TRAVELS NOW AND THEN© Christopher Earls Brennen
What follows is my transcription of my father's journal for the February 1952 skiing holiday in Arosa, Switzerland, along with the phtographs that my father took during that holiday.
Thurs. Jan 31
Hectic morning - snow, ice and slush at home - car driving difficult.
Dep. home at 1.30pm - Belfast - messages - left M. and boys at Ritz - to see "American in Paris" with Irene. Boys rather "strung-up" with excitement.
Called in bookshop - had haircut - went to Red Lodge - cup of coffee - back to Ritz at 7.00pm where everybody miserable and cross. Picture nor appreciated by boys, B. tired - had headache - so off by car to Liverpool boat. To cabins - then Michael and I took car back to garage and walked (very slippery and ice) to boat. Settled down - walked decks - Colin a bit frightened on dark upper deck - could not believe boat was moving at first - so little sound at slow speed in river.
Got boys to bed - restless and too warm - gave them ??gr ?? each ( already had ?? at 7.00pm). B and self had tea, toast, etc - worst service imaginable at table (boat old and mouldy - "Longford"). B and self to bed by 10pm. Cases: 2 fairsize (self) and medium and small grips and medium ricksack: all easily carried. B and self in ski pants - boys in windbreakers. Note: Best in future to go straight from home to boat.
Fri. Feb 1
Cup of tea at 7.00am. All slept well except B - but she rested.
Boat put into dock (not river) with snow falling - rotten arrangements for transport to station - hauled bags to bus - dashed and caught 5.20am London train by skin of our teeth. Had breakfast (flakes?, rolls, marmalade, tea and coffee 2/6). Later went along for lemonade. C. marked up route on old AA map. Colin and M. very good - snow and fog - but bright and clear near London.
Prof. Rodgers - among others - on train. He helped me with big grip (handle had broken).
Dumped bags at Euston - tube to Picadilly - bumped into John Boyd who is here for interview as head of broadcasting in Ceylon.
Lunch - Lyons - off to Moss Bros. where boys got boots, pants and anoraks - very smart. No boots small enough for Colin (written in boat train) B and I got good Swiss-type boots and bought goggles for children at 13/6? each.
Called Cooks Picadilly for tickets - then into News Theatre - tea -and back to Euston for bags - taxi to Victoria (7/6) - train to Beconsfield? from platform ? (returns 10/- for all).
Heavy going with bags and tired boys to 42 Southend Road (Haddon Hotel?) where ? greeted us.
Old baronial type of house - all in one large room - very comfy. Desmond Little? away at Newcastle. Supper and bed - very tired.
Sat. Feb 2
Slept late - into Harrods - left B and boys - coffee Russell Square - met Brian? Gordon? and got on like a house on fire. Went to little French cafe, gin and French, 1/2 doz. oysters each, jugged hare and red current jelly - carafe of red wine - gorgonzola and a roll - two cups black coffee. Excellent (30 pounds 17 shillings?)
Took couple of wrong turns on tube after this! Met B and boys feeding pigeons in Trafalgar square at 2.30pm.
Bus to Cumberland Hotel and wash up - bought a box for "Humpty Dumpty" at Palladium - Lyons of Piccadilly for feed - to pantomine at 7.00pm.
Long but excellent - home very late and very tired (about 11.30pm).
Sun. Feb 3
Lazy start - took Ian Little? (aged 4) into Victoria - bus ride to Tower Bridge - explored - Picadilly for lunch.
Attracted much attention (even in London) with 4 boys and the ski clothes.
To zoo - rather ??? - only had 1 1/4 hours - dashed around. Tea at Marble Arch - bus home about 6.30pm. Lots of cleaning up and packing. Baths.
Later Larry? Gibson and wife (nee Bodger?) along with Mildred (she was at a course in West End) called for a drink and supper. Most enjoyable - but Mildred had to go early for 11.30pm train to Dumfries?
Mon. Feb 4
Up early - off well - got bags to Victoria and left them. Bus to Trafalgar Square - Horse Guards - just missed changing of the guard - but Colin saw them riding off in their red cloaks.
Bought some "eats?" in Lyons of Strand - lunched there - bus to Victoria - comfortably got the train leaving 1.00pm. Very few travelling - very comfortable. Also very fortunate in weather - distinctly warm - dry and odd blinks of sun.
Reserved seats - lots of others free - everyone settled down quietly (? effect of Avonine? at lunch?)
Through customs with minimum of trouble and left Folkestone 3.15pm. Really beautiful French boat - "Cote d'Azur" - light maple woods - grand seats, etc.
Soon went to Salon de The and had lots of tea, rolls, butter and jam and slices of cake (total 10 shillings). Then neccessary passport formalities - explored various decks.
Mid-channel fairly rough and high cold wind blowing. Delighful to hear French again. Few people on board. Last half sea passage very rough. Boys OK but B looks green. Went to bar - ordered a Brandy and French (3 shillings) - but B didnt touch brandy - dashed out but was sick before reaching "Dames".
Folkestone (CB: he must mean Calais or Ostend) at 5.00pm (French 1600 hours) and left 1/2 hour later - easy change in Customs on train.
Compartment all to ourselves: didn't have dinner but picnicedon our own stuff- plus a bottle of red wine I got on train (560Fr or 12/6).
Got couchettes made up before 8.00pm - boys into bed - complete and tired.
Tues. Feb 5
Boys (except Colin) awake from about 5.00am (I was awakended for tickets several times during the night). Eager to "see Switzerland" - looking out at snow. etc. Got them to rest a bit - but eventually rose and went of breakfast before 7.00am. Still rather dark. Lovely rools lots of butter and jam, coffee in big cups (boys had mostly warm milk) - for all -10Fr.
Got couchettes up - sat down and looked at snow. Grey sort of weather with snow falling. Brighter when we got to Chur (at 9.00am) - on to local railway. Boys love snow? by the trains - sledges, snowploughs: then superb journey up to Arosa - fantastic route; clearer as we rose. M wants to know why they have "so many Christmas trees".
Left bags to porter at station - strolled through town to Pension Walhaus. First impression - everything broad, open and free from crowds: beautiful ring of high mountains. Pension rather charming - clean, well heated, plenty of towels, comfortable beds with Swiss-style eiderdowns. Plenty of lights in rooms and handy switches. Boys have double room in basement - Colin sleeps in small bed with us. Baggage arrived - got our shoes - off to Sprecher's for skis, boots for Colin and a luge (total 110 Fr. for 2/??); also bought red socks for Colin.
Lunch 12.30 - food Swiss, beautifully served - dining room small - but only about 12-14 dining. Out to try out skis - rather mixed - Colin cold and a bit lost - boys a bit too dashing - but making heroic efforts and very good ones too. Weather snowy and cold by now - so had tea (? name of cafe) after I had got money from bank. Michael feeling sick (altitude), dizzy and was sick on cafe table.
