September 26 1967

I have mentioned before when I started this project, that both my grandmother (who saved these letters), and my mother (who got them back when my grandmother brought them with her when she came to live with my parents), read, organized and enjoyed these letters years after they were written as they read them again in their old age- and how I am following in their footsteps! On the envelope of this long typed effusion Carol had written an identifier in pencil: ‘Cyn’s trip and what she thought of everyone’ and Cyn later wrote her own on the back: ‘England Visit 1967’. It must have been entertaining to write about her friends after meeting them for the first time in 18 years, and fun for Carol to read about them, and for each to re-read years later. However, at the end of the letter, Cyn asked her mother not to tell anyone about her opinions, or she wouldn’t have a friend left. I am now literally “spreading…[her] opinions to the winds” and hope that they will not offend anyone reading them today! She wrote this spread over a week while working at the newly opened Nursery School, and I am sad that the sequel she promises at the end does not exist- no more letters until April 1968 were preserved.

Box 330, R.R.1
Ottawa, Ont.

26th Sept.

Dearest Mummy,

I am quite shocked and horrified at the wickedness of the Trinidad Post Office! Imagine not even trying the address on a letter but sending it on to an old address. I quite thought when your letter from me was sent back to England that somehow I must have got the wrong P.O. Box number, but when it was right after all, I was disgusted at them. I wonder how many of the letters and cards I sent were delivered to you, because I think I sent most of them to Bill’s address, particularly after you went to Tobago. As far as I remember I wrote 3 letters from England and sent various cards, and then I wrote at least twice in August before you went back to St. V. and after we returned to Ottawa. Anyway, for once it may not be just my irregular writing habits!

I am still looking forward to hearing how you got on with the hurricane – it really was a bad one, and on this morning’s news the people in the Rio Grande river area in Texas were having to leave their homes again because of more flooding of the rivers. We had beautiful warm weather till the middle of last week, and then suddenly the rain came and it got cold and very autumnal. Some places got frost, but we were lucky and our garden is still fine and we have lots of lovely tomatoes. It is very windy today, but mild and so far it hasn’t been too killing out in the playground with the children! I am sure that in the winter we are going to hate that playground, but at the moment it is quite fun. We have a big sandbox with spoons and shovels and pails etc. and then a horse – not a rocking, but a jumping horse – then a big log for climbing on and jumping and two old tree stumps for the same thing – then a big concrete drain pipe which they climb inside and pretend it is a rocket or a house, and also a great big tractor tire and various old car tires! It is marvellous what fun they have! On Friday it was raining so we couldn’t go out, but every other day we have had about 1/2 hour or more outside. I am still not used to this getting up and rushing out to work! However, it is quite fun, and I had the French cleaning lady one day last week and so my house was cleaned. She is coming next week and seems very good – we manage the language problem without too much trouble -Lindy says that I talk to her in English and she talks to me in French and we understand each other, but I talk a bit of French too and if she is stuck she can say some English and we can both gesticulate very well!

I go to my class at the University tonight and I feel very happy that I don’t have to do the homework etc. Gertrude has to spend 2 mornings at other nursery schools this week, as part of her ‘observation’ work, but I just can stay happily at our own little place. There is an awful lot of reading to do if you are going to take the thing seriously, and although I like to read I don’t see me reading children’s psychology text books with my bedtime cup of tea! I am tired enough to fall asleep over my murders these days let alone textbooks!

Linda still has not quite finished her English Diary for you but she had a big history assignment today, and she had an English one the week before, so she has been kept busy, but perhaps she will be able to get it finished. I thought that if she told you about the places and what we did I would tell you about the people and what we thought of everyone. Well, of course the first family we met were the Aldridges – Jessie and her family, and as far as Linda and Charlie were concerned they liked them better than any of the others! The reason was easy to see, as you remember that underneath it all Jessie had a very warm affectionate nature, and Marriage with Norman has brought this out and done away with all the little affectations etc. They are very obviously an affectionate closely-knit family, and so pleased to see us, and out to do all they could for us so that we really enjoyed them. You were surprised that I said Jessie looked like her mother, and I was surprised to see the likeness myself, but it was somehow the way her cheekbones stand out now her face is thinner which at once brought Mrs. Muir to my mind and yet as you say, she really had more the look of her father. Norman looks just the same as he did 20 years ago, and is just as nice and easy-going and has the same sense of humour – he had apparently said to her that she was to enjoy my visit and not to worry about anything, so he and Sandra got all the meals ready, and cleared away, and he wouldn’t let her do anything, so that she could just relax and enjoy herself with me – wasn’t that sweet of him? It seems to me that this kindness of Norman’s has brought out all the best in Jessie, because I don’t think that she is the selfish rather self-centred person she was at one time – she has a full-time secretarial job at the RAC on Piccadilly and from the way she talks she has no help at all and they have an old dog she looks after very devotedly, and altogether I am sure she has plenty to do, but she never said a word about it being hard or anything – in fact the opposite – how Norman and the children helped etc. As far as money goes, I don’t think they are hard up, but I am sure that they are a lot less affluent than most of my friends in England, but again she didn’t say anything. The house is in quite a nice part with a quiet road and little gardens – it isn’t very big, and they were in the throes of re-decorating, so it wasn’t all that tidy, but it was all right. All the children are very nice looking – David and Sandra have Norman’s colouring – brown hair and eyes, and both have a very nice clean cut profiles and Jessie’s lovely complexion. Zinnia is blonde and blue-eyed – apparently dyed blonde now, but it looks very nice. Neither of the girls are very tall – I think Linda is taller than either – but Sandra is the one with personality. She is very cute and friendly, whereas Zinnia hasn’t much to say for herself, and as I think I told you, Cec thinks she is a real dumb blonde! They are sending David to a Grammar School in Harrow, I think it is, and so he has quite a long journey each day, but he is a nice boy and he and Charlie got on like a house on fire – they are both pretty much the same type I think and they just disappeared and played games and chitchatted and had a good time. Jessie and Sandra and Linda and I went up into Sandra’s bedroom and looked at clothes and gossiped. Sandra had been to a 21st. party the night before and showed us what she wore – a silver mini dress with silver shoes and stockings! Altogether, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Jessie and Norman and it really felt as if we had seen them 18 weeks ago instead of 18 years.


