robinson Crusoe myself.
On our way back to the hotel from the dock, we stopped to inspect Donald Campbell's famous Bluebird, which was housed there, and to our excitement, they were taking her out ready for a run, so we had an excellent view of her. Nothing seemed to be happening for a time, so we went on, not wanting to miss our dinner. But just as we were eating, there was a sudden terrific roar from the dock, and all the children were out of the diningroom window and racing across the lawn, to see the Bluebird start up the lake. Later, when we had finished dinner and were sitting on the porch, we heard her returning, so we ran down too, and had a very good view of her,. Such speed! Even when we saw her, and she had turned the corner and was coming into the dock, her wake went up higher than the boat, like a cock's tail. So little of the boat touched the water when she was in motion, that we seriously questioned the validity of the word "boat" as applied to her; she was more of a wave-hopping hydroplane. It was only a few days later that she broke the world's record.
July 13: John's sixteenth birthday, and a delightfully leisurely day. We set out to see Wordsworth's childhood home, and picnicked on the way. A kindly farmer's wife gave us permission to picnic by her stream, if only we had no dog and would be sure to shut the gate. We reassured her on both counts, and ate our lunch surrounded at a discreet distance by a flock of obviously curious sheep. I gave John a large and fancy box of biscuits as a treat (we had agreed before leaving to omit all regular birthday gifts) and he doled them out so carefully, he made them last for days. Wordsworth's home was rather a disappointment, as the rooms were not furnished in period style, but were full of pictures and curios that they hoped to sell to unwary tourists. But we enjoyed visiting with the pleasant young woman who was living there and looking after the place, though she occupied some of the rooms that we would have liked to see. And I do remember the exquisite ornamental plaster ceiling in the livingroom, and the charming stone terrace at the end of the garden, overlooking the river where little William must often have played.
If we did not feel any impulse to buy much at this place, we visited another where we would gladly have bought more freely. We passed a house by the road with a quaint inscription across the front: "The loving eye and patient hand - Shall work with joy, and bless the land." When we stopped to examine it, we found it was the showplace of a local craftsmen's guild, so we went in, and were surprised to find most of the articles for sale were made of stainless steel, even tea sets, trays and ornaments. They were really lovely, but quite expensive, and of course bulky, so I had to content myself with a little teapot stand.
When we returned, the children wanted to swim again, and then John begged to return to the little island. For such a short ride, we contented ourselves with a rowboat. George stayed behind, but Charlie helped John row. It was a beautiful afternoon; a small shower had freshened everything, and the lake was clear as a mirror. We visited two islands, and then rowed home, with good appetites for a very special dinner in John's honour. John was allowed a glass of Burgundy, which pleased him. We tucked the girls in, then the four of us went for a walk in the twilight. Up on a hillside we heard running water and found a little generating plant, which probably supplied the hotel. We also had a chance to examine at close range some of those amazing stone walls which border every road. They are laid without mortar, and often have spaces big enough to look through, yet they are solid enough to withstand the elements for years. They stand five or six feet high, and George said that just the thought of lugging all that stone made his back ache. An old man in the little village told us that a good stonemason could lay twenty yards an hour, but it seems incredible. Of course that meant that someone else was bringing him the stones, but there are always plenty of those about. In one village window, we saw displayed the plans for some new blocks of houses - probably under the national housing scheme - and a little further we found the houses being built. When finished, they would look just like all the old ones, we decided. No new styles of architecture for the British.
July 14: This was a rather long and strenuous day, but very interesting. We started out early, and had a long climb out of the valley, and charming views of the lakes for some time. We had been studying the list of homes which are on view to the public, and saw that one, Rufford Old Hall, was near our route, so we detoured to visit it, which proved well worth our while. This fine old country place was built in the fifteenth century, in the form of an H. The west wing was destroyed and never rebuilt; the east wing was completely reconstructed in brick, but the Great Hall, which joined the two, has survived almost unchanged, and is now used as a village museum. The construction is the striking "black-and-white", with great hand-hewn beams, large mullioned and latticed windows with groups of white quatrefoils between, a big bay window almost like a tower at one end, forming five sides of an octagon, and a slate roof surmounted by a quaint cupola, or "lantern." The Great Hall itself had a collection of ancient armour and old furniture, but its most striding feature was a huge "Movable" screen in heavy carved black wood. (The children decided that to move it would take a bulldozer) Behind this the actors used to retire, when putting on plays for the gentry seated at the great table along the opposite wall. There was a great stone fireplace and the open-timbered roof, with its white background, and elaborately carved beams, was very striking. The museum, housed in smaller rooms at the back, was quite interesting too. There were many very ancient relics which had been found in a near-by mere, including a complete dugout canoe, and implements and weapons of flint and bronze. But most of the relics were designed to present a picture of life and work in the surrounding countryside through the centuries; clothing, furniture, tools and pottery of the district. This Hall and contents, with considerable grounds and an endowment towards its upkeep, were presented by the owner, Lord Hesketh, to the National Trust, that wonderful institution of which we were to hear so much during our travels in Britain.
Not long after this stop, we reached the River Mersey, and stopped in complete bewilderment. There seemed to be a bridge, but it was far above the water, with no means of access, and no apparent roadway. The mystery was solved when we found that we were expected to cross on a ferry suspended from this contraption, which crossed the river hanging from a trolley. Certainly a new experience.
Soon after, we reached the delightful old city of Chester, with its many black-and-white timbered buildings and its "rows" of shops a story above street level, along which one can stroll on an indoor sidewalk. Tradition has it that all the stores containing valuables were thus placed so that they could be more easily defended against the occasional raids of wild Welsh from over the border. Here we visited our first cathedral, and tremendously impressive we found it. Later, we were to become a bit blase about cathedrals, but this time we were quite unprepared for its great size, and the shadowy coolness of the huge vaulted arches, and the many fascinating tombs and relics. We revelled in the amazing jewel-like colours of the ancient stained glass windows, and the quaint carvings on the stalls in the choir, and the magnificent screen. The children were pleased to find the "Children's Corner," where all the furniture was child-size, and the pictures and books suitable for small folk. Charlie liked best the Cloisters, or Arcade, whose windows have recently been glazed with stained glass windows which represent the entire Church calendar; all the different feast and fast days in order, with pictures of the saints they honour. We would gladly have lingered longer here, but wanted to walk along the old Roman wall before dark. This wall still encircles a large area of the central part of the town, and at one point you cross the main street, walking over a bridge beneath a clock tower. Where it passed along the river, we saw dozens of swans; I have never seen so many in one place. Swans, like gulls, are protected in Britain, and are very plentiful on all the rivers.
By this time we were very hungry, and seeing a restaurant which also specialized in selling our favourite Khardomah teas, we went in and had an excellent meal. Then we drove across the border to Llangollen, and the Royal Hotel, an ancient but comfortable hostelry on the river whose rapids sung a lullaby under our window, (not that we needed it.)
July 15: At breakfast, a friendly English couple, who had been in Canada, and had been talking to me in the lobby the night before, were sitting next to us. A young man sitting with them was heard to remark that he had had "an elegant sufficiency." This was such a favourite quotation at home that I had to laugh, and they introduced the young man, who surprisingly enough was Turkish; dark, cifly-haired and with charming manners. We asked what places of interest were in the vicinity, so they told us of Place Newydd, and of the canal-bridge, and we set out to find them. The first was a fascinating black-and-white house which had belonged to two extraordinary maiden ladies of a previous century. They had a passion for old carvings and stained glass, and as in those days no National Trust protected ruins, they were able to gratify their tastes without difficulty, especially from the ruined abbey on the hill overlooking the town. Every inch of woodwork in that amazing house was of black carved wood. The doors and the newel post and railings were masterpieces. Instead of wallpaper, whatever wall space was not panelled with wood was covered with embossed Spanish leather, and the panel in the doors and the fanlights were of odd bits of richly coloured glass. Their passion for carving even extended to the trees in the garden. There were trees in the shapes of jelly-moulds, settees, umbrellas, even a dog-house with a dog beside it. Beyond the garden was a genuine Druid's circle of large stones. An amazing place!
We went back to the town for picnic supplies, and then drove up a country road, so narrow that the hedgerows brushed the car on either side, to the crest of a hill where a hayfield afforded a magnificent view. We decided to picnic there, using the bales of hay for seats and tables, and seeing the farmer running a tractor in a field below, Grace set out to ask his permission. But unluckily she ran into a patch of nettles and returned in tears, so we decided to wait till he came up to put us out. He didn't, and we had a wonderful picnic; it was a beautiful day, and we could see for miles across the rolling hills and valleys. We enjoyed it so much that we were almost late in getting Charlie to his appointment at the Monsanto works, especially as we had some difficulty finding the right entrance. Mr. Hamer came out and invited us all to come to his house for a drink and then go out to dinner together. George and the rest of us then went in search of the aerial canal, and finally found it. It was no wider than an ordinary bridge, and the canal was only a few feet deep, but it was still big enough for the barges, which poled across it, high above the treetops of the deep gorge. A footpath at the side was also apparently much in use.
We went back to the hotel, and I took Grace to get a new pair of shoes, and left her old ones to be repaired. Then we dressed and were & ready for Mr. Hamer at 6:30. We followed his car to his home, and met his charming wife and sixteen-year-old daughter. (George was not impressed with the daughters of our British friends, who wore pretty cotton prints and sweaters, even on formal occasions, used no make-up, and seemed as simple and unsophisticated as Janet. Personally, I found them fresh and charming.) Young Margaret got on splendidly with the younger ones; we heard them having great fun in the garden, and over lemon squash in the kitchen, while we had our drink and visited. Mr. Hamer then offered to conduct us to a very quaint old hotel that served excellent food, so we all started out. But he had neglected to make reservations, to his subsequent embarrassment - the place was full, and we had to drive all the way to Chester to find a place that would be open so late. The girls were pretty sleepy, but stuck it out like troupers, though Janet slept all the way home with her head in my lap. We had a good dinner, but it was nearly eleven when we got back to our hotel, and then I still had to pack, for an early start next morning.
July 16: I had not known in time that we were supposed to leave early, and was afraid we might be held up for the shoes which I had left to be repaired, but fortunately they were ready as soon as we were, and we were off in good time to Llanberis, where we hoped to get the morning car up Mount Snowdon. (Actually, we need not have worried, as when the number of passengers warrants it, they run the cars continuously.) With our customary luck, we went up on the first really clear day that they had had for weeks, apparently. The children had never been up a cogged railway before, so it was quite exciting, and the views on the way up were unforgettably lovely; a constantly shifting panorama of sunlit hills and dark woods, great rocks and mountain lakes, with lines of purple hills on the horizon, and fleecy clouds making entrancing shadows. Only John was having a bad time! To begin with, he had brought George's camera to take some colour slides, as George had left us for the day to go and see some Grand Prix racing at Glasgow. Too late, he discovered that the film in it was used up - possibly the reason George had not taken it himself. So he put a new film in his own camera, and then discovered to his horror that he had accidentally put in a film that he had already exposed. If he removed it, in daylight, he would lose all the pictures already on it. He was in despair, when a kindly man at the rest-house on top let him into the coal cellar. It was pitch dark, and he was able to remove the film and wind it up without damage. Needless to say, after that, John took care to keep his exposed films well separated from the new ones, and plainly marked. His troubles were not over even yet, - for he somehow lost his return ticket, and while no one ever asked for it, we didn't know that in advance, so he spent quite a time looking for it unhappily. But the rest of us had a wonderful time; we climbed to the topmost peak, and fed the gulls, which were almost too tame for comfort, and watched them swoop down into the deep valleys below. We could see for miles, even catching a glimpse of the sea in the distance.
Coming down, I sat with a very friendly little English woman and her small daughter. They had been vacationing in the district for several weeks, and had stayed over an extra, day at the prospect of a clear day, so they could make this ascent. A number of people take the car up and walk down, as there is a good path; we passed some of them as we descended. We rather wished we had had time to do the same. On our return, we saw a parade; it was Carnival day in the village, and all the people were decked out in amusing costumes; they passed the hat to the tourists at the station as they passed. We checked in at our hotel, the Royal Victoria, and the manager had to carry in our bags himself, because all his helpers were at the Carnival. Then we set off for Caernarvon Castle. We would rather have left that for the next day, but so many of these places are closed on a Sunday. We would have been sorry to miss it, as it certainly is a most imposing sight. It is not in use, and there are no furnishings in it, but it is not really a ruin, as most of it is in very good repair. Of all the castles we saw, I think it gave us the best idea of what a mediaeval castle was like and the way it was laid out. I climbed two of the towers - one hundred tiny spiral steps each - and then told my family I would do the rest of my exploring on the level, which was quite interesting enough. This castle dates back to the eleventh century, though most of the present structures were built two hundred years later, in the time of Edward I, whose son, the first Prince of Wales, was born there. An old Roman fort once occupied part of the same site.
By the time we had finished exploring the Castle, we were all ravenous, having had an early breakfast, and only a few sandwiches for lunch on top of Snowdon. So we found a clean little café, and had a substantial English tea: lots of good bread and butter, with jam, and quantities of little fancy cakes. Thus restored, we made our way home again. At dinner (a cold one, as the cook too had gone to the Carnival) we were entertained by a Welsh harpist, who played folk tunes very pleasantly; she had two little daughters in Welsh costume, and a small son, who took turns singing, sometimes solo, sometimes in chorus. Their voices were untrained, but clear and true, and one little girl even played a number on the harp, with her mother.
After supper, we strolled over to see a little castle on the hotel grounds, but found it closed, so we wandered on down a lovely wooded path to the river, where several people were peacefully fishing in the cool of the evening. Then back to the hotel again, the girls with their hands full of smooth slate-stones. This is slate country; the houses are all roofed with it; even the stone walls are made of straight slabs of it. Behind the hotel is a mountain with the biggest quarry I ever saw; it eats into the side of the slope like a giant cancer. We could see it for miles, going up Snowdon. Back in the hotel, we had an experience which could only happen in Wales. The "local yokels" - miners and farmers - had gathered in the bar to celebrate Carnival Day, and as always happens, it seems, where two or three Welsh are gathered together, they began to sing. Nothing very exciting at first, just one or two voices starting a familiar tune. But more and more voices joined in, the harmony became richer and more varied, till it was rolling out in organ tones. Nowhere but in Wales would one expect to hear "The Lord is my Shepherd" being sung in full harmony in the village pub. The desk clerk assured us they would keep it up all night, if he did not put them out at closing time. Even then, we heard them strolling together in twos and threes down the hill, still singing. Janet decided then and there that she wanted to live in Wales!
George got home about ten-thirty, unbelievably dirty - his train we gathered, was not air-conditioned - but quite satisfied with the day's adventures. He had seen all manner of interesting cars, which, to him, were much more exciting than mountains and castles though he was developing more of a taste for such scenery than he had anticipated.
July 17: Which was as well, for most of the next day we followed a narrow road that twisted like a snake among the mountains. At first we had dull clouds, which somehow suited the bleak, mountainous countryside, and made it even more impressive. It had cleared by the time we reached Harlech Castle (which was closed, it being Sunday morning, but the outside was interesting enough) and by the time we reached the beach at Barmouth, the weather was warm and sunny, so we stopped for an hour and let the children enjoy themselves. Later, we had a pleasant picnic, by a stream which eventually lost itself in the tide flats, and then drove on, through the lovely Welsh countryside, with its smiling green valleys, to the resort town of Llandredod Wells.
We stayed at a very nice hotel, run by a retired doctor and his wife. It had its own little private park across the street, with a section partitioned off by a hedge for the children. There were swings, a putting green, archery equipment, and even a Siamese cat with kittens in the toolshed at the back. (Very non-Siamese Kittens, I may add. Mama evidently married beneath her) The boys were intrigued by their room, which had evidently been the sitting room of a suite. A storage wall of plywood, added between our bedroom and theirs, concealed a clothes cupboard, a dressing-table, and a toilet room. And a plywood desk, moved to one side, revealed a washbasin. Quite ingenious.
That night, as a Sunday treat, films were being shown downstairs, and as it was the eve of Janet's birthday, we allowed the girls to stay up. The first feature was a travel film on Wales, which was quite interesting, as it showed many of the sights we had just seen. The second was an old movie called "Saabia," supposed to be laid in Arabia, and full of camels and bandits and witchcraft and last-minute rescues. The power went off right in the middle of one of the most dramatic scenes, and stayed off for ages, but the children loved it anyway.
July 18: Next morning, we had drizzling rain, for the first time. But as we spent all morning in the car, and the countryside was not very exciting, it did not matter very much. We had lunch in a little café in Worcester, and then made our way to the Cathedral nearby. This is a very beautiful and impressive cathedral, dating from the eleventh century. The multiple pillars in the arcade are very graceful, and form an interesting contrast to the Norman arches of the Crypt, which was the original church, and is still used for services. We noticed particularly the number of painted effigies on tombs, something we had not seen before. This is such an ancient church, that the effigies on some of the really old tombs are almost worn away, especially the faces; only a general outline remains. But there are many very beautiful tombs; I remember especially one of delicately carved pink alabaster that was almost translucent. Prince Arthur's Chantry is a wonderful piece of carving. But of course the most famous tomb here is that of King John. (We all began mentally to quote:" King John was not a good man ..." ) However, my most vivid memory of Worcester will always be the climb to the tower. I climbed many a tower, both before and after, but none to touch this one! It grew progressively steeper and narrower, till the stairs were scarcely wider than ladder rungs, and just as I was hanging on by my teeth, the bell started to ring practically in my ear (I was just passing the door leading to the bell chamber.) Trying to get up a narrow spiral staircase wearing a suit, coat and raincoat was bad enough anyway, and to cap it all, the view was far from impressive, and it started to rain almost as soon as we got up there. Even Charlie remarked that he thought he should have been paid for making the climb, instead of the reverse. But if anyone ever suggests that I was not in my prime last summer, I shall bid them climb that tower and then eat their words.
We arrived in good time at Warwick, but found to our disappointment that our hotel was full, and had booked accommodation for us at the Woolpack, just down the street. It was an ancient hostelry, one of the Trust hotels, but we were definitely not impressed. However, there was a museum right across the street, so the children rushed across at once, and stayed till closing time. I did not see it, but they assured me it was most interesting.
Since it was Janet's birthday, we wanted to do something more interesting for dinner than eat at the Woolpack, so we consulted the Gourmet's Guide, and found that one inn they particularly recommended was quite nearby. We set out to look for it and at the end of a long and beautiful driveway found the Wolcolm Inn, which must once have been one of the fine old estates of the district. What a beautiful spot! And what a dinner; it was one of the culinary highlights of our trip. The service was wonderful too, and everyone made much of Janet, when they heard that she was the guest of honour. She was even allowed a very small glass of a mild Bordeaux wine, and I have never seen a happier little girl; she positively bubbled, all through the meal. Afterwards, we asked if we might stroll through the grounds, as it was still quite light. It had sprinkled during dinner, and the air was balmy and fresh. So we crossed the formal gardens at the back, with their bordered paths and statuary and walked down one of the lovely woodland paths that wound everywhere. We came at last to the end of an artificial lake, inhabited by a family of swans. They were evidently great pets, and as soon as they spied us, set off across the lake toward us, the baby swans following their mother in perfect line like a little convoy. I can still see the children's faces, especially as the swans came right to our feet, and we saw the cygnets were really tiny ones, still covered with soft grey down. It was the highlight of Janet's birthday.
July 19: Although the children got to bed rather late that night, we were up in good time the next morning, as we wanted to see Warwick Castle. This castle is still occupied by the Earl of Warwick, and the public are only admitted to the courtyard and state rooms in small groups, accompanied by guides. The rooms are very richly furnished, but the most striking features are the wonderful paintings, collected over the centuries and nearly all by world-famous artists. Few art galleries could show such a collection. In the diningroom, which we entered first, is the well-known painting of King Charles I on horseback, by Van Dyck, and a life-like Study of Two Lions by Rubens, besides many others. The Great Hall is very striking. The floor is tiled in alternate squares of red and white marble. The roof, of carved oak, is very high, and three great windows look out over the river: a beautiful scene. Great tables and sideboard and antique chairs form the furnishing, together with an exhibit of all the family armour, with even a knight on horseback, (both in full armour,) in one corner. One tiny suit of armour belonged to an eight-year-old boy, son of the Earl of Leicester, and there is a helmet worn by Cromwell. Here, too, is a famous picture of Queen Elizabeth, painted in the early days of her reign.
It would take far too long to describe all the drawing rooms, with their beautifully carved walls and ceilings (many by Grinling Gibbons), Adams fireplaces, lustre chandeliers, Aubusson carpets, and' elaborate inlaid furniture covered with priceless ornaments. Among the artists whose work we saw represented were Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck (many of these), Rembrandt, Lely, and the famous painting of Henry VIII by Holbein. But I think the picture that impressed us most was a painting of Loyola, by Rubens. The richness of his clerical robe and the lighting effects were amazing.
Going out into the grounds, we saw the mound which formed part of the defences erected by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great. The gardens were beautiful, ablaze with flowers and backed with ancient trees of astonishing size and variety. Along the Yew Walk, we met a number of peacocks, including some baby ones, and in the Conservatory, we saw the famous Warwick vase, a tremendous affair of carved marble, big enough to take a comfortable bath in, and mounted on a base about four feet high. This ancient Roman ornament belonged to the Emperor Hadrian. Altogether, we felt Warwick was a place not to be missed.
After a pleasant picnic, we set out for Stratford. We were not successful in getting tickets to a performance - these are booked up months ahead. - but we saw the Theatre, a most uninspiring red brick affair, and also the Shakespeare Museum. While sitting here, my overarm bag slipped off my shoulder, and I did not notice it. When I missed it later, walking down the street, I was afraid I had left it hanging in a comfort station, and as it contained my passport, among other valuables, I was rather unhappy for a while, till we finally discovered it lying where it had fallen. After that, I usually wore it over my head and across my chest; not so comfortable, but much safer. The Shakespeare Museum has, among many other relics and paintings of the great man, one which they think they have proved genuinely authentic. After looking at that extremely intelligent and sensitive face, I decided that the people who try to prove that he was a figurehead and impostor were probably wrong.
Next we went to see Ann Hathaway's cottage - really a good-sized house with a fine garden. It was our first chance to examine a thatched roof closely, though we had seen many on our travels. Thatching is far from being a lost art in England. We were surprised at the thickness and solidity of the covering, which is very smooth, and fits very neatly over gable windows and jogs in the roof. Some thatched roofs have quite pretty designs worked into them. George was for some reason fascinated by the architecture of the cottage; he went around making sketches, and remarked that it would make a pretty fair design for a modern home - with somewhat higher ceilings, that is. That night we had dinner at the hotel where we had intended to stay - one of the Trust hotels - and enjoyed it very much. Then I set the girls' hair, did some nylons, and went to bed fairly early, as we hoped to make an early start.
July 20: In this we were disappointed, for we had sent some clothes to be dry-cleaned, and although they were supposed to come back at nine A.M., they in fact did not arrive till eleven. The children did not mind, as they spent the time in their pet museum. However, we got to Cambridge about three o'clock, and registered at the Cambridge Arms, a very fine hotel, with private baths (a luxury in Britain.)
A friend of Charlie's had secured our reservations, and he soon came around to welcome us, and to take us on a tour of the colleges. It was a delightful experience. One moment you would be walking along a busy modern street, all stone and cement and roaring motor cars. Then you would step through an old stone gateway, and find yourself in a beautiful quadrangle with velvety turf and borders of brilliant flowers and perhaps a fountain, surrounded by wonderful old buildings, and beyond those, the grassy banks of the River Cam, crossed by quaint curved footbridges. Here people in summer attire would be lying on the grass, enjoying the sunshine, or inexpertly poleing flat-bottomed boats; all so quiet and peaceful, it seemed a hundred miles from the busy city. Dr. Atack took us to King's House and Trinity and St. John's; each beautiful in its own way; Trinity probably the most impressive, with its very large Quad, and almost exotic buildings. We visited the dining halls where famous poets and scientists and statesmen once sat; we sat at the plain tables, under the fine vaulted ceilings, often adorned with coats of arms, and went into the Chapels, at the door of one meeting the Duke of Edinburgh, coming out with a group of men. John was able to get a fine picture of him. We also visited the Round Church, a splendid example of Roman architectures, built, as was sometimes the custom during the Crusades, as a replica of the Holy Sepulchre. The round portion of the church is authentic Norman, with zigzag ornament, on the semi-circular arches, but the chancel is a later addition. One thing that we noticed in both Cambridge and Oxford, was the number of both men and women in Indian garb, and also the number of very black men with fine, intelligent faces.