Home - got Michael to bed - went to sleep almost immediately: rest had dinner at 7.00 and off to bed. Colin coughing indoors (only) and kept us awake half the night - finally vomited. B. and I very sleepy.
Wed. Feb 6
Colin and B. stayed in bed - so sent up a light breakfast. Boys and I in good form - out on skis to practice slopes - doing very well; joined late by B. and Colin and luge.
Lunch - then boys and I (with skis) and B. and Colin (with luge) got bus up to Pratscki? (3 Fr. and no charge for children) ; wonderful sun - glorious views - beautiful powder snowand pistes not difficult. Easy walking paths. B. and Colin came down with luge and boys and I "spraughled" down on skis - they did amazingly well - considering they don't yet know how to turn - having only vague notion of stemming.
Met B. and Colin at rendezvous - so had hot chocolate (pot) for 2.40 Fr. and lots of tea for 1.25 Fr. in Carmena. Home - wash-up and read a bit - had fine dinner - boys in bed by 9.00.
2016 Map of Arosa ski lifts and runs
A walk around the town of Arosa Switzerland A walk around the town of Arosa Switzerland A walk around the town of Arosa Switzerland At the practice slopes in Arosa Switzerland At the practice slopes in Arosa Switzerland At the practice slopes in Arosa Switzerland Up on the mountain in Arosa, Switzerland
Thurs. Feb 7
Finding bedroom much too hot for me at night - snoring - eys puffy in morning, etc. All slept well.
Dullish day: yesterday someone took our luge from back of Pratschli bus, so we took theirs; in evening lady phoned me about "swap" so first thing to Spechers and made the exchange.
Got three boys started at ski school - though how the lady instructor managed Colin passes understanding. He makes little effort - is inclined to lie down in snow and look pathetically about for someone to pick him up after making the slightest of efforts - for form's sake - to help himself. His dark eyes and chubby cheeks - the rest of him swathed in ski togs makes most people think of him as a little girl. However he can amuse himself for a very long time going down hills with the luge.
C. and M. were too good for class I - so were quickly elevated and did really well. Both a bit "browned off" at being better than the others and at most of the instruction being in German. B. started practicing on skis. So with all settled I went off and tried the Tschuggen? lift - quite easy - and had good run down - only one fall when I once got "wind-up" - and a slight toss at that. Otherwise did some good fast cornering and enjoyed it. Picked the others up - lunch.
Arosa people sent rather nice notice of sympathy to all British guests on death of King. Service to be held in English church.
C. and M. set off in afternoon with class - but to Pratschli - to come down. Both quite thrilled - C. was congratulated on how he did and both seem to have got on very well. C. no falls. M. bit excited about it all. Meantime B. and I worked on practice slopes - B. trying stem turns and I succeeding fairly well with Christies. Colin watched skating and played with luge.
All to Carmena for tea and then home. Wandered out for razor blades. Called on way home to look at Brit. Ski Club cocktail partyin Alaska bar. The bar is quite amuzing but I didn't like the look of the 20-odd English people. So didn't drink - came home for dinner. Memo: ceiling in Carmena bar is made of rucked? plastic material (like curtain stuff) - effective.
Good dinner - read - saw boys to bed - then B. and I strolled out. Dazzling moonlight - in lovely remote mountains - lights on hillside - like Christmas scene. Really idyllic.
Have cut down heat on radiator in room tonight and filled bath with water to moisten air.
Note: General standard of skiing not high - and instruction seems fairly good. What one wears douesn't seem to matter much. Fair number of small children's classes. No sign of snobbery - though plenty of signs of wealth. Prices in shops fairly favorable.
Memo: Horse taxis - gaily painted - big rugs. Snow plows for roads. "Train" of bogies, pulled by jeep?, full of snow. Plenty of paths - quite miles of them - kept for walkers. Man who goes around roads with shovel lifting snow soiled by horses!
Frid. Feb 8
First snow falling - later getting more dense; out in good time - all with skis except Colin who had luge. Boys to Class III. B on her own and I went up Tshuggen lift again. Shared a seat with French boy who spoke no English - says French resorts much dearer than here for him. Also told me that juging in evening very popular here - not sure what route but "gets train back at 11.00pm" - so I suppose it is down this road to station down line.
Very difficult to see on top - but came down with fair confidence - took the harder (red) route and got on quite well. Back to school - boys seem to have got on well ; instructress came over to say that she couldn't believe C. had not skied before - he came down so well from Pratschli yesterday. Snowing hard by lunch time - so decided not to let boys go up on top.
?? interested in fellow guest, M.Beck(?), a Pole (now British) who passed(?) through France, interred in (?) - got to England - later twice in concentration camps (joined R.A.F.?).
B. wrote letters + ?? - out after lunch in fairly thick snow - but reasonably warm. C., M. and I practicised on slopes - M. got real whopper of a toss on striking a hole after coming straight down the very steep "Christie" slopes; hurt his ear (of all things!) - even the inside of his glasses were stuffed with snow.
Boys doing amazingly well : traversing, making fair attempt at "Christies", herring-boning with ease up steepest slopesand seem indefatigable. Put on skis at door of pension even though they have to walk up a steep bit of road at start.
B. and Colin came along with luge - still snowing and getting a bit colder; went for walk to Strandbad? and through tiny paths, deep in snow, up across railway and up to Kursaal where we had the usual tea and chocolate (6.30 Fr); rather a nice building inside - fairsized dance-floor, raw wooden balcony, small stage (where we sat) and tables divided from floor by wooden partition; good 5-piece band, gaming room, etc. They show flicks there every Tues. and Fri. evening - no proper cinema. B. and I danced. Home in rather bitter, fine cloudy snow - all had good hot bath and nice dinner (soup, salad of leeks and celery, meat in small pieces ( beef macaroni and cheese (fine), and beautifully baked apples with custard.; finished off Johannisberger white wine - very good. After dinner C. and M. came with me for walk - still snowing finely - but didn't feel cold - even though 10 degrees below zero. Boys thrilled with lights on hills, shop windows and inside of Post Office - which really is very fine. Men working hard to keep ice-hockey rink free for Olympic team which arrives to train here tomorrow.
[Struck at ugliness of German as a spoken language - harsh and unpleasant.]
Proprietor proving very kind - boys thrilled by offer of chocolate for breakfast (we had asked for cold milk instead of coffee for Michael but he would not let us drink raw milk (no T.T. test here - but would give cold boiled milk). Breakfast, incidentally is a great success - rolls and butter greatly loved by boys - don't even bother much about jam or marmalade with them. They eat much less of other meals than I had expected.
Sat. Feb 9
A splendid day in spite of almost continuous fine snow falling. (Snowploughs working constantly on roads, ice-rinks, etc.) Got B. to go to ski school - C. and M. also. Colin and I set off with luge - got bus to Pratschli - saw handsome snow plough working and odd glimpse of what might be sun higher up mountain. Bob-run too soft with recent snow - so set off with luge down bus-route; not fast - but Colin enjoyed himself and behaved very well. Called at Bahnhof to see if O.K. about couchettes if we leave early and visit Zurich en route for home. Also found out train connections and discovered local train times back from Litzruti if we want to luge down to it.