Our next family was Nan and Dick and their children, and of all my friends they seem to me to be the most like us! By that I mean Dick has the same sort of job as Cec and their circumstances are much the same as ours and they lead the English equivalent of our life here in Canada. If you remember, Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie once wrote and said something about Cheadle being a dreadful place and by this I imagined that it must be very much the suburbs of Manchester with industry around, but it isn’t like that at all. It is suburbs, yes, but it is right amongst the lovely Cheshire countryside, and in about 5 minutes you are in beautiful villages with thatched roofs etc. and no hint of the city at all. The only thing is that Manchester Airport is very near and the jets scream over at all sorts of hours, which must take some getting used to. It didn’t bother me, but Cec said that he couldn’t have lived so near the planes. The house is a nice one in a very nice development. It is detached and although the houses are quite close together they have a lovely long garden at the back which has a gate onto a little lane which is a shortcut to the small shopping centre, which has a very adequate array of shops. The house has a built on garage, and the family which had it before them built on an addition over the garage, so instead of being a 3 bedroom house, they now have 5 bedrooms upstairs, one of which Dick has as a study. Downstairs they have a hall and stairs, a dining room in front of the house and a very nice sitting room with french windows onto the garden at the back. The kitchen is modern and nice and has a space for eating and I was full of admiration as Nan and Dick had done all the decorating themselves and it was all spic and span, with very pretty colour schemes and wallpapers. Dick looked just the same, but with a bit more grey in his hair like the rest of us, and Nan is very much the same too, except that she is now matronly. You couldn’t say she was fat, but she is just a well built woman and her face is fuller. Her hair is grey with white around her face and actually it suits her as she still has a pretty colour and she looks very well. Both the children have gorgeous red hair, and apparently it comes from both sides of the family! Sandy’s is a more golden red and curly and he has a fair rather freckly skin with goldy brown eyes and LONG eyelashes! He’s very tall and slim and I thought he was a very nice looking boy – Linda and Cec don’t think he is as good looking as I do but he has a sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye and a very pleasant personality, so maybe that made me think he was handsomer! Barbara has lovely hair – dark red and very thick – she wears it shoulder length and it is straight, but curls under at the ends and looks very nice. She has a pretty complexion, but she is a big girl and at the moment has rather a long heavy face, if you know what I mean. It is as if she is in the middle of growing and is rather unfinished at the moment. She seems solider and stolider than Sandy, so she didn’t appeal to me as much, but she is a nice girl, and Cec says she will be lovely when she grows up. They are a nice family, but not as carefree and relaxed as the Aldridges. Of course we were staying with them, and they were in a perfect turmoil with Sandy doing one thing and going one place and Barbara somewhere else etc. so I don’t wonder that things were a bit frantic at times, but Nan is a very good manager and was marvellously organized. We got on very well with Nan and Dick, and I felt that if we lived near we would still be good friends. I had a lot in common with Nan because I felt we lived very much the same way as I told you, but of course Nan is never one to tell you her innermost feelings or what she thinks of other people. I thought it was funny – she was talking about John Barton coming to see them one day – he is Dottie’s nephew, Marjorie’s oldest boy, and he is now a psychiatrist. Anyway, Nan said he was telling them his opinion of Dottie’s family, from a psychiatric point of view and according to him they were all queer except Peter. So I laughed and said, “What on earth did he say about the others?”, but Nan just said ‘Oh that would be telling’ or something like that and wouldn’t say, which seems so strange. I would imagine if John was airing his opinions to her and Dick that he was making no secret of them, but she wouldn’t gossip! I didn’t know before, but Sandy is very artistic, and is interested in making a career in the Arts. With his A- level, O-level exam marks he could get into a University easily in Science or Math, but apparently it is very hard to get into a University in Art. The applicants have to send a portfolio of their work to some board, and out of 400 applicants, 100 were chosen and Sandy was one of these, but only 40 were chosen out of this 100, and he wasn’t one of the finalists. However, he is going to go to an Art School in somewhere like Nottingham I think, and then will have another try at getting into a University next year. We were most impressed with the work we saw which he had done. There was a big oil painting on the sitting room wall of the view from his bedroom window in winter, and it was very good – as Cec says, it was good enough so that it might have been painted by anyone! We didn’t see much else in the painting line, but he seems to be very versatile and had a carved wooden knight on a horse on the mantlepiece, and various metalwork ashtrays, and he brought home from school a set of chessmen he was carving. It will be interesting to hear how he gets on.


