© Christopher Earls Brennen

IGLS 1953

What follows is my transcription of my father's journal for the January 1953 skiing holiday in Igls, Austria, along with the photographs that my father took during that holiday.

Thurs. Jan 1

10.00pm on boat: Safely in our bunks - the two boys quite happy reading together in top bunk. Left home after lunch. Shopped with B. and Colin for odds and ends - left ourselves rather too much time: tea in Cotter's Kitchen - to boat at 6.45pm. Saw B. and Colin go rather sadly in car. Boarded "Ulster Prince" - clean ship - good wood - explored. We got a lovely 2-berth cabin just beside Purser's Office - roomy. Washed. Met alot of friends in various lounges. Herby Templeton. Paul Fry who used to play for Collegians - in Air Force uniform - just back from Bulawayo (S.Rhodesia) and now posted to Wolverhampton. Also Terry Brennen, positivelt resplendent in ribbons on Air Force uniform - just back from Far East where he is D.P.M.O.? (based in Singapore) - asking for B.

Saw ship safely out of dock - then went down for another feed. Boys had Club Orange, coffee, toast and Michael "topped off" with a large glass of milk. Up to deck again - saw Bangor and Whitehead - beautiful clear moonlit night - and so to bed - very comfortably - boys just settling down. Missing B. very much.

Memo: Design of wooden ? in dining lounge. Also: Jam holder is by Walker & Hall.

Fri. Jan 2

Good crossing: once I woke and saw the moonlight silver on the sea - the boys stirring vaguely - I think they found it hot. Wakened with tea at 6.30am: washed, dressed and off in the dark, lamplit streets by bus at 7.30am to Lime Street: duly explored the train - after finding our (good) reserved seats and buying a couple of papers. Train off at 8.10am and went immediately for breakfast. We had a reasonable "plain" breakfast for ?/? each - because the bacon and egg course cost 2/- extra and the boys voted against it -especially as there were good rolls and fair coffee. Surly sort of head waiter - but he did himself out of a decent tip by (he thought) cleverly arranging the change out of a one pound note so that it contained nothing less than 2/-.

Weather clear - boys had plenty to look at - so time passed easily till London at 12.20pm. Straight to Southway Hotel (same room as B. and I had) - to snack lunch - Moss Bros. - ice cream - Hambleys - tea at Lyons in Piccadilly - bought fruit for journey - Schoolboys ?? (which was rotten) - News Theatre - baths and bed. Highlight was train department in Hambleys; London rather nice - fountains playing in Trafalgar Square - Eros away to be cleaned. Am dull and miss B. Got everything stacked and in order for the morning.

Sat. Jan 3

9.45am: Belgium-German border: rather hectic trying to write this on crowded train. Customs officials wandering somewhere - train stopped - snow on lines.

Got off in good time - breakfast in bedroom - met party 8.15am - 24 in all - seem decent - mainly Scottish: Dr. Cromie of Musgrave Pres. Hospital here by himself. Good run to Dover - through customs without bother - crossed to Ostend by "Konig Albert" (ship I crossed bu on Engleberg trip). Explored - had a good lunch - sat on deck and watched Calais. Got cold (snowing) - so went for snooze in lounge. Arrive 3.40pm (Belgian time) - after getting train seats went for coffee and biscuits in station cafe (3/10) - then had about an hour to wander in streets of Ostend - very dilapidated and poor - but small cafes very smart and warm looking with big central stoves. Bought some chocolate and fresh papers - on to train - fairly comfortable run to Brussels, Liege, Verviers.

Dinner at 7.15pm: soup, spaghetti and ham, chicken and potatoes with apple sauce, lemon pancakes (coffee 1/- extra). Boys ate well and enjoyed it.

Have largely frittered away the day talking to people. Two lads know Mildred? Gibson; one man knows Baldy Hewitt - and so on. Lemonade - one bottle gone - well worth bringing (Memo: bring folding cup).

Hear that sleepers don't "come on" till Aachen (at 11.00pm). Must play cards with children.

Sun. Jan 4

In train at 10.00am: Out of train at Aachen - through courteous passport and currency control - into sleepers: small, comfortable 3-berth sleeper: undressed: boys had biscuits, lemonade and a "ti...."? - off to sleep - did not wake until 9.00am. I got up at 8.00am - then went out to see about dining car - but it has got lost! So breakfast of lemonade, biscuits and a bar of chocolate. One can obtain a cup of coffee from sleeping car attendant - but for 3/6 each!!

All over Europe - snow! Just passed through Augsburg: we stop for one hour at Munich - but stay in sleeper to Kufstein where we change for Innsbruck.

After Munich (12.15pm): Flat snowy plains to Munich - arrived 10.30am: off train (leaving baggage) and found that party had been split up by train having been cut in half at Aachen - too big to start. Munich centre in ruins - a few big new buildings. Changed one pound German money (10.50 marks) and had hot chocolate (2) and coffee (1) with 2 rolls in 3rd class cafe for 2.30 marks (about 5/-); cups of coffee seem to cost about 1/-, apples, bread, etc. all very dear. Some people went for breakfast in hotel - cost about 30/- !!!

(Forgot: Christopher noticed mole hills in Kent)

Michael dropped top of toothpaste tube - but we found it (with torch) under radiator.

[Carriage inclined to be cold. Heated by little coal stove at end. C. and M. now watching attendant clean it out.]

Walked from station 2 blocks to city centre - but mostly rubble. Trains with trailers: quite nice clothes, etc. in shops - prices not bad (ski boots cost about 5 pounds). Saw snow-sculptured figures. Fair number of uniforms - mainly Americans who are in possesion.

Sport Hotel 10.00pm

Pleasant journey through mountain barrier - snow shallow but fairly good - foggy - easy customs and passport control - to Kufstein; here changed trains by having carriage attached to back of our train - walking into it - and then get shunted to local train! Arrived Innsbruck about 3.30pm - ou to big bus - up steep road ( about 30 minutes) to Igls - to hotel door.

Before going to room C., M. and I hooked up and got fitted with boots and skis: boots good - C.'s skis excellent - M. and mine fairly good.

Back for tea in cafe bar - wash - dinner (soup, ? veal? and salad, meringue and cream) boys had orange and lemonade (which was very dear - about 12s. and I started a botle of cheap wine) - upstairs, unpacked and into bed - ? and feeling well. Have been feeling dull and a bit "edgy" so far - missing B. more than I know.

Hotel quite ?? - beautifully appointed - looks distinctly expensive - have to keep off extras - though they seem to have a special cheap price for our party for drinks, etc. Only the boys and I and two others are in the actual hotel - others are up in the annex about 5 minutes away - but apparently very comfortable. So far as I can gather skiing is on the easy side.

[Memo: Sport House sitting in Maria Therese Strasse said to be good for ski-boots, etc.]

Boys have behaved extremely well so far - ate a very good dinner very nicely.

Forgot to say that after tea we went out to the nursery slopes in dark and skied like mad up and down: all did well.

Michael distinctly crestfallen when he saw they had a cot in room for him!! Got it changed to a couch - OK now.

Mon. Jan 5 in lounge at 10.30pm

Boys asleep - have written to B. - party have gone off to the local ?? hotel - ?? to drink and dance - so its quiet. Lounge beautiful - soft lighting by standard lamps - small table with gaily coloured ash trays: table legs wrought iron, tops are tiles painted with traditional Tyrolean designs. Long low wrought iron table in middle bearing plants. Walls have big oil paintings of mountains and a few inset beautifully dressed adverts for things like jewelry, ski-boots, woolens, internally lit. Magazines in various languages. Very fine soft dance music coming from the bar: it is luxurious in a cozy way, very soft lighting - statue of ? woman insert in end wall - but from behind for some ?? - from sides and front for others; air conditioning so no smoke or smell. Striking thing is to find the usual dozen people (mainly Americans and Italians) who seem to be always in bar and never ski - what an odd holiday. I spoke to one American who has spent a month here in this way - never out of a lounge seat - nor outside of the door (practically).