Charlie drove Dr. Atack home to the suburbs, and persuaded his wife to return and have dinner with us. We had a very enjoyable meal, and over coffee, Mrs. Atack and I found we had both attended the same college, and moreover, that her home in Montreal was on the same street and only a few doors from my brother George's house. She used to go out on dates with the son of an old friend of mine, Nan Mackay. Small world.
July 21: We drove the Atacks home at a reasonable hour, and Charlie made a date to visit Dr. A's place of work and meet his superior, So the children and I decided to go boating on the Cam. At first the expedition was not an unqualified success. John and Grace both thought they knew how to paddle, but it finally came out that they had never paddled except accompanied by an experienced paddler, who had done all the steering. So I insisted we take a flatboat instead of a canoe, to John's disgust, and for some time we merely wandered from one side of the river to the other. Luckily, the stream was completely deserted at that hour, except for a few families of ducks, and eventually we began to make fair progress. We did not get nearly as far as we had hoped, in the limited time at our disposal, but it was an experience anyway, and the river was lovely. We met Charlie shortly before noon, and had a picnic in a hayfield about one-thirty.
We soon reached Woodstock, and drove at once to Blenheim Palace, to see as much as we could before closing hour, at six. Entering by the visitor's gate, we had to wait in the great entrance hall (two stories high) till a small group had collected, then we were assigned to a guide. Like Warwick, Blenheim is still occupied by the family, and is luxuriously furnished. Given by Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough as a reward for his many victories, it was planned more as a monument to the Queen's glory and the victorias of her armies than as a private residence. The halls are lined with great cabinets housing magnificent collections of china, and every inch of wall space is covered with paintings. Unlike those at Warwick, however, these are mostly portraits of the family. Every drawing-room is a museum of costly furniture, so gilded and inlaid that the original wood is almost indistinguishable. Perhaps the most memorable room is the Great Hall, with the whole Battle of Blenheim painted on the ceiling. The dining hall, or Saloon is tremendously high, and the walls are panelled and painted in such a way that they appear to be encircled halfway up by a stone balustrade, surmounted by Grecian pillars of fluted stone with elaborate capitals, and between the pillars, a group of most lifelike people appear to be looking down over the balustrade into the room. Some of these were caricatures of real people, I believe. Above the pillars was a wide border of far more than life-size statuesque figures, so the actual people and furniture in the room seem completely dwarfed. The Long Library is the longest room I ever saw, except in a theatre, and at the end is a full-scale pipe organ, with gleaming pipes of pure tin. One of the state rooms had a set of amazing tapestries, showing all the victories of the Duke; the colours were so bright and true that one could hardly believe they were not paintings, except for their great size. The dining table was set with a service of silver-gilt, and the china was part of a set of over a thousand pieces, which had belonged to Marie Antoinette. In the chapel, we admired a graceful staircase of Italian marble, and a huge piece of statuary in memory of the first Duke and Duchess, and their two sons who died in childhood. In contrast to all this magnificence, we were shown the room where Winston Churchill was born, (on the ground floor not far from the entrance hall) and it was a rather unpretentious bedroom such as you might find in any home. In the Entrance hall was a very large silver-bowl filled with flowers; the guide told us that it was made of a whole silver tea service, which was melted down to make a baby bath for the present Duke.
If the interior of the palace is pretentious, the exterior is even more so. It is a tremendous castellated affair, set in a several square miles of parkland, and it faces a large artificial but very natural-looking lake, crossed by a very ornate bridge. Beyond the bridge is a wide elm-bordered drive, and a tower of Victory which is visible for miles. Directly in front of the Palace is a formal garden, the most elaborate we saw anywhere except at Versailles, on which It may have been modelled.
The garden descends in terraces to the lake; one terrace is formed by a long stone fountain, and there is statuary everywhere. Coloured foliage plants and box make elaborate scrolled patterns. We had a good substantial English tea on the upper terrace, and strolled a little way into the park to admire the magnificent old trees. Then we made our way back to the Bear Inn, which proclaims itself "The Inn that was old when the Palace was new" and claims to have been an inn since about the year 1232. It was indeed quaint, but very comfortable, and I had delicious rainbow trout for dinner. One last stroll through the narrow cobbled streets in the twilight, and then to bed.
July 22: I was afraid Oxford might prove rather a let-down after Cambridge, which I had admired so greatly, and certainly the buildings are not so striking in design, and there is nothing to compare in size and magnificence with Trinity. But there is an air of antiquity about Oxford that I did not feel in Cambridge, slight as the difference in their age actually is. Oxford seemed peaceful and almost remote, as belonging to another and more philosophical era.. Not that Oxford is content to sink into the dim, buried past - on the contrary, nowhere did we see more activity in the way of repairing and renovating. The place was swarming with workmen repairing roofs, walls, and even, in one case, putting a whole new stone face on a very battered old tower. We even missed seeing the famous Shelley Memorial (erected to his glory in the college that expelled him) because it was covered with a tarpaulin by the workmen redecorating the Chapel ceiling. We did not have too much time here, and my recollections are rather sketchy. I remember best the Cathedral, with the wonderful tracery of its east window and its unusual carved lectern. The children remembered best the astonishing painted glass windows in one of the chapels, especially the one depicting Jonah and the Whale The stroll past the botanical gardens and along the Broad Walk was delightful, and of course we were charmed to discover, in the fine old dining hall of Jesus College, a portrait over the head table of former chancellor Lord John Sankey.
We picnicked outside Oxford, and then drove straight on to Bath, where we registered at York House. Naturally, we went first of all to see the old Roman baths, which proved very interesting. These baths were built around a natural hot spring,(still flowing,) about 54 A.D., and were in use until the Saxons destroyed the city in 577. The ruins lay buried for centuries, until they were excavated in the late nineteenth century. An attempt was made to restore them to their original appearance, which, however much it may exasperate archaeologists, makes them much more real and understandable to youngsters. The original lead flooring of the baths, and some of the lead piping, is still intact, and some of the mosaic of the flooring is visible. A culvert, built bp the Romans for carrying off the waste water from the baths, is still sound and in use. Adjoining the baths is a museum, to contain all the various interesting items dug up while excavating the baths; pottery, bronze ware and jewellery. Especially interesting were some beautiful old seals, used like our signet rings. Beside them were shown imprints of each in plaster, to show the delicacy of the designs. There was also a large part of the big triangular ornament which once decorated the peak of the building, showing the face of the Goddess Sul Minerva, with (rather surprisingly) a moustache.
From the baths we went to the Abbey, an imposing building dating from the fifteenth century, but built on the site of a much older Norman Cathedral. This was closed for the night, so we saw only the imposing exterior. John had gone to see an exhibit of tropical fish, so Charlie, the girls and myself hopped a two-decker bus, simply for the ride. We were fortunate in our accidental choice, for this bus followed a most interesting route, out to the suburbs and along the crest of a hill, from which we could see the whole city in the valley below, and the hills beyond, chequered with hedgerows, and even get fascinating glimpses of the lovely gardens along the way, hidden from most passers-by behind high stone walls. We got back just in time for dinner, and (memorable event) really good coffee!
July 23: We left Bath early this morning, and proceeding to Wells, went at once to the Cathedral. Every Cathedral we visited had its own peculiar charm, and some memorable feature which set it apart from the rest; for some reason, Wells is the one I liked best. Not the outside, though that is impressive enough, especially the great west wall, with its rows and rows of statues. But the interior was like a great forest of marble trees; each pier surrounded with twenty-four light columns, rising to pointed arches, or, as in the lady chapel, to a fan-vaulted roof. Most distinctive features of Wells are the transverse arches, inserted for strength after the centre tower was heightened. Another feature was the delicate colourings of the organ pipes, and tapestries in the same exquisite shades between the stalls in the choir. The organist was conducting a boys' choir practice when we were there; I shall always remember the beautiful boy voices, and one lad who stayed to practice a solo, the clear, bird-like voice echoing in that vast interior. There is also a very graceful staircase, that leads to a chapter house of exceptional beauty. Most of the notable tombs in Wells are of former bishops, some dating back to the twelfth century. Almost as old is the glass in some of the windows. They are a mere jumble of fragments in some cases, having been smashed deliberately by Cromwell's soldiers, but the colours are beyond imitation.
However, the most popular feature of Wells -to the evident annoyance of its clergy, who do not even mention it in their descriptive booklet - is its remarkable clock. We had seen it from the outside, where two knights strike the quarters and hours on gongs. But about noon, we noticed a large number of people crowding into a small enclosure in one of the chapels, and were told they were waiting for the clock to strike. On paying sixpence, we were allowed in too, and it was really quite amusing. Above a huge dial that shows twenty-four hours of the day, the phases of the moon and so on, Knights in armour ride around chasing each other, and just as the clock strikes, the red knight knocks the brown knight off his horse. The actual striking was done by a funny little man sitting much higher up on the wall; he kicked his heels against a bell to sound the quarters, and hammered out the hours on a gong.
From Wells we went on to Glastonbury, and the very similarity of construction between the two churches made us realize more acutely the tragedy of these tremendous ruins. Glastonbury Abbey is where Joseph of Aramathea is supposed to have brought the Holy Grail, and they show you a tomb which is thought to contain his remains, King Arthur and his wife Guinivere are also supposed to be buried here. It must have been a beautiful church, with inverted arches like those at Wells. Around it are many huge old trees, including the famous thorn tree. These were labelled, and I learned to recognise the cypress and the handsome fern-leafed beech. The only building which is still complete is the Abbott 's kitchen, which w s very interesting. It is shaped like a great sugar-loaf, with a ventilating hole at the top. Each corner a big fireplace, each with its own open passage to the roof; one had an oven. And they even had running water - an open conduit along one side. One could easily visualize a spit turning in front of each open fire, and monks, their brown robes kirtled up, mixing bread for the oven or washing bowls on their knees beside the conduit.
We had a brief and, for once, not too comfortable picnic by the road, huddled between the cars, which were numerous, and the nettles behind us, equally plentiful. The day feed become uncomfortably hot, so we were very glad to reach Bideford, with its cool sea breezes. After dinner, the girls and I went for a most enjoyable stroll along the quay, where we saw a real fishing boat, with nets draped on the deck, and a naval training boat, among others. The girls saw for the first time the extent of tidal rise and fall. When we arrived, the tide was out, and some of the vessels were actually lying on their sides. But now the tide was almost in, and we saw two fair-sized steamers taking advantage of it; one to arrive, one to depart. Grace was fascinated, watching the water rise higher and higher on a ladder which was set in the sea-wall. Then she and Janet spied a playground near the quay, with a very high slide, so they rushed off to have a few minutes' play before bedtime. Later, we met Charlie, and he took Grace to buy some sunglasses, as she had lost the inexpensive pair she had brought with her.
July 24: To-day was a rather long, hot drive, and we decided we would never advise anyone to take a motor trip in Southeastern England. True, there is plenty of beautiful scenery; you catch a glimpse of it over the occasional gate, but the roads are narrow, and so hemmed in by the tall hedgerows, that it is like driving for miles in a long, airless green tunnel. In some places, bushes and trees seemed to be growing on top of a high mound of earth. Not till we sideswiped. one did we discover that they were actually stone walls. The walls here are of a rather porous, honey-coloured rock, and slanted outward toward the bottom, so they become completely overgrown with grass and vines.
We stopped for a time at Tintagel Castle, which is supposed to have been the home base of King Arthur and his Knights of the Table Round. Little remains of the castle itself, but the site is exceedingly interesting. Indeed, it would have been hard to dream up a better one. The castle perches on the side of a steep rocky peninsula, almost cut off from the mainland, and looks out to sea. Below it is a lovely little cove, quite deep enough for vessels of that era. The outer walls of the cove almost appear to overlap, and in the centre of the little bay is a large rock just opposite the opening. From a few hundred yards out to sea, the harbour would be almost invisible, even if it held several ships. And anyone trying to enter the narrow channel would be under direct fire from the castle. On the landward side, there is a steep hill just before you reach the peninsula, and an outer fortification on top of that. King Arthur certainly knew his defence positions.
The cove was cool and picturesque, with deep caves eroded in the rocks. Quite a few people were swimming, or playing on the sandy beach. We did not try to climb the hill to the castle, as we were told there was little to see, and besides, as it was Sunday, the castle itself was not open. We did not mind too much, for the climb back up the hill to the road was a steep one, especially in that heat, and before we were through I envied the softies who had hired a ride back up in an ancient jeep. We were very glad to arrive at St. Ives and the Tregenna Castle Hotel, a beautiful place where we were to spend three nights. It is a big hotel, and really looks like an old castle. It stands on a hill high above the water, overlooking the quaint old fishing town and a lovely curve of sea-beach, which ends in a distant lighthouse tower. The slope down to the town was is thickly planted with flowering shrubs, including tremendous clumps of the bluest hydrangeas I ever saw. The rooms are high and cool, with private baths and every convenience, and the service was wonderful. (For instance, on my way from the girls' room to mine,, with some things I intended to wash, I dropped a little blue sock. We made inquiries, but it could not be found before we left. Weeks later, home in St. Catharines, we received a letter from the Tregenna Castle, enclosing the missing sock, which had eventually turned up.) There were tennis courts, putting greens, and one could hire horses - in fact, the only real fault one could possibly find was, that we were so far from the water. The children did not mind, and scuttled down the long path to the beach at every opportunity, but after the first day, I let them go alone.
The great attraction on the beach, it seemed, was a little spring that bubbled out of the sand, and ran in enchanting little rivulets for some yards, till it disappeared into the sand again. The children played around this in droves, building dams and canals, while the sea-gulls, who apparently liked to drink the fresh water, mingled with them as tame as chickens, only deigning to rise and fly a few feet when some toddler attempted to catch them by the tail. The sea itself was rather cold for our effete Canadian tastes, though the hardy Britons seemed to enjoy it. But then, I had seen them going about in light cotton frocks, with perhaps a light cardigan, and the children with long bare legs, on days when I was glad of a warm wool suit, and the girls were conspicuous in their warm blue jeans (the latter, not worn in Britain, always elicited curious stare, but were very comfortable on many occasions.) That night a full-length movie was being shown in the lounge, and of course the girls begged to stay up for it. It was an old one of Ginger Rogers; actually not too bad. We slept in rather later than usual next morning, in consequence, but finally got up and decided to drive over to St. Michael's Mount.
July 25: This unusual island has been so often photographed, that I found it hard to believe I had not seen it before. The church on its summit dates back to the time of Edward the Confessor, who presented it to the Benedictine convent of Mont St. Michel in Brittany, to which the English island bears such a resemblance. The Crown finally took over the property again in the fifteenth century, and fortified it, as a means of protecting ships in the anchorage from the ever-present menace of pirates. Some of the ancient brass cannons still remain. After a chequered history, the Mount finally passed into the possession of the St. Aubyn family, who have held it for over three hundred years.
We arrived at the Mount at high tide, so we crossed in a motor-boat, one of several for hire at the spot. We had a light lunch at the restaurant there, and then joined a tour group to be taken up to the castle. We climbed the steep hill slowly, once mounting some worn steps of natural stone which had recently been excavated, and were believed to have been there since the days of the ancient Abbey. We came first to a stone terrace flanked with old cannon, and then went into the church; the most notable feature here being some rare old Flemish fourteenth-century glass. From there we proceeded through the various rooms that were open to the public, including the blue drawing room which was specially decorated for the visit of Queen,.Victoria and Prince Albert. The hangings are still fresh and beautiful. Best of all was the view from the terraces; seaward, across the sparkling expanse of sunlit water; landward, the little village with the fishing boats dipping at anchor, and behind it, the lovely Cornish hills, chequered in shades of gold and green.
We were interested in a little museum of stuffed animals, and fish, all local varieties, in a small shop at the foot of the hill. The tide was out now, so we were able to walk back to shore over the famous causeway, the children delightedly picking up shells and water-smoothed stones along the way. The causeway itself is built of big, yellowish stones, worn smooth by the tides that wash over it daily, but firm underfoot. We drove home in time for the children to have their swim and a game on the beach, but this time I stayed at the hotel and enjoyed the free afternoon tea which they serve daily.
The night before, while we watched the movie, George had been for a long walk alone around the town, and was fascinated by the quaint, narrow streets; he swears that on one occasion, he and a large pussycat had to take refuge together in a doorway to let a motorcycle pass, and I could quite believe it. So after our tea, Charlie and I went for a stroll down some of the main streets, and bought a few supplies for next day's picnic; all but bread, which was all sold out for the day. Home to an excellent dinner, with, wonder of wonders, good coffee. After dinner, George and I stayed out on the lawn for quite a while, talking and watching the sunset, over the bay; then we all turned in early.
July 26: To-day's expedition was not nearly as successful as most of our ventures. The children did not want to go anywhere but the beach; they got up and had breakfast before we were even awake, so as to have some time at the beach before we had to leave. I was not feeling too well, and was looking forward. to a quiet restful day at our palatial hotel, perhaps writing letters in the secluded nooks of the garden. But Charlie felt we should see Land's End, and as it looked quite near, on the map, I gave in, thinking we would be home soon after lunch. But we took a route which was supposed to be scenic - it actually was quite interesting, but took us simply hours. We must have wandered all over the peninsula. We had our picnic on a hilltop, looking over the moor, and then finally reached Land's End. Which would have been quite lovely in a state of nature, but it had been made into a complete tourist joint. It was hot, dusty and crowded, and we had to park miles away and walk through the dusty grass or the tar on the road, dodging cars all the way. The children and Charlie climbed down the hill to the water's edge, where it was much more secluded and lovely, but I was tired and decided to wait for them on the top, which proved a mistake, as it became horribly hot. And of course the time always seems longer when you are waiting for someone, but I dared not leave to go into the hotel or back to the car, for fear of missing them in the mob. Actually, the scene was quite beautiful, if you could ignore the immediate foreground; huge weathered rocks piled high, and glimpses of the sea between, and the long bar of rocky island with a lighthouse on the tip. But I was never so glad to see anyone as when George finally turned up, and took me to a cool spot where I could sit down. We took a short way home, and I crawled into bed without even waiting for tea, and slept for an hour, it was so cool and restful.
After that, I felt more human, and able to enjoy another excellent dinner. Afterwards, as we were watching the sunset again, some riders in "pink" coats rode up, and gave us our first view of real English hunters: they are very strong, heavily built horses, compared with most riding horses. I think they were advertising a hunt to be held very shortly. We watched them fill they left, and then went in to pack for next day.
July 27: To-day we regretfully said good-bye to St. Ives and Tregenna Castle, which had never looked lovelier. All of us were a bit glum, partly because we hated so to leave, but more because none of us had slept too well. There had been a dance the night before, at the hotel, and though we did not attend (it was quite a formal affair) we could not help hearing the music. Then there was some sort of hold-up about the car, but eventually we got under way, and everyone cheered up. The children were happy because I stopped for groceries beside a shop which had some of the "match-box series" toys which they were collecting, and which kept them amused all they way. Then we began passing some more of the funny chimneys that we had seen here and there, like factory chimneys, but with only a small shack beside them, and we learned that they were the remains of the old Cornish tin mines, of which we had all read. Only one is now in operation. We also saw white clay banks in the distance, and guessed that we were near the region of the great English potteries.
When we came near Plymouth, we were excited to see in the distance a big aircraft-carrier anchored in the harbour. We had quite a wait for a ferry here, and while we waited, we saw more and more naval ships, and realized part of the fleet was in. We were anxious to see some of the vessels more closely, and were told that the only way was to go to a certain pier and hire a boat to take us out. A number of launches were running excursions around the harbour, and we were lucky enough to get on board one almost at once. It was an experience as interesting as it was unexpected. Plymouth has a marvellous harbour, formed by a large natural bay and estuary, and protected by two projecting headlands, also by a long man-made jetty spanning a good deal of the distance between them, with a fort at each end. One could hardly estimate now many ships could find a safe anchorage there. There is also a small rocky island in the middle of the bay, and along the shore opposite is a great row of fortifications with cannon on top. Probably more effective protection to-day would be the Sunderland Flying Boat which kept circling lazily over the harbour like a mammoth dragon-fly.
We saw all kinds of naval vessels that day: two major aircraft-carriers - huge, lowering things - one large battleship, several cruisers, a troop ship, and a batch of destroyers, besides all sorts of civilian ships, even to a dainty little sailing boat. The boys especially were delighted, and all of us enjoyed the boat trip, on such a lovely day. Then we set out again for Coedition, but realized that we would scarcely reach our hotel in time for dinner now. So we phoned them to say we might be late arriving, and started looking for a place to eat. So After a pleasant drive through charming scenery - not so many hedgerows here - we came to a very nice little inn just outside Exeter, and had a very good dinner, with a big bowl of fresh-picked raspberries for dessert. Charlie, just for curiosity, had Devonshire Cream, and found it rather like whipped cream which had been beaten too long, till it was slightly buttery. Then we went on to Coedition, and found the old Ship Hotel, where we were glad to tumble into bed.
July 28: Next morning we set out for Exeter, and went first to the Cathedral, which we found very interesting, The most striking feature of this cathedral is the ornately carved organ-case which stands on top of the choir screen (also beautifully carved) in the centre of the church. The organ itself, we learned, had been rebuilt several times, but the original case retained. Another striking piece of carving is the Bishop's throne, which is the highest and most ornate I have ever seen. It is quite old, and stands about sixty feet high. At the top is a niche containing the figure of a Bishop, which is a modern carving of a recent and much beloved bishop of the diocese. Exeter is a surprising mixture of the ancient and modern, though it is difficult to distinguish one from the other, so excellent are the modern reproductions A large bomb landed in one of the transepts, and did a pretty complete job of demolishing that side of the church, but they have been working on it ever since the war, and have pretty well completed the repairs. We were quite impressed to see how well the modern carving stonework and stained glass compared with the work of the older craftsmen. Among the more ancient treasures still remaining were a very old eagle lectern, and a huge wall clock. This clock had no minute hand, so at a later date a smaller dial was added above the clock face, to show the minutes past the hour. The children were delighted with the carvings under the choir seats, which were very original, and included an elephant and a mermaid.
There were an unusual number of small chapels, each quite different in design and decoration, and some very ancient tombs. One memorial which we as Canadians found very interesting was a large one to John Graves Simcoe, with his portrait in the middle,. Standing guard beside it, on one side was a soldier, in the uniform of the period, and on the other a handsome young American Indian, complete with scalplock and tomahawk.
After our visit to the Cathedral, we shopped for supplies, finding a market with a wonderful variety of fresh fruit. Then we set out for Newton Poppleford, to see if we could find one of Charlie's relatives. On the way we stopped to picnic in a field, and presently saw the owner striding over, with his dog at his heels. We were not at all sure that we would not be promptly evicted, but we smiled cheerfully and said we hoped he didn't mind our trespassing, so he assured us it was all right, though he admitted that he did not appreciate some of the people who made free of his property and left gates open and trampled down the crops. He was a very friendly soul, really, and stayed and chatted for a long time, especially about his little collie, which, he was quite convinced was a most exceptional animal.
Lunch over, the debris carefully collected and the gate closed, we went on to Newton Poppleford (what a lovely English name!) and with some difficulty located the home of Margery Sankey, but unfortunately she was not at home. So all we could do was leave her a note and depart. We were sorry not to meet her, as from all accounts she is a very interesting person, but we had a pleasant drive through the countryside.
Having a little time to spare, we decided to visit the Coedition church, which seemed an unusually large one for such a small town. This was explained when we learned that it had originally been a Cathedral, and later a monastery church, and then a College of eighteen canons and eighteen vicars. It was as fine a structure as many of the better known cathedrals, though not so richly furnished, of course, But it had a very impressive reredos and some fine windows, and, perhaps partly because we came upon it unexpectedly and so had some of the thrill of the explorer, we liked it very much, and felt its very simplicity of decor added to the majesty of its architecture.