Our next visit was to Wales to stay with Prof. and Mrs. Sheridan on the Isle of Anglesey. The children and I weren’t looking forward to this too much, because the only member of the family we knew was Prof. Sheridan who has stayed with us in Ottawa a couple of times, and he is rather a queer duck! He is about Cec’s age I suppose, and in the same field of research, but he always seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, so we wondered what the family would be like. He hasn’t been at the University of Wales for very long, and have built a new house on Anglesey in the small town of Beaumaris. John and Mary were away at a meeting when we arrived, but were coming home later that night, so we had dinner at a hotel in the town and John had left a letter there for us telling us to get the key from the next-door neighbour and to go in and make ourselves at home as they didn’t know when they would be back, so we did just that. It must have been about 9 o’clock when we got there and Mary had written little notes all over the house telling us which beds were for who and where everything was. We unpacked a bit and got organized and then about 10:30 I made a cup of tea, and in the two of them came and shared the teapot with me. Mary turned out to be the nicest person – just as friendly and outgoing as John is quiet and ingoing! In 15 minutes you feel as if you had known her for years and we all liked her very much – Cec had met her before and said she was nice. They have 2 boys – one at boarding school who we didn’t meet, and the younger one who was staying with friends when his parents were away. He came home the next day and was a very cute little fellow. He is about a year younger than Charlie, but much smaller and kind of cute and funny – he and Charlie gotten well together, the small amount they saw each other. We really only had one full day with them and 2 nights, and then we left on the Saturday morning to go to Dottie’s.


We arrived at Dottie’s about teatime and found her and Tim having a cup of tea in the garden, so we joined them. Ken had very kindly got a ticket for Cec to go with him to the British Grand Prix that day, but we couldn’t possibly make arrangements to get there a day earlier when Dottie let us know, so Cec had to say ‘Thank you, but sorry…’ so Ken took his second son Richard with him instead. Ken and his 2 sons are car crazy and Cec said although it would have been interesting to go he would have been sure to show his ignorance, and he was sure that Richard would appreciate it much more. Dottie looked very much the same, but in a way more so! Her eyes deeper set, and her dimples deeper, and of course her laugh lines showing more, like the rest of us. Her figure is just the same and her hair doesn’t show any grey, but somehow both Cec and I thought she showed more signs of tension and being a bit harassed than we would have expected. Mind you, she has a busy time with a big household, but she was always such an efficient happy go lucky kind of person that we were a little bit surprised. Sutton Coldfield is a village which has been sort of surrounded by suburbs, and I believe that driving from there into Birmingham is very dreary – a long built up area, but we never went in to B. at all, and S.C. gives the impression of being country. It has a big park – like a big estate which has been given to the town, with a lake, woods etc. and this is very pretty. The house Dottie lives in is much the type of Roseworth Lawn. Not in appearance particularly but inside, with big rooms and high ceilings and built around the pre-1914 time, I should imagine. It is closer to the road than Roseworth Lawn was, with a big hedge and bushes and a little steep driveway, but behind they have an immense garden, beautifully kept. It is about an acre I think, and has a small flag stone terrace next to the house, then a big lawn with flowerbeds on one side and a pergola on the other, and some big trees. There are more flowerbeds at the end and then at one side a big vegetable and fruit garden, so there is a tremendous lot to look after. They have a gardener coming in a few times a week but Ken and Dottie do a lot of work, and Dottie loves gardening. It was really lovely, but somehow too big to be cosy or personal as it were! I don’t know if it was because I saw Nan’s garden first, but it sticks in my mind as being so pretty, and the roses there lovelier than anywhere else. I don’t remember Dottie having so many roses, but she had beautiful flower arrangements all over the house which she had made from flowers picked in her garden. The living room was a very nice room – sort of dark-oakish if I remember, and Dottie has had it re-decorated and some new furniture since she got married, and said that she had changed things gradually.
The little boy, Tim – about 9– is a strange little fellow. Very much a “Loner” with all the grown-up brothers etc. and Linda and Charlie didn’t like him at all! He is spoilt of course, and they were not at all of an age to appeal to one another. If he had been much smaller Linda would have been delighted, but as it was he was too young for Charlie and they had nothing in common at all. He plays by himself all the time, with obviously imaginative games, talking away to himself all the time and L. and C. were quite amazed to find he still played in the sandbox at that age! At the weekend with all the adults there he just lived a sort of separate life of his own taking no notice of anyone else – the only time Dottie told him to take L. and C. a walk in the park, he apparently marched on ahead of them and never spoke while they trailed behind, and when it began to rain and they said they should turn back he announced he was lost! However, he got them back safely, but Linda was furious and called him ever afterwards “That beastly little boy!” He goes to school nearby, but it is a Jr. school so he must change soon but Dottie says he won’t go away to boarding school as he doesn’t want to, but it seems a pity as it seems as if he needs other children.
During the evening, in came Peter and his fiancé, Val. It was so strange to see Peter – if I’d seen him coming down the street I would have thought it was his father, Ken. I don’t know if you remember Ken Burton very much, but Peter has the same rather stocky figure, his face is the same, his manner is the same, and Ken’s two front teeth grew to a sort of little point – not buck teeth, but a bit forward, and Peter’s are just the same. His voice is even the same and of course he is now very much the same age as Ken was when I last saw him. His fiancé (now his wife – they were married last month) is a little blonde girl – very sweet and adoring and apparently very clever. She has trained as a jewellery designer, and has won all sorts of awards in the De Beers diamond contests, and has made a big name for herself already. She is 22 and is not only the first girl, but the youngest person ever to win these awards so has been on TV and in mags. etc. She was over in New York to get some award last winter and may be again, so we may see her and Peter as he is now working for an American firm in England, but may be sent on a trip to the U.S. too. He works in computing, which of course is big business now and he’s doing very well. Dottie was telling me that Ken had advised him to go into this field, and not being his own father he could take his advice! Peter is apparently much brighter than the other 2 boys, which is a little difficult, but they are good friends. Ken and Richard came in for supper – Ken is a big tall dark man – very good-looking with dark smooth brushed back hair and a toothbrush moustache. He was very nice and kind – seemed quiet, but that may have been with the influx of guests in his house! The son, Richard, about 21 I think, is also tall, but not nearly as good looking as his father. His hair and eyes are dark, and his skin is on the sallow side, but he has one of those faces that slopes out from his forehead to his nose and then slopes back to a rather receding chin. However, poor fellow, he was very pleasant, although I gather he is the one who didn’t do very well in school and isn’t settling in a job very successfully. The older one, Peter’s age, Jem, is very nice. He is a big man too, not as dark as his brother, and very pleasant and friendly – very like his father in his manner, and he works with his father in the firm. He has a pretty little girl friend called Jill, long dark hair and blue eyes, but no engagement yet. Linda and I liked her very much and hope that the romance will prosper. You can see what a weekend Dottie had with us, then her own family and girl friends as well – they all seemed to be there for meals, so she had a busy time, but everyone cleared away and washed up together, so that was a help. Grace and Bob Spellar had asked us over for a drink on Sunday, so as a joke the whole a lot of us went and filled the house! Grace looked just the same and in fact her face was as smooth and unlined as when I saw her last. She’s perhaps a little slimmer, which is an improvement, and is now a grandmother as her oldest boy, John has just become a proud father. John was there to talk to us as he had had an offer from his firm of a job in Canada, so we answered all his questions, but I don’t know if they will come. It didn’t sound as if his wife were too keen.