Up fresh this am (awoke and shaved before the boys woke - usual holiday habit!) ; good breakfast in austere wooden breakfast room - boys had chocolate - I coffee - rolls very fresh with butter and jam. Then out - I got a new and very fine pair of skis from the Ski-Schule shop - so all to the practice slopes: got C. and M. a book of tickets each (20s for 30 journeys) for ski-tow - they were delighted and later made excellent use of them: they went off to the only children's class (of 10) and enjoyed it greatly - rather easy for them and the lady instructor seemed pleased with Michael particularly!! - liked his style. But C. very happy to be the best there!

I went to top class (of 8) - amusing and most intelligent instructor (Fritz); class only fair - contains one American, a Siamese?, a French girl, an Italian, 2 Scotch, 1 English and me. Good and fairly easy fun on excellent slopes for a beginner to learn - snow thin - but most pleasant. Doing Christies mainly - my legs are a bit wobbly - but technique remains good.

Picked boys up - down for lunch (ham with mustard sauce, then soup, a goulash and a cooked apple in pastry) - drank a beer. Up to Ski-Sch. - boys off on a little walking expedition - our class took bus (4s) and went up to first chair lift (it can be reached by 20 minute walk straight up hill); bought book of tickets for 5 rides at 9s: really comfortable type of ski-lift - you put on skis and just sit down when chair comes along - get off as for other ski-lifts; Fritz brought us down again, practicing various sliding turns - up again - down by different route (not far) and different exercises - up once more - and down on fairly fast spin - past bottom and on down to Igls - not difficult and good rather gentle fun (B. will be pleased to know I am taking it easy!). "Winkled" the boys away from their skis - and tried the "Landhaus-Beck" (annex of the hotel near practice slopes) for tea: nice quiet place - but service slow: however much cheaper than here - 2 chocs, 1 tea, 3 big lovely cakes - 19.70s. Dull without music and dancing. Left skis there and wandered through lamplit village looking at shops - small - nice but too few. Nice little ice-rink; houses pretty with painted signs and pictures on walls; one wall (gable) hung with strange looking things which proved to be corn-on-the-cob.

A good wash - boys look well in colored shirts and "longs" and ate good dinner - soup, an entrecote, roast beef with "flat" chips, carrots, French beans and onion-rings covered with a kind of pastry, then a plate of Amental? cheese and butter - eaten with bread. I drank some wine, boys had a very nice bottle of orangeade each.

Read in lounge - lady chatting to Michael asked what he had learned at ski school. Michael replied "mostly how to fall". Up to bed where boys wrote a note to B. while I did also. A bit lonely - but feel rested and healthy. Will go to bed now.

Tues. Jan 6 in lounge at 10.30pm

Awake and up again before the boys came to life this am; some sort of vague holiday (being "Twelfth Night") - so no rolls but ordinary bread for breakfast; out first to ski-hut (a rough and ready sort of workshop) to get Michael a new pair of sticks - he had broken the leather "spokes" of one wheel. Collected skis at Landhaus-Beck where we left them last night. (It costs 1s each night to keep them in hotel ski-place - and not so handy). Boys enjoyed the morning - they went into woods and had fun dodging trees - were the best in their class. (I bought them badges yesterday - they're very fond of them.) We practiced slowish Christies - and were fairly lazy - talking mostly about the ski-jumping competition at Berg-Isel? in afternoon - apparently it is one of a series of four - the combined winner being practically world champion.

Fritz continues to be very amusing. I told him he was smoking too much - he said "If I smoke too much I die. If I do not smoke I die. So!!!" Again "You do not say Heil Hitler with your ski - just lift it a little bit - and make an old instructor happy - Please!!" Again "You do not ski to martial music - always hear a beautiful waltz in your ear - from this moment and always in your life till five minutes before you die - have zis waltz in your ear when you ski". A lady falls dropping hopelessly to the side of her skis - he looks and says "Ah - she is the dying swan in Lohengrin!" Perhaps his best was when we were charging down a slope yesterday doing linked? turns. I kept up close - we stopped at the bottom and looked back at most of the others in various stages of disaster. He smiled and said "Korea!".

Lunch at 12.00 sharp. Got everything on (its cold watching jumping) - bus at hotel door (return each 10s) - down to Innsbruck and to Berg-Isel on the outskirts - a precipitous "pimple" of a hill - starting hut on top - bottom runs up to another hill facing jump - excellent view. Thousands there. Jumping 2.00pm till about 3.30pm - 40 competitors each having two jumps. Standard was superb - probably the world's best jumpers - won by Austrian Pradis? (from ??) who had a bit of bad luck not to win Olympic Games - missed a take-off. Fantastic soaring through air - jumps over 70 meters. Brad? Norwegians use new technique - hands well forward and motionless - like a glider - most of the others used older arm swinging - one very good Jugoslavian (Jamie Poldar who was 4th) used newest technique with arms back like birds wings. Second place (close) to Norwegian 3rd to Swiss. Swedes very good. Only one fall in the lot - very terrifying it looks but I think he was OK. One striking feature - the loud slap of the two landing skis. Ambulance had injured man away immediately and without ceremony.

Home by bus - a bit cold about the feet. Amused in bus by guide "Rudi" and his knowledge of English songs and history. Told us Berg-Isel was a kind of "Battle of Hastings" in 1807 when Andreas Hofer (a national hero now - a kind of Robin Hood) dared to hold out against Napoleon and actually defeated the French - but was later betrayed and shot.

Beautiful views from bus on way up. Brenner Pass (to Cortina etc.) is just behind us. Home at 4.30pm - dumped cameras - out for skis and skied till after dark. Then we tried the Hotel Stern? for tea - but no dancing - stove had gone kaput - but had nice reasonable tea. Back to hotel at 6.30pm - washed Michael all over at the basin - down for very nice dinner. Had intended getting boys off to bed early but head waiter insisted they o into the bar to see special Tyrolean dancing and music - due to start at 9.00pm - didn't till 9.30pm. Boys thrilled with all the drinks about them and by the "show" - al in Tyrolean costume - women and men singers and dancers) 3 men - 2 with zither-like instruments on tables - 1 with a harp. Quite fun - a bit unsophisticated and unrehearsed - but authentic. Very sleepily up to bed at 10.00pm. I drank a local "hootch" - "sliner-something" [Sliverwitz? made from ?] - cost 6s. Michael wanted a sherry "like Mummy and Sally" but didn't get it. Very sleepy - enjoying the boys company - but wish B. were here to complete us. Dropped card to Colin. Bed. ? Nearly 1.00am.

Wed. Jan 7

First big event - getting letter from B. before breakfast - posted last Friday. We all read it over and over - makes great difference - to have established contact again. But do wish she was here.

Sun already topping the mountain tops before breakfast (maybe just because of B.'s letter). Rolls, coffee, chocolate again - out to classes - less clothes on. C. and M. have friends and class seems ore like a game to them now - hugely enjoyed. I saw M. tearing down a slope chasing some friend - going like mad - as easy on skis as on his feet - small jumps and all. Wish B. could have seen the delight on his face - he didn't know I was looking. C. as ever - more individualist - but obviously very please with life. They ? every moment with skis - hell of a job to get them into meals.