Colin and B. saw a squirrel in the snow as we set out this am.
Found the others had very much enjoyed Skischule - B. found herself rather better than the others; C. still thinks it is too easy! Home together for lunch.
Still snowing so B. decided not to go up with afternoon class - so left B., M. and Colin to potter about - Colin and M. with luge - while C. and I went up Tshuggen ski lift; in spite of different heights we got up without falling off! Fairly cold on top and snowing moderately. Descent excellent - C. had one fall - father three!!! C. came at amazing speed - doing natural "Christies" on lower fast pistes and ended by insisting on coming straight down very steep (red route) last piece which I certainly wouldn't. Whole trip took less than an hour - I had expected two - so joined the others rather early at practice slopes. B. tried some traversing - C. showed off his Christies. Then B. decided in spite of warning to go "slap-down" the main slope - and "bit the dust" in soft snow at the bottom - but wasn't hurt.
Off to Carmenna for tea; asked once more for a pot of chocolate ("portion" in name) and got chocolate with cream! ( 3 different versions for same request so far!) [Forgot to say that this morning C. and M. had hot chocolate for breakfast - great success!] Danced with B. - and took her into the almost communal "toilette" (Swiss type). M. upset Choc. and mopped it up from plate with his hankerchief. B. points out how good looking the waitresses are. Then went up to station to bookstall - bought magazines - children discovered and used slot machines (had forgotten that these must be new to them). Charming lady in bookstall - we said "Thank you" - she said "the thanks are mine!". [Street salutation here is "Fruatze"?? - reply often "fruss fot"?? and people pleased at such greetin.]
Good dinner - vermicelli soup, liver and bacon with saute potatoes. Pudding Victoria with jam sauce - wine. Had intended luging after dinner - but too full. C. and M. carried on with kitchen staff till window got broken!! Long chat with man from Torquay and fellows from Luxebourg. Bed.
Sun. Feb 10
Still more snow!!! Quite unusual weather - bad luck. However, off to skischule (B., C. and M.) and I took Colin's skis and mine and got him to have patience enough to give them a fair trial; actually he stayed on them quite happily till 11.00am when his old theme song began i.e. I want an icicle" (this has several variations - "I want another icicle" - "I broke my icicle" - or - "I have twelve icicles"!!). So I broke a few off the edge of the Skischule hut roof for him and he played happily for 1/2 hour - but his hands got very cold - and so did the weather - so induced hime to don skis again. Saw B. in the distance making slightly heavy weather at side slipping. Everybody a bit cold after class so off for lunch - still snowing.
During morning Swiss Olympic team played Swiss Canadians on nearby rink (ice hockey) but weather too uninviting to think of watching. Everything going on as usual - even though Sunday. After lunch B. and Colin left behind - took boys - thought of skiing from Pratschli down to Litziruti (return by ?? railway) but soft snow made this not advisable. So bus to Pratschli - skied down: difficult soft snow so tosses more than usual: but not many and all excusable. I had one spanking fast run at end - just to surprise C. into what I really could do!! But C. continues to amaze me; he really does have a beautiful natural style of ski running and his turns are excellent. M. is still inclined to straighten his knees and stick out his bottom - so comes to grief more often. Down surprisingly quickly (3.10pm) - boys begged to go up again - but went to steep slope of practice fields and did a bit of work; about 3.45pm discovered B. practicing traverses and side slips (Colin playing quietly with luge) - so all joined in and we had quite a party on a steep little slope. Onlookers shocked at ease with which boys more or less run up hill with "herring-bone". and without sticks!
Still snowing - off to Carmenna for tea and boys had bottles each or Orangina (1Fr) and some small cakes. B. and I danced. Sitting in a little bar in the cafe - beautiful smooth wooden table. M. says "girl who serves us has had a different frock every day we have been in." Colin knocked over his glass - no damage done. Colin and B. off home - I took boys up to station for English papers; charming lady at bookstall promises to keep empty cigarette packets for C. Called in nice bookshop on way home and bought really charming children's calendar in German (3.60Fr) and also good touring map of Switzerland (2.30Fr).
Home - dressed decently for first time - excellent dinner - Russian ?? to start with (firmly boiled egg in middle covered in Mayonaise - peas, raisins and odds and ends round its base - circumference strips of lettuce. Then chicken and beautiful chips; coffee ice cream: all very filling. Still snowing and forecast on radio of more!!!
Mon. Feb 11
Wonderful day - morning grey but after breakfast sun came rather hesitantly. B. to Skischule. C. and Colin to play with luge (C. not keen on Skischule - too slow and "boys push in front of you".) and I took M. off to Tshuggen ski lift. By the time we got up , sun shining gloriously - mts. beautiful - snow dazzling - M. thrilled. He came up lift very well (beside me) though it is awkward to have to put the "arm" almost down to my knees to accommodate them and carry their sticks also.
[Note: Sound of bells on ?? horses - and of church clock chiming the quarters?].
Easy going down - easy snow - M. very good - improving his running position - but when he gets afraid up straighten the knees and out goes the bottom behind and soon he sits down! He did some good turns on the final difficult piste - they are both better and safer on piste than on soft snow. Down fairly early and over to B. who was thrilled at how she did in class and keen to go up in afternoon with them also very keen on present instructor.
So after lunch gave M. 50c for chewing gum, etc. and left him and Colin to dress themselves (after sitting in sun on balcony) and play with luge till we came down. B. off to class - C. and I walked to Carmenna lift - long slow walk - far better to take bus. Reached there at 2.30 - terrific queue for lift - upper part of town very open - but hotels (Bellevue? etc.) awkward to get to and from. Up to top without mishap - beautiful open valley- long snowy slopes. Hornli life away up to left - Weisshorn to right. Came down via Carmenna hut; called in "Igloo Nestle" - entrance through 10 foot snow tunnel - signed visitors book and had Nescafe ; inside dark - wooden bar seats - cowbells - birdcage- skeleton of fish. C. got Nestles eyeshade and a few cigarette packets. ( He asks me to pick up snow covered empty packets at most awkward moments - hands full of skis etc.). Run down fairly fast - nice place for Christies - one or two rabbit classes spoiled parts of our runs - but C. had no real falls. He did panic rather pathetically on last steep slopes for a moment - possibly the effect of good skiers crashing through - or of light which made contours difficult to distinguish - but he got over this and did alternate Christies admirably to bottom.
Run down to road to Kursaal where B. already was. I went on and found M. and Colin playing very happily at curling rink - Colin's pockets stuffed with cones. M. delighted because he had found another 50c so not only bought chewing gum but Colin and he had 10c each to put in the station slot machine. Pulled Colin up to Kursaal on luge - tea with B. - boys had Orangina and cakes. B. thrilled to have gone up Tshuggen lift but sorry to have done run down to Carmenna from top which seems harder and not so interesting as run to ? into Arosa. But glad to have accomplished it nevertheless. Left rest of class to go up Carmenna - wisely I think.