On the Monday, everyone was back at work, and Tim was at school and after breakfast we set out for Stratford. It was a lovely drive through Kenilworth to Warwick, where we stopped and went over the castle. It was really beautiful, and Linda and I particularly enjoyed all the gorgeous paintings and fascinating things inside, and all the beautiful rooms arranged with lovely furniture, but it didn’t appeal to Cec and Charlie as much as the big ruined Welsh castles with broken down ramparts and little spiral staircases in the walls. Linda will tell you more about Warwick, I’m sure, so I won’t elaborate. We went to a very nice Hotel there and had a lovely lunch – it was a roasting hot day, so we were quite tired after our tour of the castle and gardens, so were glad of the lunch and rest. We got to Stratford in the early afternoon and found it crowded of course. Jessie Aldridge had managed to get us seats for the theatre through the Club where she works, and so we had to go and claim them. Then we toured around and saw the various sights – Shakespeare’s birthplace, his daughter’s house etc. etc. It was so hot – about 83°, that day, so we took full advantage of all the pretty gardens and parks and kept sitting down in the shade of trees wherever we went! We had tea in one hotel, and then we felt we had to have something before the theatre at 8:30, but having had a big lunch, we weren’t all that hungry, and you know in England you either go to a hotel for a Full Course Dinner or to a café for sort of fried egg and chips, and the latter were hot and crowded! Finally we found one kind hotel which put us in a sort of bar-lounge and served me with cider and Cec with beer and the children with cokes and served us a huge plate of sandwiches – tomato, chicken and beef and they tasted wonderful!
We were in good time at the theatre and enjoyed the play, but “All’s Well that Ends Well” is not one of my favourites, and although it was good, it wasn’t outstanding I didn’t think. None of the actors were well known and of course, the theatre is so hideous outside, and although pleasant inside isn’t as different and exciting as OUR Stratford! However, we enjoyed it very much and were delighted that we are now able to say that we have been to Stratford on Avon! We drove back to S.C. and had a cup of tea with Ken and Dottie before going to bed, and said goodbye and thank you to Ken. He was very kind to us and Dottie and they seem most compatible and happy together. It’s nice being able to think of Dottie in those surroundings now and to know what all her new family are like. It’s strange though, of all the friends we met, there were 3 with whom I wasn’t quite at ease. Dottie, Joan Appleyard and Gunborg Sutherland. All the rest I felt I picked up where I left off, and it was easy to talk to them, but with those three I felt a barrier, and it was unexpected with Dottie as we have kept in quite close touch. Perhaps her life has changed too much and too many things have happened to her since we met, or perhaps she was just in a bit of a flap with such a lot to do, but Cec felt it as well, so It wasn’t just my imagination.
You know here I am on page 8, and I have hardly begun, so I am going to send off this installment and continue in my next. I will have been writing this for weeks, a bit at a time, so when I will finish the whole saga I don’t know. You can’t complain that you didn’t hear what I think of everyone after this, but don’t go spreading my opinions to the winds or I won’t have a friend left.
Much love from us all to you and Auntie Muriel – hello to Doris and Luenda from Linda and Charlie.
Will continue in my next ……
Love,

Cyn

4th Oct.

September 7 1967

This letter enclosed the one Cyn had written to her mother at the beginning of the Costain’s trip to England in July, on notepaper from the Clarendon Court Hotel. [July 10 1967] Because Carol had been on holiday away from home, Cyn’s letters did not reach her- this arrived in Ottawa in September and was sent on.


At this point, Cyn was embarking on the ambitious Centennial project with the women’s group of St Christopher’s Anglican Church: opening the first Nursery School in the community. They were using the Sunday School rooms of the multipurpose Church Hall that included the Church, having enclosed an outdoor (treeless, windswept) area at the back as a playground. Cyn and other women from the group were to work at the Nursery School at the beginning- Cyn to bow out after a year, and the other women – especially Gertrude Pierce, as she mentions- taking courses and getting the qualifications in Early Childhood Education that were required, as they worked. Cyn was to audit the course, but had no intention of going back to teaching permanently after 20 years.

