1932 January and February
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Jan 9th 1932
My darling Annette
Thank you very much for your letter. You all seem to have had a lovely Christmas week. How kind it was of Cousin Mary to have you over to stay at Coptfold for Mrs Bishop’s party. I hope you wrote a nice letter to thank her afterwards. The days seem to be slipping away very fast and I suppose it wont be long before I hear that you are back at school again.
I am glad to hear that your teeth are almost together and I hope you wont have to wear the wire to push them back, for very long. It is well worth doing even if its a nuisance, for teeth that stick out even so little, don’t look nice.
Dad and I went for an awfully pretty drive in the car last Saturday afternoon. We really meant to visit a little town called Coglin, where they make three things, carpets, pipes, and corks. When we got there we found that it was a holiday (Because of the New Year I think) and that the factories were shut – so we went on for a drive instead. coglin does not look at all like a manufacturing place It is a picturesque little town, built up the side of a steep hill, with a ruined castle and a church on top. We went on up into the mountains. The road was not very good and very very winding, but the scenery was lovely. At last we came to a little town called Garde Freinet, high up on a col in the mountains, with the ruins of an old Moorish castle on a ridge above it. It is said to have been the first and last place held by the Moors in France, and the fortress from which they dominated Provence. The country all round was very wild looking – steep rocky mountains and miles and miles of forest. Coming back by a different road through the mountains, as we were coming down a steep road to a village, we saw three old women with black woolen shawls, handkerchiefs tied over their heads and wide brimmed, high crowned black straw hats on top of them, in front of us. Daddy hooted and one of the old things gave a push to the one next her, to make her get off the road, with the result that the poor old soul fell down. We pulled up beside them and were glad to see that they were all laughing heartily and that the old dame was none the worse for her tumble. We enquired whether they were going to the village about a mile away and hearing that they were, invited them to get into the car. After a little hesitation, saying that their clothes were dirty, because they had been out picking olives all day, the climbed in – frightfully delighted. They were still more pleased, when we passed a party of their friends, and then met the husband of one of them with his cart! I was sorry I had not got my camera with me as I would like to have taken a photo of the old dears. They had such nice old rosy wrinkled faces and looked very picturesque under their wide straw hats.
The mountains behind us are extraordinarily wild. We drove for 40 miles alto-gether and we only passed two cars between Coglin and Garde Freinet and then nothing more till we were nearly home – no more cars, I mean. We passed a flock of sheep and a flock of goats and one or two carts full of wood – but that was all. We were very glad, because there was no much room to pass on the narrow mountain road and it would not have been very pleasant if we had been in a place where we had to take the outside of the road, with no railing and only the steep mountain side below.
Dad has not been sleeping well for the last few nights and so has been a little tired – but I am glad to hear this morning, that he had quite a good night.
Best love and lots of hugs and kisses, my darling
P.S. My love to Auntie and please thank her for the accounts.
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Jan 18th ‘32
My darling Annette
I hope this letter will be at school to greet you when you arrive. I shall be thinking about you and sending you my love and hopes that you will have a nice term. I expect it will be nice going straight back to the big school, rather than changing over in the middle of the term. I wonder who is taking you up to see you off and whether you were able to do anything in the morning.
Before I forget it, I must tell you two very funny “school boy howlers” which were in the paper the other day. The first was as follows. Question. Of whom was it said “He never smiled again”. Answer: King Charles after his head was cut off.
The second was a remark in an essay on the subject of fish, which began as follows. “Fish swim about the sea in shawls.” I love the last one particularly. Do you happen to know what baked potatoes are called in France “Pomme de Terre en robe de chamber”. We were asked if we would like them like that yesterday.
I was very interested in Auntie’s letter, telling about your day out beagling. I am so glad you like it and kept up well. I was also very pleased to hear that you had been helping Auntie by cutting up logs.
Daddy, who was not feeling very well a day or two ago, is much better again I am glad to say. We have not been doing any long walks for the last few days, because Dad was feeling tired – but the weather has been so heavenly that it has been delicious sitting on the balcony or strolling in the woods behind the hotel.