Dawdled - watched the gaming - astonishing versatility of croupier with stick - and tossing winnings out with terrific flourish. Later rather nice dancer did a small "floor show". Then home - B. and C. on skis - Colin, M. and I on luge. Nice how many people will turn to give you a push if you are going slow - very friendly and helpful.
Sewed new elastic on bottom of Colin's trouser legs - then fine dinner - soup - omelette with small peas inside, chips, salad with beautiful beetroot - ripe pineapple prepared with Kirsch - and wine.
Left boys again to look after themselves (after we saw Colin to bed) - and off to ice rink to see an Ice Show. Payed 3Fr each for "Stelplatz" - but got up a ladder and had splendid seat on top of wooden barrier; fine show of really good skating. Best - a clown who was superb - and a good girl who was European Champion. Got cold - fine snow falling again - home and found boys asleep quietly and all well. Excellent day - though B. and I both feeling legs a bit stiff.
[Note: B. very amused at C.'s consternation that a man danced with her 4 times whilst they waited for me in Kursaal!!]
(Find it refreshing to open window of bedroom a "chink" and turn down the radiator at night).
Tues. Feb 12
Snow early morning but odd blinks of sun later - but whole afternoon a "drizzle" of rather wet warm snow - nasty. B. went to class - I took C. and M. and Colin (C., M. and self with skis and Colin with luge) on bus to Kulm; walked up hill and taught Colin how to steer himself on luge. Then put on skis and came down slope with C. and M. ; repeated this - then C. and M. off on own to ski down the middle of Arosa. Put my skis on luge and Colin and I rode down to join Ma on practice slopes. Practiced a little and then home for lunch.
Snowing again but persuaded B. to join me on trip up Tshuggen - very misty and snowy at top. Managed run to Hof Moran? quite well - though B. had a couple of fair falls; after that she lost confidence - so didn't do the last part too well.
Bought papers at station and arranged about keeping couchettes if we join train at Zurich. Found boys digging happily in snow - all to Carmenna for tea chocolate and dancing.
B., C. and Colin home - Michael and I wandered up town looking at shops and eventually found bloc? where our photos were (taken at Ice ??) ordered P.C.size (2Fr !!) and bought little stockmagel? for 60c in wood shop.
Home - all had bath and good dinner. Got bill for extras for week - surprised it is so little (26Fr). C. by now seems to have dozens of cigarette packets.
Notes: Double panes in windows - sides of windows lock into each other (diagram) Doors also all shut by same principle.
Got boys to bed. B. and I went for stroll about 10pm - lights beautiful - but fine snow still falling.
Wed. Feb 13
More snow!!! Decided to go for long walk - so set out at 10.00am - went down through trees toward Strandbad?; beautiful high banks of soft downy snow. Squirrels almost tame will come down for nuts from your hand. Birds singing - some lovely little ones like finches. Struck a good footpath round lake and up to upper part of town over railway. The (after a call in photo-express) across main road and on up through more woods - to path of Tshuggen Ski lift where Colin saw it working for first time. Some good skiers passed through woods : on across mountainside and down to Oversee? beyond railway. Home by 12.15pm - long, tiring but enjoyable walk. Good lunch - C. let fiz out of "Papaita Bottle" all over his trousers - Colin upset his glass.
Walking paths are most numerous and lovely - lots of people - mostly elderly - using them. Lunch. More snow. A kind of fog over top of Tshuggen and low down in valley - no sign of sun.
Colin with luge - rest with skis to practice slopes. Snow difficult - wet and stickyso slipping difficult. Saw and chatted to French chap who was doing Telemarks thro soft snow - so tried a few (my first) - think that with practice I could manage reasonably well. Did one or two properly - but most ended in collapse in soft snow.
Collected family and off to Post Hotel for tea and dancing . Near railway - big, cosmopolitan, not particularly smart - but has virtue of being central and near ski lift. Lost Colin on the way home but found he had gone on so was able to do a bit of shopping as intended. Still snow - and cold foggy atmosphere; rather browned off. B. spotted girl in Post Hotel who, on her way to Leck? last year shared our compartment in train. Spoke to her. Slightly "browned off".
[Note: Struck again by gay and sharply contrasting colours of house walls, shutters, etc.; also by drawings, designs and Gothic lettering on houses: don't know what the mottoes mean. Architecture in general modern and quite striking: buildings often 6-8 storeys with balconies whole way up; saw one "bay" room this am built out from house on kind of central stilt - thus (diagram).
[Two pages with detailed drawings of the construction of luge or sleigh.]
[Note: bed clothes more than sufficiently warm - ? top sheet, thin blanket, then coverlet, then a big "Swiss" eiderdown and this latter big and loose - has nice coloured cover and outer sheet-like, buttoned on slip: hard to make at home ?]
[Note: electric switches of "turn-round" type; house hold power plugs are 500 volts.]
Before dinner, made plan of luge we have - though both smaller and larger editions exist.
Good dinner - soup, roast beef and balls of roasted potatoes, salad and cherry tart - finished off the wine and the beer; rather anxious to go for walk but B. not anxious - so chatted to Torquay man and Dutch lady - and to bed at 10.00pm.
Torquay fellow strongly recommends Switzerland about last week in May or beginning of June: some points he made: (1) see Blausee? (near Kunsteig?) (2) Geneva beautiful - but too expensive to ?? (3) Don't stay in Interlaken but go just beyond - say - Hotel du Lac at Goldswil? Cheaper - beautiful though outside not striking (4) liked Fleur-de-Lys hotel at Neuchatel (5) Got packed lunches at hotels where he stayed the night. [Note: no need for packed lunches at Arosa as all runs possible and back to hotel for meals].
Dutch lady talked of riding weekends in Holland - also mentioned holidays on lakes - boating - in Holland; one can hire boats there.
Mr. Basch, the Pole, has "taken up" with the new arrival, a Swedish girl and everyone is pulling his leg.
Thurs. Feb 14
Even more snow!! We are having the most appalling bad luck - but have the consolation that had we gone elsewhere we would have thought we erred in not going to Arosa!
Out on foot - posted cards in Post Office - lovely building - vine growing in main office (as well as in porch) - lovely clock built in to the wall. As usual girl assistant speaks excellent English. On up street into little shop - and all chose different Arosa badges for our jerseys. Bought little skirt for Paula.
B., M. and Colin went on up to collect photo etc. C. and I back for skis and up through snow on Tshuggen lift- took to left and found going fairly good but snow still "sticky". Sun fairly good but foggy mist below us in Arosa. Got to bottom of Carmenna lift at 11.30am and decided we just had time to go up and down before lunch. On the way up saw unusual sight of wooden lift seat parting from its attachment.