Thurs. 7th Sept
Dearest Mama – See what I got back in the mail today! Why, I can’t imagine – I am enclosing the envelope so you can see where it went, but I am sorry you didn’t get it when it was fresh!
Thank you so much for your letter from St. Vincent which arrived today. I am glad that you are safely home but sorry that you got a cold. I feel dreadful about not writing to you sooner, & even worse as I guess you didn’t get my last letter which I sent to Trinidad. I wondered as I sent it, but I couldn’t find your letter with your return date, so thought it would reach you in time. I’m sorry, also I will really get down to a long letter next week. The children went back to school on Tues. of this week & Cec left for a meeting in the U.S. but I have been madly busy getting the Nursery School ready to open next week. Gertrude Pierce and & I have done all the organizing so we have been busy all last month & this week we have been there every day getting the rooms ready as we are having Open House for the mothers & children tomorrow morning so we had to have everything ready. We have about 20 children I think – not all coming every day. I must stop now as I have to take some more stuff down this evening.
Will write a proper letter soon. Love to A. Moo & lots of love from us all to you-
Cyn.

July 26- August 2 1967

The last few pages of the Travel Diary

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich.

I’m not going to tell you about our stay in London and in Cambridge in great detail. We did the things everyone else does in London and you know Cambridge yourself. And another thing I’m running out of space.

However, in brief:
In London we went to Buckingham Palace on Sunday. Mummy and I went to the National Portrait Gallery, and I have many lovely postcards of the portraits – including my lovely much maligned Richard the III. Have you read Josephine Tey’s ‘Daughter of Time?’ Concerning him, it is my Bible.

I bought a mint green and white mini dress in London and stacks of books. I bought a book (one of Jane Duncan’s I like her, do you read Jane Duncan) and eyeshadow (she’s mad about it) and a mood pen for my friend Janet, and leg paint!!! and a book and a necklace (oak leaf) for my friend Joanne. As well as little things for various other friends. We went to “Hello Dolly” at the Drury Lane Theatre with Agnes & Mrs. Herzberg and went to the Palladium to see Ken Dodd (I was shocked!)

We had dinner in a lovely “Dickens” restaurant – marvellous atmosphere. I love London.

One last cathedral- Ely, on the way to Cambridge!

I love Cambridge too. The Sutherlands were so nice to us! We were shown all around Emmanuel by the Master himself!

The Round Church, Cambridge.
Cec’s college- St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Auntie Gunborg gave me some birthday money and I got four more books. We shopped a bit- (Charlie got a deerstalker!) (He looks priceless in it!) We sightsaw, I want to come back. I get “home”sick when I think of England. I had a marvelous, wonderful holiday. Goodbye, Grannie
Love
Linda.

July 22-25 1967

On reading this Travel Diary over, I feel I should explain a little about my personal reaction to England and Scotland. We had been brought up reading English books- Beatrix Potter, A.A.Milne (family story, baby Linda at the age of 18 months, got the point when her Daddy was reading about Pooh knocking on Rabbit’s door and being told that there was no one at home, and laughed, thus impressing her father with her accuity…), Wind in the Willows, the William books, Robin Hood legends, Narnia, Noel Streatfield, and so on. Yes, I read American books too- 19th century Alcott, Coolidge, and series like Nancy Drew, and Sue Barton: Nurse, but I liked ‘Jean Tours a Hospital’ and the rest just as much and enjoyed the contrast between the hospital cultures (dated though they were). My favourite series came through my mother’s keeping of the first three of Elinor M.Brent Dyer’s Chalet School books from her childhood, and I added to them whenever I could. (I now have them all. Yay internet.)
The 15 year-old bookworm writing the travel diary had read countless teen historical novels- Hilda Lewis, Cynthia Harnett, Geoffrey Trease, and gone on to read her parent’s adult books set in England, Agatha Christie, Dornford Yates, Maurice Walsh, C.S.Forester, Georgette Heyer; and in Scotland, O. Douglas (Anna Buchan, sister of Canada’s wartime Governor General) and Jane Duncan’s ‘My Friend…’ series, and in doing so absorbed all the lore of the countryside- without ever having seen a bluebell (let alone a bluebell wood) or heather, or lavender growing, or a stile to cross a fence, or, in fact , a hedge- yes, we had one separating our lawn from the neighbours’ but it was nothing like an English roadside hedge! So while we visited friends, Linda dug around in their bookcases, and when we went sightseeing she was recognizing and enjoying things she had read about, and connecting with the history she had learned.


On Saturday we left Canterbury for London, left luggage, dropped off car and saw Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton in Taming of the Shrew – lovely. We took the sleeper up to Glasgow – and hardly a wink of sleep did I get it, though my family did better – and grabbed our hired car and headed off for Kelvin & Mary Tyler’s for lunch. This visit was rather a farce – we had expected to have fun with their two little girls but they were at their grandparents so Charlie & I just sat.

In the afternoon we went up to Loch Lomond and stayed the night at Luss. It is a village which is very pretty but too “ye olde worlde picturesque cottagee”– perhaps this impression came because large number of trippers but I felt that they had gardens for effect rather than enjoyment.

There was a nice little church there but we felt that we couldn’t just march in like cathedrals so we didn’t see the inside. The hotel was crowded & noisy. Charlie & I wanted to walk on the hills around & Daddy came with us. Just as we had got away from civilization and the path began to be exciting he got tired and we had to take him home. He said it was too dangerous for us to go on without him! He, who was puffing & slipping while we ran, was protection but us alone would have been danger! I went to bed in a temper – the hills (I can’t call the mountains really) are really beautiful.

