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Woodlands Park Hotel
My dear kids,
Thanks a million for all your lovely letters - only Patsy, Wal & Earle missed, but I guess they were lazing in the sunlight - I had a huge & glorious mail - everyone remembered me, lots of nice hankies & a lovely letter each from Bob & Lyn Garton, the poor little kids, I really was almost overcome - they even sent me the 'Sun' calendar for this year & Gran sent me a journal & hankie - so I thought they were great - 2 lovely letters from Gran & Papa Walsh, the poor darlings - really, I must admit my Xmas mail reduced me to tears - just couldn't help thinking of you all - sporting in the lovely warm sun (we haven't had any for weeks) the surf - cricket - & Bradman making his centuries & records - gosh I missed everything just a bit - but I must admit we were very very fortunate to be here, in a lovely, cosy English hotel - 'twas awfully nice Nellie being here - I didn't feel quite alone in a strange land - for as you know, these English are not like Australians but we couldn't have had a better spot to be in especially as we were being paid to be here.
Now I must begin at the beginning & endeavour to tell you all our activities, it wasn't much really, but here it ALL is -
First of all, the weather went all wrong - this is typical of this climate but 2 days before Xmas, it suddenly became quite warm, so sun, but just quite warm - it might have been early spring in Australia weather - anyway, the warmest we've had here for 2 months - imagine our disappointment at not having snow - Xmas Day was very mild, we went to the garden without coats - which is quite a feat in the country after central heating indoors - but after lunch, up came the filthiest fog in the world & all travellers, vehicles & etc. out of doors had a ghastly time - inside it did not matter - we began the day very well - I found a lovely stocking outside my door with 'Cheerio Australia' on it - nothing gave me quite so much pleasure as this - it was filled with all sorts of foolish things - trumpets, queer dolls, chocolate bangles & etc. - this was from the lasses in the office here - awfully nice girls - then everyone in the place gave me something - just nice small gifts, hankies, sweets & a nice satin soap & washer bag - BUT - the Aldersons didn't even give me 6d of sweets. So much for gratitude - they have plenty of cash, but are shockingly mean - they have lived here 5 years & have never given anyone a tip even - however I don't care much, because it suits me to nurse in this nice place - I can get away from them & enjoy the rest of the guests - I'm only hoping this will last long enough for me to save up for a Continental trip next summer - when I get this cheque, I shall be back to my original £50 so that has to go into the bank as my fare back home, then whatever I save from my earnings in future, will be my trips - Nellie has already quite decided to go back in about 9 months time - she has resigned from the Esher home & when she finishes here is going up to London to join a club there & share a flat with 4 other Australian nurses we met & who are in town - she finishes here at the hotel next Thursday & takes the baby back to Devon & then to London - I don't know what I'll do - I don't plan so far ahead, but I may go back with her, or I may not - it depends on whether there is anyone left here - you se, all the girls are going back in dribs & drabs - they miss all their families & friends - one doesn't get like that with the English folk & finally we do miss everyone so, as much as I love England (the country) I've no idea how I feel when everyone departs but Ween & Phyl Sheehy are sailing in the 'Jervis Bay' on April 30th from Sydney, so it will depend on them whether I'll still be here - then this is a filthy climate, all the lovliness has gone - now we just have day after day of drab dullness & dampness even tho' it doesn't always rain, everything is always wet & damp - no lovely white frosts or snows - just endless dullness - one gets a little bored - Oh for some sun.
Now kids, I'm not homesick or anything, but you see exactly how things are we are still enjoying life & etc. but we just think we couldn't settle here permanently, without lots of cash - one gets very restless otherwise.