Our class practiced control of side-slipping and so on - not very dramatic - but good for us. Fritz was asking us to place the ski softly in the snow after a particular turn - one girl had a good "edge" which tracked the snow - so he scolded her for ?? skiing and said "Look at this track! It will remain for the next generation - and the next - and in a thousand years they will put up a monument to this track, saying "Here Miss So-and-so did a stem- Christiana". Again "I do not work for the money. I live to see a little of what I say come out in your ski-ing. And when it come not out, I die. I die in the mornings, I die again in the afternoons."

Good lunch - Michael found a second batch of money in the snow on the way to the hotel. Boys got 10s each from me and went by bus to chair lift - up on chair lift and skied down home. Fritz took our class - now numbering 5 - on a "lang-lauf" - first up in cable car to 1/2 way station (Heiligwasser) - down through woods - over broad fields of soft snow - good runs - a fair amount of walking the dodging through quite thick pines - out to fields again and so to Igls. Rather tired - sun going down - but hills round valley beautiful. The Italian girl was cut off by language from the rest of us - but suddenly I had the idea that she might speak French, found she did and chattered away to her in fine style, interpreting for the others! She tells me that Cortina is expensive and somewhat difficult. Equally good - only place (among others) - is Sabata - much cheaper.

After class collected big luge for tonight (deposit 100s) and left skis to be waxed - badly in need of it - Swiss look after skis much better.

Found Michael - C. nowhere about - came to hotel and found him in bed in tears - he had wet his trousers and one stocking - nothing that couldn't be put right easily - fixed him up! Out for good tea and big cakes with hot chocolate in the Landhaus-Beck (19.70s) - home - dinner at 7.00pm - finished my wine - put on everything but kitchen stove and out to cable car (with boys) at 8.15pm. Up to middle station - changed to upper car (Fare 8.50s each) - got off at pylon 3/4 way up. Innsbruck lights far below - black night. Climbed to little ?austhaus - the Eigbahn? - and sat around benches drinking hot red wine - singing all sorts of songs - boys great success at "10 green bottles" - ended with Tyrol drinking song "Saffaus": at each month in the song the person born in that month stand up on the seat or table. All glasses are first filled. You must not drink till standing up and then only when chorus comes; the chorus continues until the person standing up has downed his glass - then continues by everyone linking arms and shoving hard from side to side. M. was having success by standing up with red cheeks and two shining eyes and about 2 teaspoons of wine. - and drinking when "July" came. At the end of the song the party is over (good way to end a party). Out into frightening blackness and cold - terrifying run with boys - but they were very good - great experience - pine woods, snow, speed, danger, winking lights below. A few tosses. M. went with Austrian boy for last mile or so - mad it easier for me. Home - happily weary - on stroke of midnight. Got boys into bed - finished a note to B. and into bed myself.

Memo: girl's jumper I saw last night - tell B. - raglan sleeves, polo neck - coming into a deep "V" - neck and cuffs black, rest light khaki.

Also ?? Austrian is "Gross Gott" - but colloquially "Servus". Wayside shrines smell of aromatic wood - smoke coming in window every morning when I waken.

Thurs. Jan 8. Hotel Lounge 10.00pm

Weather dull again - light powdery snow - but very pleasant. Woke early as usual - none the worse - shaved - woke the boys about 8.45am and down to another good breakfast. We sit in a corner seat of bow window and watch goings on outside while we eat.

Took luge back (hire= 5s) - picked up skis - now well waxed - and all to practice slopes.

Did well on the "General's Hub" (a pimple of a hill) - Fritz seemed pleased though - in a nice way - he can be frightfully cutting. "An old master of skiing has to bend to make this turn - but we English (his eyes close - draws himself up erect) do not bend - we do not have to." Also - on the subject of bending knees - he walks over anxiously and feels a lady's leg - saying - "There must be - do look carefully - there is no other explanation - there must be a ski stick down your trouser leg, madam."

Boys still evry happy in class - except about some wee girl who is always falling!! They really enjoy the ski-tow and were immensely pleased when I "came off" - I was practicing balancing on separate feet and putting glove on at the same time - but both were delighted that "Daddy fell!!". We are always last to leave the ski slopes for lunch. Was talking to French man and lady from Paris - recommended Legets? (neat Morzine) as being reasonable and good. Extras less than Swiss. Girl in class says Davos wonderful but frightfully expensive.

Good lunch - can now guess fairly closely what food is going to be from menus (lunch and dinner always four full courses - delectable food).

All up together by bus to Heiligwasser chairlift - fixed C. and M. up with tickets for two rides each - went up first with them - then separated. Went cross-country with Fritz in general direction of Lans - but then he changed his mind and we set off for Innsbruck; very varied and interesting skiing - long gentle fields with occasional big dips (probably ditches in summer) and soft snow - then here and there really steep brows. When we got going and Fritz hotted up the pace I skied like a dream and he seemed very pleased. One wisecrack when looking back at 2 or 3 coming down dangerously "What you call those - those Japanese suicide bombers?"

Fell in with next class down - quite good skiers - near end. I think Fritz wanted to show off - he dared instructor to follow him through a hedge (literally - just like an Irish thorn hedge - your nose almost had to touch the skis to get under and through) - and down an immediately following hellish steep slope of beaten snow. He yelled back "Come on" - so I charged through and skied down like a dream ?? with a left stop Christie at the bottom - and watched every other members of both classes coming to ?? grief. As ever, I do better if going like blazes - with no time to think.

We came to big plaza? in Mannheim? on outskirts of Innsbruck - to find we had missed the 4.00pm train and bus - so went to local "Hotel Schonruh" - small clean inn and shared a litre of hot red wine among the 8 of us (total= 30s). Fritz taught us game of hitting and catching beer mats at edge of table. Then a 1/4 mile to train - and back to Igls (2.10s). Arrived 5.30pm - feeling very fit - but worried about boys who were to meet me as usual about 4.30pm. Rushed up and found them very sensibly at hotel having put skis away! Both looked a trifle worried. We thought maybe there had been an accident, Daddy, and were worried about you! It was extremely sweet and unselfish - and also made me feel somewhat old! They must have had a very lonely hour knocking about on the ski slopes and waiting.

To make up - even though late - we set out for tea - but main event was finding anothyer letter from B. (postmarked Monday) - delighted - we devoured it over tea. I read it out - when I paused M would say in a trance-like voice "Go on, go on!"

But first we looked in Photo window (shop already shut) and saw good snaps of ourselves. Went into Stellnerhof Hotel - looks big outside - but obviously a local dive. Men gathered around drinking beer and listening to an old fellow playing rather well on a small harp. Had quite a good tea, chocolate and 2 cakes - slightly dearer than Landhaus-Beck (25.20s). One of the denizens brought round water-colours for sale at 40s each. We rather liked them and picked out 2 - and offered him an English pound for them - he accepted and we bore them home in triumph - they're rather nice. Boys got ready for dinner while I dressed nasty gash in leg of Edinburgh dentist.

Good dinner - boys ate well - M. had cider, C. the usual orange and I beer. Lot of chat - read in lounge for a while - and at nine glanced into bar at start of "Candlelight Ball" - candles are wicks floating in oil in bottom of glass "stems". Gave C. a wash down at basin - both sleepily to bed and came down to lounge to write this. Perhaps I originally underrated Igls - boys love their runs down this afternoon - "Two new runs, Daddy" - or maybe I just feel better now that I've heard from B. - but quite frankly I look forward to going home as I've never done before. Must write to B.