On Monday we went up through the Trossachs. I didn’t envy Sandy his Pennine Way walking tour, but I would love to tramp up there, I saw heather close, both kinds and I approve. We walked along Loch Katrine and threw pennies in to come back. We went on to Edinburgh. And the Firth of Fourth that I’ve so often read about. On the way we saw the Wallace Memorial on a hill against the sky and here in Edinburgh there is another of the same type to Scott. It embodies for me the statement in O. Douglas’s ‘The Setons’ — “We have all of us, we Scots, a queer daftness in our blood. We pretend to be dour and cautious, but the fact is that at heart we are the most emotional and sentimental people on earth.” I am getting horribly sentimental myself, I hope you like it. Paper lures me on sometimes. I find we have no picture of either memorial- Bother ! – Yes I do, I found one. Will stick it in. LC


In the Shetland Shop I bought a beautiful dull gold kilt & sweater (10 £). All my friends admired it greatly. Kilts are all the fashion. We saw over Edinburgh Castle – sweet tiny chapel, walked down the Royal Mile to Hollyrood but Daddy got angry at the guide and stalked out, leaving us to trail out behind miserable but obedient. What it is to be ruled by an autocrat!
We got on the train and went to Newcastle. We had tea at the Sheedy’s. Bobby & Patrick were very nice. Old Mrs. Sheedy made a great fuss of me, she said she didn’t have a granddaughter. Aren’t you lucky? Then we went to the Coopers and I had a lovely time with the three little boys. Then we went to Pam & Sam Fay’s for dinner. We got on the train and went to London. On the train we saw Durham Castle lit up – lovely.

July 20-21 1967

It is now Thursday 20th of July, this year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred & sixty seven. Happy Centennial! We went on to Salisbury and saw the cathedral which is lovely and I found the tomb of a knight, the son of Fair Rosamond & Henry II, William, known as Long-Espée, Earl of Salisbury. Do you know Fair Rosamond’s story? But Queen Eleanor wasn’t nasty.


In the afternoon we went to see Nelson’s ship the Victory which Charlie loved but which I think is overrated and give me the Duke of Wellington any day. In a museum there, there were figureheads and I never was so disappointed in my life, I didn’t know figureheads were like that – crudely carved and garish and UGLY! Oh!!!

However, Brighton quite made up for it and Stonehenge because at Brighton we saw the Royal Pavilion built by the Prince Regent, later George IV as a summer place. It is perfect – marvellous – ludicrous – fantastic – overwhelming – stupendous. Impossible to describe. It is Indian outside – with a million Taj Mahal domes, and mad Chinese inside – priceless – I will send you a couple of postcards but you must send them back, they are part of my collection. Mummy & I absolutely loved it.

Then we went to Canterbury and saw the cathedral in the evening.

We saw the spot where Thomas à Beckett had been killed but the shrine had been destroyed by Henry VIII of cursed memory and some fool nobleman had his memorial thing with a bust of himself just above on the wall so there was just the floor & 3 square ft. of wall.

July 18-20 1967

We had tea at the Mitre in Oxford and had gorgeous chocolate eclairs, I had three. We took a walk through Oxford and bought some books but you can’t see much if you don’t know anybody. We spent the night at ‘The Hare and Hounds’ a very nice place, would have liked to stay longer, and went on to Bath. We saw the terraces of Regency houses and went into the Roman Baths. We had lunch in the Pump Room and I got a sweet little replica of a Roman pot 3 inches high & fat. It is silvery with red dots in a pattern, little bumps I mean, and the inside is brown glaze. Sweet. Charlie got a little replica of a silver penny like “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s… and that will be handy in Sunday School class.

We went onto Wells and met Ruth who is nice & Richard and Michael and the dog – all three very nice & friendly and Dr. Stainthorpe whom I am sorry for. Mummy & I think it was a great mistake for him to come and live with them, it is not a happy arrangement. Ruth & the boy are irritated by him and show it (rather like you & me & Mummy in a modified way to our shame, but we love you and I didn’t see any sign of them!) and poor ‘Grandpa’ has a hard time of it, with nothing to do & no friends. You should invite him out to St Vincent for a long holiday!

Ruth & the boy showed us the cathedral (I think we would have seen more, and taken in more on our own) (ungrateful me) and it is lovely – the squarish front with the figures of the saints & kings and queens reflected in the sunlight. However, they showed us Vicars Hall, a 14th century dining hall set with pewter plates etc. which we couldn’t have ordinarily seen. From the window we had a beautiful view of the oldest Street, intact, in Europe – Vicar’s Close. I hope you have seen it, it was lovely with walled gardens in the sunset but I can’t describe it. At tea Peter Haynes came in and I liked him very much but he just shook hands & kissed (they do it an awful lot in England) us (Mummy & me that is) and then dashed upstairs & changed into clerical garb and dashed off after shaking hands through the window. He had a meeting, he seemed awfully busy.

We then left & went off to Amesbury – not very nice – lots of traffic past the hotel. On the way we came upon Stonehenge. It just rose up out of the ground before us. However I was disappointed in it. I sent you a reconstruction version on a p.c. I think but actually it’s very untidy, all lying about, and since the historians have discarded the theory that the Druids built it, they don’t have a theory – it’s just there- something to do with religion and before the Druids but what, they don’t know – unsatisfactory. It is nice to think we are on our own now – meals in people’s houses tried me but I tried to be good.

July 1967: Postcards Sent

Joanna of Naples. Sent to Linda’s friend Joanne because of her name!

Trip Postcards

These are postcards from Cyn and Linda from the holiday in England, sent to Carol a week after Cyn’s letter to her mother. Carol seems to have been on holiday herself, visiting the Otway relatives in Trinidad and Tobago, and the cards were forwarded, with Linda’s second one trimmed so the top and bottom of the message is missing, and the stamps removed, which may account for the water damage that erased a few words.