One reason we had decided to break our journey at Coedition was that the mother and sister of a friend of ours lived nearby, and she had expressed a hope that we would see them. So we telephoned and invited them to have dinner with us. We drove out to their home to pick them up, - a little late, because George decided to wash the car in their honour - and found them living in a genuine sixteenth-century cottage, with a thatched roof, and a doorway so low that even I had to duck to get in, while George's curls brushed the ceiling. Definitely, Elizabethan Englishmen were not as tall as their descendants. We found Mrs. Cotter a delightful old lady; she had done quite a bit of portrait painting, and talked very entertainingly to the girls about it. Molly's sister Biddy was very sweet; she reminded me of my own sister, so felt very much at home with her. We had dinner at a hotel in Sidrnouth, which was well recommended, It proved to be a very good hotel, and an excellent dinner; there was even an orchestra, and pretty young girls in evening gowns arriving for a dance later on. We had been a little doubtful about driving Mrs. Cotter so far, but she seemed to enjoy it immensely, and we had a very pleasant evening.
July 29: We started out fairly early, buying provisions at Creditom, and did not stop, except for lunch, until we reached Stonehenge. Everyone has seen pictures of this astonishing old stone circle from childhood, yet I can assure you that in this case, familiarity does not breed contempt. Even when surrounded by twittering sightseers and frolicking children, the great stones are impressive. Moreover, the average picture does not show the setting which surrounds the circle. We bought an aerial photograph which gives a much clearer view of the original plan. Around the altar stone lies a horseshoe of small stones. Then comes the familiar ring (also a horseshoe) of great trilithons. Outside that are two circles of stones, and then a fairly deep ditch, so that the larger stones seem to be in the centre of a circular mound. The ditch is crossed by a causeway, which leads into an avenue, and in the centre of this is the Heelstone: a pointed stone so placed that at the summer solstice, the sunrise first appeared to worshippers in the circle directly over its peak. At the winter solstice, the sunset could be seen between the uprights of the great central trilithon. This orientation, together with the geometric accuracy of the structure, is astonishing, when we consider that geologists date the earliest parts of this construction at 1800 B.C. ( It therefore follows that it was not built by the Druids, who came to Britain around 500 B.C., though they may have used it.)
But the most amazing thing about this construction is that it should have been built of stone at all. The National Trust has bought up all the surrounding countryside, in order that it shall be kept in its natural state and not built up, so one can see for miles on every side, over smoothly rolling country, and nowhere is there even a small rock visible. Geologists have proved that many of the stones were brought all the way from the Presley Hills in Pembrokeshire; probably by water. Imagination almost balks at the picture of primitive man bringing these immense rocks such a distance, setting them upright, and then chipping them off to the exact height, leaving a peg to hold the lintels in place, then cutting corresponding holes in the lintels, and somehow, (probably by means of a ramp) setting them in place so securely that many of them remain to this day.
From Stonehenge, we proceeded to Salisbury, and checked in at the County Hotel. Then we set out to find the Cathedral. There can be little doubt that from the outside at least, Salisbury is the most beautiful of the many cathedrals we visited. And the spacious grounds, with their great trees, do much to enhance its beauty. The view of it from across the River Avon Is particularly lovely. The West front is almost completely covered with statues; many of these restored or completely modern, it is true, but no less effective for that. The superb spire is too familiar to need description. The interior is almost sombre in its tremendous length and simplicity of design. One reason why you get such an impression of great length is perhaps that, instead of a heavy choir screen of carved wood or stone, to break its length, Salisbury's screen is only a delicate metal tracery, with gates that fold back. The clerestory, instead of windows opening outside, has arches, supported by clusters of dark pillars, opening onto a dark balcony, thus increasing the sombre effect. However, we found a lighter touch in the choir, for on the end of each row of seats was a dear little carved wooden angel, and each/splaying a different instrument.
What I remember best at Salisbury, however, is the cloisters, which surround a quiet quadrangle overshadowed by two very large, dark trees (Cedars of Lebanon, I think.) As you walk along the worn stones, the silence is so intense it almost hurts the ears, and your voice sounds oddly hushed. The cloisters servers a passage to the Chapter House, which has a beautiful vaulted ceiling, and a frieze of the quaintest carvings below the windows, depicting Old Testament scenes (including one showing the Egyptian army drowning in the Red Sea, all dressed in contemporary English armour.)
The others went back to the hotel when we finished sight-seeing, but Grace, Charlie and I decided to remain for Evensong, which is usually at six-fifteen. I stayed partly because I wanted to hear the organ, but to our astonishment, the choir sang the entire service a capella. Moreover, they used the most complicated setting I have ever heard. It was a small choir of picked voices, about fourteen boys and six men, with fine voices perfectly blended, and the way they handled those intricate staggered harmonies was something to hear. We were sitting in the choir, as there was only a very small congregation, so we got the full effect.
John had somehow missed seeing the little angels in the choir, and when he heard the girls talking about them at dinner, he hurried back to the Cathedral to have another look, and got a picture of one. The rest of us were glad to relax, and write or read quietly until bedtime.
July 30: To-day we made an early start, delayed only in the grocery store by mobs of people laying in supplies for Bank Holiday, and started a long drive across Southern England. The day was pleasantly warm and sunny, and the countryside was England at its best: gently rolling hills, rich farmland, park-like woods, and occasionally a palatial estate, set far back from the roads at the end of a curving drive through a grove of fine trees. Our first indication of one of these was usually a high stone wall, with a gatehouse and tall stone pillars on either side of a wrought-iron gate. When we stopped to eat our lunch, under some tall pine trees, we could see one which looked like a baronial castle, deep in the valley below us. Beautiful trees dotted the slopes of the hill, and outside the castle we could see tents set up for some sort of fair, with flags fluttering, and what seemed to be a field for polo. So we thought it might be the Mountbatten's, as we had read that they were having a gymkhana on their property over the Holiday.
Shortly before lunch, we arrived at Winchester, and although we had seen so many cathedrals lately, we could not miss this one. It is one of the most famous of England's historic buildings. It was the site of a cathedral in the ninth century, though the present building was not completed till the eleventh. And here are buried Egbert, the first English King; King Canute, and William Rufus. Edward the Confessor was crowned here, and Queen Mary was married to Philip of Spain. History seems to come to life here.
Moreover, Winchester is very beautiful, and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The colonnade of arches in the nave and the stone ceiling are exceptionally graceful. A lofty chapel marks the burial place of the Bishop who is chiefly responsible for this architecture, you can see his effigy cut in alabaster. Three monks at his feet raise their hands In prayer, and at his head angels smooth his pillow.
The choir stalls, where the monks used to sit. are backed by a screen of elaborate carving which extends across the front to form the choir screen. There is an altar in front of this screen, which I suppose is used when there is sufficient congregation to use the nave of the church. The High Altar in the choir, which was used at the monks' services, has the most beautiful reredos I have ever seen. It is a very high screen of white stone, with a large number of statues in the niches, separated by lace-like carving. The figures are modern, as the original ones were destroyed, probably by Cromwell's army.
On top of the walls of the choir were quaint little carved chests, gaily painted, such as one might imagine a little Swedish girl might have for her toys. They were actually the burial chests of ancient Saxon royalty, and what appeared to be little chimneys on them proved to be, on closer inspection, coats of arms surmounted by a crown. Behind the choir were several magnificent tombs and chantries, which probably owed their excellent state of preservation to the fact that they were surrounded by walls or bars, and thus were out of reach of the sort of people who have to rub things with their hands or carve initials on them. One effigy was of a bishop who was also a Cardinal, and was shown in his full red regalia. I had an interesting chat with a charming lady who was dusting one of the ancient tombs as I came past. She was a member of the Altar guild; they have sixty members, and each one takes a small section of the Cathedral, dusts it, polishes the woodwork and arranges flowers.
Having a long journey still ahead, we set out again at a good pace, and as the traffic was not as bad as we had expected it to be over the Holiday, we were far enough ahead of schedule to be able to stop, when we suddenly found ourselves skirting an old Roman wall, and discovered that it surrounded the old Castle of Pevensy. The walls date from the fourth century, but the castle was erected in the eleventh, by a brother of William the Conqueror, This was originally a coastal defence, but the sea gradually receded from this area, and the castle lost its military importance, and was gradually allowed to fall into disrepair. In 1587, in view of the threat of the Spanish Armada, some further interest was taken. Earthworks were thrown up, and two cannon installed, one of which still remains. It is of iron, and has on it a Tudor Rose crowned, and the letters E.R. (for Elizabeth R. ) Beside it are piled a heap of old stone cannon balls. After\the defeat of the Armada, the castle was again neglected, until the collapse of France in 1940. Then the old castle suddenly resumed its old military purpose; it was re-fortified for use as an observation and command post, and was continuously in military occupation by regular troops and the Home Guard, by Canadian troops and the U.S. Army Air Corps, who used it as a radio direction centre. The additional defence works were all carefully camouflaged to look like part of the ruins. History suddenly comes to life when the past and present are so interlinked in one spot. The children were most impressed by the dungeon, and the 'oubliette', a hole down which unwanted prisoners were dropped into the water of the moat. Incidentally, the moat still had water in it.
When we reached Hastings, we drove around for a while, looking for the Unitarian church, which we had heard was here. Then we went on to Rye, where we were to spend three of the happiest days of our trip. What a fabulous place! The streets are narrow and cobbled, and (as the song written in its honour says) "wander up hill and then down." What a time George had, trying to get "the bloody monster", as the garage boy at St. Ives called old OYK, into the parking place behind the Mermaid Hotel. He had to make a right-angle turn through a narrow stone archway, from an uphill street barely as wide as the car was long.
Our room is called the Elizabethan Room. It has a huge yellow brick fireplace, a number of diamond-paned casement windows, and a big four-poster bed, with a carved wooden canopy. This latter is famous as being the only four-poster bed in England in which Queen Elizabeth did not sleep! Though she could have, as the Mermaid Hotel was a flourishing concern even in her day. It goes back to the time of Chaucer, but was rebuilt in 1420, after Rye was burned to the ground by the French. When Queen Elizabeth visited Rye, the cobbled (or, more correctly, bouldered) streets, and scores of the buildings, including the Mermaid, were almost as they are now. The ceilings are white, with big, roughly hand-hewn black beams, and in the bar is the biggest fireplace I ever saw. The downstairs rooms have hand-painted murals of Elizabethan scenes and characters, very colourful, and all the furniture and ornaments are in keeping. But it is a very modern hotel, none the less. We opened an ancient door in the oak panelling, and found a tiled modern bathroom. The fireplace had an electric heater concealed in its basket of coal - we even had a bedside radio, and a television set in the lounge downstairs. And the cuisine and service were excellent - all but the coffee!
There was not room in the hotel for the children the first night, so they were billetted in the Annex next door. The girls had a tiny attic room with sloping ceilings, at one end, and the boys had a matching room, up another staircase, at the other end. They were supposed to move into the hotel proper next day, but they liked their cosy little rooms so much, and the private family who owned the house were so good to them, that they all requested to stay where they were, and did.
July 31: We did not do anything last evening but wander down to the station, to find out what train Charlie should take on Monday. But to-day we decided to celebrate Charlie's birthday by making a pilgrimage to Canterbury. It was a beautiful day and a delightful drive; first past flocks of sheep feeding in the dark-green marshes, and then through pleasant farmland, with market gardens and fruit orchards. And then, to our delight, we came upon some hop fields. We almost missed the first ones, for they were surrounded by closely planted trees that hid them almost entirely from the road, and also by a high fence covered with something that looked like fishnet. But we walked along it till we came to a break in the fence, through which we could peek and see the tall poles, with wires along the top, and the vines, like slender trees, growing between them, and spreading their foliage along the wires, high above the ground. The earth beneath was bare of vegetation - apparently well cultivated - and the shade looked cool and inviting.
When we reached Canterbury, we parked by the city wall, and climbing a flight of stone steps, came out through a narrow arch into the beautiful War Memorial: a square walled garden, with a lawn and trees in the centre, surrounding a memorial cross, and wide garden beds all the way around it, brilliant with flowers. From this, we came out into the grounds of the Cathedral itself. It is a most imposing pile, with two big square towers flanking the western entrance, and an enormous and beautiful square tower in the centre, called "Bell Harry." This was built in the fifteenth century, but most or the building dates back to the twelfth. The Archbishops of Canterbury go back to St. Augustine, and most of them, from Cuthbert, the eleventh, who was consecrated in 741 A.D., are buried there.
We did not want to disturb the service, so we wandered through the remains of the old monastery at the back, coming into the church just as the service ended, so we could hear the magnificent organ. As in most monastic churches, the nave is almost completely separated from the choir by a great carved stone screen, pierced only by a narrow arch. This was to shut out the noise of the common people so that they would not disturb the monks' devotions, and it serves the same purpose to-day. We need not have remained outside, for the service was held in the choir, while sight-seers wandered freely through the rest of the church. There is an altar and pulpit outside the screen, so that a service could be held in the nave, if numbers warranted it. One surprising feature of Canterbury is that the choir and Lady Chapel are much higher than the nave, which gives an unusual effect as you come through the arch. To your left, as you stand facing the nave, is a flight of very old stone steps, worn and hollowed by the feet of pilgrims to the shrine. On the other side, a little tile set in the floor marks the spot where Thomas-a-Becket was murdered.
The most interesting of the many famous shrines here is that of the Black Prince. His effigy lies on the top, clad in gold armour, wearing a hood of chain mail, and surrounded by shields bearing his coats of arms, one for war, one for peace. Henry IV is the only King buried here. He and his wife lie on a high carved tomb that looks like an altar, and there are carved canopies above their heads. The most dramatic tomb is that of the Archbishop Chichele. On top of the tomb is his effigy, depicted in all his magnificent ecclesiastical robes. But inside the tomb, entirely visible through the wide arches on either side, lies a ghastly cadaver, a reminder, we are told, of the transitory nature of human glory. A modern window in St. Michael's Chapel commemorates members of the "Buffs", (Royal East Kent Regiment,) who gave their lives in the second World War, and an illuminated Record shows the names of Buff's who gave their lives in both wars. In England, you are constantly reminded of the frightful toll that the wars have taken here. Every town has its monuments and memorials and Honour Rolls. Canterbury also has a quite astonishing crypt. It is beautifully vaulted and very large; there is a complete church there, which is now used by the local French Protestants, and also several shrines.
On our way back from Canterbury, we just happened to see a fruit stand by the road, and found some of the delicious English strawberries. So we bought two quart baskets, and then we saw some comb honey, and discovered that the children had never eaten honey in the comb, so we had to buy a comb. As we already had a full picnic basket, we really had a feast, but it was late and we were hungry, so we did it full justice. We had pulled up a little side road, and found a little knoll under some fine beech trees, where we lolled and feasted. Across the road, at a little distance, was a hop garden, and beside it were some brightly coloured gypsy caravans. We knew that gypsies used to help with the hop-picking, but didn't realize that they still did. John got a picture of one caravan that was near the road, as we passed it going home.
After we reached the Mermaid, we wandered all around Rye, and visited the old church, with its fine windows given by the Benson family, and its clock, supposed to be the oldest one going with its original works. On the outside of the church, the clock face is on a tower, and above it, the Quarter Boys, four feet high and made of gilded oak, strike the quarters, but not the hours. Inside the church, the eighteen-foot pendulum swings in a slow, wide arc above your head. We also visited Ypres Tower, a grim old stone pile which was successively a fort, a private castle, a courthouse, a jail, and now a local museum. This tower defied even German bombs, which chipped its four-foot thick walls. We strolled along the Gun Garden, which is a terrace below the tower. In the days when Rye overlooked the sea, a battery of cannons was sited here. Now it overlooks a playground, and beyond that, several miles of marshes, grazed by flocks of sheep; the sea is not evan visible from here. But some boats do sail as far as Rye along the winding river, when the tide is high. Another imposing monument to the past is the Landgate, an ancient stone arch flanked by round stone towers, once protected by a portcullis and drawbridge.
The-town of Rye was celebrating Bank Holiday by staging all kinds of events to raise money for the Spastic Assn. The girls and I, having separated from the men after our sight-seeing, wandered up the hill towards the church, bound for a wonderful candy-shop we had seen earlier. Going in, we had a wonderful time choosing fudge of every colour and flavour imaginable, and, saw on the wall a notice that in aid of the Spastics, several of the townsfolk were opening their homes and gardens to the public. So we went on up the hill, clutching our little white bags, and soon came to a gate which said the garden within might be viewed, for a consideration, we decided that this would be a perfect place to eat our fudge, so we paid the modest fee, and found ourselves in a delightful English garden, all walled in grey stone; a fine green lawn surrounded by old trees and brilliant flower beds. No one was there, so we sat down on a bench, and pretended we owned the place. We decided that we could have few pleasanter memories than this; sitting in the sun in this lovely garden, eating delicious home-made candy and listening to the birds.
Leaving reluctantly, we came down the hill towards the Mermaid, and soon saw another sign, on a most unimpressive house. The house was just a grey stone wall, flush with the sidewalk, with a couple of narrow casement windows, like the dozen others on the street to which it was attached. But when we entered, we found ourselves in a beautiful old home, with large, high-ceilinged rooms, where comfortable modern furniture was pleasantly mixed with valuable antiques. Someone in the family must have been much in China, for there were some fine Chinese ornaments in the livingroom and dining-room. The place belonged to a Brigadier-general, and he and his wife received us cordially. Passing through the house, after a glimpse of the ancient kitchen with its huge old chopping-block table (and an even more admiring glance through an open door at the efficient modern kitchen which was not on display) we came to another delightful garden, This one was smaller, and had no lawn. Instead, It was terraced, with charming little stone walks and stone steps, and a wonderful display of flowers. The general, it seemed, was an ardent gardener. In the middle of the garden was an ancient tower, and we were allowed to climb to the top to see the view, far beyond the ramparts to the plains where the sea once rolled. The practical owner used the ground floor as a place to store his garden tools, the second floor as a workshop, and the third floor was obviously used by his small boy as a playroom. The girls were more interested in a model of London Bridge, among his toys, than in the view.
Just as we were leaving the house, we met Charlie, also returning home, so I took him back with me to see the house and garden, and he had quite a chat with the general, as we were by now the only guests. Coming out and looking back at the unimpressive exterior, we wondered how many of its equally unimpressive neighbours had such hidden treasures concealed. We were grateful to the public-spirited general and his wife, for we would never have suspected what lay behind those blank stone facades.
After another excellent dinner, we sat about while Charlie packed for his trip to Amsterdam, and then went to bed early.
Aug. 1: Charlie got up at 8:30 A.M., and started off for London, on his way to Holland. The children and I had a lovely, lazy day. In the morning, I wandered about the town, looking in the curio shops and buying a little food. We had lunch in our room, finishing up the last of our supplies, then threw out all that was left, washed all the dishes thoroughly and repacked the basket with them, since our picnicking days were over. Later the girls came in all upset, because they had seen a carnival advertised, but could not find it. So I found out where it was, and took them down. We found John already there. It turned out to be a sports meet. We watched several events, including the beginning and end of a nine-mile race, and the send-off of a homing pigeon race. We were surprised to see now long the pigeons circled about in the air, sometimes disappearing altogether and then re-appearing, before they, finally set off. There were booths with games of chance, and the proceeds were to go to the Spastic Assn.
About 7.30 there was a parade down the main street, with floats, and people in costume, and as they passed, they collected money from the spectators, for the Spastic Assn. The children loved it. Then we went back to the hotel for dinner, and regretfully began packing our bags for the morning.
Aug 2 To-day we were ready to start in good time, but were held up by the discovery that John had left his new jacket in the playground the afternoon before. I had been carrying it while we were at the fair, because it was quite hot there, and he forgot I had given it back to him when I went back to the hotel ahead of them. So he did not miss it, thinking I still had it. We searched everywhere for it, and enquired at the police station, but never found it. We were very sorry, for it was an unusually attractive one, and the one he bought it London later to replace it was not nearly as good-looking, and not reversible.
We reached Tunbridge Wells at noon, and as Charlie had asked me to cash a cheque on our letter of credit there, we stopped there. I cashed the cheque, after much waiting, and then we had lunch, in a funny little hotel. They were serving lunch in the bar, but as children are not allowed in a bar, they set us a table in a little sitting-room, all by ourselves. The service was very slow, but we had quite a good meal.
Then we drove on to London, and it was very exciting, when we suddenly caught a glimpse of Tower Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament (the latter all swathed in scaffolding, like so many buildings in London) I wondered how George would ever find our hotel, but after a few inquiries and much consulting of the map, he got us there without too much difficulty. We registered and found our rooms. Then, as we had an hour or so before Charlie was due to arrive, the children and I went for a walk in Green Park nearby (We were at the Green Park Hotel, in Half Moon St.) The park was not exciting - just trees and rather dried-up lawns, after the hot dry weather - but suddenly, through the trees, we caught a glimpse of red, and saw a sentry pacing up and down. The children were off like a shot, and were almost speechless to find ourselves right in front of Buckingham Palace.
It is quite an impressive sight, with the Mall stretching in front of it, centred with a great statue. We stood and watched the guards for some time, fascinated by their queer mechanical movements. About this time the girls and I lost sight of John, who was taking pictures, so we walked on, looking for Hyde Park. We actually reached the entrance, but did not recognize it as such, and eventually made the complete circuit of the Palace grounds (quite a stroll) and arrived back at Green Park. It was just as well, for by that time it had started to sprinkle - our first rain in England - and we had to sprint for the hotel.
Charlie arrived soon after, and got in touch with Dr. Barrett, a business acquaintance who had phoned him earlier. He arranged to take us to dinner, and so half an hour later, we were driving out of London, on the Oxford Road, to an old inn called "The Bull." Janet and I rode with Dr. Barrett, and he pointed out all the points of interest on the way, which made it very exciting. The rest drove in OYK. We had a drink in the lovely garden of the inn, and then a wonderful dinner (including the hottest curry I ever ate. I was glad I had discouraged the children from ordering it.) Afterwards, we sat and had coffee, and visited, with Dr. Barrett and his wife and seventeen-year-old daughter Mirabelle, and Dr. and Mrs. Gardiner, who had joined us at the inn. Janet and John were so tired by this time that at my suggestion they went out and curled up in the car, where they were soon asleep. But Grace sat up with us, looking very pleased with herself and enjoying everything immensely.
We left the inn about ten-thirty, and found our way back to the Green Park. It is a good thing that George has such an inborn sense of direction, and that Charlie was quite familiar with the district around the hotel, or we might have taken a long time to reach home. And we were all very glad to get there and climb into bed, after a strenuous but very enjoyable day.
Aug. 3: To-day we had our last excursion in dear old OYK. We drove out to Windsor to see the castle. We were late getting away, which was unfortunate; I would have liked much more time there, Besides, we learned after a while that you must always go to such places in the morning. After lunch, all the tour busses arrive, and everything is so crowded that you stand in line for hours, and can hardly see anything. We saw St. George's Chapel first. It is a beautiful example of "perpendicular" architecture, which gives even such a massive stone building a light, airy appearance. The West window is supposed to be the third-largest in Europe, and the colours are wonderful. The nave is covered by rich vaulting with many carved bosses, and the choir ceiling is even more elaborate. The choir stalls are beautifully carved, and the upper tier is for the Knights of the Garter; above each hangs a banner with his coat of arms, and on the canopy of his stall is a helmet surmounted by his crest. A kindly old verger put his arms around the girls and led them in, to show them where the Queen and the other royalty sit, in boxes with their backs to the choir screen. He pointed out Sir Winston Churchill's seat and banner, in the middle on the left, with its elaborate black, white and red quarterings.
The chapel is full of elaborate tombs and effigies of departed royalty. But it was somehow startling to discover among them the familiar forms of King George V and Queen Mary, sculptured in white marble and very life-like, lying in traditional fashion. Except that they had their hands clasped in a more natural way; the Queen's just clasped loosely, the King's fingers interlaced, instead of lifted in an attitude of prayer. Seeing them seemed to make all the other figures more real to us. The most impressive monument, oddly enough, was one erected by Queen Victoria in memory of a young Ethiopian prince who died in England. The "body" lies in a natural position on its side, with one hand hanging down so it just shows beneath the sheet with which the body is covered, and four sheeted mourners bow in grief, at the four corners, while angels arise above it. The carving is so exquisitely done that the sheets appear to be real cloth and almost transparent. On the north side of the aisle is the chantry of one of the canons named John Oxenbridge, and over the door is his name, symbolized by an ox, a large N, and a bridge with water running under it. Nearby is hung the great two-handed sword of King Edward III. Its lengths is six feet eight inches. I don't know how he could even lift it, let alone fight with it.