Still fine weather - had exhilerating run down though Christies sticky in snow. Skied down street and home just five minutes late for lunch. B. seems quite happy with her morning. Got letter from Sally - mainly about Paula - delighted to hear she seems wonderfully well. Poor Sally didn't know to put more than 2 1/2 penny stamp on letter (so 15c postage due).
Good lunch - B. taken a liking to light Swiss beer.
Boys out with luge - persuaded B. to come up lift and maybe also up Carmenna. A long queue at Tshuggen lift (2.30pm). Attendant gave me a shove in the back at the start so that I almost fell off - or rather almost never got started. Up safely - no sun - snow - but some sun on higher peaks - so went to left (Carmenna durection) and had quite a nice and very enjoyable run using deep snow where piste seemed difficult. B. enjoyed last long run on piste - some sun at times - country beautiful. 4.00pm when we got down and decided to come on down road. Found C. at P. Office - very sorry for himself - very cold ( ? what had he been doing?) but M. and Colin rosy, happy - seemed to have had great fun together with luge. Carmmenna for choc. and tea and cakes (7Fr - 1.70Fr); got a couple of new cig. packets for C's collection; during tea, evening sun on tops of mountains - golden and lovely.
C. and I up town (others to home) and left skis in to be waxed - bought ??? and a few more photo views; tried to find Swiss greeting cards but didn't see exactly what I wanted. Home by 6.00pm - got exceptionally cold (good sign - absence of ??) - snow glittering like diamonds in light of street lamps.
Excellent dinner - ? vingrette (fish), meat and rice, meringue, wine. Dutch lady (who went home today) left choc. and cigs. for us. Looked outside - striking stars, intense cold; thought of taking Michael on luge run to Litzriti - but he seemed to be too sleepy - so said nothing. After settling Colin down in bed, found B. had taught boys to play whist. Showed them 3-card trick- to their amazement. And so to be about 9.30pm.
Fri. Feb 15
No snow falling!! Sun rather hazy but definitely shining at last! Out fairly early - collected skis from Sprechers - nicely waxed and running much better (2 pairs 1Fr) Took C.and M. up Tshuggen lift complete with cine camera. C. to travel alone - but missed the "stick" at the start - fell off - but picked himself up and got the chair after M. and me. At the top paused to take shot or two and then off down run to Carmenna lift. An odd stop for "shots": sun not bright but pleasant. M. did very well indeed. Safely down - no queue at Carmenna lift - up on it. Cost for boys = 2 holes in abonnement (self=3). Further shots at top - but sun wrong for taking the broad expanse of valley. Over to Carmenna Hut: on the way asked girl the make of her anorak (kind I admire - dull yellow - loose attached hood - no waist or tie-in - just a little bit at each side over hips). She said she bought it in Germany - trade name "Minoflex".
M. thrilled with igloo - signed his name in visitors book; boys had Nescao (1Fr each) - I had Nescafe (80c); found that girl attendant had been in Belfast and Dublin! This same Igloo had been at Davos (on the Weissfluchisch?) last year. Talked to two men and girl in Igloo - said Davos poor compared with Arosa - skiing marvellous (but no better really than here) - but town itself quite disappointing. Not so free and easy - or as pleasant as here. Klosters etc. are in shade - so avoid. They aslo told me that apartments above Carmenna cost 1000Fr per month - sleep 8 people - small kitchen, etc. Idea is to have rolls and coffee for breakfast, rolls, coffee and some meat for lunch and have main hot meal in evening in restaurantbelow for 5 or 6Fr. (Must compare with prices here - later). Run down to Carmenna from Hornli does not look too difficult.
Run down from hut good - after shots of Igloo: M. did surprisingly well - got one bad toss at foot of bumpy straight run - but apart from this stemmed from side to side of big slopes beautifully; near bottom C. had gone on - I was leading M. but got into a straight fast downhill position - didn't want to do a hard Christie and I knew M. couldn't manage it at that speed - so went on straight to hut on left after you cross the road where people watch: did hard Christie to stop - turned round and to my delight there was M. (rosy and delighted with himself): straight down thereafter in town and home by lunch (12.40pm).
Took one or two shots on balcony after lunch (where this is written) - sun still a bit clouded over - but still very nice. B. writing a note to Sally.
Since sun not too bright decided against spending afternoon in town. B. and boys went to practice slopes _ I off to try Weisshorn run with cameras round me like a Christmas tree. Note: Found out that if you announce your double run (to Weisshorn etc.) at first lift point it costs you one hole less in your abonnement.
Up Tshuggen lift with Dutch man who recommended chairlift to Hornli for children but suggested spending only a morning or afternoon on it - not a day. Says run down not difficult but be careful. Got shot or two before getting to Weisshorn lift (and one at top) - but light too indistinct for good colour - probably better in morning. Fell on way over to Weisshorn lift - usual way - by hitting soft snow when travelling fast: find that with Kandahar? binding on one notch only , a great help in avoiding injury on falling.
Weisshorn lift odd - strap around bottom - patent clip you catch on to ring at end of rope - rope then attached to travelling cable. Long way up (about 15-20 min.) and goes well round to back of mountain. View at top into next valley and over neighbouring peaks really grand. Didn't go into hut at top but made off on Maran - Litziruti route; other routes - (1) fairly easy across mountain to top of Carmenna lift (2) more or less straight down winding through soft snow - steep and difficult.
Maran route log (3.5 miles) and not too difficult and very interest. It goes around back of mountain and scenery changing and delightful. Wide vistas of virgin snow. Drops into tree-tops in valleys; some lovely light violet tints on distant peaks. Found cameras a nuisance at speed - in future must put them in rucsac; even a small camera swinging round unbalances one at real speed: however, no falls and fine run down to join B. and boys in Zimmer? tea room (beside Post Office). Nice but no music or dancing; value good: we sat on the right side which was no smoking unfortunately. Everyone seems to have had a good time: B. getting some slide on the traverses: Colin and M. happy with luge. C. found 1/2Fr and asked to go up the Tshuggen lift alone. B. so impressed with courage and initiative that didn't care to say no - so C. came down through Maran alone - and without a fall!! A considerable achievement for a 10-year-old - and first 2 weeks skiing in life.
Noticed tea (which tastes well - always served with rich cream and lots of sugar which the boys eat) inside pot is very big-leafed and coarse and ? Good jug of hot water always and tea strainer.
B. forgot and left ?? outside ski-hut; went for it and when she came back pointed out the high level of common honesty here. One often sees glasses, gloves, etc. stuck up on prominent point - for owner to take. Also I leave my skis anywhere that is convenient - outside hotels, shops, in ski-hut etc. After tea wandered up town to look at a few shop windows. B. had already bought cake of toilet soap (2Fr). Note for future - always bring soap - never supplied on continent though we get lots of clean towels.