Long black-and-white postcard showing Warwick Castle from the Bridge. Addressed to Mrs C. Ewing.
19th July 1967
Have finished visiting and have now started our travels. The weather is absolutely wonderful and in Stratford we melted. Saw “All’s well that ends well” at the theatre. Nice lunch with Jean, Peter and Patsy yesterday & short view of Oxford. On to Bath and Wells today.
Love Cyn.

Colour postcard of Holbien’s Henry VIII Portrait. Addressed to Mrs. C. Ewing.

1.
Dearest Grannie,
I feel so ashamed that I haven’t written before, but remember I am writing that journal for you. At the moment it isn’t up-to-date but it will be when I send it. This postcard I got at Warwick Castle when we stopped there on the way to Stratford. It was lovely, full of portraits & lovely tapestries. At Stratford we saw All’s Well that Ends Well.
Cont’d Part one Only

Colour postcard showing drawing of a re-creation of Stonehenge. Address washed out.

Presumably this one started with a #2 since it seems to have continued the discussion of Stratford, but the first and last lines are missing, and other words washed out.
… much. We much prefer our own Stratford, the theatre here is very ugly with no gardens while ours in Ontario is lovely. This reconstruction of Stonehenge is much more impressive than the real thing, I’m afraid. I was sadly disappointed in it. The stones were smaller than I had imagined and the car park …. … . We are having lovely weather, hope you are enjoying…

July 15-18 1967

On Saturday (I had my dates mixed) we drove to Sutton Coldfield (peculiar name!) through the Welsh mountains. The views were magnificent & we took a few pictures. We met some awful traffic jams – cars waiting for miles back while the crossroads in the tiny villages got stopped up. Of course it is the weekend, that probably accounts for it. We met Auntie Dottie and Tim (whom I think is a poisonous little brat, spoilt) and the cat Pooh (wild a bit, but he lay on my lap.) After tea we met Peter and his fiancée Val Hurst. She’s the one who designs rings. She is petite, a shoulder length blonde, vivacious and drinks more beer than I have ever seen Daddy. At supper we met Richard (I have his room & like his taste in books) and Uncle Ken. I like them all. Later we met Jim and his girlfriend Gill. She is dark and pretty and rather quiet and she wears contact lenses. I can’t decide who I like better – Gill or Val. Daddy obviously likes Val better, you should see him jump up to light her cigarettes. By the way, Auntie Dottie smokes cigars! Little thin ones but really!

The next day Charlie & I & Tim went for a walk in the park. One of these woody overgrown ones. We walked for miles! I got absolutely exhausted and we still hadn’t turned around. Finally we got fed up & turned around and he walked us all the way back. It rained off & on. I do not like that child!

In the evening we went to Grace & Bob Speller’s for drinks – quite nice & Daddy talked to John & his wife who are coming to Canada I think.

Warwick Castle

On Monday we went to Stratford upon Avon, stopping off at Warwick Castle on the way. It marvellous – after the ruins it was nice to see one intact & well cared for. The most marvellous things in it were the portraits. Henry the eighth & Elizabeth & Henry VIII as a boy (sweet) and Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. There were lovely tapestries of faery woods with princesses & bears and heroes in. One room had Marie Antoinette’s bed in it and my favourite thing in the castle – Marie Antoinette’s clock. The clock was flat iron – sort of like a sundial with Roman numerals traced on & lines & delicate iron hands. And on the points of the hours coming out from the middle were the Twelve Stations of the Cross in little medallions of red and white china. The whole thing was so delicate and somehow like Marie Antoinette, poor thing.

Stratford definitely disappointed me, I think the Ontario one is much nicer. Of course this one is the real thing, though. However I enjoyed seeing the relics of Shakespeare’s life, we saw all the houses of he & his children except Anne Hathaway’s cottage which was too far to walk. It was so hot that we couldn’t do much. The outside of the theatre was horrible but the inside was lovely & ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ was lovely too. Back to Dottie’s for bed.

Today (Tues.) bid a mournful goodbye to Auntie Dottie & Uncle Ken (who are very nice & he has lovely books in the attic including two Scarlet Pimpernels which he lent me and three lovely Dornford Yates which I read all but 1/2 the last and it was too precious to take away! Boo-hoo!) and a cheerful one to Tim and set off for Oxford. We stopped on the way at Jean’s and met her in person and her husband Peter & Patsy who are very nice. [Cyn’s Hazell cousins.] They have a lovely garden. I would have liked to have met Patsy’s son. I saw a picture of him.

Queen Elizabeth I


July 7-14 1967

My Travels Day by Day

For Grannie
Our Trip To England

My Itinerary

Name Linda Costain
Home Address Box 330, RR1, Ottawa, Ont. Canada
Date of Start July 7
Method of Transportation Plane
Personnel of Party Me, Charlie, Mummy & Daddy
En Route for England Scotland Wales and Isle of Man?? No, not Isle of Man

Addresses
My friends: Joanne, Janet, Beth, Maureen, Susan, Jeanie; Grannie & Mr. Graham

Farewell Gifts and Messages
Charlie and I both got cards from Mr. Graham our rector. Inclosed with the cards were two pound notes each. Wasn’t that sweet! The Thomases also sent all of us a going away card and so did you Grannie. (Thank you!) Mrs Blachut gave Mummy a present too, those little things that are wet that you can use to freshen up, do you know what I mean?
Travellers Checks nos. AB72.719.904 to 912.
Nine ten dollar checks! Isn’t that a lot of money! I don’t know how I’m going to get rid of it!