Yesterday morning some French people we have made friends with, took us to see a splendid collection of foreign birds, belonging to a friend of theirs, who has been most of his life out in Chile. He has a big garden, with huge aviaries in it, so large that many of them have small fir trees inside them. He has such beautiful birds from all over the world. In the bright sunshine I cant tell you how lovely their plumage looked. A pair of birds that took my fancy very much, were a sort of Guinea fowl (I think that is right.) They were about the size of an average hen. All their breasts and bodies were covered with feathers of periwinkle blue while from round their necks a sort of collar or mantle of black and white plumes fell over this delicious blue colour. They were friendly birds and followed us about. As they came from Abyssinia I wondered whether the Queen of Sheba used to keep any as pets about her palace!!
Our host Monsieur Féley also has a pet squirrel. It is a little dark brown fellow – something between the English red squirrel and the Indian grey squirrel. M Féley told us that a little while ago, when the weather got rather cold for a time, he noticed that whenever he put his hand into the cage the little creature seized hold of his sleeve as it if wanted to pull a piece off it. It occurred to him that perhaps it wanted something to wrap itself in, so he fetched an old piece of woolen material for it. Directly it got the stuff, the squirrel hurried into its little house, which has a tiny door just big enough for it to go in and out by – and managed to fix the stuff over the door like a curtain. It keeps it there and pulls it carefully over the opening when it goes in at night. Rather clever, don’t you think?
There does not seem really much news to give you that would be likely to interest you. We went for a pretty drive in the car yesterday afternoon, but did not see anything of special interest. I think we shall have to go to Cannes one day this week, as day has to be examined by two doctors, who have to send a written report to the India Office in London, to say whether they think he will be fit to go out in April or not.
Well, my darling, I shall stop now – My best love and a big hug to you from
P.S. Dont forget about José Ballardie, will you? I am sending Rosemarys letter in a seperate envelope so as to be waiting for her when she arrives.
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Jan 28th 1932
My darling Annette
Thank you very much indeed for your nice letter, which interested me enormously. I am so glad you were able to do something nice on the day that you went back to school. Sticky caramels were a splendid idea for the monkeys. I must remember that for our friends the orang outangs in the Calcutta zoo.
I am writing with this fine pen of Dad’s – partly because I can get more on to a page and partly because I want to know whether you find my writing with a fine pen easier to read. Will you tell me next time you write?
All your news about school interests me very much. When you are having your music lessons, you can think of how I used to preside in that room, where, as Head of the School, I had my own writing-table – and where I used to send for girls who I did not think were behaving properly and give them a talking to!! Yes! Certainly 11/- does seem a lot for subscriptions and then 2/6 for the maids as well. What are all the subscriptions. I should rather like a list of them sometime, in case I get a chance sometime, of talking them over with Miss Capstick. When you want some more money will you let me know and I will send you some. Have you spoken to Jose Ballardie yet?
Amongst my letters from India yesterday, there was one from “Nannie” – (Mrs Wynyard Wright.) in which she sent her best love to you and Rosemary. She says she is glad to be back in her Indian home again. They thought that they were going to have a very good coffee crop, but unexpected heavy rains have washed off a lot of the immature berries. I also had had a letter from Mary Ledan La – or rather Mary Tendul La as she is since her marriage. She also sent her love to you and Rosemary and hopes that you are happy at school. She tells me that she has a baby girl almost a year old. I expect it is a little pet to look at, don’t you?
Richard writes that the two boys who were above him in the Upper Vth have been moved up tin the VIth so now his is left top of his form. It will be interesting to see if you and he both keep your places at the top of your forms. Its nice that you have a better class room this term and its a joy having two lockers and lots of room for your belongings.
News of Dad is much better again. After being tired and out of sorts all last week, he bucked up on Sunday and became quite cheerful again. We celebrated the day by going for an energetic but very lovely climb up a mountain. When we got to the rocks which we thought were the top, we found they were only the first knob on a long ridge – something like this. (Diagram of ridge drawn in with ‘knobs’ numbered along it) No 1. was the place where we arrived – and from there it looked as if no 3 were the real top. Dad was keen to go along – so we made our way through tangles of plants and bushes and scrambled sometimes on hands and knees over the outcrops of rock. When at last we got to No 3 we found it still was not the top – but I refused to go any further, as I was afraid Dad would be overtired. The places I have shaded in were all rock, with lots of little plants tucked into the nooks and corners – most of which looked to me like Alpine things – saxifrages and rock roses – but unfortunately none of them were in flower at this time of year. The view from the ridge was lovely.