Memo: Light switches go "up" for on; no tuck-in in bottom or sides of bed clothes (usual big mattress things on top); almost square small oil-paintings of mountains and pleasants? in bedrooms and landings - simple, broad, strong - very satisfying and decorative.

Fri. Jan 9. Bedroom at 11.00pm

Light snow again - but not objectionable - cleared later and sun almost came through. It never has been cold.

Class as usual. Boys very happily in theirs - is it because they win all the races? M. was first in 1st race this am - 4th in second race - but says he got off to a bad start. C. was 2nd in both races and very sympathetic about M.s bad start which he confirmed.

Fritz in hell of a mood (for some reason) - so class a bit haywire. New snow sticky - so going is slow - but - though doing nothing new - I enjoyed it. A feature of the school is what they call the "second breakfast" - a series of very good preliminary exercises done by whole school standing in a circle - in middle a different instructor each morning. Quite hard work - but very sensible exercises. Instruction on the whole very good - but would not be really good for the beginner - but maybe I'm wrong there - for three beginners I've met seem very happy - and accidents are almost non-existent - certainly nothing like the Swiss centres (e.g. none since we came - apart from a wrenched shoulder).

Met boys a little earlier than usual and strolled quietly to nearby shop where (at M.s request ) I bought a cake of wax for the skis (2.40s). Also bought two little cigarette "putters-out" for 1.50s each.

A good lunch - talked of going to Innsbruck - but decided to put it off till tomorrow - went up - waxed skis - bus - Fritz in decidely better form. Told me of capturing (as a child) rooks, woodpeckers, a hawk, and squirrels and 5 ?. Kept them at home - but freely - except the hawk - which would have flown off altogether - so he has a tree in his room for it.

Up to chairlift - gave boys tickets - they had a couple of rides and some "whizzers" of runs apparently. We set off as yesterday - rather easy going towards Innsbruck - but ended at a small station called Aldrans and got train home at 4.00pm (fare 1.80s). Enjoyed it. One wisecrack from Fritz - a girl (we are now 6 in all) buried herself a couple of times in a slope - "We play submarines".

Picked up boys at slopes - parked skis - back to hotel for travellers cheques - found yet another letter from B. All greatly thrilled. Called in Tourist bureau - a delightfully decorated house - big bronze handles on doors - gay paintings on walls - and got some Austrian cash. Found photographers once more shut - so walked past ice-rink (small - a dozen skaters - good - with music) and on to Tirolerhof for tea. It is about size of Sport Hotel - beside railway terminus - rather out of the way for skiing. Pleasant, fairly soignee - most comfortable and quiet tea bar - with only 5 others there - and a 3-piece band. Had usual choc. and tea with smaqll biscuits (23.50s) - re-read B.s letter - and read French and German magazines - back to own hotel.

Here the band (3-piece) is absolutely first rate for dancing - or listening - and plays from about 4.00pm till 6.30pm and 9.00pm to heaven knows when. Dressed lazily - dinner - gave boys their first (small) glass of white wine - M. didn't drink much - C. finished his. Talked a good deal - and sat till 9.00pm in the bar - at M.s request - where he admired the corks on all the bottles (like the Swiss ones). Off sleepily to bed by 9.15pm. Went out in lamplight streets to get a few photos - only took one - chatted to a couple of men in lounge - felt so sleepy that I came up to bed. A pleasant quiet day.

Memo: Faucets of water running here and there - often into troughs made by hollowing out a big tree trunk. Several new houses going up here and there - often perched on pinnacles of small sharp hill - left completely open and unfinished till spring comes.

Fritz tells me that about April here one can go up and ski on nice snow on north slopes of Patscherkofel - say in mornings - and play tennis - or bathe in warm lake (Lansersee) in afternoon (?Idea for a holiday?).

Memo: Excellent pair of skis bought by lad in Innsbruck for 300s - Fritz says its about usual price (complete with Kandahar bindings);

Memo: Decoration idea - large face-masks - eyes and nose and mouth cut out - red paper inserted - roughly painted - whole thing curled over wall-fitting light (say at Christmas). Also large conical shade - coming up to a point on top (no escape of light) - made of fairly heavy stuff - on a rather low standard lamp. Ref. also hotel notepaper and model for own (design and size).

Sat. Jan 10. Lounge at 10.30pm

More snow - but quite pleasant - not blinding - and cleared now and then. A bit wet and sticky for skis. Called after breakfast and got photos and posted them off home (later) in Innsbruck. Up to ski school - Fritz in better humour - but soon after start took us to the Greberhof? (top of practice slopes - good position - handy - sort of big comfortable guest house) - we had to drink a glass of red wine to celebrate the grievous and tragic loss of his pipe yesterday evening!! After that lesson was easy and ended with "Home Horses?" which ended in bar of Sport Hotel - where I was joined by C. and M.: drank a Amer Pico? and stood Fritz a drink (total 20s) - then a good lunch.

At 2.15pm caught a local train (or tram) for Innsbruck (boys 1/2 price - total whole way 4.40s). Rather lovely run down - change at Berg-Isel for train into city centre (Marie Theresein Strasse) wandered around window shopping. Rather pathetic - obviously far from prosperous - blitz sites - and old German buildings interspersed- but some lovely Austrian artistic touches (e.G. huge archway as War Memorial - tall and elegant wrought iron gate, etc.). Bought one or two odds and ends - had 3 cups of excellent coffee, 3 rolls and piece of cheese (no butter to be had) for about 25s in the station cafe (new). Found Pederhofer's(?) shop - bought excellent pair of ski boots for 540s: many as cheap as 200s - but not such good value - made preliminary enquiries about pants and jacket - bought M. nice pair of canvas gloves - afternoon gone - so tram back in dark. Boys seem completely content - but C. somewhat nettled at absence of any real toys (e.g. trains) in Austria (as I found at Bad Ischl).

All had big bath - washed boys hair - and ate excellent dinner. C. thoroughly approve of Parisienne-Kartoffel. Sat in cozy bar (as usual) till first tune was played - but drummer came in first and played piano ? and wonderfully. M. greatly impressed at his versatility. C. rather more impressed by profit made from bottle of liqueur! Got boys into bed - and finished note to B. - miss her terribly.

Memo: Boys have looked well in evenings in white shirts and longs - hair plastered down etc. Have picked up a surprising number of good manners at table - and we have wonderful conversations about everything under the sun! They're picking up quite a bit of French and German vocabulary too. Still do wish B. were here - or I with her - otherwise everything is enjoyable - but only enjoyable - not an exciting adventure: still I feel rested in mind and body - and I think I needed this.

Sun. Jan 11. 9.30pm

Party all went to Tirolerhof for dance last night. Decided I better put in an appearance - not to appear "sticky" - so went out about 11.30 - but smoke and noise terrific and did not feel like wining and dancing. Sat for an hour chatting - danced twice and came home at about 12.30; party went on till 4.00am.

Snow again this am; got ski waxed - new boots fit admirably - as if I'd worn them all my life. Snow beutifully soft and powdery - practised long swinging slow turns - and ended by watching start of cross-country race (Langlauf?); race is 18km - they do it in about 1 hour.

Good lunch; would have gone up to Patscherkofel - but thought it better to keep away from Sunday crowds from Innsbruck. So we bought badges of Igls and some stocknagel? and took bus up to chairlift as usual: all morning and afternoon C. and M. have had lady ski instructor all to themselves - they had a couple of good runs. We went off towards Patsch - through virgin snow - tiring at times but very lovely and good practice for soft snow work: sun just trying to break through and occasionally mountains appear through ?? clouds. Saw up towards Brenner Pass - also up Stubaital? (could see one of its glaciers). Pratsch village, Mutter, etc. below us. Ended with fast chase through deep soft snow - very puffed.