From the Chapel, we turned to the State apartments, which are open to the public whenever the Court is not in residence. These include the King's and Queen's formal audience rooms and ante-rooms, the Grand Reception room, and the suite allotted to foreign sovereigns making state visits. It would be impossible to describe all the wonderful furniture, pictures, tapestries, and other "objets d'art" scattered throughout these rooms, or the ceilings, some painted, others carved by such artists as Grinling Gibbons, the beautiful fireplaces, and the handsome carpets, many woven specially for the rooms they occupy. Only a few things stand out vividly in the memory. I have noted in my diary: In the great Vestibule, which is a regular armoury of splendid ancient armour and weapons, the armour of King Henry Vlll, standing in such a characteristic pose that one could almost recognize it, with the arms hanging so low he looked almost like an ape. In the Rubens Room, full of pictures by that great artist, a huge picture of two very pink nudes reclining under a tree - a surprising sight in that Victorian atmosphere, among all the royal portraits. In the Chas. II Diningroom, and the Queen's Audience Chamber, the magnificent ceilings painted by Verrio, and the astonishing chandeliers. The vivid colouring of the tapestries in the Queen's Presence Chamber. The Van Dyck Room, with its collection of paintings by that artist, and the Holbeins and Rembrandts in the Picture Gallery.
As we came out, we debated going into the Doll's House, which was right there, and quite deserted at that moment. But everyone was hungry and tired, and we decided to eat first, which proved a sad mistake. The food was poor, and they charged us too much - the only time this happened on our entire trip - but luckily John spotted it, so it only cost the waitress her tip. And when we returned, the mob had arrived, so the girls and I had to stand in line for nearly half an hour to get into the Doll's house. I finally gave it up and wandered off, but the girls stuck it out, and said it was wonderful. Meanwhile, the menfolk had been climbing the Round Tower - quite a climb, I gather. I contented myself with watching the beautiful view from the ramparts. The park below was lovely, with shrubs and great trees gracefully but naturally arranged about the sunny lawns. (The British nave a gift for that.) Then we re-assembled, and set off for Beaconsfield.
When Charlie asked the children to line up any places or things they would particularly like to see on the trip, the only one who had a. suggestion to offer was Grace. A friend at school had shown her pictures of the model town of Bekonscot, and she decided that was the one thing she wanted to see. We had never heard of it, and were not expecting anything much, but it turned out to be delightful, and we all enjoyed it.
This project was begun merely as a hobby by a model railway enthusiast, and this railway, which covers some 2,500 feet of track, is still one of the most interesting features. Friends donated miniature plants and trees, and the owner began landscaping the place into valleys, lakes and ponds. From that, it was only a step to add houses (to scale,) then people and animals. Now the model town, or more properly, landscape, covers 10,000 square yards, and includes a small town with churches, shops, hotels, etc. There is a wonderful railway system with some thirty-six engines, both steam and diesel, sixty coaches and as many freight cars, stations and signals, which is in constant operation. There are docks on the lakes, and tiny boats, while people sunbathe on the beaches or fish from the bridges. There is a zoo, complete with animals and children to admire them. There are two fine stone castles with moats and drawbridges, an airport, a race course, with races in progress, and a polo ground. No detail has been omitted to add to the realism. Cars are on display in the garages, the playground has swings, and a merry-go-round that plays the usual gay tinny airs. The country cottages are neatly thatched, and have tiny fenced gardens of real flowers (in fact, there were flowers everywhere.) From the Catholic church one could hear a Mass being sung, while from the Chesterton Memorial Church, all in grey cut stone with stained-glass windows, came the sound of organ music. It was a child's paradise. You are asked to follow the arrows, which lead you along all the paths in turn, and at the end is a sign which assures you that if you wish, you may go around again with no extra expense. Best of all, the project is a non-profit organization, and in the years since it was started, has contributed over $140, 000 to various charities. I'm not sure who enjoyed our visit most, the children or the adults! There were touches of humour to delight the latter - a house being painted, and a sign saying that the painters were "Schlosche and Dabbit", for example, and any gardener would delight in the landscaping. The boys were fascinated by the trains, that popped in and out of tunnels, shot across railway bridges and negotiated complicated switches; and such things as the ferris wheels that really went around, and bells that chimed at intervals from church steeples and clocks. Altogether, we had a hard time to tear ourselves away and head back to London.
At night, after dinner, we had a sad task. We had to return old OYK to his rightful owners. He had been our home for such a wonderful month, and dragged us up so many mountain-sides and along narrow country roads where no city-type limousine like OYK had never been expected to travel, and without accident (save for one little dent in a fender when we brushed against a Cornish stone wall that looked like a nice soft hedge. One of the most delightful parts of our trip was over, and it was with a pang of real regret wheen George and I, who had been delegated to the task, turned our backs and left old OYK sitting in the middle of a very big garage full of cars, all being readied for re-hiring, and saw the attendants coming up with hoses and brushes to rid him of all traces of our long occupancy. How many Scotch mints, I wonder, did they find down between the cushions?
(Before leaving OYK, I might recall one game which enlivened some of our longer jaunts. As all British licenses began with three letters, the game was to think of a sentence or phrase beginning with those three letters, before another car intervened between you and the car which it was your turn to call. For instance, OYK might be "Oh, you kid I" The children drew up elaborate rules: parked cars did not count; in the city, two cars might intervene before you were counted out, because of the heavier traffic; a sentence counted more than a phrase, and so on. Even the adults joined in occasionally, when they thought of an especially good one. George was completely enthralled with the sight of all the foreign cars about which he had been reading for years. While Charlie and I would be exclaiming over a beautiful view or a wonderful old castle, George would be exclaiming, "Look, there's a Mercedes convertible!", or discoursing about the merits of some other make that had just appeared on the horizon. John listened with interest, but it was rather wasted on the rest of us, I'm afraid.)
When we had said our farewell to OYK, we were pedestrians once more, so we had to take the subway home. London subways are wonderful; we used them a great deal, and they are so clearly marked that in a few days we all felt quite at home in them.(All but Mamma, who much preferred to have one of the men along when she went exploring!) Then Charlie, George and I went for a walk to Piccadilly Circus (which is quite a sight at night, with all the illuminated signs, and along the Strand. We saw some very fine shops, especially the ones specializing in Men's Wear. George was absolutely drooling.
Aug. 4: We had our usual stout English breakfast (we used to think longingly of them occasionally on the continent) and then the boys set off on their own. George, I think, went shopping, and John got to the British Museum and Hyde Park. Charlie went to see about theatre tickets, I did some washing and unpacking, and then the girls and I went to a hairdressing place around the corner and had our hair done. A very good wave, but fairly expensive: two pounds exactly without tips, for the three of us. Of course the Green Park is in a fairly high-hat district. After lunch, we set out for the Tower of London - all but George, who went off on his own again. And here we learned again that sight-seers at such places should always go in the morning. Charlie, who had visited it in the off-season before, was not prepared for the mobs, and was quite disappointed, as we did not have time to see as much as he had, and had to trail along in a line, herded by guides. There was such a line-up waiting to see the Crown Jewels that we did not even attempt to see those, but I had seen so many reproductions of them during two Coronations that I did not mind too much. What we did see, however, was very impressive, and we did not miss what we had not seen. Here we saw the most fantastic collection of weapons anyone could imagine. I think every type of armour or weapon of any size that had ever been used in Britain, from the days of the early Britons and Romans to the most, modern time, and every kind of elaborate ornamentation of each type, was represented there, in the White Tower (which was the only building we explored, being content to view the others from the outside.) This is the oldest building in the enclosure, and dates back to William I, in the eleventh century. The Romans had walls around Tower Hill, and some remains of these can be seen; they were repaired and used to form part of the defences of the castle when it was first built. At one time the fortress had three walls surrounding it, besides a moat, and defence towers over every gate. So powerful were its defences that it has never been taken by an enemy force, and its walls, fifteen feet thick at the base, even withstood the bombs of the last war. The Tower originally had the usual narrow windows, but these were modernized in the eighteenth century by Sir Christopher Wren. This building was occupied as a palace by all our Kings and Queens down to James 1, but later it did duty as a prison for State prisoners. An interesting feature is the chapel, with its old Norman arches which make it look rather like one of the cathedral crypts. The Horse Armoury was another striking exhibit, with its mounted figures; both horses and riders in full armour.
We returned home to dress, then set out for the Royal Festival Hall, where we had a light supper before the performance. The taxi ride -was interesting, as we had to pass through the very centre of Inner London, and cross the Thames. The Hall, which is a legacy from the Festival of Britain, is very modern and impressive, and is supposed to be the most acoustically efficient hall in the world. The Royal Festival Ballet were performing, and were, of course, wonderful. For their first number - traditionally a classical one - they did the second half of Swan Lake, with effortless perfection. But the really delightful number, and much the longest, was a priceless setting of Alice in Wonderland. I had never stopped to think what a perfect subject this was for a ballet, and the dancer who took the part of Alice was perfect in the role - blue frock, pinafore, pantalets, striped stockings, long straight hair with a bandeau - and more important, she made you feel that she was about ten years old; all her attitudes- and movements were natural and childish. The music was by Joseph Horowitz, and there were seven scenes, including a Grand Waltz of the Flowers and Dragonflies, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party (with a delightful Dormouse) the Lobster Quadrille, and the Courtroom scene. The girls sat enthralled. Then we had a real surprise. We were supposed to have Le Spectre de la Rose, but Karsavina, who was to dance in that, could not be there, so instead, Anton Dolin himself danced Ravel's Bolero. It was something just to hear the music, played by the London Philharmonic, but Dolin 's performance is something I shall never forget. The performance closed with a "Symphony for Fun", a riot of teenagers in modern dress, which George enjoyed particularly; (the music was Gillis' "Symphony Number Five and a Half", which gives you an idea of the act.) Certainly an evening to remember.
Aug. 5: The next morning, Charlie was busy again, so I persuaded George to help me take the youngsters to the Zoo, and we set off via the subway. As I had seen the Bronx Zoo, this one did not specially impress me, but the children enjoyed it immensely, and as it was a fine day, John got some splendid pictures. We enjoyed seeing two huge hippos descending into their pool, and. realized that we had been lucky to catch them at that moment, for although we passed their enclosure several times later, all we could see of them was a pair of noses above the water. George liked the polar bear, who really was a tremendous brute. What I remember best was the Aquarium. It was almost dark, with brightly lighted banks set in the walls, all charmingly "seaseaped" with rocks, shells and seaweed; very effective, and a great variety of fish. Janet, I think, was most impressed with the terrific row in the parrot house! There were some fine giraffes, and a number of animals the children had never seen before. So it proved a very successful expedition.
We had our lunch at the Zoo, and arrived back at the hotel just in time to get cleaned up and dressed for the evening. Then we set out for Albert Hall, expecting to have dinner at the theatre, as we had before. However, we were not so fortunate this time. Albert Hall, though huge and ornate in a typically Victorian way, has no restaurant; moreover, there is none anywhere in the vicinity, as far as we could discover. The Hall was not even open, when we got there. So we wandered across the street to look at the Albert Memorial, a prodigious pile. Then we went back to the Hall, and when we finally got inside, found a place where we could get buns and coffee. It was a rather slim dinner, but Charlie bought a box of chocolates, and once the concert began, we forgot all about such minor considerations. The girls were quite thrilled because we had a box; they had never sat in one before.
We heard the "Prometheus Overture" by Beethoven, first. Then we had his Concerto number 3, in C minor, with Solomon playing the solo part. Needless to say, this was perfection. The orchestra then played the Pastoral Symphony, which completed the Beethoven half of the program. The second half of the programme consisted of two modern numbers. The first was a Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra, by Arnold Cooke. Leon Goosens played the solo; the comment in my diary reads,"Goosens was wonderful, but the Concerto wasn't." The second we enjoyed much more; it was "Corteges", by Alan Rawsthorne, which was not as gloomy as its name might imply. It was not a light programme, but the girls seemed to enjoy it, and I was completely lost in admiration of the orchestra (the Royal Philharmonic, conducted by Basil Cameron) and their beautifully exact, clean-cut playing. Perhaps only a person who has struggled with an amateur group to approach something resembling this effect can fully appreciate such perfection. The composers of the last two numbers were in the audience, and came up and bowed at the end of the performance. On the way home, we stopped, appropriately, at the Mozart café, just around the corner from our hotel. This was our usual stopping place for light lunches or ices; it was a Viennese restaurant, with a counter and stools upstairs, and a diningroom downstairs. The service was prompt, and they served good Viennese coffee, with whipped cream. We saw such a number of Indian people there at different times, the men usually in western garb, but the women wearing their graceful saris. In fact, we saw quite a number of Indian people everywhere, especially in London, Oxford and Cambridge; even, occasionally, Sikhs, with their snowy turbans and bushy black beards. There were also a large number of very black men, of a very different type from our American negros. Many of them come from the West Indies, but some, I am sure, were Africans.
Aug. 6: To-day, we were invited to have lunch with the Underhays, business friends of Charlie's who live out in the suburbs. George and John went out shopping together, and were to proceed directly to the station. Charlie went to a bank to get foreign money for our trip abroad, while I bought a few things in the neighbourhood, and then got myself and the girls ready. Charlie was late getting back, and the subways were unusually slow in making connections, so to our annoyance, we missed the train we had promised to take. Fortunately, there was another in twenty minutes, and Mr. Underhay waited for it. He asked in great surprise where the boys were, and gave us a bad few minutes, but when we arrived at the house, we found he had only been teasing us, for the toys were already there, all set to crow over us, after all the instructions we had given them about being sure to get there on time. Actually, it did not matter too much, as they were waiting lunch for some nephews who arrived after we did.
We had a very delicious lunch: fresh salmon and a salad, a casserole of fresh fruit, apple pie and home-made cake; a pleasant change from restaurant lunches, which in Britain are very heavy meals, almost like another dinner. We learned afterwards that if you want a light lunch, you do not go to a restaurant, but to a snack bar. But we never found any place which served such a meal as I have described, though apparently English people enjoy them in their own homes. Mrs. Underhay was also remarkable for having American-style toilet paper in her bathroom! The English still use the very thin, smooth, tissue-paper type toilet paper, such as I remember seeing in public toilets in my childhood. When I commented, she laughed, and said, "Believe it or not, British people don't like the thick absorbent tissue; I think it requires a different technique!" She herself, however, had learned to prefer it.
The lunch party consisted of six besides ourselves: Mr. and Mrs. Underhay, the latter's sister and mother, who were visiting her, and the two nephews. The mother and sister stayed behind, but the others drove us over to Hampton Court Palace, stopping to pick up the boys' younger sister. Hampton Court was built in the reign of Henry Vlll, by Cardinal Wolsey. After his fall from favour, he tried to placate Henry by presenting him with the manor house and all its furnishings, which Henry accepted (without forgiving Wolsey). He enlarged it and made it one of the most luxurious palaces in the kingdom. Two hundred years later, much of the original building was torn down, and rebuilt by Christopher Wren; the formal gardens were also laid out at this time. After 1760, the palace was not occupied by a reigning sovereign, so Queen Victoria opened the State Rooms to the public. The other rooms form "grace and favour" apartments for hundreds of pensioners. We entered through the Trophy Gates, between nigh brick posts bearing, one a lion, one a unicorn, supporting shields bearing the arms of George 11. We made the rounds of the State Rooms, which are sparsely furnished, but have a number of paintings and tapestries. They did not compare with those in Blenheim, Warwick or Windsor, and I was sorry we had spent so much time there, as I would rather have seen more of the gardens and less of the Palace. However, the murals and ceilings in some the rooms were very striking. There was a much larger number of nudes than in the other palaces, especially on the ceilings. Surveying the lush curves and generous expanses of pink epidermis floating about on the ceiling of the King's Bedchamber, I whispered to George, "How do you suppose the king ever slept in here?" "Flat on his back, of course," responded George, cheerfully.
By the time we had finished the State Rooms, we were getting weary, as it was a very warm day; also, we had to consider that our kind hosts, having probably displayed the Palace to all their out-of-town guests for years, could not be finding it as interesting as we did. So we did not insist on seeing the Maze, the Tennis Court and various other side shows which we might have attempted had we been alone. We did walk through quite a part of the Formal Gardens, which were lovely, and saw the famous Vine. This vine was planted in 1769, and its growth completely roofs a large greenhouse, and bears hundreds of bunches of grapes. We could have had tea at the Palace, but the Underhays recommended another tea-house near by, on the bank of the river - a lovely spot. Richard took George and John for a swim at a clubhouse farther up the river, but the rest of us had a very generous tea, in leisurely fashion, and the girls fed the scraps to the ducks on the river, as we were eating in the garden. Presently the boys arrived, having had a good swim, and they also had tea. By this time we felt that our hosts had certainly had enough of us for one day, so we tried to say goodbye. But they would not hear of it, and insisted that they were taking us out for dinner. We tried to protest, but were hampered by the fact that our hosts were furnishing the transportation! So we finally found ourselves at one of those delightful old inns which seem to be everywhere in England, and had an excellent dinner. There was even music, and we enjoyed watching the dancers, especially one middle-aged couple who danced as though they might once have been professionals, and were obviously enjoying themselves.
By the time we finished dinner, it was quite late, as no one seems to think of having dinner till eight o'clock here. John and Janet were so tired, they went out to the car and went to sleep, but the rest of us sat and visited over our coffee, till it was nearly time for our train. Then they put us safely aboard, and so, by train and then subway, we made our way back to the Green Park.
Aug. 7: Grace was so tired the next day that she decided to stay at home and sleep in, but the rest of us set out as usual. As it was Sunday, we thought we would visit some of the churches, but it proved to be a very poor day for that, as all parts of the churches not in use for the services are closed on that day. At Westminster Abbey, for instance, we could not go into the Chapel of the Knights of the Bath. However, there was plenty to see without that. Janet, for some reason, was very anxious to find the burial place of Livingstone, about whom she had been studying at school. We had quite a hunt to find it| Westminster is a perfect mausoleum of tombs and memorials, and this one was just a flat plate in the floor. But we finally located it, with the help of a verger; it was part way up the centre aisle. We saw the Poet's Corner, and located all our favourites, and then found a whole row of famous musicians, including Blow, Orlando Gibbons, and Handel, and of course dozens of soldiers and statesmen whose names are household words. Janet was disappointed in the Coronation Chair. I don't know quite what she expected - something resplendent in gold and crimson velvet, perhaps - but this shabby ancient affair which looked as if it could do with a sanding and a coat of varnish was definitely a disappointment, and when she saw where irreverent people had carved their initials all over it, she was quite shocked.
Then we went over to St. Paul's Cathedral, which impressed us tremendously. Perhaps because it was so different from all the other churches and cathedrals we had seen, with its great central dome, beautifully painted, and all the lesser domes and rounded arches. The Lady Chapel and north transept were so badly damaged by a bomb during the war that they were closed off, but a model, complete to the last window and altar, showed exactly how they would look when repaired; they expected to complete the work in about two years. The same bomb shattered all the wonderful old stained -glass windows. Unlike many of the less famous churches, its windows had not been removed. The verger told us that Christopher Wren designed the cathedral with clear-glass windows, and was indignant when the authorities insisted on putting in stained glass. "Some day, you will have clear windows in this church," he told them angrily. And his prophecy has now been fulfilled.
The stairs to the Dome and the famous Whispering Gallery were closed, but a kindly verger, hearing that we were from Canada, and were leaving town next day, took us up anyway. In spite of the great height, the climb was a relatively easy one, for the stairs were wide and the steps shallow, but when we looked down over the railing, it almost made us dizzy. We had a wonderful view, both of the church below and the paintings on the dome above us. The verger had made his way to the opposite side of the gallery, and turning his back to us, he spoke quite softly towards the wall. Although he was on the far side of the huge dome, we could hear him as if he were standing beside us. In the same low voice, he told us in a few words the history of the cathedral. To have made us hear him at the same distance anywhere else, he would have had to shout at the top of his voice. He told us that this odd acoustic effect was not planned, but entirely accidental.
We then walked around the outside of the building, and were appalled at the bomb damage in the vicinity. Whole blocks were wiped out in almost every direction. It is a miracle that the Cathedral escaped total destruction. We were sorry to see that they were building it all up again. It seemed such a wonderful chance to leave a fine wide park around the church, so that one could really see its fine proportions. They did take over one small triangular lot just in front, and have made it into a little park, which improves the view considerably. We found a little café nearby, and had lunch, and then rode home in the top of a double-decker bus, seeing the Bank of England, Trafalgar, and numerous other points of interest along the way, which fellow-passengers kindly identified for us.
Back home again, we met John, who had gone off exploring on his own again, and went over to the Viennese café for dinner. It was the first time we had gone down to the diningroom, and we were surprised to find that the headwaiter there was the same headwaiter who served us. breakfast at the Green Park Hotel! He recognized us at once, and we had excellent service, and a very good dinner. A middle-aged and rather pathetic piano-player improvised and played by ear, occasionally starting to sing a bit and trying to persuade us all to join him. Grace and I sang a little, just to please him, and he flirted with her all through the meal. But when he sang "Speak to me of love" he looked at her and shook his head -"No, too young", he said regretfully. We went home after dinner and packed, then went to bed early, in preparation for the morning's departure.
Aug. 8: And now begins our tour of Switzerland. Two taxis took the six of us and the limited baggage we were allowed on the tour - one suitcase and one overnight bag apiece - to Victoria Station, where we met the tour director and the other members of our group. We were not introduced at this time, as there were a number of Four-Ways groups assembled there, bound for different destinations, and all rather badly mixed up. We even found our reserved train compartments occupied, and the harassed director had to find us places in another car. However, we were finally all sorted out, and we sped across the lovely sunny countryside to Dover.
We embarked with very little delay in Customs, and found seats as quickly as possible. But when they called us to lunch, we did not know that one must leave a coat or suitcase on the chair to reserve it. So when we returned, we found all our seats occupied by a French family, who had thriftily brought their lunch with them. There were no more seats anywhere, and we faced the rather appalling prospect of standing for several hours on a heaving deck with the imminent danger of doing likewise.) However, a couple of men offered to lend us their seats, while they went for a stroll, and never did return to claim them, so Grace and I used those. The men, incidentally, turned out to be members of our own tour group, which was a very nice introduction to them. Their wives sat next to us all the way, so we got quite well acquainted ; they were from South Africa, and very charming. We watched the "white cliffs of Dover" fade in the distance, and then were very grateful for the travel-sickness pills we had all taken, for although there were no big waves, there was a nasty swell that soon prostrated all the poor travellers. Janet was a splendid sailor. She found a seat up in the very prow of the boat, and sat there most of the way, dipping up and down happily. When she was finally driven out by the sickness of some of the people around her, she came down to me, and exclaimed, "Oh Mummy, it was wonderful! The Boat kept going up and down and up and down -" with gestures. A lady beside us, turning faintly green, said, "Hush, child!" George had been all right till I asked him to go up and see where Janet was, as I had not seen her for a long time. The trip to the upper deck and the motion at the front finished him, and he beat a hasty retreat to the washroom. John came along later looking very pale; he had succumbed also. But the rest of us were fine, though I was obliged to take an extra Gravol.
When we reached Ostend, the waves were dashing up on the breakwater in most spectacular style, and George took a couple of pictures, to prove that he had some excuse for being sea-sick. We disembarked and the director escorted us to the bus which was to take us the rest of the way. Here we saw our companions all together for the first time, except for one lady who had wisely decided to fly over and join us later. We also met our smiling little driver, Camille. The director himself was named M. Gauthier, and was a middle-aged Frenchman with marcelled hair; at first I was rather disappointed and thought I would not like him very much, but we got to be very fond of him. He was equally appalled when he discovered he had three quite young children on his hands. He told us afterwards that he had never had a child on one of the tours, in all the years he had been conducting them, and was afraid they would cause all sorts of trouble and delay. And. I did not help much by asking him, at the first opportunity, how I should let him know if one of the children needed to find a bathroom, since he had asked us not to stand up in the bus, and he sat at the front with a loudspeaker. I think he had visions of having to stop for them every few miles! As a matter of fact, they never did need to stop, as we never drove for more than a couple of hours without a break. He had to wait for us only once, the time John thought he had left his camera light-meter in his room (it was actually on the bus, in the seat pocket, and George discovered it almost immediately.) And so far from disturbing the other passengers, the girls were soon the pets of the whole crowd, including M. Gauthier himself !