Home for wash and dinner. B. not feeling well - thinks she has a tummy upset - ? rich food? Soup, dish of all kinds of cold meat cut very thinly, large dish of spaghetti (very good), grated cheese for dressing, salad: caramel custand and usual wine.
Decided to take M. on luge run down to Litziruti - C. had been up top more often than he. So muffled up and set out - but snow on road rather rough and not icy enough and pitch dark in forest. Bright stars but no moon; so strolled with him up town instead. Bright sparkling lights - intense cold - 12 degrees below zero - shop lights delightful (window displays must be heated or glass would not remain clear). Home 9.30pm and to bed; turned down radiator and opened window a chink.
Note: radiator a god-send for drying out wet gloves and odd bit of washing.
Note: can we get pattern for making our own ski pants (in Zurich?).
Memo:"Dry" lavatory at Carmenna Hut (which is almost completely below snow) - leading down into fast stream so deep down you can hear it but not see it: so complete absence of smell etc.
Sat. Feb 16
Sun actually shining into bedroom before we went down to breakfast! All out with skis and luge to practice slopes- took cine and still kodachrome : sun really lovely and mountains delectable. Then up main street taking odd shots. Found rucsac most comfortable for holding cameras etc. Called in Credit Swisse Bank - drew 20 pounds and banked 50 pounds for future reference: no pass books, etc. - one just calls in any such bank anywhere in Switzerland - show passport and draw cash. Down again - some shots at station - home for lunch.
Sun a bit more cloudy (about 14 degrees below) and very fine snow falling (almost like fine ice powder). Set off by bus for Kulm (C. and I with skis) to Hornli ski and chair lift: saw B. set off in chair and Colin beside her : then M. (very brave) alone in another chair. The I went off in ski lift (similar to Weisshorn) towing C. behind me. (Fare 6 holes each for C. and I - total of 15 holes for B., M. and Colin = roughly 9Fr. [B.,M. and Colin for return of course.] ; long run - chilly - glorious wide sweeping snow slopes with only occasional ski marks - unbelievable loveliness.
Up top at Hornli - climbed up to hut; misty and cold - so view poor - but found others thrilled with journey up - entranced with whole affair. Into hut which is beautifully heated - full of people having all sorts of drinks ; built-in ??? -at-the wall clock - fine modern flush lavatories - extraordinary in this spot perched up on a pinnacle about 8300ft up. Noticed many people having tots of brandy with tea and on menu saw "Tasse withy rhum ?? 1.30Fr".
All had cups of Ovaltine - hot milk served separately from sugar and little packets of Ovaltine (each 1Fr). I felt distinctly "height-conscious" - dizzy and a bit deaf - and should have waited 1/2 hour but was anxious about light as it seemed to be acquiring that luminous mistiness which obscures all contours - when I can see no sign whatever of even the most acute drops into space. So set off rather early with C. - first across a slightly frighteningly steep traverse with big lumps of frozen snow - where I took a couple of tosses. B. and others waved goodbye - then on across a really long traverse - C. skiing wonderfully well - much better than I - till we found ourselves above Carmenna Hut; light now better - but ears still singing and knees distinctly wobbly - so didn't ski well- though we came down really fast ( no-one passed us - we did the passing!). Passed Mr. Byne? and Batch - C. took the last big drop without a pause or a fall - and by this time I was OK - so really Christied down from there witha ssurance and enjoyment - and no mistakes.
Light poor on top - so M. took the rucsac: waited a few moments at Kulm - and there was B. and the boys just walking up from the chairlift!! - frozen but very happy. The downward journey was more frightening apparently than the upward - Colin says " just like an airplane". Awkward time for bus - so walked down to Karsaal? - hot choc., tea and cakes and saw wonderful floor-show - man and girl amazing. B. almost lost her dark specs. (had left them in "Damen") - but got them. Straight home for good dinner - soup, liver and bacon, mashed potatoes, salad - in sort of gravy ring with ?? (boys had two) - wine. Weather in later part of afternoon poor (Home 6.30pm). Altogether a wonderful day.
Note: B. finds one more shirt for boys would have been a good idea (ie 4 instead of 3 each): also some scribbling paper.
Everybody getting really bronzed.
After settling Colin at 8.15pm went down to find B. and boys playing whist; had a few rounds - then taught them rummy? which they enjoyed greatly; also a couple of simple card tricks which dazzled them!! They off to bed at 10.00pm (late) - and B. and I at 10.30pm after finishing the beer left over from lunch.
Note: Horse eating snow - probably for a drink. Also big St. Bernard dog harnessed and pulling two luges.
Sun. Feb 17
Hazy morning - but later bright strong sun - though still surprisingly cold at times (14 degrees below). Sent C. off to finish last class ticket - B. to practise on slopes. M., Colin and I walked with luge to take a lot of black and white snaps - and an odd bit of cine. Mountains and colours glorious. Later joined B. and C. at ski hut at 11.30am - found C. had gone up to Kulm to class and left at half time (? what did he really do? - he went to class with bad grace!) Got some action shots of family - then C. lay down in snow saying he had a pain in his tummy.
Lunch - left B. and Colin in sun on bedroom balcony - C. and M. watched Arosa play Riesbach? at ice hockey for a time - boys thought it was terrific - then to Tshuggen lift where there was a terrific queue - special day train in from Zurich. Chatted to English girl who knew N.I. well - was at Leck? last year - small - but harder skiing than here: says Merkur? good here - also Bellevue (though a glorified pub) - Weitzerhof? not bad.
Sun on top but peculiar deep violet mist below in valley ; icicles falling. Climbed to see building at Tshuggen top - big - seems some sort of observatory. Then climbed up to look down on Weisshorn lift - then down Carmenna run - well - but my right ski had to be taken off to scrape off ice collected in icy powder snow. Got some shots of speed skiing on Carmenna slopes - and took C. and M. over small jump. Home to pick up B. and Colin at Carmenna (choc. and tea and cakes) - danced - out early to see Tshuggen lift going - B. and I walked up - but it had stopped. Strolled through homegoing crowds at station - then home - B. pulling Colin on luge and M. getting a tow on skis behind. C. had gone on with my rucsac.
B. ear-lobes badly scorched by sun - and found she had taken out too little clothing.
Dressed in skirt, trousers, etc. for dinner (mushroom pate, salad, chicken and chips, peach pie, wine). Boys ate well. It has been surprising how small their appetities have been since we came. Saw boys to bed - then out to Hotel Post for evening. Pleasant - slightly ??? (afterwards we discovered that the bar downstairs has more character and attraction for dining): drank half a litre white wine and enjoyed a mild quiet evening. Ver amused at five English chaps - all sitting together - ?? worried if they would really get their ham and eggs in the morning - 4 drank beer and 1 tea! Hilarious!
Beautiful evening on the way home - Herr Hendelsohn waiting up for two English guests.