Boys were playing at a jump when I found them and doing very well at it (without sticks): had a few fairly good jumps myself. Tried the Batzenhausl Pension for tea - small clean, Austrian, quiet - probably inexpensive - but tea was dearest yet (tea, 2 chocolates, 2 large cakes 5s each - total 27.0s). Near local railway station. Fairly handy. Incidentally found out that Fritz keeps a pension - the Schondek?, so after tea, already dark, we strolled round and found it - rather out of the way for ski school - but beautifully placed on edge of valley - fine views - seemed nice from the outside. Fritz has 3 daughters about our boys ages - if we stayed there they could ski together.

Home with lots of time to dress for dinner: re-arranged inside clothing - M. wrote a postcard to Clayton Moore - I washed a pair of socks (more for amusement than need). Showed M. how to get impressions of coins on silver paper.

Dinner excellent - I drank water (as we do now always at lunch). Food has been quite delicious - and lots of it. Boys specially thrilled because "pudding" is so often in form of an elaborate gateau of some sort. We usually take about 3/4 hour for dinner - which is phenomenal for C. and M. Chat at our table still good. We change places with each other now and then: sit in a cozy corner - good view - serviettes in envelopes - food beautifully served - usually as a central dressed dish for me to divide. Waiters and waitresses most pleasant and attentive - pouring out one's drink and so on. Very good about advising one on cost of soft drinks, etc.

Read magazine in lounge for 1/2 hour - then up to bedroom. Showed C. and M. how to play "Shove ha'penny" on glass-topped bedtable - then got them into bed - they've just now gone to sleep.

I went out for a moment to pinch a corn-on-the-cob from a gable for M. Evenings out are clear, fresh and lovely - lamplight on sparkling snow - small village peaceful - sharply cold. Still dull without B. - but feeling healthy if not quite contented. Shall drop her a note and turn in.

Memo: Paid wine bill last night - total for week 111s.

Oxen pulling transport sledges quite usual. Pleasant bell-ringing at each hour from local clock. Just remembered that "Eigebahn" from where we started toboggan run isn't primarily a guesthouse but the hill station of a farm in the valley - up to which the cattle (and the farm) moves when summer comes and the snow departs upwards.

Mon. Jan 12. Bedroom at 10.15pm

Clear day - fair amount of sun in morning. Boys were "soaking" (?too tired yesterday) - so tidied things up a bit. Breakfast made excellent by getting a letter from B. though she seems depressed not to have got any letter yet. I'm so sorry that this post business is always so awkward from Europe. The only solution is for her to be here.

Took camera (black and white stills) out this am - took some haphazard shots on practice slopes. Possibly no good without colour. Boys and self worked fairly hard - sun in snatches. Good lunch: off to cable railway for Patscherkofel - boys coming also (with instructress): fare reduced for our party from 14.0s to 8.50s (4s for Michael). Took still camera. Exciting ride up (to 7300ft): talked to Dutch girl on way who has skied at Berwang and Chamonix: says Berwang only for beginners - very tiny - only 3 hotels - one small ski-tow as on practice slopes here. Says Chamonix expensive but does not seem to think it excessively so : stayed also at small place near Chamonix (?name). Incidentally some members of party not terribly keen on Adelboden - says long distances to lifts - and queues at lifts, etc. Same people loved Davos and the Parsenn?

Beautiful wall of mountains across valley above Innsbruck. Very cold on top: Bergstation not attractive - big - utilitarian - prices of drinks, etc, high. Sat a little in cafe to await the others coming up. Boys went on down. Then out. Fritz took us at first off the piste through deep powder snow - through heavily laden pine woods - beautiful - but cold - sun gone (23 degrees frost): then it became apparent that only way down was through a kind of path cut in the woods. This was so beaten down that in parts (especially "The Gully") pure ice showed through in sheets. Impossible to ski on this - so one just "spraghled" down. I came down well - but at one part ice gave way and when I fell even my flat body on ice and skis spread out did not prevent my sliding downhill for about 30 yards. No real danger or difficulty but not at all pleasant. One or two in our party were obviously scared still - so we waited endlessly for them - and got cold. Finally when we reached top of lower chairlift slopes we got the only really good run of the afternoon - glorious bashes across and across with parallel Christies the whole way and so down to the practice slopes where I found C. and M. had arrived 1.25 hours before me. (I was down at 5.15pm - but must have spent about that time waiting for others). C. and M. thoroughly happy to have done the run and seemed to have done it well. General impression - not a good run - too many "lanes" at top - only good bits are within reach of the lower chairlift. Except at the top, views largely obscured by trees.

Since we were so late - we had tea in own bar - with 3 cakes. Cost us "the moon" (tea and choc. 21s: cakes 14s). But warm, companionable, good music and danced twice. Instructress there with her own little girl who asked M. to dance but he was too shy. Boys talked to Peter (?who) about Japan, etc. - and learnt some Japanese words. Then up for wash and down for good dinner. Boys pleasantly sleepy - so took coats for a five minute stroll outside - pinched a corn-on-the-cob (to take home to Mummy!) - in to bed at 9.30pm.

Drank 1/4 litre red wine (open) at dinner. [Local name for hot red wine is "Gluvmine?".] Sat in lounge reading French newspaper (to let boys get over to sleep) - then up myself. Shall turn in soon - but must write first to B.

Tues. Jan 13. 10.45pm in Lounge.

Dull overcast morning - but rolls and coffee and chocolate as welcome as ever! Out to practice slopes - new people in class (Canadians) and children's class now up to 4. Snow nice - did nothing very strenuous - but felt well. At 10.00am talked to Instructress of C. and M. full of praise for their run from Patscherkofel yesterday - also told me that she herself had been up there this morning - and that there is brilliant sun up above a sea of clouds - she had a great ski down.

Whole school going ski-jaring this afternoon - but as it is along roads it didn't sound particularly worthwhile (as in fact it apparently turned out to be) - so we decided, since lovely sun just came out at lunch, to get some colour cine - so out after lunch for an hour - took C. and M. on practice slopes, etc. - finished 50ft - then parked skis and off to 3.15pm train for Innsbruck: sun up to 3.45pm then bitterly cold. Called in bank and found out about savings account (easy and one gets 4 percent interest!). Then off to Sports shop where we had the good luck to get ski pants and jacket (each under 4 pounds) - also pair of gloves as present for Colin. Wanted badly to buy B. a nylon nightdress but both boys so strongly disapproved that I was put off my stroke and didn't! They want a liqueur set hanging on an iron frame! Bought Sally a pretty brooch and wandered into one or two quite elegant shops we had missed before - beautiful use of plate glass "married" to wood and bronze in big and interesting shapes; this specially true of glassware shops. Still no toys about!

Found typical Austrian cafe in Museum Strasse - had big cakes that were almost too sweet and rich even for C.!! Usual hot chocolate with large mountain of cream on top. I had tea - all served with the addition of a glass of iced water which was renewed when finished: lots of magazines, etc (cost 29s). Found few really big and smart shops in Museum Strasse. One interesting pullover for lady - golden yellow round body - black sleeves, black 3/4 inch edging round the sides of two pockets, black neck.

Then tram at 6.15pm for Igls - somewhat stuffy with people getting home from business and bitterly cold outside. C. and I talked politics.

Dressed - big dinner - with beer and orangeade - and sat in bar to see and hear more Tyrolean dancers and a singer: boys enjoyed it. Lady nearby greatly admired their gay shirts and belts. Drank a "Slivowitz" - and so sleepily up to bed. Later I talked in the lounge to Matthew who was a tropical medicine specialist in Army during war- knew Jack Simon? etc.