On Monday we took our friends Col and Mrs. Meade for a drive in the car to a village about 10 miles away. it is a quaint little place built just under the crest of a hill, hanging on to the hillside like a nest. So may of the little old towns and villages in this part of the world are built on hill tops, because they were easier to defend against the Moorish pirates, who used to come across from Africa and raid this coast long after they had been driven out of the south of France and Spain. This particular village looks right out to sea, over the tops of the lower hills between it and the coast – so I imagine the inhabitants were able to see the pirates coming. It is a very picturesque little place, with tiny narrow steep streets and houses built at all angles on the natural rock. In the centre of the little town square there is an ancient ancient tree, planted by Sully – the famous minister of Henri IV of France.
Yesterday was the centenary of the birth of Lewis Carrol – the author of Alice in Wonderland. There was an interesting article on his life in last Sunday’s Observer. He’s name was really Dodgson and he was a very serious prim bachelor, a University Don and mathematician. He was very particular about his dress and nearly always wore a top hat. In spite of being such a prim and serious person, he had another side to his nature. He was very fond of little girls and used to take the three small daughters of a friend of his, Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell out on a boat on the river and it was on these expeditions that he invested Alice’s adventures to tell them, and used to pretend to go to sleep when he got to the most exciting places, to the great agony of the children. Alice begged him to write the adventures down in a book and that is how they came to be written.
We are still having such glorious weather. The sun is so hot that when I sit out on the balcony in the mornings, I have to prop up a parasol to shade me a little.
Dad and I are reading such an interesting book. It was written 50 or 60 years ago and is called “Military Adventurers in Hindustan” and gives accounts of the lives of several European adventurers – mostly French and English, who went out to India towards the end of the XVIII century and took service under different Indian Princes. At that time the East India Company was established at Calcutta and Madras, But no attempt had been made to conquer India. The great Mogul Empire had become weak and rotten and all the Princes were rebelling and fighting one against the other. They were all anxious to get Europeans to drill their armies and teach them how to use firearms. Several men who started life as common sailors, deserted from their ships – made their way up country and eventually became great generals and in one case, that of a man named George Thomas, an independent prince. It is really most interesting and makes one realize what a dreadful state of anarchy India was in at that time, before it was subdued and given an orderly government by the British. I love books of that sort about real happenings.
It is getting on for lunch time, so I must stop – already I have written rather a long letter.
Best love, my darling and a big hug
From HPV to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
St Maxime. Var France
Jan 28th 1932
My dear Annette
You will remember how we met a tortoise sitting on a rock, like a caterpillar on a mushroom, and surveying things. It will grieve you to know that the French here received this story with derision, saying it must be a domesticated tortoise, an escaped one and refusing to accept my assertion that it was a tortoise of a poise and gaiety of disposition altogether French. This has been followed by a triumph for our house. There is a Swiss living here expert in animal lore, possessor of birds and a squirrel: he was consulted and proclaims that beyond doubt the tortoise was an “indigene” – for he has seen others such at places which he names (but of no interest) and further once caught and kept one. In this bay they test torpedoes. Before a torpedo is accepted for the navy they set/fire it off down the bay in front of us: it is marked out in kilometres, with buoys: and if the torpedo doesn’t carry eight kilometres before it pops up to the surface it is rejected. That explains why at times one sees motor boats racing about the bay: they collect the torpedoes. These days I talk French most evenings, ever so badly but so as to get along in conversation. Words which I know well forsake me: my grammar is execrable (it’s a pity I know enough to know that I am offending against the rules): and often I end up by saying something which is quite different from my meaning – having to follow the words which I happen to remember, or instead to hold my peace. Let this, Miss Annette, be a warning to you not to neglect your French when young – or old for that matter. These days I am a lot more vigorous again. But I am wasting my vigour on cleaning and polishing the car, in the mornings. It is covered (or was) with tiny spots of tar, picked up weeks ago, which escaped