Mon. Feb 18
Really glorious day: sun dazzling the tops of the mountains at breakfast: after planning what best use we could make of abonnements, etc., we set out early leaving Colin to play with the maid, Irene. All four of us went up Tshuggen lift - two boys in front, B. and I together: glorious sun-swept dazzling snow on top and all the world down below looking heavenly. Down toward the Carmenna lift - we all had an excellent run - B. doing her best descent yet. I think she was really surprised at how well C. and M. skied.
Came on down main road with B.: stopped to watch some squirrels feeding from a child's hand - beautiful creatures - seem fond of monkey nuts.
Left B. to go home - and up Tshuggen again with boys to do the run again: this time we took it fast - then up Carmenna lift - still sun pouring down the valley. A really fast run down from Carmenna - only a couple of tosses amongst us - poor M. still will not bend his knees when he gets nervous. (Lovely serious soft snow trails coming down from Hornli).
Down from Arosa ? again for lunch - both boys seem quite weary. Found B. and Colin very happy - they had sat outside Carmenna drinking Orangina, etc. B. still feels a bit wobbly - so wants no more skiing. Sun on balcony after lunch but a few wisps of cloud make a great chill suddenly. B. and Colin using an abonnement to take bus to Kulm and walk down - having first deposited their skis, luge, and Colin's boots in Sprechers.
Boys and I up Tshuggen again - skied to Weisshorn lift - and all went up it separately - particularly creditable for M. Slight snow - but still brilliant enough on top for boys to see wonderful views. Came down Maran run: C. fell only once, I got a couple to real tosses and M. fell a few (4) times - one particularly nasty toss which hurt his right leg. He was very good about it - skied on - and all took the last difficult piece below Maran without a fault - the boys coming down the last fast piece!! Station at 3.55pm so rushed to ski-lift myself (I still had 2 holes left in abonnement) - boys to walk up to Kursaal?.
Now getting very cold and grey - so much so that I could not see contours on top - so skied down in "darkness" - and did all the better for it - a no-fall descent - a no-stop: splendid run and arrived at Kursaal barely 10 minutes after boys - B. and Colin alrewady there since 3.45pm - I arrive at 4.30pm.
During day met man who thinks Engelberg much more difficult than here. Also man from Zurich who stays in apartment above nearby garage - 5 adults and 2 children - 750Fr. per month. However he doubts if one can get apartment for less than 4 to 6 weeks.
Face and body singing from so much ski-running - roughly 10 miles of skiing with a days drop of close to 10,000ft!! Never dreamt it would be possible this holiday. Must give C. top marks for really good ski-running - very sure, full of courage and ability. M. also - but more childish and wobbly.
Tea, dancing and a lovely cabaret (same as last time) - out by 6.00pm - left own skis in Sprechers - home - wash -a good dinner. All the family very pleased with such a full and fine day for last day of the holiday in Arosa.
Chatted with Mr. "Batch" after dinner - gave us his address:
M.E.Bacz, 207 Union St., Torquay, S. Devon.
Also strongly recommended Grundewald - especially Miss Steiner at Sport Hotel, Jungfrastrasse, Grundewald - a good second class hotel - good food - convenient to station - he is well-known there. Note 8-day tickets on railway up to Scheidegg - taking it up (amongst others) to Alesch? Glacier, skiing down to intermediate station, up again and so on: also doing Jungfraujoch run - but sking down from (say) Schiedegg: also 1.5 to 2 hour walk obliquely up from Schiedegg to Mannlichorn?. Says Ski-hoist (and slopes) on Lauterhorn very steep.
Packed quickly - saw boys to bed - B. and I chatted with Belgian couple on honeymoon; rather nice couple - their French is rather difficult to make out. Asked us to call if in Belgium - address -
Jean M. Magnee, Docteur en Droit, 20 Rue de la Colline, Verviers.
But note they may be going out to settle in Iceland.
Paid Herr Hendelsohn for extras and 200 cigs to take home (40Fr. in all). Arranged about morning call - and so to bed. [Colin's bedtime remark: "The hairs starting to grow under my arms, Daddy".]
Tues. Feb 19
Lady whose knee was hurt (wife of radiologist - 3 children):
M. Kijme-Becker, Frieschelaam 4, Paterswolde (Dr.), Holland.
Girl who gave us choc. and biscuits before she left:
Susy Herzog, Buchdrucherei, Rheinfeldem
Girl from Zurich who gave Colin animals:
Friedy Dunki, Dorfplatz, Rorbas, Rt. Zurich
Up early - lovely morning - bags off to station at 8.00am - breakfast at 8.15am. Gave H. Hendelsohn 20Fr. for maids - all seemed very pleased. Note: write to Cooks re H.Hendelsohn (written in train). Good breakfast - sun blazing down as we left Arosa - glorious view down valley to Chur - very hot in train - last glimpse of Weisshorn with ski tracks. Chur 10.30am - beautiful run down to Zurich: train went to main Bahnhof - so got on local train back to Enge to park bags. Outside Enge station sat on bench and ate pack lunches (much to amusement of everyone). Excellent lunch - we couldn't eat all. Watch trains (blue) wityh trailers. Then into Zurich via lakeside; walked down whole of Bahnhofstrasse - lovely - but remote and impersonal - and not busy. Into station cafe for tea and Ovaltine (3.90Fr. for all). ? difficulty about what to do with children in evening - searched papers. Memo - waitress who returned with 1Fr. - overcharge!! More shops - B. bought nylons and some choc. Into large store (?) . Enquired at several ? - but only over 18 allowed in. Eventually tried Cooks who advised Congress House.
On the train home from Arosa, Switzerland
Took train to Dolder - up in Dolder Eicbahn? (rack railway?) - tunnel for kids (3Fr. return) - out in little jeep at top over icy roads to icerink - in to rink (1Fr.) and watched skating and ? of rink. Cold.
Back into Zurich - to Congress House - excellent dinner (20Fr.) and into drawing room where really good band and singers performed. Drank Coca Cola at bar till 10.30pm - train to Enge - and caught ? train at 11.00pm - into couchettes where this is written.
Zurich disappointing - cold - people poorly dressed - not too clean outside - not attractive (in winter). Waitress (speaks 4 languages - works 9.00am to 12pm 6 days a week ) recommends Lausanne. Interesting head waiter - had been to Ritz (London) - very kind in getting omelettes for children. Chatting about standard of home life in ? - also about all sorts of nationalities doing business in Zurich - Chinese, Russian, etc. No love for Italians or black marketeers.
Not suitable type of day for children.
Wed. Feb 20 (in train)
Excellent nights sleep for everyone - not too hot in carriage. Rather nice Swiss travel agent going on holiday in London - slept in remaining bunk. Very little bothered with customs, etc. - up at 7.30am - along to dining car for breakfast. Almost got stuck on way by corridor door jamming on carpet! Plain breakfast for all 5 - 8.60Fr. Good wash up and shave in nice hot water - sun now shining (raining when we wakened). French countryside flat, rather uninteresting - swampy.
Sorted out various bits of baggage for London. Customs and passports all fixed up on train so that we have nothing to do but go straight to boat at Calais.