A man today said he liked Pontresina? and that it was sunny and near St. Moritz - if you wished to go in.

Wed. Jan 14. Bed(!!) - 9.15pm.

Woke at 7.30am and boys shortly after: darkness just gone and sun coming up. Before we had finished dressing it had tipped all the mountain tops a beautiful rose. Dressed lazily - wearing new trousers. Found window hard "ice-flowers" on the insides of the panes. [Although the bedroom has stout double doors, the windows are single.]

Good breakfast (no letter from B.). Out by 9.30am - bitterly cold (actually 15 degrees below freezing point). No one on slopes but ourselves - our thumbs especially were painfully cold - M. shed a few tears even - but warmed up with exercise. Cold continued till about 11.00am when sun was actually shining on us - classes went off well - boys were eventually very rosy and happy. We practiced mainly turning with use of ski stick on difficult slopes.

Stacked skis on sunny wall of little shop at bus stop - collected still camera - took a few Kodachromes. C. and M. took a shot each. Particularly good lunch (main dish a Bavarian one of pork, ham , sausage, sauerkraut, etc.) Boys went off by bus to Heiligwasser chairlift where they enjoyed themselves. We went up by cable car to Patscherkofel: cold but brilliant sun on top. Fritz took us round the mountain through deep lovely snow drifts - sparse pines quite laden with soft snow in huge "dollops" and magnificent views of Brenner Pass and the Tyrol mountains (Sertes?, Stubai, etc.) and tiny villages in the valleys (Matres?, etc.). Across valley beyond Innsbruck I saw Seegrube? in the first glimpse of sun this am and it continued to get sun all day long. It is a big hotel on a high shelf - reached by railway from Innsbruck - possibly 8 or 9000ft up - in idyllic snow: another lift goes on up to Hafelekar? above it - the skiing looks difficult. It would be worth going up (and down) from Innsbruck if time permits.

Down in soft snow through trees - no fast runs - then I think Fritz got confused for he took us on bobsleigh run down to Patsch - and quite a ?? performance - skiing impossible on icy ruts - actually ended up by riding our sticks - never was so sore about the thighs. With delay - ?? - we were still a long way from home when sun went down at 4.00pm. Next hour was frightful - cold intense in fingers, ears - everything frozen - past Patsch and along fairly flat country - I think - some pretty houses - but impressions difficult in agony of cold - finally down at 5.15pm - having done alot of touring but practically no skiing! Ears deaf with cold when I met boys in hotel. Put on white sweater for first time and had most grateful tea in Sport Hotel bar - boys ate gigantic cakes - beautifully slowly! and drank their usual chocolate. After an hour we were all thoroughly thawed out - so up at 6.30pm to dress lazily for dinner. The others go on another toboggan run together - but we are wisely voting for comfort.

Ate powerful dinner - hors d'oeuvres and lemon, coquette potatoes, gorgonzola after it - and 1/4 litre red wine. Hans, the waiter, kindly, left the boys a Roy Rogers comic and a couple of illustrated papers which we read quietly in the lounge. All voted for bed at 9.00pm and we all got in - now the two boys are already sound asleep! I'm nearly asleep myself.

Find new boots and trousers a delight to ski in.

Talking to London boy who stays in Innsbruck and travels up each day for skiing. Distinctly cheaper (booked through Austrian travel agency) - stays in very good hotel, the Central - has bed and breakfast for 30s, bath 10s, says attention excellent. Has some sort of coupons for food in restaurants - but finds Innsbruck cheaper than here. Travel up by tram costs only 2.20s each way. I like the idea. Hired skis, etc, down there. Would have the advantage that one could go up to Seegrube? easly.

Also Fritz seems quite sure that I could do some ski tours - at any rate, one or two day tours. Keep in mind for future - perhaps with C. Must sleep.

Thurs. Jan 15. Bedroom - 9.15pm.

No letter from B. this am - so don't know yet for certain that she has heard from us in Igls! Woke early - but boys even sleepier than usual - awake about 8.30am; beautiful morning - saw mountain tops go from grey to pink to bright gold to white. Boys delighted that we shall be by ourselves and do as we like and when we like.

After breakfast went to shop and explored; found fascinating corks - bought one and a few other odds and ends. Packed rucsac with cameras - wore black ski blouse - very comfortable and warm - big roomy pockets. In spite of sun, sharp wind in the air. Up to cable car at 10.30am and went up to Heilingwasser Station. Brilliant views across valley. Track of deer feet on snowy fields below. (saw woodpecker yesterday in woods).

Set off on run towards Innsbruck; boys surprisingly fascinated by walk and "slither" through pine trees - and quite overjoyed by long thrilling run (about 2 miles) across dipping fields into the valley; got the odd photo; didn't warn them about the big dips (sort of "ruts") each falling 8-10ft - and were full of "krak" that I was trying a "fast one" on them. They took this section at a terrific speed - straight - going was difficult. Soft snow of a few days ago has been beaten hard - and recent cold has iced the top. So falls are inevitable. Final section is sheer icy drop or two - greatly appreciated - especially by C. Both doing amazingly well. Came down so fast that we decided we could catch the 11.45 tram out of Innsbruck at Aldrans - and did so - so back in excellent time for lunch: brilliant sun.

Ate well - discussed plans. Out again for 2.00pm cable car to same station. Boys skied down to get chair lift while I stayed to take cine: followed this with a few descents - up again by chairlift till our tickets were done.

Getting cold about 3.00pm - set off again for same downhill run - but went further - to Schloss Ambras - and managed to get 3.45pm train for Innsbruck at local station (Schonruh?). Again the run was voted as "smashing". Stood on outside platform on way home - admiring radio masts of Radio Innsbruck, the small bathing place at Muhlsee (with canoer) and the bigger one at Lansersee?. Both look as though they could be very gay in summer - charming cafes, etc. (all shut now).

Home. Stopped in railway shop - bought two more corks and one or two trinkets. Parked skis. Cold in valley though sun still on Serles?, Stubai, Alps, Seegrube? etc. Popped (at last) into shop where we saw the liqueur set, bought it at last - also cigarette lighter. Boys then decided that to celebrate their run I ought to buy them tea again in Sport Hotel - though it is expensive - so washed a bit and down for really big cakes, chocolate and tea. During teas asked by lady to have a look at her twisted ankle. Did so later - she says ?? and Tirolerhof both cheaper than here and fewer extras (eg. for breakfast in bed): says food better there.

Boys great favorite with barman who "reserves" a table for them when they come in! Also with Hans. Memo: Old maid servant on our corridor who always to stroke their cheeks as they pass - saying "Schone". Didn't dance - much to M.s disgust! Sat about till ?. Up for good wash. Boys refuse to pu on clean under clothes!

After tea boys instructress came over to chat - gave me her address in hopes that I might send her the odd photograph. Address is: Erika Hirtl, Wien XIX, Agnestrasse 2.

Before dinner chatted about how camera works. Down at 7.30pm for good feed - C. now armed with dictionary to help with menu. Drank beer to boys orangeade. Sat in bar afterwards. Boys helped barman to light "candles" for candlelight dance tonight. "Candles" are very cute. They are various brands of drink bottles, sawn off just below neck leaving labels etc. on. Then an inch or two of inside is filled with candle wax and a wick in the middle. This alone would do - but, in fact, bottles sit in frilled paper on saucer. Must try this out.

About the hotel various lampshades worth copying. One is wide disc above light - with long cone-shaped shade below. Wrought iron ones difficult to copy - but "rope" effect from ceiling could be copied: flex of light is wound round with coarse twine with knots at either end.