notice till we started polishing as well as washing. A Frenchman told me of a stuff, some sulphur preparation, an ordinary chemical and not a patent preparation, which removes tar old or new like magic: we bought some yesterday and I have given up this morning to cleaning with it. However though it works like magic it is a slow business going over great slobs of paintwork (and polishing afterwards): also it is a hot day – and now I am weary. A hot day – like English summer, except in the shade: what is more one of many such days. Better weather than last year. Yet as soon as the sun goes down it becomes definitely chilly. We went a long run round in the mountains yesterday over very bad roads, through pretty country: and on the way back came into a sunless valley. It was like entering an icehouse: and I had to put on not only a pullover but a light great coat straight away. It was just at a place where a mountain torrent had been dammed and made into a large and very admirable pool. We gave a lift to a workman on our way back: he beamed like a full moon, leaning back like one magnificent and saluting his friends on the road with pride. In France almost everyone behaves with nice manners being equal and fraternal. I don’t mind fraternity if the fraterniser is not (1) fawning (2) familiar or (3) drunk. (And there may be other exceptions). If I were you I should practice for diving: bounding into the air with feet together, toes pointed, body braced, arms above the head – in fact dancing would do the trick.
Farewell and much love
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Feb 3rd 1932
My darling Annette
Many thanks for your nice letter. Daddy sends his love and thanks for his letter too. Before I forget, let me tell you the date of his birthday. It is March 11th. He is always careful to remind one that one of the Psalms for the day runs “In the evening they return, grin like a dog and run about the city.” I don’t know why he is so fond of that quotation. Dad always declares that on his 21st birthday, he quite forgot what a special day it was till in College chapel in the evening, he suddenly heard those familiar words!
Congratulations on doing well in the Concours exam. I hope you will stick hard to your French. it is well worth it. I think one of the great mistakes I made when learning French at school was in thinking too much of the words as they look written and not listening with sufficient care to the French sounds – which are really so different from ours – We have nothing like the French R and U. – and it needs an awful lot of listening and practicing to get them anything nearly right. Of course the ideal to aim at is thinking in the foreign language but its not an easy one to attain.
I could’nt help laughing over your account of being hauled over the coals for stopping in the “croc”! It does not seem a very serious offence – but at the same time it is just as well to remember what different mistresses like done, because its much better to fall in with their discipline. For the first two terms that I was at St Monica’s, we had a German mistress whom we detested and who was always making little private rules on her own account; and then reporting us to Miss Street, who was then our form mistress, because we had broken them. Miss Street just used to tell us with a smile that we must try to remember what Fraülein Krüger liked and did not like and do our best not to annoy her.
You have certainly got nice “set” books this term. I have only seen “the Tempest” acted once. That was at the famous “Old Vic” when we were living in Chelsea. Its an enchanting play – in may ways one of the most charming that Shakespeare ever wrote. Its many years since I read “Westward Ho” and I’m afraid I don’t remember very much about it; but I do remember that a great deal of the action takes place in and round Barnstable in north Deven – We used to go through Barnstable quite often when we were staying at Woolacombe – I expect you remember Woolacombe alright, though I doubt whether you would remember Barnstable.
I am sorry to hear that José Ballardie is so queer. On the one occasion on which Auntie Doris and I saw her, when we went to tea with her mother and father, we also got the impression that she was “queer” – I did not mention it to you, because I might have been mistaken and I did not want to prejudice you against her. I think her “queerness” is due to ill-health and so on and not just naughtiness – so keep that tucked in the back of your mind and don’t think too hardly of the poor child. One is awfully apt, especially when one is your, to judge people who are less fortunate than oneself, rather hardly.
The new way of acting charades sounds rather fun – but I should think it is rather difficult to guess the words, is’nt it? I have appeared on that stage in the gym more than once. On one occasion I was old Caleb in “The Cricket on the Hearth”, disguised in a large grey beard. On another occasion in some French play or other, I wore long black tights and a black and yellow doublet – very smart! I always had to take men’s parts because I was so tall.