But to return to the bus, we all settled in, and started off across Belgium. It was a very interesting drive, and the countryside was pleasant and rolling. We saw little market-gardens laid out in neat squares, and piles of sheaves set out with almost mathematical exactitude. There were herds of pure white cattle, and huge Flemish horses. We were astonished to see large fields of grain being reaped with a hand scythe in one locality. The roads were excellent, after the narrow, winding British variety, and we bowled along quite rapidly, but it was rather late when we reached Bruxelles, and the most palatial hotel of the trip: the Hotel Metropole. The director handed out the numbers of our rooms, Camille appeared with our suitcases, which had been in the luggage rack under the bus, and we went up to get freshened up and changed for dinner. In many Hotels, there is a special section reserved for tour guests, but at, the Metropole we sat in the regular diningroom, a marvellous room all mirrors and gold tracery, fluted pillars and tremendous crystal chandeliers. I can still see our small Janet, who went upstairs before the rest of us, trotting unconcernedly across the big hall in the midst of all this magnificence, and ringing for the elevator as if she had lived there for years!
After a splendid dinner, including a fresh trout that they caught from a tank in the front of the diningroom and fried on order, we tucked the girls in and went for a stroll. However, there was nothing very spectacular to see in the vicinity of the hotel, and we did not care to wander very far. So we just window-shopped along the main street. There we saw our first sidewalk cafes, with people sitting and eating or drinking at little tables under awnings. A local theatre advertised Greta Garbo in "Queen Christine". It was a little startling to see a large theatre on the main street as showing a picture of that vintage. Refreshed by our stroll, we returned to our very comfortable bedroom, with its luxurious bathroom, and slept soundly.
Aug. 9: Before we left Brussels, the driver took us through some of the more interesting parts of the city, and past the Royal Palace. We drove off through the pleasant countryside to Namur, and then to Bastogne, where we stopped for tea. Ostensibly for tea; of course the main purpose of the break was to allow us to stretch our legs for a few moments, and find a bathroom. However, we also enjoyed the tea (or coffee), for all the tea shops had the most fascinating little cakes, in great variety, of a kind seldom seen over here, and the children had such fun selecting them. We appreciated them the more, for we had not yet become accustomed to the continental breakfast, after the generous British variety. We soon got used to the change, and the better hotels always had a great variety of excellent rolls (both brioches and croissants) and so many different kinds of jam to go with them,- besides, it was wonderful to have good coffee again, so we decided each system had its merits. Gautier assured me it was very bad for the health to eat a heavy breakfast in the morning, before you had taken any exercise.
We passed through the beautiful forest of Ardennes, and a corner of the tiny Duchy of Luxembourg, before crossing into France. At Evranche we had a glimpse of the poor old discredited Maginot Line. Nothing much was visible above ground except a few pill-boxes and some rusting barbed wire. We had lunch at Metz, and went in to see the ancient Cathedral which had some very beautiful stained glass windows.
Almost as soon as we were really in France, we found ourselves in a highly industrialized region. We passed great steel mills, factories, warehouses - even the farms were more mechanized than any we had seen in Belgium. We saw some bomb damage and evidences of shell-fire, and were told that one very modern -looking town had been entirely rebuilt, having been almost completely destroyed during the last war. The very modern apartment buildings and shop fronts were quite striking. Shortly before dinner-time, we reached the city of Nancy, which is the capital of Lorraine. The Grand Hotel Thiers was not quite as grand as its name implied, especially after the Metropole. We found the bathroom arrangements especially amusing, we had a bathtub and a porcelain sitz-bath, but no toilet. The girls had a toilet and sitz-bath, but no tub. I don't know what the boys had!
After dinner, (which always means about nine o'clock, this being the reason why our jaunts did not include the younger members of the family) Charlie, George and I walked miles through the fascinating old ducal town, enjoying its eighteenth-century magnificence. The main points of interest centred around. Stanislaus Square, which was only a few blocks away from our hotel. The huge paved square, silent and dark at night, is surrounded by handsome floodlit buildings, including the City Hall. In the centre is Stanislaus himself - the statue looks rather small in the middle of such an expanse - and in each corner are tremendous wrought-iron gates, beautifully ornamented with scrolls and leaves in a lacy pattern, and elaborately gilded. They made a charming picture against the illuminated buildings. In the two corners at the end opposite the city hall are two magnificent marble fountains, or rather, groups of fountains. A tremendous and elaborate arch in the gilded wrought-iron fence holds the main fountain, a more than life-sized statue of Neptune, trident poised, standing on the crest of a wave, surrounded by dashing horses and attendants clutching porpoises. The horses had webbed feet and were spouting water from their mouths, as were the porpoises.(Water spouts from the most remarkable places, in European fountains!) Two smaller arches on either side framed smaller fountains featuring groups of children. Ornate gilded shields and medallions surmounted the arches. The fountains im the opposite corner were almost the same, except that the central figure was a female goddess. The effect of the gleaming marble and jets of water, the black and gold tracery of the ironwork, floodlit against the great dark square, was indescribable.
We passed through the gates between the fountains, and found ourselves in semi-darkness and solitude, on a very long and wide boulevard, walled in by a continuous wall of buildings on all sides, all grey stone and all in darkness. The wide grassy centre of the boulevard was planted with trees like a park, and at regular intervals were statues of two children (considerably bigger than life-size) in different poses: spearing fish, for example. We strolled the whole length of the deserted square, and looked at the statues; beneath each one was a child's face, spouting water from its mouth. George said it reminded him of the Channel crossing, somehow! At the far end, a gate on the left opened into the grounds before a great cathedral, with two lovely flood-lit spires. The opposite gate opened into a park, with tall trees planted in neat rows, very lovely in the dusk. We walked through it, and came upon a large, flower-encircled pool with a fountain playing in the centre of it. The pool was so large that small children could rent boats and go paddling on it, according to the notices on a sign near-by. Then through the trees we saw cages, and found a small zoo, where a friendly muskrat climbed out of his pool to look at us. Big white swans lay curled up on the grass, with their heads under their wings, and long-tailed white peacocks perched on tall poles with cross-bars, almost like more statuary. We turned back across the park towards the distant gate into Stanislaus Square, and passed a very good miniature golf green, where a number of gay young people were enjoying a game in the cool of the evening. Back in the square, we remembered that we had. letters to mail, so we asked a pleasant gendarme where we could find a letter-box. He directed us to the Post office, through yet another gate, and we found it, about half a block away, and mailed our letters. Then back across the square and through the first gate we had entered, and we window-shopped in the interesting stores as we strolled back to the hotel. A memorable evening.
Aug. 10: To-day's journey took us through a very different part of France. On our way to Colmar, we had to cross the Vosges Mts. through a pass called the "Col de Bonhomme". It was a drive to remember. The day was pleasantly cool and sunny, and the lights and shadows in the incredibly green valleys and clearings were lovely. The mountains are very heavily wooded; the trees mostly firs of an astonishing height, often with no living branches till near the top. The forests are almost dark, making a startling contrast to the sunny clearings. We went up to over three thousand feet, and then came gradually down again, till we reached the quaint little town of Colmar. Here we had lunch, and then visited a little shop nearby, where M. Gautier advised us we could buy French perfumes at less than big city prices. Of course we suspected that he himself got a commission for steering us in, but we had no particular objection to that, and we knew our shopping time in Paris would, be limited, as we would be there over a holiday week-end. So we went in with the crowd, and I was duly thankful for my slight knowledge of French, as the salesgirls had no English. Not knowing many kinds of perfume, I stayed with the familiar brands, and bought a large bottle of Chanel #5 for myself, and a small Quelques Fleurs for a gift.
Now we came to level country again, and passed tremendous vineyards, planted much closer and trained much higher than our Niagara District vines. The children were delighted to see several teams of oxen on the road, and George was quick enough to get a picture of one. Then we drove on to Rheinfelden, which we reached about four o'clock, happy to be in Switzerland at last.
Once settled in our hotel, (Hotel Schutzen), we set out for a walk, and decided to cross the Rhine into Germany, just to get a new stamp on our passports. We were amused at the difference in the Customs on either side of the river. The Swiss barely glanced at our passports, and waved us on, when we returned. But on the German side, solemn officials looked over every passport and questioned us, before we were allowed to pass the officials standing stiffly on guard. We were disappointed in the German town. There seemed to be nothing interesting or artistic to see, except a few attractively flowered little squares, and all the shops were closed. However, we window-shopped, and George saw an electric razor he thought he would like. So he decided to go back next day and get it, and eventually he and Charlie each got one.
On the way back across the bridge, we stopped for a while at the little island in the middle of the bridge, which no doubt determined its location, as the river is very wide. The island is kept as a park, and had a small dock with boats tied up. Then we passed the Swiss sentry, who was casually leaning against the wall, and were back in Switzerland, much to Janet's relief. We couldn't seem to persuade her that going into Germany was not going behind the Iron Curtain, and I think she did not feel too sure that we would ever be allowed out again. Then we strolled around the Swiss town, which was much more attractive and saw a street named Zurcherstrasse, and Charlie had John take a picture of the street-sign to send to his sister Nora, whose married name is Zurcher.
After dinner, we did not feel very energetic, so we stayed in and wrote letters. John and Charlie were playing cards, when George came to the door, and to our surprise, we found we could not let him in. The lock on the door had broken. George had to summon the porter, and as he was unable to fix it, they moved us to another room. It was almost exactly the same as the one we had at first; very comfortable rooms really. Besides the beds, there were twin wash basins, with taps labelled "warm" and "kalt", a table, easy chair, two straight chairs, the usual armoire -(few European hotels seem to have cupboards) and a chaise longue, with two large, immaculately white and stiffly starched cushions. On top of the beds were what appeared to be other and huge pillows, covering two-thirds of the bed, and also very white -Swiss hotels are spotless. These were evidently the Swiss version of our down comforter. And, of course, there was a marble fireplace. I don't know what we would have done without those fireplaces; we hung all our nylon things to drip there, when we didn't have bathroom, which often happens on the continent)
Aug. 11: This was a free morning, but there did not seem to be anything very interesting to do or see, so while the men went to get their razors, and the children played in the courtyard, I caught up on my writing. Then I joined the children, who were talking to one of the couples in our group: a Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, from Australia. They were an older couple. Mr. Shaw had had a heart attack, and to make sure that he took a complete rest from his work, they had decided to travel for a year, excluding only the dollar countries, which were too expensive. Mr. Shaw took a great fancy to Grace, and often had her sit with him in the bus. They were both very nice, and we usually paired off with them when we went on side trips.
Lunch was at twelve-thirty, after which we set off again, this time for Lucerne. This was another lovely drive, and we feasted our eyes on the beauty of the rolling hills and distant mountains. Only Janet was not quite satisfied. These low mountains and hills were charming, but where were the towering snow-covered peaks of the picture books? We bade her be patient. At Zurich, we stopped for tea. This is a modern industrial city, with banks of ultra-modern apartment buildings. But there were also private homes that looked like old Swiss chalets, with elaborately carved balconies and flower-filled window boxes and over-hanging roofs; round-topped clock towers, and churches with slender twin spires. Later, we stopped for tea at a town whose name I do not remember; it had a hotel which specialized in big conventions. There was a huge hall, tiled in a striking pattern of black-and white. Off this was the Winter Garden, a garden and pool indoors, under a glass roof. There was a large fig-tree espaliered against one wall, with green figs on it, and palms and ferns. We had our tea outside, in a sunny courtyard set with many tables. Then we drove on to Zug, where we saw the first of the lovely Swiss lakes, or Sees, and then on to Lake Lucerne (properly called, I believe, the Lake of Five Cantons, since they all touch on it) skirting it for some time until we finally reached Lucerne itself, and the Palais Hotel.
The Palais is one of the fine resort hotels which line the water-front. The first day, we had a room on the street side, but next morning, we were moved to a room on the lake side, with a little wrought-iron balcony where we could sit and look out across the shimmering blue of the waterfront to the long green headlands extending into the lake, and beyond them, the exquisite line of the mountains, in every shade of blue, from bright powder blue in the sunshine to the deep rich blue of the shadows, and above and behind them all, the shimmering snow-white peaks. The mountains almost surround the lake except where the town clusters at the farthest end, curving around the bay, with its docks and sailboats. A picture to remember for a lifetime. Meanwhile, for the first night, we had a room with a private bath, which for the moment almost made up for the lack of view.
After an excellent dinner, we tucked the children in, and then M. Gautier escorted us, or as many as wanted to go, to a Biergarten, where he assured us there was a good floor show. The most striking feature of this was the orchestra, which was labelled an all-girl orchestra, though many of the "girls" were well past their first girlhood, and some were at least my own age. But they were very skilled performers, and most of them could play more than one instrument or sing solos. The girls wore evening dress, which they changed at half time, and the conductor, a handsome woman, very tall and thin, wore slacks and monkey jacket; first wine-coloured, then beige, with a beige top-hat. She herself played the cello saxophone and piano by turns, and also sang, in a deep, husky voice. Among the more interesting of the acts was a couple dressed in Swiss peasant costumes, who sang Swiss songs, the girl accompanying them on her accordion. They yodelled, played a huge Swiss horn, like a very much overgrown tobacco pipe, with a deep tone that should carry for miles over the hills and did a flag-waving act with Swiss flags (which are very colourful, being bright red, with a white cross.) Then they played some cow-bells, and at the last, threw them to the audience, telling us to accompany the next song with them. I was handed a huge bell, that had a tone like Big Ben, and had great fun putting in a deep "Boom" at the appropriate places in the song.
This gay and jolly evening had a sequel that came as a complete contrast. M. Gautier suddenly thought, as we were leaving, that we might never have a better chance to see the Lion of Lucerne. This famous sculpture is a memorial to the Swiss Guards of Louis XVI, who, though mercenaries, died to a man defending the Tuileries, during the Revolution. We drove to the site in our bus, and walked into the grove. I had seen many pictures and models of the monument, but none that gave any idea of its grandeur and pathos. It is carved out of the side of a high natural cliff, which gleam almost white in the glow of hidden spotlights. Somewhat more than life size, the lion appears to be lying in a cave, halfway up the cliff; dying from a dagger thrust into its side, it still projects with its paw a shield bearing the fleur-de-lys of France. Beside it lie a shield bearing the cross of Switzerland and a broken spear. It was very dark and still in the little park. The tall dark trees rustled, and the white cliff was reflected in the pool at its base. The gay crowd was suddenly silent, and I felt a rush of tears pricking my eyelids, a tribute less, I am afraid, to the gallant Swiss whose officers' names are carved on the cliff below the sculpture, than to the artist whose vision conceived such a touching monument to his brave compatriots.
Aug. 12: It was delightful to have a whole clear day to spend in this lovely spot. We moved into our new room and sat on the balcony for a while to enjoy the view. Then we went shopping, for Janet had her heart set on getting a Swiss watch, and M. Gauthier had told us that this was the best place for watches. He escorted the group across the remarkable covered bridge, spanning the river which bisects the town. This bridge, instead of going straight across the river, like its modern counterpart farther up, goes on the diagonal. Moreover, it is not even a straight diagonal, but almost an S-curve, out the first curve is almost a right angle, while the second is quite gradual. Half-way along is an old stone tower, connected to the bridge by a small wooden building, now used as a tourist gift-shop. Finally, the bridge is a covered one, for foot passengers only, and each rafter of the roof is filled in with a triangular section of board, painted on both sides in vivid colours with scenes from Swiss history and fable. I don't know how many of the paintings there were, but it is a long bridge, and there were paintings every few feet. It was like reading a picture book as you walked.
Once across the river we found ourselves in the Old Town, where our director assured us that everything was much cheaper than in the more modern resort section. Here Janet bought her watch, a fine one which was shock-proof, water-proof and self-winding, for only fifty-three dollars. Grace had been using an old watch of mine, but she was so impressed with Janet's that she bought one too, and John and I were much annoyed because we had each bought new watches the year before, (at much the same price and without any of the special features - and at a sale, at that) so we could not reasonably buy another. The rest of the group went on shopping, but we did not care to waste any more time on that, so we walked home across the bridge, to see the paintings on the reverse sides, and strolled along the water-front. Lucerne, like all resort towns, is plastered with little shops full of tourist-bait, but the Swiss variety are much more interesting than most of ours, which are usually full of cheap Japanese-manufactured junk. The Swiss shops were full of delicate little ivory carvings that fascinated the children: mostly of animals, but some jewellery in the form of delicately tinted flowers. There were also wood-carvings, some figurines of animals, some boxes of different sizes, and of course music boxes of all kinds. And there was Swiss embroidery also; blouses, and scarves, also fancy belts and suspenders. The postcards, too, were better than most of the ones we have, being glossy natural-colour photographs. We bought ever so many of those. So our window-shopping was always interesting.
After lunch, the bus took us all to the foot of Mt. Pilatus, one of the very high peaks nearby, which has an incline railway going up to the top. This is the wildest incline railway I was ever on; it goes almost straight up. The seats are at such an angle that you could not sit on them if the car were level. It climbed for what seemed like hours, and the view in some places was breath-taking. Unfortunately, when we reached the top, the weather had clouded over, so we could see almost nothing from there, except just at the last, when the clouds began to thin out a little on the far side, and we could catch an occasional glimpse of the nearer valleys. But we wandered about the top, through the scenic tunnel cut in the rock, with open windows cut out every few feet - this was on the far side, where there was no level place to stand, otherwise and had tea in the restaurant. Imagine building a restaurant on the very top of a peak like that! However, we came to the conclusion, long before we left their country, that the Swiss are the most amazing engineers in the world. The trip down, as soon as we got below the clouds, was as interesting as the trip up, and the boys took several pictures.
We had noticed, before we left on our trip, that the Lucerne International Music Festival would be in progress while we were there, so we checked as soon as we arrived, and were able to get tickets for the afternoon's performance; an organ concert by the great organist, Anton Nowakowski. So as soon as we had tidied up after the Pilatus jaunt, we walked over to the Catholic Cathedral.
The concert was as fine as might be expected. John liked best a terrific Bach number, but I think I enjoyed most a set of Liszt Variations. They had great contrasts in tone, which showed up what could be done on an organ; the forte passages would almost lift you out of your seat. Speaking of seats, I have never sat in any so uncomfortable! Two absolutely flat boards, set at right angles to each other, and rather narrow at that. And the kneeling bench was so high that you could not put your feet on it with any comfort; your knees would have been half-way to your chin. It speaks well for the quality of the music, that we enjoyed the concert very much, in spite of the discomforts. Janet got so tired, however, that I suggested she slip down and sit on the kneeling bench, with her back against my knee. At first she demurred, out eventually gave in and did just that. In fact, my happiest memory of the concert is seeing Janet sitting there in her little green sweater, with her bright hair against my knee, swaying gently to the wonderful music that was pouring out in floods around us, and looking happily at her new watch.
It was starting to sprinkle as we came out, so we hurried home, just in time to get dressed for dinner. It was still raining afterwards, so we sat in the lounge for a short time listening to the little orchestra there, and then came up and spent the evening writing cards and letters.
Aug. 13: This was a wonderful day. The first thing we did was to charter a boat - or rather, M. Gautier did it for us - and the Shaws and ourselves went for a long trip on the lake. It was a perfect morning, sunny and warm, with big fleecy clouds making fascinating shadow patterns on the mountains. The water was positively iridescent. We did not go anywhere near the end - the lake is very long - but we did go around the first set of headlands, and found a completely new view, with the lake still winding away out of sight among the mountains. George got some very fine colour slides here, with the bright Swiss flag in the bow adding a touch of colour.
When we returned, we still had almost an hour before lunch, we had finished packing before we set out, so we bethought ourselves that the youngsters had not been with us when we saw the Lion, coming home from the Biergarten. So we made a quick trip to the park. I was afraid it might not be so impressive by daylight, when souvenir shops and tourist debris might obtrude. But fortunately, the trees of the park help to separate the monument from the shops, add make a soft shade around it, and the pool keeps people away from its base, so it was still very effective. We could not stay long, as we had quite a long walk back to the hotel, But I am glad they did not miss it entirely.
After lunch, we set out for Andermatt. The first part of our route lay along the lake; I think it must be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. First we stopped for a few moments at Queen Astrid's tomb. The Belgians built a pretty little chapel by the side of the road, just opposite the spot where she was killed; one could still see the scars on the tree where the car struck. We were at a loss to imagine why they should have had an accident at that particular spot, as the road is wide and quite straight, with nothing to obstruct the view, and no side road or driveway coming into it. The Swiss Government made the small plot of ground on which the chapel stands Belgian territory; a rather nice gesture.
After this one stop, we kept on steadily, and were soon in the midst of the mountains. Our bus had a window in the top, and we almost got a crick in our necks, trying to see in all directions at once. No matter which way you looked, there was a new and beautiful panorama: grassy slopes starred with flowers, great rocky cliffs, waterfalls, mountain brooks, and then suddenly an open space on one side, where a lovely blue lake stretched to the foot of eighty mountains, one behind the other as far as eye could see. As we got further into the mountains, the road wound higher and higher, sometimes doubling back on itself to get more altitude, and the scenery grew wilder. The road was excellent, though narrow; it was here that we first began to admire the Swiss engineers. George, who had just come from the Rockies, said he wished the Swiss would come over and give the Canadians some lessons in mountain road building. The railways and tunnels and power plants, with power lines running light-heartedly up sheer precipices and over the loftiest peaks, had us exclaiming in astonishment. The boys used up rolls of film.
We stopped for tea at the little town of Altdorf, which advertises itself as the birthplace of William Tell. A very fine monument in the central square shows a heroic-sized William Tell, with fine muscular legs below his leather shorts, and cross-bow on his shoulder, striding over the rocks with one arm over the shoulder of a handsome little boy. Behind him is a painted panel with a Swiss mountain scene: hills, chalets and curving stone bridge. We had our pictures taken at the foot of the monument, and used one for our family Christmas card that year. Then we went on and on up into the mountains, as the sun sank, and the shadows lay dark in the valleys, the upper peaks still bathed in ruddy light, and arrived at last in the little village of Andermatt. Although Andermatt is such a tiny place, it occupies a very strategic position at the intersection of two main passes, and even has a railway - a cogged one, it is true. So it has quite a fair hotel, the Hotel Schlussel. True, there were no private baths, and the water pressure and electric power were low, but otherwise it was very comfortable, for a hotel in a small village away up in the hills. The meals, too, while not boasting any great variety, were good, and generous in quantity. We were ready to appreciate them, for we walked miles in Andermatt. Only a few minutes' stroll, and you could be right outside the town, at the foot of the eighty hills, and the gentle grassy slopes were so inviting that even the oldsters could not resist climbing, while the young fry scrambled up them like mountain goats. The first night, before dinner, we walked back along the way we had come, and climbed a low foothill. It was strange to sit there in the scented dusk, and look up at the great peaks, wreathed in cloud-drifts, (with a powerline wandering over the top) and then look down to see a fine modern highway, teeming with cars, motorcycles and busses, whose ability to negotiate these steep, twisting roads never ceased to amaze us. Just below us, a group of young people were parking their cars by the roadside, and putting up tents to spend the night. How I would have loved such a jaunt, when I was twenty! As we started home, we passed a worker, who was returning from cutting hay on the upland slopes. In one hand he held a short-handled scythe over his shoulder, in the other a large bunch of wildflowers and ferns. The Swiss must love flowers. You seldom see a Swiss home without a gay flower-box the length of its upstairs balcony, and baskets of flowers and trailing vines hang from every light-standard.
The tour group had dinner together, and sat around and talked for a while, but the keen mountain air and exercise soon made us all very sleepy, so we were glad to cuddle down under our mountainous feather comforters, and I for one slept like a child.
Aug. 14: Next morning we got up fairly early, as Janet wanted to climb another mountain! This time we started out in the other direction, crossed a field, and the cogged-railway track, crossed the same highway twice, where it looped its way upward, and came to an inviting grassy mountain-side. I scrambled up with the rest of them, mostly on all fours, it is true, till I came to a particularly lovely spot, level enough to sit on, just at the edge of a slope that had been mowed. Here the grass was long, and thick with clover and dainty Alpine flowers. Butterflies hovered over them, and big golden bees. I decided that there could be nothing more delightful to see, no matter how much higher I climbed, and that I would rather sit right there for a while and enjoy it. So the others scrambled on upward, while I sat on my tiny plateau and tried to fix the scene in my mind, so that I should never forget it. Below me lay the valley, with the quaint little town nestled in the curve of a river, that wound its silver length along the pass as far as I could see. I could see the colourful roofs with their steep slopes and overhanging roofs, and hear the chiming of the church bells. Beyond it on all sides rose the grassy slopes, dotted with cattle. The harmonious and musical tones of the cow-bells (how different from our raucous ones) blended with the chime of the church bells. And far above everything, the towering purple peaks, and the brilliant blue of the sky. I sat in the sun, drinking it all in, filling my lungs with the clear, cool, flower-scented air, hearing the happy voices of my children on the slopes above me, and wondered what heaven could have to offer more.