Clarendon Court Hotel.
Here we are! in London. We got on the plane at 11:00- had dinner, tried to sleep- impossible, not a wink- had ‘a continental breakfast’, arrived- and saw in the airport bus & taxi a bit of London. After a snack & a rest we got on the top of a 16 bus and went to Marble Arch & listened to some (I am sure certifiably insane) speakers in Hyde Park. After dinner we met Jessie and Norman Aldridge and their son David. He and Charlie went around together and we all had a nice time. Still, it is eleven o’clock now, and I have somewhere lost a whole night’s sleep. Now I am going to collapse ———- good night..z.z..zz..z.

Today Mummy and Charlie and me (it’s Sunday) went to St Paul’s Cathedral to Matins while Daddy walked in Hyde Park. The choir was nice but the chants were unfamiliar and the sermon was awful. After lunch we went to the Aldridge’s and stayed for tea and a supper and didn’t get home till 11:30. I met Sandra who is 21 and very pretty and vivacious- nice. Peg (or Zinnia) popped in for a while but we didn’t see her family because the children had chickenpox. Charlie and I think that if every family we meet is as nice as the Aldridges we’ll really enjoy our stay.

Monday was very hectic – we checked out, got our train tickets, met Auntie Jessie and got some theatre tickets, and then wandered about Shepherd’s Market until train time. [To Manchester] Uncle Dick met us at the train and then we met Auntie Nan & Sandy & Barbara (both madly red hair & taller than me). They seem very nice.

Today we went to the school that both Sandy & Barbara go to. I went around with some of Sandy’s friends (girls) & Charlie was with Barbara. It was the last day of school so we didn’t get too good an idea of British school life, but we watched Sandy play his last game of cricket for the school. Next year, he’s going to an art school – the samples of his work that we saw were extremely good.

On Wednesday Sandy & Barbara left on school excursions and we picked up our car. Daddy took a driving lesson from Dick.

Thursday we drove to Bangor and the Isle of Anglesey. Daddy managed the car on the wrong side of the road very well. We stopped off at Conway Castle which was lovely. The Sheridans are very nice. Both of their boys were away – they are both around the age of Charlie & me. We’ll see one tomorrow.

Beaumaris, as it might have looked if finished back in the 1300s.

Today (Friday) we went to Beaumaris Castle- what is the most nearly perfect, others had no roofs – and in the village I got a lovely oak leaf treated with copper – lovely colours – on a chain for Joanne. She and Janet gave us the loveliest present – to be opened in the plane, and it had everything in it! Magazines, books, note-paper, cards etc. I have to give them something very nice in return.* In the afternoon we went on a boat trip through the Menai Strait and on to the Irish Channel – 4 hours. Nice but I & Daddy have colds. When we got back we met Clive, the youngest boy a bit younger than Charlie, who is nice too.

*For what I gave them in the end, see 3 pages from the back. L.C.

Travel Diary: July 1967

TRAVEL LOG

It is interesting to compare this Travel Diary I wrote at the age of 15 with the one my grandmother wrote when she was sent to school in England at about the same age, and with the one my mother wrote in her 20s the summer before the 2nd World War began when she and her mother visited New York. [These have already been published in this project.]. Although all three of us recorded the events and sights we saw without including much introspection, I can’t help feeling I was the most at ease, having fun on holiday. I had a purpose, an audience if you like, since I had decided to send my account to my grandmother as an extended letter, so I certainly included opinions, but didn’t have room for detailed critiques. Carol’s journal covers her years at school so starts off as a personal account, but later events or sights seem to have been partially school assignments, since some sections have corrections. My mother’s was a personal record for her eyes only, to remind herself of what she saw at the World’s Fair, and sightseeing in New York and Niagara, but doesn’t contain much about the people she interacted with, her relatives and the friends she made on the ship. I suppose she would not have needed a reminder of them, although her account of the love interest at the end showed emotion- but had a measured, somewhat distant tone- written by someone a decade older than the teenagers perhaps, in a generation fully conscious of what they were facing although she made no mention of the impending war.
Linda was enjoying a holiday with her family in the country she had heard and read about her entire childhood- the child of an immigrant feels a certain connexion to the original home country, even if she doesn’t realize it. I remember flying over the countryside while landing and looking at the fields and roads so irregular and curving, unlike the straight lines of sectioned farmland in Ontario. As we flew low, then drove through London, the roofs of buildings were so eye-catching to us with the chimney pots (although we had read Mary Poppins and sneered at the Dick van Dyck character’s horrible accent as he danced on the rooftops.) And visiting friends, their gardens were different too, lovely, and the local roads with hedges and curves, all memorable, but not what got written down. The Travel Log had prompts at the top of the pages, but Linda started recording ‘My Travels Day by Day’, telling Grannie halfway through to ignore the headings which had changed to ‘Shops Here and There’ and ‘To Be Recommended’ and just carried on until space required summarizing. It was not all written on the road, and seems to have been finished and sent quite a bit later, judging by the accompanying letter, but gives a clear picture of a lovely holiday.

Letter- originally taped to the booklet.

Dear Grannie,
Take a deep breath, put on your best glasses, then firmly open the book and start reading “My Trip to England” by Linda Costain, fifty two pages of my terrible handwriting. I loved writing it and I am so sorry I’ve been such an age about it. I hope you’ll be able to read it and that you like it after you’ve read it. It is sort of an extended letter, written mostly remembering. I’ll write a proper letter soon, answering your last. The only things I want to say now are: 1. Please keep that sweet little cat you described, it will be company for your puppy, please, please keep it. and 2. I was so sorry to hear about Uncle Fred, I hope he gets better, quite often people do. Give him my love. 3. I am running out of space again.
Love Linda