I like hearing about your work and shall be interested to see the nightdress case and the beach bag when they are finished.
There is not a great deal of news to give you. We have spent a quiet week, reading – sewing, writing and going for walks. All the almond trees are in full bloom now and as every farm here has a great number scattered about, they add tremendously to the beauty of the country-side. The mimosa is lovlier than ever. I brought home a beautiful bunch yesterday and it smells so sweet.
Dad laughed at me to-day, because looking down from the hillside where we were walking, at a farm just below in the valley, I said “Oh! What a queer shaped cow”. At that moment the animal wagged a pair of long ears, and turned out to be a white donkey!!!
I have been reading several interesting books, that in one way or another, deal with the subject of Indian history. The one I have just finished is an account of the life and work of a certain Sir Richard Meade, whose son, old Colonel Meade we know here. Oh yes! and he is the grand-father of the Major Meade who lived in a camp on the edge of our garden the last cold weather we were in Jalpai – do you remember? He was out in India at the time of the Indian Mutiny and, with his wife and children, narrowly escaped being killed saved by a faithful Indian soldier, who kept them in hiding till the people searching for them had passed on. Sir Richard was “Resident” – a British representative in several of the biggest and most important Indian States – Indore, Baroda Hyderabad and Mysore – and the story of his dealings with the different Indian Princes, who had only just come under British influence, is really very fascinating.
This weeks’ mail brought me three interesting pieces of news from India – First of all Captain Gass wrote to tell me that he has a little daughter – He says she is a darling and he feels very proud of her. Next I heard from Mrs Majumdar that Tara is married and that the two boys, Joi and Kurum have come back to England, Joi to go into the Army via Sandhurst and Kurim into the Air Force via Cranwell. I hope the boys will be happy in England. They will find it easier to mix with English boys than most Indians, because they have been brought up in such an English fashion.
I am enclosing Richard’s letter, as I think it may interest you. Will you pass it on to Rosemary, when you have read it.
Have you heard about all the difficulties and upsets that are going on between China and Japan? It seems that they are practically at War and people are so afraid of the European nations getting pulled into the struggle.
This letter is’nt a very amusing one, Im afraid. We seem to have spent a particularly quiet week and there’s nothing much to tell you about.
Best love, to you my darling and lots of love and kisses
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Feb 10th 1932
My darling Annette
Thank you very much for your letter. I am glad that so far, you are fit and have escaped flu – Richard has been down with it and wrote from the “San”. He was better and hoped to be getting up the next day. It is nice of José Ballardie to take you out. I suppose it is her mother, Mrs Ballardie, who is fetching you. Will you give her my very kind regards?
Dad has been ever so much better the last few days, cheerful and full of energy. On my post-card I told you that we had been a long drive in the mountains on Friday. It was sad to see miles and miles of forest burnt down and the bare bones of the mountains sticking through, so to speak. It spoilt the beauty of part of the drive, because the burnt black hillsides are not pretty – but at the same time it was interesting. The mountains are covered with men cutting down the burnt pine trees. (The fire only burns the branches and the bark and does not consume the trunk of the tree). Horses drag two or three tree trunks to the nearest track that a cart can get over and there they are loaded on to carts, drawn by two or three big horses, and taken to the nearest motorable road, where they are put in big piles and taken away later by motor lorries. The noises then men make calling to and encouraging their horses reminds me of the noises made by the beaters when we were out after tiger, as they come echoing over the mountains. We had another long day out yesterday. When Daddy woke in the morning he suddenly suggested that it would be a good day to go for a picnic and asked me to go down and ask our French friends, Monsieur and Madame Muret if they would care to come with us. They were delighted at the idea, so we got picnic lunch from the hotel and set off in the car about 10.30. We did not drive very far – only about 8 or 10 miles, following a very bad twisty mountain road, but one which took us up very high into the mountains and from which we got the most beautiful views. We left the car at the highest point of the road and went for a long walk, for about 2 hours. We climbed to a hill-top and found that we were not far from the ruins of the old Roman castle to which Daddy and I had climbed from the other side. It is very fascinating looking down from the mountain tops and seeing the scattered farms in the valleys, who have reclaimed land from the dark pine forests, and are surrounded by vineyards: - bare of all leaf at present and pruned back to within a foot of the ground: - olive orchards of old gnarled trees rigourously cut back each year so that new branches sprout out, and showing the silvergrey backs of their leaves as the wind blows over them:- a few scattered almond trees, which are bouquets of pale pink blossom just now: - and perhaps a few rough unfenced patches of grass for some shabby looking sheep or prosporous goats. They are so different from the English farms, with their hedged grass or ploughed fields and fruit orchards and the groups of haystacks near the house.