Presently the others came slipping and sliding down. I put my dark glasses in my pocket, and climbed up to meet them. This proved to be a mistake, for the only pocket I had was in my slacks, and evidently it was not deep enough, for the glasses slipped out, and for all I know, are still lying in the grass on the slopes above Andermatt, as a token that a bit of my heart stayed there too. We sped down the slopes to the road again, and were back at the hotel in what seemed a very short time. Here we met John, who as usual had gone off exploring on his own; he had apparently climbed the slope directly opposite to us, where I had seen the cattle grazing. He told us of a wonderful little shop he had found on a back street, with a carving he wanted to buy. So we went with him to look at it, and act as interpreter, as the lady shopkeeper spoke no English.(Fortunately, though this was in the German sector, everyone seemed to understand French.) He bought his carving( two very natural-looking deer on a rock, one standing on the top, one lying on the slope) and we also found the first really nice Swiss dolls we had seen, so we bought two for the girls' collection, a boy doll and a girl. By this time we had to hurry, for we were almost late for lunch, and M. Gauthier was a stickler for starting right on time, especially when we had a long trip ahead of us.
This ride proved to be a really wild one; definitely an experience. Only our profound confidence in our little driver kept us from being really alarmed a few times. The road snaked, up the mountain pass, higher and higher, with one hairpin turn after another, till we reached seven thousand feet. Sometimes we crossed boiling mountain streams, on stone bridges far above them. Finally we were through the Furka Pass, and coming down the other side. We could now see the Rhone glacier, and part way down the mountain, we stopped right beside the glacier, at a spot where there was a hotel (the Belvedere) and gift shop. Here one could walk right out on the glacier, and wonder at its colour - a soft mauve shade of blue. The hotel people had dug a tunnel into the glacier and out again, in a U-shape. Walking into it, you would think the walls were made of blue bottle-glass, faintly luminous with the light shining through from above.
Leaving the hotel, we went around the worst curve yet; a hairpin bend so acute, that even Camille had to back up twice going around it. As the drop on the far side of the road went straight down several hundred feet, and there was nothing to keep us from going over but a few little posts a couple of feet high, we were all rather glad when we finally got straightened out. Our bus was much longer and wider than the regulation Swiss bus. In fact, we weren't supposed to be on the road at all, and M. Gautier assured us we would be stopped and fined when we reached Grimsel, but not to worry, as Fourways expected to pay it, and included it as a regular expense in their budget! Down we wound to the bottom of the valley (still far above sea-level) where we stopped at a hotel for tea. Thus refreshed, we started up the other side, which was even worse than the side we had come down. We zig-zagged to the summit, and then descended the far side till we came to Grimsel.
This proved to be an unusually interesting spot. The hotel itself sits on a peninsula of rock almost surrounded by the waters of a deep artificial lake. To reach it, we had to drive across one of the great dams which, together with the rock on which the hotel is built, form the lake. The roadway over the dam is quite wide enough for busses. The hotel is powered and heated by electricity, which at first sight seemed surprising, here in what seemed an unpopulated wilderness. But one of the things that impressed us most in Switzerland is their preparedness for war, and firm resolution to defend themselves at all costs; the more remarkable in face of their determined neutrality. These dams were placed, so we were told, in a position where it would be remarkably difficult for an enemy to bomb them. And the powerhouse was placed entirely underground, so concealed that even when we knew it was there, we could hardly find traces of it. Sitting on a big rock, which looked as permanent as the hills, one would suddenly see a ventilator in the middle of it, and realize that it formed the roof of an underground chamber. A road suddenly disappeared into the mountain. John, crossing the far dam and climbing the path to an innocent-looking barn on the hillside, found a heavy gate barring his way, with "Verboten" written across it. We were not so surprised as we would have been earlier, for all along the road we had been seeing cliffs with stone-grey doors set into them, heavily barred, and pill-boxes disguised as scattered boulders. Cannon, partially hidden among the foliage, could be seen commanding strategic points on the road. Outside Rheinfelden, we had seen a company of reserve soldiers lined up for inspection, in full battle kit. M. Gautier told us that every Swiss boy, when he is eighteen, receives his army outfit, and is henceforth on call at any time. Rich or poor, whatever his job, when the call goes out he must report in a given time ready for action, and woe betide him if his equipment is not in perfect order. The Swiss claim that they can mobilize the whole country in about two hours. Also, they say they have underground refuges enough to keep the whole civilian population in safety, and feed them without supplies from the outside, for about two years. No wonder Hitler decided that to tackle this prickly little country would cost more than it was worth.
The hotel was clean and comfortable, and the food simple but plentiful. (George said, he really got enough to eat for once. The waiters seemed pleased to find someone who enjoyed their food so much, and kept heaping his plate.) Some of the others, especially one Australian couple named Luscombe, did not care for the simple life, and yearned for the more palatial resort hotels, where one could go out and shop, or go to some entertainment. Our family did not subscribe to this view; we really preferred the smaller hotels, where one could get out into the countryside in a few steps, and felt we got more of the flavour of the country in the small establishments - after all, large resort hotels, though delightful to visit occasionally, are much the same in any country, and we could shop or go to shows at home. M. Gautier tried to get some entertainment going, without much success, finally, we suggested bridge, and the Luscombes brightened up at once. They proved to be very good players, and we had quite a good game, except that it was a bit one-sided; Mr. L. and I had almost all the cards. So probably we had more fun than our opponents!
Aug. 15: Next morning the children and Charlie all went out exploring in different directions. I did some packing first, then strolled down to the dam, where I met Charlie and Janet. They had been along the road and up the hill opposite the hotel. We went up to the look-out on top of the hill beside the hotel, and into the little chapel. Then we had lunch, and started on our way again. As M. Gautier had prophesied, the police were waiting for us, and collected a fine before we could proceed. Then we went on down the valley. The day had clouded over, with occasional showers, but this only seemed to add to the effect of the great grim peaks. We saw a further set of dams, at different levels, and more power lines, and tunnels in the mountains. It seemed as though we would never stop going down and down, and the scenery was wild and rocky; dark trees, towering cliffs, dashing streams and waterfalls - I asked Janet if she was satisfied with the Swiss mountains now, and with a laughing glance at the huge peaks towering over us on all sides, she assured me she was.
We stopped for tea at a little place opposite a wood-carving factory. The place was not in full operation, as it was a holiday, but a few men were at work. We visited the big work-room upstairs, and found it fascinating to see the carvings in different degrees of completion. John was much impressed with the bank of fine tools that the workmen had in front of them, and the speed and accuracy with which they chipped out the fine details on models, which had already been blanked out in the rough, perhaps by machine or by less skilled workers. Two girls were varnishing and polishing the finished models. From the workroom we went downstairs to the showroom, and here we were so intrigued that the director could hardly get us out in time to have our tea. Besides tables full of the smaller articles which we had seen in the curio shops at Lucerne and Andermatt, there were some very valuable pieces. In the window were two life-sized St. Bernard dogs, one standing, the other lying down surrounded by puppies. There were also life-sized bears, including a pair who were supporting a rustic seat. A barometer had a beautifully carved eagle, also life-size, hovering over it. And there were two carvings, like paintings, with rustic scenes. One showed a dinner-party outside an old inn, in bas-relief. The details were beautifully done; the expressions and attitudes of the diners, the flowers and trees in the background, even the dogs and cats hanging around the table. These were signed, and priced at over two hundred dollars (1,000 francs) All over the shop, people were listening to music boxes, whose cheerful tinkling made fitting background music for the scene. The Boyles bought a cuckoo clock. I bought a carved bottle stopper, Janet got a little box for her music-teacher, and Charlie found a dear little music-box which played four tunes, including the Glockenspiel song from the Magic Flute. Many of the music boxes had such silly tunes, you could hardly imagine anyone wanting them, but I suppose they know what sells well.(The salesgirl confided shyly, "This is the one I like, too.") John was happy to see that there was no carving at the same price that he liked as well as the one he got in Andermatt.
After tea, we proceeded to Interlaken, over beautiful but less dramatic terrain. In one large valley, we saw a big power plant, and some very fine houses, looking almost out of place in such rural surroundings. Well before dinner-time, we reached the Grand Hotel Victoria-Jungfrau, which doubtless suited our friends better than Grimsel. We went for a long walk around the town, window-shopped a bit, and stopped in the park opposite out hotel to gaze at the distant Jungfrau, The distinctive shape which gives _the mountain its name is quite visible from here. Then we had an excellent dinner, and went to bed in good time, as the men planned to make a very early start next morning.
Aug. 16: Charlie woke the boys at six-fifteen, and they set off to ascend the Jungfraujoch. M. Gautier did not recommend this side trip, as he said the view from the top was usually obscured by clouds, and many people were upset by the altitude. I had heard the same thing from friends, and feared the girls might mind the trip and spoil it for the others, so we did not go. Afterwards we were very sorry, for the day was perfect; not a cloud to mar the visibility, and no one, even the ladies, seemed to mind the altitude at all. However, we had a very wonderful day ourselves, so we did not waste any time in vain regrets. The rest of us slept in till about nine, and after breakfast, we went shopping. We bought a tiny little ivory goat for Grandma, some embroidered belts for gifts, I cashed a cheque for Charlie, and bought myself some sunglasses, to replace the ones I lost in Andermatt. After I had used them, I ceased to regret losing the other pair, for these were the finest sunglasses I ever used, and the best-fitting. After lunch, the party gathered in the bus, and we motored to a spot where they have a chair-lift which takes you right to the top of the mountain, in two stages. Grace went with another lady, as the chairs held only two, and Janet went with me, holding my hand rather tightly. It did seem a little insecure, sitting in a chair (rather like a park bench) with nothing in front of you but a single narrow bar, not even locked, and sailing up over the tops of the trees. But the view was so unbelievably wonderful that we soon forgot everything else. The lift was perfectly silent, except for a slight rattle as we passed a pole; it was like flying, and all around us, on all sides, the most beautiful mountains, rising sheer from the wide green valley. We could see a glacier gleaming in a crevasse of one, and the snow-clad top of the Jungfrau far behind another. Below us were sunny slopes, dotted with hay-cocks, and dark clumps of fir-trees. I have never seen anything more beautiful. Janet was so thrilled she squirmed like a puppy, as each new vista unfolded before our dazzled eyes.
To our regret, the party got off at the half-way station; Janet and I were longing to go on to the very top. However, it was very lovely even that far up. We ran down the winding path to a hayfield, to watch the Swiss peasants at work. They do not pile the hay in cocks as we do, but drape it over a post with two sets of cross-bars, or even over a fence, so it will dry quicker. The posts look almost like scarecrows. We saw them raking, up the hay with big rakes four feet wide, and piling it in a stack in the middle of the field. Then we suddenly realized that under the stack was a flat sledge, such as our farmers used to use for hauling stones. The farmers proceeded to pull it, stack and all, down to a barn half-way down the hill. In spite of its size it seemed to slide along quite easily over the stubble, for the slope was steep. On our side of the fence, the grass had not been cut, and it was full of gay wildflowers. The girls were delighted, to see a sky-blue butterfly. As we stood looking across the valley, several jet planes suddenly zoomed at terrific speed between the high, jagged peaks.
We hated to start down again, but the others were going, and we knew M. Gautier had planned a further expedition. So we descended, still entranced by the view, and the bus went on, through sun-dappled woods among the hills, till we reached Trummelbach Falls. We had seen so many waterfalls along the way that we could hardly imagine going all this way to see another, but when we climbed the hill to the entrance, after having tea in a little lunchroom at the bottom of the slope, we found that this fall really was different. The stream had apparently found a soft spot in the rock, and instead of coming down on the outside of the cliff, spiralled down inside it, having cut a remarkable passage for itself. A lift took us up to the first platform; the enterprising Swiss had built a series of platforms and walkways around the fall. The water, quite invisible from the outside, dashed down into smooth-worn hollows with a roar like Niagara, or shot across from one side to another like a giant fire-hose in action, poured into a rocky basin like a great stone wash-tub, shot out through a narrow slit like a snowy plume in the sunshine, and boiled down the rocky streambed like soapsuds. We saw the same stream miles further down, and it was still white as milk.
We had a delightful drive home, passing a great barred door in a mountain-side which the director said was the gate to one of the huge civilian refuges. It was hard to think of the perils of war in this idyllic spot. Then home to dinner, and we found the two women who had taken the Jungfrau trip had returned, but no sign of our men. However, they assured us the men had started home with them, tut had stopped off on the way and asked them to tell us they would be a little late. Sure enough, just as we reached the dessert stage, in they came, and at sight of them all the party burst into applause. They really looked as if they had been on a voyage of exploration, for their faces were burnt bright red. They had had a wonderful day. Not a cloud in the sky, and the sun so hot that, even at zero temperature, skiers were going about without shirts. The boys ate their lunch outside, sitting on their coats in the snow. John was intrigued by the Ice Palace, with its remarkable ice sculptures - I believe they included a grand piano, and a complete bar, with kegs and bottles all done in ice. George and Charlie raved about the view, and the dazzling white of the glaciers. George took quantities of slides. The girls and I did not mind their raving about the Jungfrau, hugging the thought of our own wonderful day. But when they explained their lateness by telling us that they had stopped off at the Grindelwald, and gone up the chairlift to the very top, where they had spent half an hour wandering about, it was almost too much. Janet actually shed the only tears of the whole trip, in sheer frustration! But then we recalled the wonderful waterfall, and the charming woodland drive, and were ashamed to be otherwise than content.
Aug. 17: This morning we packed at leisure, then went for a walk, and explored the local Casino. The gaming -hall was very ornate, with tables for different kinds of gambling, and the largest room was also used for concerts. Outside was a charming garden, whose most memorable feature was a fine floral clock. We passed, it just in time to hear it strike eleven o'clock; three little gnomes struck the hours on very natural-looking toadstools. One becomes accustomed to these intriguing novelties over here. After a little more window-shopping, we had lunch and then set off for Montreux.
On out way, we stopped at Berne, to see the bears. I would rather have spent the time seeing more of this interesting old town, especially the parliament building, with its magnificent murals. But the children were pleased with the bears, though the dim light made it impossible to take pictures. These bears were arrant beggars. To prevent people from feeding them' sweets, which, according to the notices posted about, are very bad for this variety of bear, there were vegetables and fruits on sale, and everybody fed the bears, so they soon learned to call attention to themselves with every sort of antic. Personally, I hated to see a large and naturally dignified animal dance on its hind legs, or roll over and over and lie on its back with its mouth open and its legs in the air, for the sake of a carrot, but everyone else seemed to find it amusing. George and Charlie soon tired of the exhibition, and went across the street for a glass of beer, which they said was one of the best they had ever tasted. Then we drove on through the city. The main street was interesting; all along the boulevard were fountains, topped with comical painted knights in different colours and poses. We were just too late to hear the famous clock strike, though we saw it; I believe the angels come out and sing. We glimpsed the Parliament Buildings, up one street.
As we approached Montreux, we passed through miles of vineyards, which made us feel quite at home. The vines were planted in contoured rows around the hillsides, and unlike those at nome, each vine is trained on a separate pole. Then we dipped down to the lovely lake of Geneva, and arrived at the Palace Hotel. It is funny how many hotels over here are called the Palace. And the general type of decor seems to aim at making them look as much like a palace as possible. This Palace is one of the finest of the many fine resort hotels that border the lake. The hotels are not allowed to encroach too closely on the lake shore. There is a wide walk, bordered with trees, along the shore, then a narrow strip of park, with gardens and a miniature golf links between the promenade and the street which passes in front of the hotel. But we had a fine view of the lake from our window, and could be at the shore in two minutes. We went for a long walk before dinner, and another after dinner, this time along some of the more interesting streets. Montreux is in the French section, and it was pleasant to see all the signs and notices in a language one could understand. Then we went back to the hotel, tucked the girls in, and, (as always when we had a day's stop-over, I did a good-sized washing.
Aug. 18: We had a leisurely breakfast, and about eleven, the girls went down for a swim in the lake, while I sat on the shore to keep an eye on them. They came back very enthusiastic, having found the water warmer than they had expected, and hoped we would be back from the afternoon's trip in time for them to have another dip. A mischievous elf must have been listening, for our afternoon trip rather fell apart; the only semi-fiasco of the whole tour. The boat that was to take us on this trip just didn't arrive. We waited for some time, then M. Gautier borrowed another and took us over to the Castle of Chillon, leaving word for our boat to pick us up there. This part of the afternoon was interesting, at least, for we had heard of the Castle of Chillon since our school-days, because it was immortalized by Byron. The charm, as well as the strategic value of the fortress, lies in its location. It stands on a promontory of solid rock, and at its back is a steep cliff of rock, through which the modern road and railway had tope blasted. This ensured protection from the rear, and to-day, the cliff being largely wooded, makes an attractive background. The great rock drops sheer into the deep waters of the lake on all three sides, and the castle walls extend to the very edge of the rock, making approach impossible except from the landing. And the landing was cut off from the castle by a moat, crossed only by a drawbridge. The location offered such obvious advantages, besides its position on the south-facing shore, near the estuary of the upper Rhone valley (the natural Alpine north-to-south route) that it was occupied in one form or another since the earliest times. We know it was fortified by the Romans, and later by the Abbots of St. Maurice, but the first of the present buildings arose under the Dukes of Savoy, from the thirteenth century onward. We think of Chillon as a prison, but while, like every mediaeval fortress, it had its dungeon, it was primarily a residence of princes, and for its era, very elegant indeed. Traces of this still remain. The rooms are large and airy, with graceful pillars and arches, vaulted ceilings artistically painted, as are some of the walls (the colours still fresh and bright to-day) fine fireplaces (topped with a structure looking rather like a modern ventilation hood, and richly decorated) with quaintly shaped ancient fire-dogs, and beautifully proportioned windows with pointed arches and central pillars, sometimes topped with trifoil or quatrefoil windows. Beneath these, wide window-seats were sometimes provided for the use of anyone wishing to sit at the window and feast his eyes on the view, which is beautiful in any direction. There was a chapel, with fine frescoes on walls and arched ceiling; a iris banqueting hall with caisson ceiling and some fine old furniture, the Knight's Hall, where stands a handsome dresser loaded with pewter tankards of all shapes and sizes, the Count's Hall, the Chatelaine's room, a guest room with beautifully patterned walls, and little court yards surrounded by wooden balconies. However, I think that we probably remember the dungeon best, if only because the guide pointed out Byron's name, carved, with dozens of others, on one of the pillars. Mr. Shaw remarked very seriously that he hoped they fined him a franc, and the guide looked rather taken aback! The precious signature was covered with a glass or plastic plate, to protect it. The floor of the dungeon is the original rock itself, with all its irregularities. We saw a beam, still with a bit of rope twisted about it, where the unhappy prisoners were hanged, and an open shaft leading down to the waters of the lake, where, it was presumed, they disposed of the bodies. Rather a grim picture.
We had a long time to admire the picturesque old pile, for the boat still did not appear; poor M. Gautier kept phoning and waving his arms wildly, without success. (It eventually developed that the thrifty boat-owner did not want to send his boat across empty, and was waiting for a party M wanting to cross in the opposite direction before coming for us so as to collect a fee both ways) At last he got a small local boat to take part of us back home; some of the others took the train, but George and Charlie walked. We were rather disgusted, for we had really wanted to go to Geneva for the day, and had been dissuaded by M. Gautier, and now the day was effectually wrecked. But the children did not mind, for they had plenty of time for a leisurely swim. I was glad thatº George decided to go in with them, for Grace likes to swim quite a way from shore, and I was happier to have a good swimmer along with her. Not feeling any great desire to swim, I bought a good French detective story aid a bar of excellent Swiss chocolate, and enjoyed myself on the shore, looking up at frequent intervals to gaze on the beauty of the lake, with the towering "Dents du Midi" in the background, and the merry swimmers in the foreground.
After dinner, M. Gautier came around to tell us (looking a little happier) that we could make the promised trip across the lake by starlight, the missing boat having finally appeared. I am not sure it was not much better than the original plan, for we had a delightful time, sailing over the iridescent water, with our wake beautifully illuminated by the ship's lights, and the shore a brilliant line of multi-coloured lights, with a few even on the very top of the mountain. Of course the pearl factory which we were to visit was closed, at that hour. But we were not specially interested, and did not want to buy any pearls, so we did not much care. We walked on past the factory because M. Gautier wanted to show us the monument to a brave French priest who was killed there by the Germans, for refusing to betray the hiding-place of the maquis, who were very active in this region. Then we returned to Switzerland, across the lake, singing cheerfully. I can still see H. Gautier, who was rather proud of his singing voice, with Janet on his knee and Grace by his side, leading the singing. Too soon we were back at the hotel, to pack reluctantly for our departure from Switzerland next morning.
Aug. 19: To-day was a rather tiring "here-to-there" day. We started very early, at eight-thirty, and drove all day, stopping only for tea, at a small French restaurant that looked so dirty and smelled so abominably in the toilets that it took away all my appetite, so I spent my time exploring the cathedral across the square. It was quite a fine one, with some unusually brilliant windows. We had lunch in another place so hot and stifling that neither Janet nor I could finish our meal, but went out and sat in the lounge, where it was a little cooler and the air was fresher. Then we rolled on across the countryside, some of it moderately interesting, some of it flat and dull. In the early part of the day, we were still in mountainous or at least rolling country, but towards the end of the afternoon the landscape was flat as a table. All I really remember is that we saw white clay banks near Limoges, reminding us of the famous china manufactured there. It was nearly seven o'clock when we reached the tiny town of Vezelay, and the Hotel de la Poste et du Lion d'Or, which was not as imposing as its name, but quite clean and comfortable. After dinner, the children were glad to tuck in, but Charlie, George and I went for our usual tour of exploration. The night was pleasantly cool, after the heat of the day, and it felt very good to stretch our legs, so we started up the main street - there are only two - towards the Abbey. I mean literally "up", for the little narrow cobbled street runs straight up a steep hill. There was no moon, and the street lights went off at ten o'clock, but the stars were brilliant, and we could see fairly well, once our eyes became accustomed to the darkness. A few minutes' walk and we had completely traversed the town, and reached the Abbey grounds, high on the hilltop. Very impressive it looked too, in the starlight and shadows, silhouetted against the sky, with just a gleam of red light in front of some hidden altar, showing through one cloister window. We lingered for some time, enjoying the cool, clover-scented breeze and the warm darkness, and wondering about the history of this tremendous pile, ridiculously out of proportion to the little town - its entire population could have been comfortably housed in the nave alone.
Aug. 20: The Abbey impressed us so much that we got up quite early the next morning, and went up to visit it before breakfast. We feared it might not be open, but of course it was, and a service was being held in a small chapel off the cloister, where we had seen the light the night before. The main church was empty, so we were able to go in, and very glad we were that we had taken the trouble to come, for it proved to be one of the most impressive places we visited. We had seen so many ornate churches, rich in stained glass and marble tombs and gilded ornaments and carvings, that the stark, unadorned beauty of this magnificent building was a refreshing change. There were no ornaments, no tombs, not even any of the usual Catholic statues and side altars with candles. Just the tremendous stone building, with rounded Norman arches made of alternate blocks of cream and ruddy-brown stone, and fluted pillars of variegated stone rising sheer to the roof, separated from the arches by delicately foliated capitals. Beyond the pier arcade were corridors, about half the height of the nave, with the same pillars and variegated arches. The walls were of blocks of stone, and the only adornments on the walls were plain crosses of wood, marking the stations of the cross. A corridor went right around behind the high altar, separated from it by slender lancet arches; above these were a row of small double arches opening on a dark balcony, and above that was a row of clerestory windows, giving that end of the church the appearance of being very light and airy, by contrast with the sombre dignity of the nave. The roof here was vaulted, and windows in the corridor behind the altar added to the effect of brightness. We did not enter by the great front doors, but by a little side entrance, so we almost missed the one really fine carving, which is in the vestibule, facing you as you enter. Above the doors leading from the vestibule into the church is a huge semicircular carving. There was no one to tell us what it represented, but it seemed to be a large figure of Christ in the centre, surrounded by rows of figures of varying sizes, and surmounted by an exquisitely carved arch, all in stone. Though this was the only large carving, there was beautiful work around all the arches, and a band of delicate flowers that encircled the whole nave. There must still be a monastery connected with the church, for there was a priest (without a congregation) saying mass in an altar behind the high altar, in the corridor, and another doing likewise in the crypt, where we saw a young Franciscan monk on his knees, scraping candle-grease from the floor before a shrine (I believe there is a relic of Saint Madeleine somewhere here, a finger bone or something; the church is called the Basilique de la Madeleine) All this besides the regular service in the cloister, which, apparently, is the spot most commonly used by the townspeople.