Came downstairs to let boys get over to sleep. Band playing away in bar - soft - good dance music.

Today saw small blob on the bonnet of a green car: went over: found it to be a cute small green metal frog!

French Army wireless van practicing all day outside hotel - rather "scruffy" outfit. French distinctly inconspicuous here (the Army of occupation, I mean). Plenty of French and Italian visitors.

Have seen no more bullock carts - so no photos as yet.

Boys seem thoroughly content with their holiday - but, I think - like me - will be pleased to see B. and home again. Just one more complete day - probably best to take it relatively easy.

Got "Players" here for 10s - Chesterfields same price.

Bus leaves here at 7.30am on Sat. am - probably won't stop at Innsbruck - so have decided not to bother with parking cash here - it would mean a journey down tomorrow. Anyway (with Maurice to help at Belfast end) not really necessary.

Most girls dress for dinner here - a few of the men: a sorry business for the frocks look poor efforts - and it all seems out of place in skiing terrain: Swiss more sensible.

Memo: Girl in Sportshop in Innsbruck who wants news of George Randal (from N.I.) - in textiles - office in Glasgow - last London address "Stephens Gardens, Bayswater Court"; if any news write to "Annelies Meister, Innsbruck, Sillgasse Str. 19 Second Floor."

Memo: Large number of bird boxes of all sorts outside hotels and houses - sparrow almost tame.

Memo: Odd to find school children using schoolbags of "brief-case" case - carried in hand - with two metal clasps to close them - in land where rucsacs so common. Saw only one child with bag on back.

Fri. Jan 16. 9.30pm - at table in corridor of our floor.

Woke early - day promised well - but high cloud came over and it remained sunless - but surprisingly warmer than for past few days. Somewhat troubled that no letter from B. - have not yet heard if she has got our letters - some worry at back of my mind all day - still not letter by late evening and we shall be away too early tomorrow for post, I'm afraid. Do hope everything all right.

Boys planned the day. All others are disorganized - a few are going up for some sort of tests in afternoon - better to keep boys away - for safety. Off by cable carto Heiligwasser and off on now-well-known run down to Schloss Ambras?: one or two skids on icy piste - not real damage. Very fast run - so lots of time to look at Schloss (an old hunting palace of Maria Theresa) - and catch 12.00 train back to Igls.

Parked skis - had a short stroll - dull but clear day and in for big lunch: have by now done some preliminary packing. Boys happy. Stood out on balcony of train all way home - seeing last views across valley - snow on trees - and wondered what it all looks like in summer.

Have fair amount of ski-tow tickets left - so went for quiet bit of fun to practice slopes - jumping - "hare and hounds" - "tig" - with plenty of rides up hill - much enjoyed by boys - few people - plenty of space -fast snow. Self a bit dull - possibly warm weather - possibly no letter from B. All stopped at 4.00pm - finally parted with skis - with regret - to ski house. Walked to Maximillian Hotel - found bar still closed - so decided on tea in our own hotel again. Bought some chocs (the first this holiday - moderate price) and biscuits for journey - also cheap but good watch strap. Almost finished packing - down for enjoyable tea at 5.00pm - got ususal excellent table.

To my great surprise in walked Lucienne - the air hostess that B. and I met at Murren: she arrived at 11.00pm last night and seemed genuinely pleased to see me. Further coincidence- she was at Arosa (!) last year but earlier than B. and I. Again gave me her address - as I did not send snaps taken in train on way home from Murren. It is: Lucienne van Overloop, 188 Grande Chaussee, Antwerp.

On the subject of addresses, one girl in party thinks I have snaps of her (though I cannot remember taking any) - so if any, send to Nancy Davies, 8 Garscube Terrace, Edinburgh. or care of College of Agriculture.

Feeling fresher after tea. Good wash and some more packing: then boys and I went out in "evening" clothes to leave back their boots: fresh starry night - lamps winking through snow laden pines - strolled a bit - boys good - and in for last dinner. Good meal - paid for weeks drinks and bath and 4 packs of "Lucky Strikes" (about 70s) - everyone regretful at departure. One quiet waiter (?name) tells me he spends summer at his parents cafe St. Gilgen - must call if there - nice fellow. Pleased to find I knew the Salzkammergut.

After dinner chatted to nice quiet couple in party who were at Kitzbuhel last year with M.U.S. party: loved it: lived in little Gasthaus - 4 beds to a room - well looked after by ski leaders - nice day tours where it didn't matter much if you skied well (they certainly don't) - with singing in evenings. Really nice couple and they loved it.

Sat again in bar for first dance number - a last goodnight to Frederick, the barman (he works in Cafe Tirol, Dean Street, London, from March). Has been very sweet to children.

Talked in cable car this am to Sept?, the best youngish skier among teachers - tells me he trained Spanish team last year - two resorts in Pyrenees (forget names) - good snow - - few hoists yet. Would have fulfilled contract at Aspen, Colorado, this season if visa had come in time. [Older men complain that all the best Austrain skiers are taken by Aspen or Sun Valley - for the money.] Works in summer for Austrian Travel Agency - last year for 8 months in London, year before in Rome. Was able to bring about 80 pounds savings back from London which he seems to think excellent. Worked for 8 pounds a week but did overtime sometimes up to 17 pounds - but Income Tax reduced this.

Noisy party downstairs at present - giving out presents for ski tests this afternoon. Must turn in - boys will be asleep by now - will be awake at 6.00am - leaving about 7.15am: must say I welcome first lap of journey back to B.

Memo: Beautiful printingon walls - even on milk place - some sort of water-colour on bare concrete (sometimes). Also try out some wrought iron work at home - if raw material available. Over windows, for lamps, for signs, or purely decorative.

Sat. Jan 17. 4.00pm - Munich Airport.

Called at 5.45am: starlight night: let boys sleep a bit - then washed, closed bags and down for breakfast at 6.30am. A bit of time to waste - but bus at door by 7.00am - bags on. Ran around to local P.O. to see if letter from B. - but none by morning post; worried. Off at 7.30am - really comfortable bus -each of us has a rug - well-heated - wireless on, etc. Hills lightening up, lamps going out. Through Innsbruck - shops lit and already open (before 8.00am). After Innsbruck a long difficult climb up through the mountains. Through Zirl and Reith (little mountain resort and lake) - on through lovely mountains to Seefeld where we stopped for 20 minutes for coffee, etc.

Seefeld larger than Igls - lies on small flat plain with high mountains around - looks nice - but might have to walk far to ski-hoist. Beautiful snow - lots of it - powdery. Also a little expensive probably. Went into Hotel-Pension Alpenhut - had coffee, rolls, butter and jam (14.40s each). Delightful small hotel, clean, good taste, beautiful chairs, walls, etc. - on outskirts of Seefeld: lots of other hotels. About 4000ft up.

Scenery around beautiful, high craggy peaks - on to Scharnitz - a workaday pretty village in a defile: here Austrian customs and German customs with U.S. military police. Noticed big lorries from Germany with large trailers (sometimes 2). Sun now well up - mountains close and tops beautiful - going down. Lovely gorge to Mittenwald. All around looks prosperous. Beautiful snow. Signposts to Oberammergau. Through Mittenwald - quite a big town, skiers about, wall paintings in profusion - whole walls sometimes one big picture; oldish houses: altogether very nice.

No farm houses - but dotted about are little log huts whose walls slope up and out to roof: probably contain hay. Sun now really strong - shining from behind on peaks in front of us - valley widens - lovely really jagged peaks showing up.