M. rather over-excited on journey - bouncing about and getting into trouble: Colin very good. C. wanders away on his own to explore corridors, look at maps: very much an individualist and much better on his own. M. and Colin good together - but C. gets in their hair if he is with either. ? How does M. manage to look always so grubby - shirt tail almost always out of trousers and back of hair tousled!!
Note: no shortage of food on train - we have far too much of everything.
Train relatively empty again. Gave B. an Avomine? at 9.00am and another at 11.00am - so likely she won't be sick this time. Coming near Calais - flat calm day. Finished bottle of red wine we bought on way out - just saw sea - flat, blue and lovely.
Change over to boat easy - once more "Cote d'Azur" - lovely ship; off straight to Salon de The (after looking in dining room and deciding we didn't want lunch); salon fresh with lime-yellow chairs, pale wood panelling, off-white and green curtains in bold design. Boat left early (12.00 noon French time) - we had coffee, rolls, butter and jam and cake (10 shillings total).
Got good saloon seats where B. snoozed; boys and I made frequent runs around decks in sunny but coldish wind blowing. Tried all various lavatories!! (Note: Colin has zip at side of trousers - awful nuisance).
Easy crossing - no sickness - off boat quickly - through British customs - got same rather charming man as on going out - told truth about nylons (5) and cigs. (400) and chocs - didn't open bags. Sun shing in England. Warm: got our reserved seats on train without difficulty. Boys and I looked at bookstall and looked in buffet - but they didn't want anything to drink!! Bought B. the Daily Express. (Travelling 2nd class by rail in England and Continent - 1st class on boat in Irish and English channel).
Quite warm day through fruit-fields of Kent; apple trees being pruned: willows pollarded? and "sallies" tied in bundles. Firsst sight of green grass pleasurable - get the feeling that I want to put my feet out of the carriage and feel soft grass under them!
Train rather grubby though a small effort is made toward hygiene by presence of two small towels, some warm water and soap in lavatory: but carriages grubby (worse than the French which were good this year) - and, of course, not in the same world as Swiss.
B. wakening up from "dozing mood" - and feeling rather hungry; boys have all been to wash place to clean their hands and comb their hair.
Victoria on time (3.05pm) - dumped rucsac and one small bag in left luggage office there - then tube to Euston where we dumped two larger cases. At Euston called in cafeteria (newly "done up" - rather nice - quite good food) for rolls, buns, drinks and tea. Refreshed set off by tube to Army and Navy store to look at handbags and see around. Struck by emptiness of shops - assistants have nothing to do (? effect of King's death or of economic crisis?). Disappointed (on the whole) with this shop - so off by bus to Piccadilly: waited about 3/4 hour in queue to get into Eros News Theater (2/1 each) - saw King's funeral, etc. - ou about 7.15pm - to Lyons for drinks, rolls and buns.
Bus to Victoria - collected bags - off to Beckenham - dark - boys very weary - all tempers a bit short - safely to Leiths where children went straight to bed. Had drinks, stuffed olives, supper (with tea) - talked to Desmond till nearly 2.00am. Bed. Leith's amazed at how brown we all are! And pleased with nylons and chocolate we brought.
Thurs. Feb 21
Up reasonably early - everyone clear-eyed and fresh. Got Moss Bros. things packed in own boxes - seem to have a lot more room in our bags than formerly. Good breakfast - bus to station - into Victoria by 10.30am - parked Moss Bros. bags (to be collected) - bus to Piccadilly Circus. Dumped rucsac. When there, decided to walk down to Horse Guards and let Colin see changing of the Guard. Fresh, cool bright morning; good view of guard-changing. B. and boys thrilled; got one or two snaps.
Changing of the Guard, London
Back up on foot to Swan & Edgars where B. bought a bag and some socks; everything very reasonable. Then to Lyons for early lunch (12.15pm). Others had soup, rolls and ice-cream: I had spaghetti and American tart and suffered sore tummy time bedtime!
Straight by bus to Heals's? Magnificient shop - astonishingly low prices - quick run round and decided not to buy any more furniture, glass, etc. in Belfast; it would be worth fare to London to buy. Saw beautiful circular oak table with occasional "insets" at 15 pounds - bought it.
Walked down to Oxford Street - into Milletts? where B. and I each bought a cycling helmet. B.'s is white - will make good ski-hat also: excellent shop. Almost bought meta, two-tier bunk with mattress (total 12 pounds) - but difficulty about transport (Ref. Heal's).
Bus to Selfridges - on way up Regent St. noted good corner for future shopping - on right Hambley's, Jaeger, Libertys etc close to each other. Quick run round sports and toy department of Selfridges - saw a little television (first time for B.) - then up to restaurant for afternoon tea (five shillings, four and a half pence for all).
B., M. and Colin then caught No.73 bus from door of shop straight to Euston. C. and I by bus to Piccadilly, picked up rucsac, tube to Euston - arrived 4.15pm. Collected big bags and got reserved seats on full and long Liverpool train - left 4.30pm - after buying some magazines.
Ate some fruit - read - washed up: I changed into a clean shirt. Dinner at 6.00pm - goodish - soup, choice of fish, meats, etc., sweets (ice cream): C. had coffee with B. and me (total 30 shillings). Played some rummy but M. very tired. Liverpool 8.30pm - onto boat: struck once more by bad arrangements for transfer of passengers from train to boat: treated like cattle: no responsible attendant. Bus leaves once? - and you make your own way through bare, smelly shed - no proper notices and no officials to welcome or guide you - whole business deplorable.
Got Ulster Monarch (thank goodness!) at Prince's Dock - good cabins - boys explored as usual. Only 100 on board (usual about 700). Colin and M. soon to bed - B. followed. C. and I watched clever job of getting boat out of dock and into Mersey. Then about 10.00pm C. went to bed - all had 3/4gr. Terminal?
I went into dining room - had pot of good coffee, toast, butter and jam (1/6). Down to cabin 11.00pm. B. and others all asleep. Calm night but quite cold on deck; now midnight.
Tomorrow I shall see Paula.
Fri. Feb 22
Boys awake (and well) about 6.00am.- had to let them get up: cancelled cup of tea in bed - better to go up and eat breakfast. All dressed without haste - boat docked about 7.30am : ate plain breakfast (2 shillings each) - creal or fruit juice, plenty of toast, jam, coffee.
Parked bags on board - all walked to Rottgers where B. was to get hair-wash; boys and I collected car - running beautifully - did some messages - day fine, dry and lovely. Set off for home about 10.00am: everything beautiful at home - Paula in great form: all feel wellthough later in the day I felt intolerably sleepy.
Holiday over - up to Hospital - there all day - Larry Higgins in evening - on to Hunt Ball in Antrim: everyone astonished at bronzed skin. Glad to be back in our own house.
Here, for reference, is my father's original journal:
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Last updated 7/30/99.
Christopher E. Brennen