We turned regretfully back to the hotel, and had a glimpse on the way of the funny little town; we saw the "Mairie", a comfortable, unpretentious building; up a side street we glimpsed a hospital, and a girls' school, run by nuns, of whom we had already seen several; housewives filling their water-pots at things like hydrants along the street. This is a modern convenience; until recently they used the village pump, which still stands there, just below a horse-stable, which is also on the main street. We could see (and smell) the horses through the open door as we passed - there are no lawns in front of the houses, they are flush with the sidewalk. There was a corner with a little jog in the stone wall, on which someone had written indignantly, "Defence d'uriner." The French are not troubled with false modesty.
Now the drive became more exciting, as we approached Paris. We passed through the forest of Fontainebleu, drove past the Palace, but did not stop, and in no time, it seemed, we glimpsed the Eiffel Tower. We were really in Paris! We went to the Palais d'Orsay, a very ornate, very dirty hotel, whose peculiar floor plan was explained when we found it was part of the railway station. There were rooms on only one side of the long corridors, and we walked miles every time we went from our rooms to the diningroom or lobby. Our rooms were quite palatial, with private bath and very tall windows draped in blue satin, opening on wrought-iron balconies, but we did wish we could set one good Swiss charwoman loose in them for a few hours.
After lunch, which was memorable only because of having ice-water and a great bowl of delicious fresh fruit, we set out on our last tour with our group. M. Gautier turned us over to a regular Paris guide, who took us first to Notre Dame Cathedral, which is too familiar to need any description here. George got a couple of beautiful shots of the stained glass windows, which were wonderful. The guide told us that these had all been taken down and stored in safety during the war, and that this was the first and only time they had ever been cleaned. Oddly enough, the collection of filth which was quite apparent from the outside did not detract at all from the beauty of the windows from the inside. In fact, Charlie had a theory that the diffusion of light thus effectively enhanced the colours. Then we went to Les Invalides, to see the Tomb of Napoleon, whom all French men still admire, apparently. The guide was careful to explain that though perhaps he was wrong in some of his ideas regarding the rights of other countries, he was still worthy of renown for the enlightened things he did for France. The walls around the tomb listed them in detail, including such things as building roads and bridges, clarifying the law, and encouraging education. The other tour members voted to cut their visit short and go across the street to have tea, tut we preferred to stay and see the tomb more thoroughly. It is a very impressive structure, and the high altar is a small replica of the one in St. Peter's in Rome, twisted columns and all. But the thing I remember best is the tomb of Marshall Foch, which shows his coffin being carried on the shoulders of eight life-sized soldiers > in the greatcoats and uniforms of the First World War, all done in gunmetal.
Home to dinner, very hot and tired - the weather was very warm, and of course worse in the confines of a large city. The food was not too bad, but the wine waiter did not turn up with our wine until we were almost finished our meal, and then the wine was lukewarm. We objected, and they stuck it into a pail of water with about one cubic inch of ice in it. So when the waiter, in answer to George's objection, was decidedly rude, (thinking we would not understand him) I was annoyed, and quite surprised myself by the fluency of my French! The waiter, after a brisk exchange of not too polite remarks, calmed down abruptly and apologized, "perhaps he had been a little hasty" I admitted that perhaps I had also; "Oh no, Madame" he assured me, and insisted on bringing us a bottle of Beaujolais, with the compliments of the house. So all ended most amicably, but whenever I dare mention anything about my French, the family exchange grins and side glances. I'm afraid that I will never live that down!
That night, out new courier took us to a night club. We had wanted to go to the Folies Bergeres, but they were sold out, and we did not know that we could have bought standing-room tickets for very little, and strolled around watching the show and having a drink at the bar. However, except for the name, this was probably just as good; like all Paris night clubs, it was a nude show, and we were much closer to the performers than in a theatre. Before we went to the main show, we were taken to a small place which was supposed to make us think we were seeing a low-life dive. Actually, it was quite obviously set up for tourists. We sat at little tables in the little dark room, drinking cheap wine, and watched some Apache dancing. The high spot of the evening for all of us was when the female Apache draped herself all over little Mr. Wade (who looks like a very meek, inoffensive little man, but really a very bright chap with considerable experience and a great sense of humour) and printed a kiss in bright red lipstick on his bald forehead. Whereupon the male Apache, a big man, came rushing up, rolled up his sleeves, and shook his fists under Mr. Wade's nose, and appeared to be about to wipe up the floor with him. Mr. Wade did not appear either terrified or embarrassed, which was no doubt disappointing, but played up to him so amusingly that we all howled with glee. Then a group of chorus girls, at the close of a dance which consisted mainly of flipping up their skirts, turned their backs on the gentlemen in the front row,(among whom, to our amusement, was a rather shy young chap around George's age, named Peter Stopford) and bowed, flipping up their skirts and presenting the seat of their ruffled white panties practically under poor Peter's nose. He didn't know which way to look, and we had to laugh.
The night club was called, suggestively, "Les Naturalistes", and was really a surprisingly good show, nudity aside. There were two groups of performers, one group of very pretty girls, with very slim, white figures, who did very little but stand around in elaborate costumes which consisted of fancy head-dresses and necklaces and wrist-bands, even tails or trains, but nothing in the middle except an almost invisible G-string, sometimes decorated with jewels or sequins, and occasionally a "diamond" set in the navel. The costumes were different in every scene, and very colourful: sometimes they came out fully dressed and then dropped most of the outfit, sometimes they appeared quite well covered in front, only to turn around and reveal quite nude behinds. However, they were so graceful and pretty that there was nothing really suggestive about it, or perhaps in these days of Bikini bathing suits, we are not easily shocked by the naked female form. In Victorian days, it would really have been startling, I suppose. The other group of performers were really good singers and dancers, who provided most of the action, but remained at least moderately clothed. We sat at little tables, sipping champagne, and quite enjoyed the show. George said young Peter was quite amazed.
The climax of the night's entertainment came when we got out of the night club to go back to our hotel, and found our bus locked and deserted. Where Camille had gone is a mystery to this day, but he was probably having a drink somewhere else. M. Gautier said that morning that Camille was dissatisfied with the size of tip he had received from our party, so perhaps that was his idea of revenge. If so, it backfired; our guide simply asked one of his pals, who had a party at the same place, to let us share their bus, as it was a very short distance, and we just had a good laugh over it.
Aug. 21: Sunday in Paris, and the hottest day of the whole summer, I think. We walked over to the Louvre (the Palais d'Orsay is very central, just across the bridge from the Place de la Concorde) and spent a delightful, if somewhat exhausting morning. We were pleasantly surprised that in so short a time and without a guide, we saw so many of the notable art treasures, for it is a huge place. But the guide book is excellent, and we found the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, and the Venus de Milo, to mention just a few of the better known ones, besides hundreds of other wonderful paintings by Rembrandt, Titian and such world-renowned painters. There was one whole room of Paul Veronese, and the whole end wall was covered by an immense painting of The Wedding at Cana - the detail was astonishing. The Mona Lisa was disappointing; it is a small, rather insignificant painting, and since I read that her mysterious smile was merely an attempt to hide her bad teeth, it lost some of its appeal. A couple of other paintings by da Vinci actually pleased me more, The Venus de Milo looked exactly like all the pictures. But the Winged Victory was really a. surprise. With that wonderful sense of setting which seems to be a characteristic of the French people, they had mounted the Victory on the prow of a ship (where she originally belonged) and placed it on the landing at the top of a long flight of stairs, and she positively seemed in the act of taking flight. Downstairs, as we were looking for the way out, we came upon a wonderful display of ancient Syrian art. There were tiled walls, the colours as bright and fresh as a modern bathroom, after being buried for centuries; huge lions, standing two ordinary stories high, which must have made the poor Syrian peasants feel insignificant and terrified; one terrific pillar, and even some very old Minoan statues. It was hard to tear ourselves away at lunchtime, tired as we were; one could easily spend days there and not see everything. But we were very glad to have seen as much as we did, it was a delightful morning.
In the afternoon, it was so hot that we decided the only thing that appealed to us was a boat trip down the Seine. The pier was only a few steps from our hotel, so we went down and stood in line. Unfortunately we did not know that we could get our seating-place tickets ahead of time, so we had to go downstairs in the boat. However, John found a very good seat on the tiny lower deck, in front. He gave it to me, after a while, and I held Janet on my knee, while the others stood behind us, leaning on the sides of the cabin. There were seats inside, which were fine for local people just taking a ride to keep cool - it was delightfully cool on the river- - but no good at all for sight-seeing. From our vantage point, we could see all the bridges (I believe there are thirty-two) as we approached them, and it was very interesting to see the different styles, for there are no two alike. Some were marked with the Rising Sun of Louis the Fourteenth, others with the N of Napoleon; many have elaborate sculptures along the sides. We went a very long way, out to the farthest suburbs and beyond, before we turned back, and returned just in time for dinner.
After dinner, we remembered the beautiful illuminated fountains we had seen in the Place de la Concorde, and thought the younger folk would. enjoy seeing them too. So we all strolled across the bridge. The Place is lovely at night. The great fountains are all illuminated, and look like fountains of light. We examined the big obelisk, and the fine vista, looking past it to the Arc of Triomphe, then went for a stroll in the Tuileries Gardens, It was delightfully cool there, after the heat of the day, and metal chairs are provided beside the pools, where we were glad to sit and, rest. The statuary gleamed white through the dusk; we could smell the big beds of flowers all around us, though their brilliant colours were subdued now, except under the scattered streetlights along the main paths. We lingered for some time before we crossed the other bridge, and made our way back to the Palais.
Aug. 22: One thing the children had set their hearts on doing was climbing the Eiffel Tower. Charlie, who was not enthusiastic, tried to dissuade them, but John explained, "If I say I have been in Paris, the kids will all ask just two things, "Did you go to a night-club?" and "Did you climb the Eiffel Tower?" If I say I didn't do either, I might just as well not have been here, as far as they are concerned." Charlie, feeling a little conscience-stricken about not having taken him with us to the night-club (we never thought of it; which was partly John's own fault, for he had so often refused to join the three of us on our night wanderings that we had got used to going off on our own; gave in, and took them. It costs a quite ridiculous amount, but I gather the view really was wonderful. John took George's camera, and got a couple of excellent slides, as it was a fine, clear day. George went off on his own, and I had some shopping to do. Particularly, I wanted to find a pharmacy, as the stores had all been closed on Saturday night and Sunday, and I needed some supplies. Unfortunately, it turned out that Monday, also, was a holiday of some sort, and though they assured me at the hotel that there would be a store open somewhere in the district, no one seemed to know where. I set out for one which they thought might possibly be open, but found it was closed. So I stopped a young woman with her arms full of parcels, who looked as if she might live in the district, and asked her for suggestions. She was quite sure another store, a few blocks away, would be the one, and even walked with me to the first turn, in case my French had not been equal to her rapid directions. I found the store without difficulty, but alas, it too was closed. It had one of those iron grills across the door, which they sometimes put across the doors of jewellery stores here, and behind it, on the door, was a notice. Hoping it might say where the open store might be found, I had my nose against the grill, trying to see it, when I was joined by a little French woman, who was trying to do the same. The notice was unhelpful, being merely an advertisement of some fete. So I asked her if she had any suggestions to offer. She hadn't, but knew the district fairly well, so we decided to join forces, since we both were anxious to find the same store. The next half-hour or so was one of the most amusing experiences of the trip. She was a comical little person, and though she spoke no English, seemed to be able to understand my peculiar brand of French quite well, whereby I concluded she must be very intelligent. After the third or fourth false lead, we began halting everyone we met, asking hopefully for directions, and going into gales of laughter when they proved false. We would grin at each other and chant, "Marchons, marchons ..." Then we would stop the next passer-by, and start off again. I don't know how far we walked - it didn't seem so far, for we chattered all the way - but when we finally found a store that was open, I discovered that I was back almost where I started from, which was rather a relief - I feared I might be much further; we had criss-crossed and zig-zagged till I had lost track of the distance. When we finally got inside the door - she urged me to hurry in, or it would surely close before we could get inside -we were both laughing so hard we could hardly ask for what we wanted. I don't know why the incident was so funny, except that we were both feeling light-hearted and a bit silly, or maybe it was the atmosphere of Paris that goes to the head like champagne.
We parted with mutual regrets, and I walked back to the hotel. It was not lunchtime yet, so I wandered, along the Seine, looking at the "boxes" which the street vendors set up there, filled with all sorts of attractive prints and water-colours. The girls had asked me to buy them each one, as a souvenir of Paris. I found one of Notre Dame from the river, and one of the fountains in the Place de la Concorde, which I thought would remind them of two pleasant experiences. It was very hot by now, especially out in the glaring sunlight along the river. This particular vendor was sitting on a stool, holding over his head a large black umbrella.
The family re-assembled at lunch, and then joined a tour which was going to Versailles. The groups were divided according to language. Our bus was composed of English and Spanish, and the guide, a quite young woman, made all her announcements twice, once in each language. We found this rather an advantage in the palace. Instead of being herded along at top speed, we had a chance to look about for ourselves, while she explained everything over again for the other half of the group. What a place! We thought it was worth while for the children to have seen it, if only to have a better understanding of the causes of the French Revolution. First, we saw the formal gardens, (which are rather more effective from the upstairs windows, where you can see the elaborate scrolled patterns of the flower-beds.) The fountains, unfortunately, were not playing - it costs so much to run them that they are only used now when they stage a special evening show there, once a year, I believe. But the old Kings did not limit themselves so, you may be sure. It must be a beautiful sight to see them illuminated at night.
One garden was full of palm trees, planted in huge white wooden boxes. The guide told us that these palms were originally planted in silver urns, and carried into the palace to decorate the halls on special occasions. One garden, elaborately scrolled, which lay beneath the King's bedroom window, used to be changed secretly at night by the gardeners, so that when the King looked out in the morning, the beds which had been blue or yellow the night before would be red or purple instead. We saw also the long artificial lake on which the King used to be transported in gondolas from the palace to the home of his favourite mistress.
Inside, we were taken on a tour of the state rooms, still very impressive, though much of the furniture was looted during the Revolution, and what there is has been gradually recovered over the years, or donated by its later owners. The hall of Mirrors is tarnished now, but one can easily imagine what a sight it must nave been, when the mirrors and gilding and great crystal chandeliers were new and gleaming, and lovely ladies in elaborate court costumes and powdered hair danced with stately courtiers in white embroidered satin coats and breeches, while the flickering candles set the jewels of the ladies and the medals and epaulets of the men to glittering against the dark background of the palms. Versailles had accommodation for over a thousand guests and their servants. Another great hall housed the huge paintings depicting France's military victories, ending with three of Napoleon. Outside again, we were shown the stables, which looked like a block of better-class apartment houses, and probably serve in that capacity now. We had tea at a nearby restaurant, in the garden, and watched an irate gendarme trying to evict an itinerant peddlar, who was trying to sell some kerchiefs, printed with designs of the Eiffel Tower, to a group of tourists. Then we returned to Paris by the new super-highway, which took us through the heart-of Paris; a very interesting drive. When we reached the Place de la Concorde, the children went on home, but Charlie and I stopped to see the Church of the Madeleine, and were fortunate enough to find it open. Napoleon ordered that this church, begun in 1764, should be completed as a Temple of Glory, but when it was finished, it became a Catholic church. This is a most unusual structure. Everyone is familiar with the exterior, with its windowless walls surrounded by great rows of pillars; the interior is naturally very dark, lighted only by skylights in the very top of the domes, and the walls themselves appear to be dark brown. Very striking in these somber surroundings is the beautiful white marble sculpture behind the altar.
By the time we had finished dinner, it was quite late, so the rest of us were content to pack and go to bed early, but George decided he wanted to see more of Paris night life. So he went to the Moulin Rouge, and a couple of other spots, and in one of them he was startled to hear someone shout, "Hi, George!" It was one of his college friends, with some pals; they had a car. and toured the city till the wee small hours. A very nice finish for his first visit to Paris.
Aug. 23: After an early breakfast, we collected our baggage, and a Four-Ways man saw us safely to the boat train. Then followed a long, hot journey to the coast, which took most of the forenoon. It was interesting to see the French countryside, which was rich and fertile until we reached the marshlands near the coast. But we were glad to find ourselves on the boat, where it was delightfully cool. This time we were wise, and finding chairs, loaded them with our belongings before we went to lunch. The channel was calm as a Scottish lake, and the trip was much shorter, as we left from Calais instead of Ostend. We were almost sorry to reach Folkestone. The customs inspection, which we had dreaded for fear they would make us send all our purchases direct to Prestwick, was purely nominal; they did not even ask us to open our bags. We were soon on the train, and in what seemed a very short time were back in the Green Park Hotel. We were in different rooms this time, of course. The first time, we had a room on the ground floor, or even a bit lower. It was dark, but very quiet, and as the windows looked out on a ventilating court, we could festoon them with laundry to our heart's desire. The bathroom was up a little flight of steps, I remember. It was very handy to the diningroom and the exit, but the girls were miles away. This time we had a front room on the third floor, and the girls had a little attic room, up a narrow flight of stairs from us. They had not been able to keep a room for the boys, but as the pleasant British custom is, they had secured rooms for them at the Washington Hotel, just a few doors away. We had a private bath, but the girls were delighted to find they had a shower, and promptly made use of it.
We decided to take the boys to a play, so we went out and had an early dinner at the Viennese café, leaving the girls to have dinner in the hotel at the regular hour. They got quite a kick out of going to the diningroom and ordering dinner all by themselves, and I gather they got wonderful service. We saw Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap". It was very well done, and we enjoyed it. After the show, John went home, but George and Charlie and I strolled about the streets, as usual. To have some sort of goal, we decided to look for Leicester Square, which we eventually found, very quiet and dark at that hour. We stopped for a soft drink at a snack oar nearby, and then window-shopped all the way back to the Green Park.
Aug. 24: This morning we started off bright and early, to find the Cutty Sark. We knew the public were not admitted yet, as the site was still under construction, but Charlie had taken pains to get letters of introduction, on the strength of his father being one of the few men left who sailed on her in her halcyon days. We took a train to Greenwich Pier, and as we turned down the street, there she was in full view. We went inside the fence, disregarding the "Danger- Keep Out" signs, and found the old ship mounted in a cement base, with steps from top to bottom on all sides, so one could see her entire hull. George exclaimed over her beautiful lines. She is to be completely restored, in as authentic a manner as possible, and turned into a museum. We were so glad we got to see her before she was completely made over. Two men were hand-nailing copper plates on her hull. On the deck, they had built a new forward cabin, and were installing a railing of teak; down in the hold, they were putting down new floors, and a railing around the lower one, to keep people off her ancient ribs. They will have cases of exhibits down the centre. To my disappointment, the famous Cutty Sark figurehead was missing, being repaired, and only the bases of the masts remained, but even thus bereft, she was an impressive, sight, and when she is fully restored, should be well worth seeing. We talked briefly with a Mr. Matton, who was in charge, and he told us they hoped to have the work completed next year. But we read later that the "launching" was delayed, because the Duke of Edinburgh, who is patron of, the undertaking, insisted that the sails must be of the authentic hand-woven material, which will have to be specially woven, and will take another year at least. We also had quite an interesting talk with a bearded young man who was writing up a column for Time and Tide,' on the Cutty Sark restoration. He was kind enough to send us a copy of the magazine in which the column appeared, and which mentioned talking to us about Dad Sankey.
On our way back to the station, we stopped briefly to visit the old church where General Wolfe is buried. An open register showed the entry of his burial. There was also a plaque on the wall, with a Canadian flag, and an inscription plate on the floor over his grave, John got a picture of the plaque. The girls and I went up and sat in the Royal box, where Queen Anne used to sit. You could wander for weeks in London, just looking at things like that, everywhere you go.
We had lunch in a little restaurant in the station, then Charlie took John out to see a cricket match. Charlie felt that no one had really visited. England who had not seen at least one proper cricket match. He urged us to go back to Westminster Abbey and see the chapels which were closed on our last visit. We agreed, partly because Grace had not been with us the first time. This time we did see the chapels, and understood why Charlie did not want us to miss them. I remember especially the Air Force Chapel, with its interesting modern window. George was quite impressed when he found the tomb of Edward the Confessor, and also that of Elizabeth 1. Grace was especially pleased with the Poet's Corner. This time we met a friendly verger, who showed us rather proudly a set of the Maundy money which he had somehow acquired, as a special favour, he allowed Janet to hold it. In the days when Maundy money was first introduced, the few pennies specified amounted to quite a fair gift. Now they would be worth very little. So the coins are minted specially, tiny silver models of the original coins, and as they are much prized by coin and souvenir collectors, the recipients are able to sell them for a good sum. A truly British method of reconciling old tradition with modern exigencies. The set the verger showed us were given out by George VI.
When we had seen Westminster Abbey, and Downing Street, (including number Ten), and had strolled past the Parliament Buildings, we went back to the hotel. When Charlie arrived, he told us he had invited John Franklin, an old friend, who now lives in London, to have dinner with us. We took him over to our Viennese café; all except Grace, who was tired, and wanted to go to bed. We took her back some sandwiches and fruit, when we returned, and John F. stayed and visited with us in the hotel sitting room until it was time for his train. Then we packed and turned in early.
Aug. 25: To-day we started off in true Scotch fashion, all piled into one taxi - there wasn't another one handy - and boarded the Flying Scotsman, bound for Edinburgh. The rest of the day was pleasant but uneventful. We watched the countryside change from the broad, fertile wheat fields of Northeast England to the sheep pens and stone walls of Scotland, with a sense of coming home.
We caught a glimpse of the beautiful beaches of South-eastern Scotland, and soon after, arrived in Edinburgh. The taxi driver took us to the Deveron Guest House, where the Festival authorities had secured us accommodation for the rest of our stay. This was a private guest house, run by a pleasant Scottish couple and their son. It was a fairly recent venture, they told us; we could not help remembering "The Mousetrap/ and hoped out fellow-guests would not prove as peculiar as these of the unhappy guest-house mistress in the play. As a matter of fact, for most of the time we were the only guests, except for a Scottish couple from South Africa. (As our hosts came from there also, they may have been old friends.) We had a small but comfortable room on the second floor, and. the children had two rooms on the third. We were very fortunate, for the lady of the house was very kind and thoughtful, and her cooking was plain but very good. The bathroom was just two doors away, and I could hang my laundry in the back yard. We soon felt very much at home.
Edinburgh is a delightful city, conveniently arranged so that all the things a visitor wants to see are situated in one small section of the town; the castle hill acts as a convenient and always visible landmark, and the transportation is simple and adequate. In a day or two, we were all - even Mamma! - travelling about as if we had lived there for years. You could hardly get lost if you tried. Two-decker busses and street-cars passed a couple of blocks from the Deveron, and took us directly to all the halls for the different concerts. The first night, after a fairly early dinner, we went down to the Festival Hall to see If we could pick up our tickets, but it was closed. So we wandered about a bit, finding some of the buildings in which we were to attend concerts, and generally admiring the sights. And then home to a quiet sleep.
Aug. 26: This morning, we attended our first concert; the Griller String Quartet, with Reginald Kell, clarinetist. They played String Quartet in D minor, Op. 76, no. 2, by Haydn and Quintet in B minor for clarinet and strings, Op. 115, by Brahms. Each of these had four long movements. I will not attempt to write any criticism of the musical numbers in any of these concerts. As far as I could tell, they were as near perfection as any concert could be, and we enjoyed them accordingly.