We were very hungry by the time we got back to the car and hurried to unpack our lunch – but took a long time over it, because we ate so much after our long walk in the crisp mountain air. After lunch we sat in the sun and drank tea, which I made with my little tea basket kettle. We started home about three o’clock, but spent a long time at a place near a ruined and deserted cottage where we stopped to pick narcissus. Dont you think it was good for us to be talking French all day? Dad makes the Murets laugh very much by rattling out quotations from the gramaphone records which Madame Muret says are “vraiment academic.” In the evening I got into very “deep water” as the saying is, trying to tell the Murets tales of the Indian gods and heros – about the reincarnations of Vishnu and why Siva has a blue throat and all sorts of things. I got so tied up for lack of words, but luckily they are both very clever at guessing what one wants to say. Have you ever wondered about the big coloured bottles in the chemists’ windows? I had no idea of the origin of them and was so interested to find a few paragraphs in the newspaper about them, which I enclose, because I think they may interest you too.
Daddy and I have both been amused by a story in a book we were reading, It was quoted to illustrate the Irish habit of leaving out several links in an argument. The story is as follows. Irish Judge to prisoner. “Prisoner at the bar. Providence has endowed you with health and strength in stead of which you go about the country stealing ducks”. I don’t know why it tickled me so. I suppose because it is so absurd.
I had a long letter from “Lovey” to-day and I think the most interesting news in it is an account of Tara Majumdar’s wedding. Tara is a Christian and so is her bridegroom so they were married in the Darjeeling church. There were crowds of people there in spite of the fact that it is not yet “the season” in Darjeeling. Lovey says “Tara glided most gracefully up the aisle. She looked charming in a cloth-of-gold sari with a circlet of gold round her head. After the reception they left for Calcutta and Ranchi and Tara looked really beautiful in a blue sari”. I am sorry I was not there for the wedding.
Its nearly nearly dinner time and I must change out of my old tweed skirt and jersey which I always wear for our walks and climbs –
Best love, darling and a big tight hug and lots of kisses
P.S. Do you ever find time to write to Auntie? I am sure she would like to hear from you now and then.
ORIGIN OF COLOURS AND CABALISTIC SIGNS
There is a boom in “carboys,” the coloured bottles in chemists’ shop windows which are the traditional sign of their “mastery.”
A collection illustrating their development from the Persian “qarabah,” or coloured bottle, and connection with the alchemist’s transmutation of metals has been arranged at the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, 54, Wigmore street, W.
The exhibits illustrate the passage of the carboy into Europe via the Arabs and mediaeval Spain. From Arabic astrology come the curious signs built up of squares, circles and triangles which illustrate the supposed connection between different chemical substances and processes with the planets.
Blue and red bottles stand for blue and red blood, the former representing ingoing blood to the heart rather than quality of birth. Other colours represent the different planets with which were associated many of the elements which it was the aim of alchemists to transmute.
Few modern chemists know that their purple bottles indicate mercury; greenish blue, copper; yellow, gold; and grey – if they show so dingy a colour – lead, the one metal which can be genuinely obtained by the transmutation of other metals.
A circle and crescent, the sign of the House of the Bull, is the simplest of the astrological signs adopted by alchemists and still to be seen in the modern chemist’s window.
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Feb 16th 1932
My darling Annette
At last we have heard from the doctor at Cannes, that he has got the papers about Dad from the India office, and we are to go over to see him to-morrow. As we shall be out all day to-morrow and I shall have a lot of letters to write as soon as we know the doctors decision, I thought I would begin writing your letters to-day, though I shant send them off till Thursday, when I suppose I shall be able to tell you whether Dad is to go out to India or not in April.