Now some more of our activities - I do wander, don't I? - Xmas Day the Locharts, some awfully nice folk here - took us under their wing & we had a glorious Xmas Dinner at 7.30pm - typically English & they really are lovely English Xmas Dinners - at 7.30pm after cocktails in the Locharts' sitting room we went to a lovely dining room - just picture this - a huge old room, beautifully panelled in old oak - the electric lights all dimmed & covered with red paper - tables beautifully decorated with Xmas cheer & tal coloured candles in gleaming silver candlesticks- just making a soft rosy glow on the white cloths & silver cutlery - then away in the corner, a big real pine Xmas tree, all lighted & decorated with silver stuff - lots of holly & mistletoe everywhere - certainly this is the best climate to celebrate Xmas in - there were 8 of us at our table - Mr & Mrs Lochart, their daughter, youngish couple & her husband - he is a pet - in the RAF, their son Ken - who is gallant Majah - in the British Army - he is engaged, but fortunately his fiancee was in Ireland - then another lad from the Army & Nellie & I. We ate heartily - turkey & etc's -then the Xmas pudding came in all blazing in a blue flame - the lights were extinguished for this glamorous performance & we drank champagne - an easy thing for me then everyone went gay with paper caps & etc. & afterwards we had an entertainer - very feeble but something to do - Boxing night we had a marionette show - very good & Tuesday night we had a lovely dance - this was the best bit of all - we never dreamed we would enjoy ourselves so much - there were lots of outsiders here & everyone joined in well - excellent band, complete with crooner AND lots to drink - Oh yes we had a good night, the better for it being quite unexpected. I met an Australian - chap named Richardson from Victoria, but he has been over here 17 years - & a lad from New Zealand who has been here 5 years - so we had quite a reunion & so dear kids endeth my first Xmas in England. New Years Day isn't anything here - no public holiday & consequently I spent the quietest New Years Eve since I've grown up - we did not take any snaps on Xmas Day - we were too busy, but I'll get a film & take some later - I wish it would snow again - I'm bored to tears with this dullness.
I've just received an invitation from the Peacocks (folk who live here) who are having an At Home on Jan 14th from 8.30pm until 12 midnight, so it will be something else to fill in. I believe they are going to have a 'movie' outfit down here, supper & etc. so that will be a treat.
I must tell you tho' - some folk who were here took me into the local picture show a few weeks ago & coming home, at a quarter to 5 in the afternoon it was pitch dark & the moon was shining as bright as any sun shines these days - it was very queer.
Now kids, I think I've told you all the bits & pieces of my deeds - I want to wish Dad a super birthday for Jan 12th - I'll be a bit behind time, but all the best, always darling - then I hope Alma is OK when is the infant due to make his bow? You never said - the end of April?
Don't forget to send the snaps & write very soon of all your activities - has Patsy passed the Inter - but of course she has - Did you receive the cash in time to plunge with it? Hope you enjoyed your Xmas Day - I'm dying to hear everything. Old Mrs Marcolini rang me the night before she sailed on the 'Orion', full of intense excitement to be getting back. She is going to ring Ned & will go up to Grafton & see Benno there - by the by, he sent me the cuttings out of the 'Examiner' & a bookmark with a snap of Jackaranda Avenue on it - I was thrilled to bits to get all the lovely Australian scenes on my Xmas cards. Please thank everyone, specially Ma & Ella & the McCures, Lou Burns & etc. until I write Neddy - they were dears - also Ces I loved your letter & was very thrilled to hear about your hopes to get here - I think you are very wise - there seems to be no work much here but what there is to see you can do so very cheaply if you ride a bike & if the worst comes to the worst, I'm sure a man can always get something - I know just how you & Earle feel about getting round - it is grand experience & as I'm roving round on very little myself - I'm sure we could all manage even if you were sometimes broke - we may not all be broke together - just imagine seeing us win the Test at Lords - . Fancy me telling you all this - I seem to have developed into a reckless Christopher Columbus since I left home, but I've come to the conclusion that life & the world is so full of interest, & as the former is very short & therefore, very precious, there is no point hording & sitting still - maybe my theory won't be so good in 20 years' time, when the ills of the flesh fall upon me, but there is always the Old Ladies' Home & in the meantime life is good & full as I can expect it to be.
Best love to you all kids, write soon & all the very best for ever & ever to you all -
Did you listen to the King's speech? Poor dear - isn't it awful? I was all het up - thought at one stage he'd stop altogether - he's great to battle along with such a handicap I think. Perhaps it would be better if he didn't make unnecessary broadcasts - he is a trier & I like him more than ever - Devotedly Doe.
I've just had a nice letter from Jim Dickie - really the kids are wonderful - Nellie has changed her mind again & is now uncertain about going back - aren't we mad -