After lunch, the girls and I went shopping. I had set my heart on getting a new plaid suit for Grace, as she had almost outgrown the one she was wearing. Luckily children in Britain wear shorter and more childish styles than here, but I knew she would find it too short when she reached home again. To my disappointment, little girls in Scotland do not wear plaid suits, apparently. Ladies' suits we saw in abundance, but none for children, who wear plaid skirts and matching sweaters instead. However, I did get Grace a very pretty blue printed cotton dress, which pleased her very much. Then we went home and I put the girls to bed for a rest before dinner. Unluckily, Janet did not go to sleep as she usually does in such circumstances; I wanted her to be fresh for the ballet in the evening. It was the Danish Ballet, doing Romeo and Juliet, and they gave a very beautiful and moving performance. The girls enjoyed it immensely, but just at the very last, Janet, being hot and tired, and also upset emotionally by the ballet, began to feel ill, and I had to take her out just before the last act. The woman in the ticket booth gave her a chair, and we sat there in the fresh air until the others came out, a few minutes later. Two First-Aid men, apparently thinking she was faint, tried to get her to put her head between her knees, and held smelling-salts under her nose. I finally persuaded them to leave her alone, and she was all right by the time we started, home. We missed only a few minutes' of the ballet, and apart from this brief flurry, it was a wonderful evening.
Aug. 27: As this was our one free day in Edinburgh, Charlie and George exercised their charm on a susceptible young lady in a car-rental agency, and persuaded her to rent us a car for the day. We started off early, regretfully leaving Janet behind. She was feeling much better, but we felt it was better not to take chances, so she stayed in bed for the day, and got a good rest. I offered to stay with her, but being Janet, she would not hear of it, and the ladies at the guest-house took very good care of her, so she was not lonely. The rest of us headed for Melrose Abbey, which Charlie particularly wanted to see. We stopped for lunch at Galashiels, and soon after arrived at the Abbey, which is certainly an impressive sight.
The monastery and Abbey Kirk were built in the twelfth century by Cistercian monks, the monastery buildings have almost completely disappeared, but lines of foundation stones indicate their position. The drain which provided the monks with running water from a near-by stream can still be seen. A road from England to the Lothlans, made by the Romans, passed the Abbey, which was advantageous in times of peace, but proved disastrous in times of war. The Abbey was pillaged by the English in the fourteenth century, so that much of it had to be rebuilt; then again in the sixteenth century. No effort was made to repair it at this time, and people in the neighbourhood began using the stones, timber, and lead from the roof, and other materials, thus hastening its downfall. (Among those accused of this plundering was Sir Walter Scott of Brankholm) In the seventeenth century, three bays of the nave were adapted for parochial use, by setting up a rubble wall (of material quarried from other Abbey buildings) and fitting in a plain stone vault and end-walls. This puzzled us very much when we saw it. The end wall had disappeared, but the rubble inner wall remained, making the whole nave hopelessly lop-sided. It was not till we read the guide book that we found the answer to the mystery. The book describes this section of the building as "a dismal tunnel masking the beautiful proportions and design of the mediaeval building." However, much of the church remains in its original form, and the windows are very beautifully carved, especially the great East window, under which the heart of Robert the Bruce is supposed to be buried. (Though the discovery of a mummified human heart in a lead casket under the floor of the Chapter House has caused some speculation as to whether it may not have been buried there, near the shrine of the Saint Waltheof. We found the old Abbey very atmospheric, especially with doves cooing hollowly among the ruined vaults, George tool some splendid slides - it was a beautiful sunny day.
After seeing Melrose, we decided to go on a little further and visit Abbottsford. This we liked very much. As Charlie told our young guide, it was the only place he had visited where he could imagine wanting to live. The guide was, I imagine, a member of the family. Up to that point, he had gone through his spiel in a professional way, but he seemed pleased with our enthusiasm, and stayed outside after we had finished the tour, chatting with us. He mentioned what a fortunate thing it was that Scott, by taking over the debts of his publishing house (which he paid off in full) had kept himself so poor, relatively speaking, that he had not been able to build a great monstrosity of a place, which the family would never have been able to keep up. We gathered that the family still lives there, most of the year. Both the study arid the library were charming rooms, the former with a fine view over the garden down to the Tweed river. The latter is lined with hundreds of books, and contains a famous bust of Scott. In the diningroom, George greatly admired Scott's taste in wood. Furniture which had been given to him, like the famous ebony suite, might be carved, in Victorian curlicues, but what he had chosen himself was perfectly plain, depending for its beauty on the grain and polish of the natural wood. In the drawing-room was a well-known portrait of Scott, also portraits of his mother and father. The entrance hall and armoury contained his amazing collection of ancient and modern arms and armour. Scott was evidently a great collector of Scottish relics; no doubt many of them were sent to him by his ardent admirers. We asked the guide if they often had anything stolen. He replied that this had happened only twice; once many years ago, and once last year. The objects were eventually recovered, probably from pawnshops.
It was still not very late, and we had seen signs along the road pointing to Dryburgh Abbey. Although we knew nothing about it, we decided to go on a little further and explore this too. This was a fortunate decision, for although not as ancient and famous as some of the other ruined Abbeys, Dryburgh is one of the loveliest, not so much because of the ruins themselves, though they were extensive and interesting, but because of its situation in a beautiful park-like spot, with spreading lawns and some of the most beautiful old trees, that must have been there when the Abbey was young. The river Tweed here makes a horse-shoe bend, which guards a sheltered tongue of pleasant, low ground, gently sloping. This site was selected by the White Canons in 1140, and the buildings, because of the slope, were arranged on three stepped levels, with the Kirk on the top level. The Dryburgh stone is of a warm, mellow tint, and the whole scene, steeped as it was in the late afternoon sunlight, which streamed through the delicately carved rose window and the rounded arches, is one we will never forget.
In the North Transept chapels which stands by themselves on the top level, are buried Sir Walter Scott, his wife, and his son-in-law and chronicler, Lockhart; also Earl Haig, the great field marshall. Near the grave of the latter stands a stone cross, in memory of the men who served under him in the First World War. A number of other Haigs are buried on the second level. We wandered about the ruins for a long time, before we finally set off down the lovely avenue of trees leading to the parking place. Then we set out for home, taking a different road across the moors and hillsides, George found this smaller car rather easier to manoeuvre than dear old OYK, and we were soon back at the Deveron, after a memorable day.
We dropped Grace off to have dinner at the house with Janet, and the rest of us went downtown for dinner. We found, by chance, a very nice restaurant indeed, and. had a very fine dinner, which we were hungry enough to really enjoy. Then we went for a drive, to find the Firth of Forth bridge. We passed through some of the newer residential districts, which were much more modern than anything we had seen in Scotland so far, and reached the Firth just at dusk. The bridge was certainly an amazing sight, silhouetted against the evening sky, especially when trains, brightly lighted, roared across it, looking like toy models against the great bridge's tremendous spans. We made our way to the shore, to have a clear view, and smell the salty sea-air. Then we headed home, and George returned the car to its garage.
Aug. 28: Today being Sunday, George, Grace, Charlie and I attended service at the Unitarian Church here, The congregation was small, and by contrast with American Unitarians, quite uninterested in the strangers in their midst. But the building was very interesting; it was built in the old traditional meeting-house style, with a gallery, and a triple pulpit, of which our speaker used the middle height. He was not, I think, the regular minister, but a most delightful speaker. His name was Gordon Stewart, which should establish his nationality, and he spoke against the theory, still prevalent in some quarters, and secretly held by many of us, that God wanted us to feel unworthy before Him, "worms of the dust" and "miserable sinners", and begrudged us happiness. He dryly suggested that it hardly endeared one to a Creator to criticize his creations, and when God had given us so many things to rejoice our hearts, it was not for us to reject them, nor was He sitting, as the ancients used to think, waiting to flatten us down if we dared to rejoice too openly. We chuckled quite audibly over some of his amusing but pithy remarks.
We returned to the Deveron to collect John and Janet, had lunch downtown, and then went to the Freemasons' Hall to near a concert by the Master of the guitar, Andres Segovia. His programme consisted of Six Little Pieces for lute by Vincensio Galilei; Suite in D for guitar, in six movements, by Robert de Visee; Fugue and Gavotte, arranged for the lute by J.S.Bach, Minuet by F.Schubert arranged by Tarrega; Cavatina in five movements by Alexandre Tansman and Prelude and Etude by Villa-Lobos (both dedicated to Segovia). Tonadilla and Tarantella by Castelnuovo-Tedesco; Dance in G by Granados (trans. M. Llabet); Torre Bermeja by Albeniz (trans. Segovia).
The first half of the programme was strictly classical, the latter half mostly Spanish. Segovia was wonderful, as always, and I have seldom heard an audience manifest such enthusiasm. It was a tribute to his popularity that this was the only concert, of all those we attended, where, in spite of ordering our tickets so many months in advance, we were unable to obtain six seats together.
We returned for dinner at the Deveron - we usually preferred eating there, because knowing that we were attending the Festival, they served dinner at an early hour. Obviously, the traditional British dinner hour was quite unsuitable under these circumstances, but few hotels or restaurants serve dinner before seven-thirty. This evening's concert was really something to remember. Imagine hearing Solomon, Francescatti and Fournier all at one performance! And the Scottish National Orchestra thrown in for good measure. After a brief overture, they went right into the great triple concerto for piano, violin, cello and orchestra in C major, Op. 56 by Beethoven. This was a wonderful number, and the three great artists played with quite surprising teamwork and faultless artistry. Just as music, though, I am not sure I did not enjoy the last number the best. This was the Symphony No. 2 in D major, by Dvorak; it was a tremendous work, very colourful, and the conductor and orchestra did a magnificent job with it. Definitely, an evening to remember.
Aug. 29: To-day, at eleven, we heard the Wigmore Ensemble. This was an interesting group consisting (for this concert at least) of a string quartet, plus a harp, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon. They played first a Quintet for flute, viola, violin, cello and harp by Jean Francais, which was modern, but quite enjoyable Next were Five Pieces in Trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, by Jacques Ibert. These were quite enjoyable but the next number, a Trio for flute, viola and cello, by Albert Roussel, was very dull, Grace and I were disappointed, as this number featured our own instruments, but the viola had no melodic line at all, just sharp staccato bowing, and John swore he was out of tune in the higher positions. Personally, I didn't think there was any tune for him to be out of; it was that kind of piece. Next came a Sextuor for piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn, by Poulenc, which was gay and light, and last a really lovely number for harp, with string quartet, flute and clarinet: Introduction and Allegro, by Ravel.
In the evening, we went to the Royal Lyceum Theatre, to see Julius Caesar. I was rather sorry that the Shakespearian play happened to be one I knew so very well, both from having studied it in High School, and from having seen it very recently as a movie, with Marion Brando. However, it was very well done, and the staging was most interesting. We all enjoyed it, and I think it will help the children to appreciate it if they should happen to study it, (or any other Shakespearian play, for that matter.)
Aug. 30: This morning, Charlie took Janet to hear the Wigmore Ensemble in a more classical programme. This time they played a Septet for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and bass, (Op. 20) by Beethoven, and an Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, string quartet, and double-bass, by Howard Fergison, which they said was very enjoyable. I did some washing and packing, and in the afternoon, George and I went to see the new Thornton Wilder play, A Life in the Sun, which was commissioned by the Festival for the apron stage of the Assembly Hall. George had never seen a play staged in this manner, and was very much impressed. Because of the staging, costuming, and general theme of the play, I was unavoidably reminded of Oedipus Rex, which we had seen the summer before at Stratford, but enjoyed it none the less on that account. It was a very moving play, well produced and acted.
On the way home, for the first time in the whole trip, we got caught in the rain, which really came down in buckets for a few minutes. We took refuge in a doorway till the worst of it was over, and then ran for a bus. All through dinner we watched the weather anxiously, for this was our night at the Edinburgh Tattoo, and we were afraid it might be cancelled on account of rain. Even when we set out, the sky was still overcast and the weather very doubtful, but our luck held; the rain held off, and we had a delightful evening. The setting of the Tattoo is what makes it, of course. It is held in the courtyard of the castle, which they use as a most effective backdrop, lighting different sections for special effects. The courtyard is built up all around - except on the castle side of course, with backless bleachers, and men go about renting cushions for you to sit on, which you certainly appreciate before long. We had car-rugs too, so we were quite cosy. First we had Massed Military Bands of three regiments, the Gordon Highlanders, the City of Glasgow Regiment and the Coldstream Guards, with special buglers. Then came the Massed Pipes and Drums of the Commonwealth, a wonderful display. We were happy to see our own Canadian Black Watch, and regiments from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. The Punjabis put on an amazing exhibition of drumming. Then came a Physical Training display by the boys of the Army Apprentice School. Followed a Historical Cavalcade, by four Lowland regiments; some of the ancient costumes were wonderful. Next was a Drill Display by the Scots Guards, accompanied cy the drums of the Coldstream Guards; it was surprising to see what intricate manoeuvres they could execute, with so many men in a relatively cramped space. Then came the Massed Pipes and Drums of the Scottish regiments, and how all the other regiments fade into obscurity beside the magnificence of a Scottish soldier in full regimentals. And how my soul loves the pipes, in their proper setting. A team of Highland dancers from the regiments performed during this number. Last of all was the magnificent Finale, with all the bands and regiments on the ground at once, marching and playing in a blaze of colour and blare of sound. The troups all entered the parade ground from the castle gateway, and went off through the gate by which we had entered the courtyard, I don't know how they got back again for their next entry. But between numbers, they put out all the lights, and we sat in semi-darkness til the next group was ready to perform. So perhaps they slipped back under cover of darkness. At the end, we all waited till they had all marched off before leaving our seats. It was a wonderful night, and when we got home, our thoughtful landlady had left a tray with hot tea. and coffee in thermos jugs, and lots of little cakes, because she knew we would be cold and hungry; a gesture that was much appreciated.
Aug. 31: To-day, since we had no concerts until the evening, we decided to visit Edinburgh Castle. For days we had been admiring it from a distance, especially when it was illuminated at night, so now we made our way through the gate from which the brilliant pageant of the Tattoo had appeared, and found guides waiting to escort groups of assorted tourists around the ancient pile. Our guide was most amusing, with a dry wit much enhanced by his broad accent. He led us up to the top, showing us all the points of interest on the way, pointed out the different buildings, and advised us concerning the different exhibits to be found inside.
The castle is certainly an imposing pile. The Palace Yard was formed by levelling rock outcrops, and raising vaults from the lower levels of the hill. As seen from outside, the walls of the buildings on the east, north and south, which are adjusted to the courtyard level, are of great height, the masonry rising as if it were a natural continuation of the rocky cliffs. The walls follow the rugged outline of the rock, and terraced gun platforms are erected at intervals.
The oldest part of the Citadel is St. Margaret's Chapel, the last remnant of the Castle buildings which were destroyed in 1514 by the Earl of Moray, to keep it from the English. David's Tower was built in 1367, but most of the buildings date from the fifteenth century. We went first into the Museum, where we saw uniforms of all the different Scottish regiments from early times until the present. John was interested in some model ships. Then we were shown the room where James VI was born. It was a very small room, panelled in dark wood, with only one small window. I could not help thinking what an airless hole it must have been for a woman in labour, especially when crowded with doctors, nurses and the necessary witnesses! Next we saw the Royal Regalia of Scotland, and then the one thing the guide had told us to be sure not to miss: the Scottish War Memorial, a beautiful and very moving spot. Every Scottish regiment had its own particular location, its motto and a window specially designed for it, a list of its battles on the wall, and an open book with the names of its dead. The Scots who served in non-Scottish regiments are also remembered, and there is even a memorial for the horses, dogs and birds who played their part in the grim drama.
On our way down to the exit, we saw the huge old cannon known as Mons Meg, and the Dogs' Graveyard, We stopped in St. Margaret's Chapel, which perches on the highest part of the Castle rock. It is a tiny little chapel, circular internally and square externally; beyond the nave, with its few plain chairs, is a little semi-circular apse, entered by a carved archway, where stands a small wooden altar-table. We finally made our way back to the gate again, and found a place to have lunch. The girls and I went home to rest for the evening, while John went off to search for an Elizabethan penny for his coin collection, and George and Charlie went to the Museum.
When Charlie returned, he told me that he had been in touch with Mrs. Percival, widow of an old friend of his, and that he was going to drop in and see her before dinner. He brought her back with him, so we had a few minutes' visit, and liked each other at once. After dinner, we went to hear the B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra, under Sir Malcolm Sargent, with Segovia playing the concerto. They played first the Sibelius Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52, which was very dramatic. Then about a third of the orchestra or more left the stage, while Segovia played the gay Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra, by Castelnuovo, (arranged by Tedesco.) The concert-master did some solo work in this with Segovia; it was typical of the kindly old man that he shook hands with him, and was obviously telling him that he had played it very well and thanking him for his support. The audience gave him a wonderful ovation, and he looked quite pleased and touched. The final number on the programme was a magnificent rendering of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Familiar as I was with it, I felt as though I had never really heard it before. No recording can do justice to a number designed to be played by a full symphony, and they did play it with everything they had. It was an odd mixture for a programme, but somehow it made for very good listening. The guitar concerto was just the light touch needed between the two heavy and emotional symphonic numbers.
Sept. 1: How hard, to realize that our two carefree summer months are over; seeing September on the calendar means that school, with its hard work and rigid routine, is just around the corner. This morning we met Mrs. Percival downtown, and took her with us to hear Rosalyn Tureck play the Goldberg Variations, by J.S.Bach. I had never heard them before, and was overwhelmed; the woman played for over an hour without even stopping for applause, merely lifting her hands for a moment from the keyboard, to indicate the end of one variation and the beginning of the next. By the time she had finished, she was exhausted and so were we! I was glad we had not brought the children. She played very well, from a technical standpoint, but since I have heard Glenn Gould's recording, I realize how much better I like his interpretation. He plays them with a lilt and a youthful gaiety that she somehow misses. Nevertheless, not having heard Gould at that time, we were much impressed, and I hope Mrs. Percival enjoyed it. After the concert, we met Mrs. Percival's aunt and son, and our own young fry, who had been at the Museum, and had lunch together, in the lunchroom of a department store, overlooking Princes' Street. Afterwards, the others went home, but I stayed on to do a little more shopping, for presents to take home. Then we all went over to the Percival's for tea. They live quite near the Deveron, so it was just a brief walk.
It was very pleasant to have an informal meal in pleasant, homey surroundings again. We had a very substantial tea, and all enjoyed ourselves We took over a number of things that we felt we would not be able to pack: our little spirit-stove that boiled us so many a cup of tea on our Scottish wanderings, and other picnic supplies, a pair of good rubbers that John found, he had outgrown, and I left for Sheila the pretty little silver maple leaf lapel pin, that I had worn to advertise my homeland. (The girls each wore one too. We hated being taken for Americans everywhere.)
We had to leave in good time for our last concert at Usher Hall. The great Festival Trio, whom we had heard previously playing a concerto with orchestra, were giving this performance, so we did not want to be late. They played Mozart Trio in B flat major K.502, a Brahms Trio in C minor Op. 101 and a Schubert Trio in B flat major Op. 99. Strange how dull and uninteresting a programme can sound, written out like that, when it was really sheer magic. This was our charming farewell to the Edinburgh Festival.
We had to go downtown for lunch, as our landlady was getting our rooms ready for the next occupants. So we went a little early, and stopped at the Museum. The children were dying to show me all the wonders they had discovered the day before. Janet and Grace dragged me off to see the amazing collection of stuffed animals - a whole zoo. Grace especially liked the way they had included baby animals with the adults, making family groups, especially some new-born lion cubs, and a ridiculously small elephant toto with a simply huge adult. I was most astonished at the size of the walrus and elephant seals. But what held George and John spellbound were the working models of all sorts of machines and engines. The machines were cut away wherever possible, to show the moving parts, and all you had to do to set them in motion was to press a button on the side of the case. Then there was one whole room full of fine ship models, of every imaginable kind, of ship, and up in the balcony they had working models of lighthouses. It was a real education.
After lunch, we returned to the Deveron, finished the last-minute packing and assembled our luggage. We did very well, except that somehow, in packing the things into the car, we missed John's raincoat and blazer, which he had brought down and hung in the hall beside the suitcases. Luckily we missed them in Glasgow, so Charlie mailed the Deveron a pound, and asked them to forward the things, which they eventually did. We had hired a taxi to take us from Edinburgh to the airport-bus station in Glasgow, so we had one last delightful drive across Scotland, which was all too short. We saw some coal mines on the way. George sat with the driver, and they chatted a bit about the places of interest on the way. Glasgow looked grey and dirty, like most big cities, but of course we did not see the residential district, except in the dusk as we were leaving. We had tea in a restaurant near the Airways terminal, where we later took a bus to the airport. We recognized the approach to Prestwick as we drove up, and found it hard, to realize that two months had elapsed since we set out with OYK on that very road.
We had no trouble with our baggage, even with the Cyclemaster wheel which John had bought in London, and had sent on to Prestwick to wait our arrival. We had horrible visions of the thing not arriving in time, or being hopelessly overweight, but all was well. The customs official did raise his eyebrows a little when he saw the lists of our purchases - just a few cents under the hundred dollar limit for each of us, even Janet. That had taken us some time and a lot of fancy trading to accomplish successfully. But Charlie grinned at him and said,"Well, why not? It's the trip of a lifetime", and he smiled and passed us without comment. Soon we were aboard the plane, and laughing at the seasoned little traveller across the aisle (aged about three) who as soon as she saw the hostess, demanded her "candy". We had had tea and cakes at the airport while waiting, but were quite ready for dinner on the plane, and afterwards curled up for a sleep, which was not broken till we reached Iceland.
Here we disembarked and went into the airport, where we were served coffee and cakes. We priced some of the souvenirs, but they were shoddy and ridiculously expensive, so we confined ourselves to postcards. John had a bright idea, and got a whole set of small Iceland coins for his collection. Soon we were off again, to awaken at Gander. No more stops after that, and a very calm flight, till we began to see the St. Lawrence (including a strip of the new seaway under construction) and the great city of Montreal sprawling beneath us.
We arrived rather late, because of the unscheduled stop in Iceland, and had to wait a long time in customs, but finally got through, and found my brother Reg, his wife, and daughters Laurel and Sharon waiting for us. We had a bit of trouble locating the cycle wheel, and the new suitcase Charlie bought in Edinburgh. No one seemed to know just where the wheel was; it apparently crossed the ocean stowed away behind the bar in the cocktail lounge. But we finally located them, and as John was going to Granby with me, we packed the wheel and our luggage into Reg's car, said goodbye to the rest of the family, and started off, while they took a plane for Malton. It seemed ironic that after travelling a whole summer in Europe without once missing a connection or a bit of luggage, we ran into our only difficulty after we got back to Canada. While visiting for a few moments at Reg's, before starting for Granby, we had a phone call from George. He was still at the airport; there had been only three reservations on the plane for us instead of four, and no other place available till next day. So George decided he might as well come to Granby with us. And when Charlie reached Malton, where the company car was picking him up, he found that none of their baggage had come with them except the new (and empty) suitcase! We could not help thinking how fortunate we were that this happened at home, where it was only a minor annoyance, rather than in Europe, where it might have been almost a disaster.
Reg drove us, and his mother-in-law, to Granby. We did not want to descend upon the family for dinner, as we had not been able to tell them in advance just when we would arrive. So we stopped at a new little restaurant just outside the town, and were amused to find it was a genuine Swiss restaurant, run by a couple of new Canadians. Then we were home at last, eager to share as much as possible of the thrill of our trip with the family. And perhaps the happiest part of the trip, for which I was most grateful, was that it brought me to Granby, at a time when I would not ordinarily have gone, and thus I was able to say what both of us strangely knew, at parting, was a last goodbye to my father.
After an all too brief visit, we returned to Montreal, and took the train to St. Catharines. It was good to be home again, after all our wanderings, and everything was in good order, even the garden.
We will all take many trips in years to come, no doubt; we did not foresee then that George was to spend his next summer in Greenland. But probably never again will we take such a journey as a family group. So I am glad that we have a fairly complete record to keep it vivid, in our memories; not only my written account, but the hundreds of black-and- white pictures which John took (and which he spent almost all winter developing and printing) the many postcards and booklets we collected, and best of all, the splendid colour slides which George took with his new Contaflex, (purchased specially for this occasion.) These not only refresh our memories of the beautiful sights we saw, but enable us to share them with our friends, many of whom have been inspired to follow our example. And I hope that they may all find the trip, as we did, one of the happiest experiences of a lifetime.