After nearly a week with cold winds and a good deal of cloud about our fine weather has come back and its such a lovely morning. The English paper which we got yesterday, said the weather had got a little warmer there. The cold seems to have been terrible all over Europe, especially in the east, Poland etc. where several people have been caught in snow storms and frozen to death.
The two enclosed cuttings from the newspaper may amuse you I like the idea of a pancake being made with “tragical, magical inchantments”, don’t you? The other cutting is a report on and the winning contribution to a competition for the best account of how the news of Lewis Carrol’s centenary was received at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The report, I gather, is made up from the different contributions that were sent in.
In spite of the “not-so-nice” weather, Daddy and I have done some particularly charming walks. On Sunday morning we found a walk amongst the hills, where the path was bordered everywhere with mimosa. We thought it so lovely that we took Monsieur and Madame Muret there yesterday morning, and they were enchanted with it too. The hills are above the sea and every now and again one gets a great tree of mimosa all a glory in its fluffy yellow flowers, against a background of bright blue sea. We went down to the village in the afternoon and Dad found a lot of things to interest him. To begin with there are always a lot of men playing “boule” whom he likes to watch. “Boule” is a favourite game in this part of France. It is a sort of variety of “bowls” but it is played with very heavy metal balls, about the size of a cricket ball, which are thrown in the air and fall with a thud, generally remaining pretty nearly where they fall. This enables the game to be played on any sort of ground, instead of requiring a perfectly smooth lawn like bowls does. Most of the men who loiter about and play here in the afternoons are fishermen, I suppose, who get their work done in the early morning or even during the night. There are generally some taxi-drivers too – whose stand is close along-side the place where they play “boule” – The fishermen’s clothes amuse me more than the game. Most of them wear trousers made of butcher blue cotton material and very very tight. In most cases they are so much patched that it is sometimes difficult to tell which is the original garment and which the patches put on later. Besides the “boule” yesterday, Daddy had to stop and watch half a dozen men who were up in the Plane Trees which shade the square, trimming off the branches. It was wonderful the way they climbed about and the rapidity with which they cut. A little further on we were fascinated by a man who had got a portable forge (so to speak) by the road side and was busy putting new edges on to the picks which workmen were using to break away rock for the purpose of widening the road. He had a splendid red fire in a sort of iron dish on legs, with a bellows attached at one side, and his anvil. Just as we came along, he took a pick with a red hot end out of the fire and began hitting it great blows with his hammer on his anvil. It always interests me to see the skill with which a smith works, and how he knows just where and how hard to hit the red-hot metal. I should like to see how the attack really elaborate wraught-iron-work.
I had such a ridiculous dream the other night. I dreamt that a lot of us were coming home from somewhere – a picnic, I suppose – and there were crowds of people to get into our car- To my dismay I found that I had got to put in all the “Dressing up” things out of the bottom drawer in the playroom. I did not know where to put them and then had the bright idea of lifting up the cushions and putting them underneath. I was so busy stuffing them in and they would stick out all over the place. The car instead of being one seat behind the other, was two seats one above the other ! This, however, did not surprise me al all! The next thing I remembered was coming back to the car which was already very full of people, with my arms simply full of dolls – and wondering whether I could possibly squeeze in between Daddy and whoever else was in the front (bottom!) seat – and feeling very worried because I thought he would be cross at the car being so full. Luckily at that moment I woke up!
I shall leave this letter now and finish it after we have been to Cannes – so good-bye for the moment.
Feb 17th We did not go to Cannes after all to-day, as the doctor telephoned to put off our visit till to-morrow. I am anxious to know what the doctors think of Dad’s health!
Thank you, darling for your letter, and its interesting news. I am thrilled to hear that there is going to be a swimming bath at St Monica’s. What a splendid opportunity it will be for you to learn to dive later on. Daddy will be frightfully pleased and interested if you do. Do you like your new bed-room as well as your old one? I thought that you were going out with Jose Ballardie on Sunday – but you don’t mention it in your letter – only say you were going down to tea at “The Prep” –
Richard is back at work again, but only got discharged from the “San” on Saturday evening. Really I am rather glad he was in the San over the worst of the cold weather because he always seems to feel the cold rather badly I had a letter from Mrs Majumdar to-day in which she sent her love to you and to Rosemary. I am glad you got some fun out of the snow, but it is nasty when it is going!!
Best love, my darling and a big hug
From LJT to Annette
Hotel Beau Site
Feb 24th 1932
My darling Annette
I was sorry to see that your letter was headed “The San” and I hope by this time you are are back at school and quite well again. I suppose it was a touch of influenza you had, was it?
Now that we are almost at the end of our stay at Ste. Maxime, time seems to be slipping away very fast and we are thinking how to fit in several things that we have always meant to do “sometime”.
The weather is lovely and we have done some splendid long walks and climbs. Twice since I last wrote we have taken out our lunch in the car and after an early picnic about 12 o’clock, have spent the whole afternoon in getting up a peak. We did a particularly lovely one on Saturday, and contrary to our expectations, found a good path right to the top. It was rather exciting when we got on to the peak, because we saw that we were not far from other paths and hil-tops which we had explored on the far side of the hill. The day before yesterday we had an amusing, but not quite such a successful expedition. Again we took out our lunch and started walking at 1.15. On the very out-of-date map, which was the only local map we could get on a big scale, a path was marked as going right up to the peak we wanted to get to. We found the path – or rather traces of it – but in many places it was so overgrown that it was difficult to follow and we had to push our way through a thick growth of bushes and plants. The actual peak of the hill was a sort of pyramid of rough rock, which we scrambled up on hands and knees in some places. There were lots of darling little rock plants tucked into the crevices of the rocks, most of them not in flower, but a tiny yellow pansy – just like a garden pansy seen through a diminishing glass, was flowering away gaily – in spite of the fact that it must freeze quite hard at nights at that altitude. The view from the top was splendid and far away we could see the snow peaks of the Alps. Thinking to take a short cut back to the car we dropped down what looked like a little foot-path, but it turned out to be only a place where water had rushed down last time there were heavy rains – and when we had got down far enough to be unwilling to climb up again, our so called “path” vanished entirely! We decided to force our way on through the thick tangle of bushes and brambles, till we came to a cart track which from the hill top, we had seen in the valley – and this we managed to do with some difficulty and at the cost of torn stockings and scratched legs! Down the hillside, wherever there was room for them to breath amongst the bushes, there were darling little sweet scented violets. On our way home we found lots and lots of mauve anemones – They are a good deal bigger than the English white wood anemones – but not quite as big as the garden ones. I got Dad to stop the car and I picked quite a lot and put them into our sandwich box, where they stayed quite fresh till we got home, and they are now looking so pretty in water in my room.
To-day we are having early lunch in the hotel and setting forth immediately afterwards to climb a peak which we have had our ‘eye’ on almost ever since we came here – but which stands up and dominates the landscape so well, that we detirmined to leave it almost to the last for fear that, once we had been up it, we should despise all the other hills all round. There is no path marked to the top and it is very steep – so I expect we shall have a great scramble to get up and arrive very hot and out of breath.
Most of my time indoors has been taken up by writing letters. So many people had asked me to let them know the result of Daddy’s medical examination. We have been going into our plans when we got home and I am very sorry to say that I am afraid my hopes of coming to see you before the end of the term are doomed to disappointment. We cannot come to England till March 24th because if we do we shall have to pay Income Tax. We must go straight back to Highways to see about packing Dad’s luggage and getting his clothes washed, because his heavy box and other oddments will have to be on board the “Mantua” the following Thursday – He has also to do shopping – see the occulist and the dentist – and will have a great rush to get everything done. He leaves London himself on April 7th. I really am disappointed, as I am longing to see you again and also I very much wanted to see you at St Monica’s and go over the school and see all the changes since my day. However it cant be helped – and we much be thankful that Dad is well and able to go back to India.
This is not a very interesting letter, I am afraid I’m sorry! Any how it carries you my best love and lots of hugs and kisses