Through Klais: bullock carts about - as in Austria: road now winds down steeply - brilliant sun - driver using loud harsh horn at icy corners: boys finish lemonade. Through Garmisch: not at all attractive - big Olympic built up jump on left - saw man taking it. Enormous height (jumps of about 120 meters). It is a sparse town in flat of the valley. Probably neighbouring Partenkirchen - the smart part.

"Onion" spires on churches. No poverty about. Road now gently dropping in broad flat valley fringed with uniform mountains. Roads good. "Flapping" noise told us one of our wheel chains had broken - so stopped to take it off. Soon bare rock fringes the left side of the road: vertical frozen waterfalls - and two tunnels - which pleased the boys.

Plain now broadens greatly - very flat - hay still on poles - cannot understand the absence of farmhouses - literally miles of open ground with only occasional hay hut.

Through Murnau - rather like Magherafelt in size and dirt! More dull plains for miles - though newly planted silver birches line road where they are not already growing. Through Polling - many big cars - skis on top - pass us in opposite direction. Through Weilhelm - a moderate sort of dull town - provincial size - old. About 45 km from Munich we begin to climb again - road more interesting - pine forests - big clearings in between - no real sign of dwelling houses: no hedges whatever - on roadside or elsewhere. Country gets prettier, hilly. Through Starnberg - over paved roadways - pretty town - lots of wall paintings. More and more pines - a lovely approach to a big city.

Munich at last about 1.30pm - but approach is through dingy depressing poor suburbs. Blitz sites - a few lovely old buildings - but depressing on the whole.

Bus route from Igls to Munich

Shock at airport - no word of plane: had lunch: airport building huge and truly magnificent - like inside of a cathedral: lounge has very comfortable seats - red - in hall lined with old Germanic heraldry emblems. Foyer has offices for airlines all over the world - but not a plane - later found that all planes from London and elsewhere grounded by fog - and delay will be 24 hours. We have contacted British Consul for money, booked in hotel in Munich and now wait for some final details before going off. Still worried about no news from B. - if she has written to Southway Hotel I shall not get letter: have considered cable - but apart from expense which doesn't matter - I don't think it would cause anything but confusion and alarm: had intended phoning from London - had "banked" on it mentally - but shall just have to wait.

Later. 11.15pm in bed.

Almost interminable wait stretched on to 6.00pm when finally we got money from consul, hotel beds, etc. Have heard that every airport in Europe is closed because of fog - and Munich itself heree has just shut - the last to do so - and the first time in 10 years. There has been no plane into here from London since Monday! A plane from Tokyo for London has been sitting outside since yesterday am.

Had 15 minute walk in fog with boys - cheered by sight of new moon struggling through murk! Fair dinner at airport 6.30pm - 3.50 Marks each (special price). Then into bus - through Munich to Hotel Hansa Pension in Goethe Strasse? - near main railway. Purely a sleeping place - no meals - forbidding outside - but bedrooms excellent. We are all sleeping in two very large single beds put together - in clean, well furnished room - warm - with "smashing" private bathroom - where we have all had good hot soak. Plenty of lights, ashtray, etc. Price for us is 6.50 Marks each - normal price of a single room seems to be 15 Marks for single, 20 Marks for double. Parked bags and immediately rushed out to find "train" shop for C.: many nice shops - toys clever and good - but trains not in window. Anoraks cheap (3 pounds) - lady's ones nice. Went into station restaurant: C. and I had pots of coffee, M. pot of chocolate and later I had half litre beer. Coffee and choc. 1.30 Marks each, beer 0.5 Marks! Boys well pleased. Strolled home in good humour - have just had a few biscuits and an orange each in bed!!

Tonight said to be the big festive night in Munich - but have no desire to explore beer halls: happy and warm where I am - and feel B. will guess why I haven't phoned.

P.S. Got 20 Marks each out of consul (about 2 pounds).

Memo: Munich better looking at night - tons of neon signs - in good taste. A further piece of snow sculpture - scene in a boat - amazing detail. Offensive Americans "fratting" openly with low girls. Admired "cute" motor scooters in window - about 150 pounds each.

{Sketch of female figure with following caption: Plaster figure insert in wall of bar - space behind - lit by 5 bulbs at different points. About 5ft by 4ft.}

Sun. Jan 18. 3.00pm - Munich Airport.

Waiting to board plane - at last! Great joy that I may soon be with B. - if in time will phone in London.

Slept well. Up at 8.30am - out again to Bahnhof for rolls and coffee: very cold - rather empty town: many shops lit up - a few open. There are only a very few streets for shops - had good long walk round these. Food dear - clothes reasonable. Found 3 toy shops with really wonderful trains, cars to make up and other clever mechanical toys - all good price but reasonable. C. overjoyed and could scarcely be pulled away.

At 11.00am saw town clock figures pirouetting to chimes for 10 minutes. Made notes of train system for C. Then back to hotel for bus at 12.00 - off to airport. Had lunch - hung about - but plane did come - played with all the toys on all the stalls and spent our last marks. Now I do wish we were off - as I am most terribly anxious to catch 7.30pm train from Euston.

Later - 12.20am - Cumberland Hotel - bed.

Plane at last got off - but from the first it was almost a forlorn hope. Rose through fog to 6500ft (good comfortable plane) - up inot brilliant sunshine. Below us a flat sea of clouds - absolutely uniform - like a blanket of soft snow - as far as the eye could reach - all ways. This persisted without any variation whatever over all Europe and until the sun went down (which we watched): after that - the new moon - and cloud below. Pilot did his best - kept dead straight at 205 mph. I was absolutely "on eggs" for whole journey - as timing was "knife-edge" and I remained most anxious about B. Boys thoroughly happy - especially M. who was delighted with whole trip. Sweets and cotton wool were handed round at first. Later a box - beautifully wrapped - parcels inside - serviette, plate, sandwiches, sausage roll, slab of cake, biscuits, sweets, orange, apple. One could have anything to drink, tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, any kind of spirits (all free). Boys had lemonade - I had black coffee - and felt better after second cup. Also offered and bought 25 Players duty free (2 pounds) - and offered beer, etc. and sweets later - but I was too anxious to eat.

On plane I arranged for "reception" to order a fast car and get quick clearance through customs and passport control. Beautiful landing at 6.20pm - all set at 6.30pm - but car driver said impossible - he needed 1hr 10mins. - so scrapped idea: found that no chance of getting train further north - no stops. Phoned Manchester - but only seats on plane in afternoon (which I booked) - thinking to go by 12.00 midnight sleeper to Manchester. Will see what B. says.

In by bus to Euston - arrived 8.30pm. (Cup of tea free at airport.) Various tedious enquiries about cancelling berths, availability of tickets etc. Considerable delay on phone (boys and John Cromie had tea in cafe while waiting) - got B. at last - ears still half deaf and buzzing from plane landing - but never heard anything sweeter than her voice and reassurance that all was well. She gave me courage to stay in London and come by Liverpool tomorrow evening. By now 9.30pm - discussed with Cromie where we should stay (?Southway - but far away). Had sudden brilliant idea of going to Cumberland - without phoning - so by tube (demanded by boys) to Marble Arch - in to Cumberland - looked crowded - but welcomed almost with open arms - got single room for Cromie and splendid big 3-bedded room for selves - with small dressing room off and usual bathroom - with beautiful big towels, lots of soap and every comfort. Straightened up the boys, washed, down for Horlicks, coffee and biscuits - up again - all bathed and here - at last - peace and rest in bed. Very warm.

Mon. Jan 19. Train - 5.15pm.

Woke at 6.00am - did not sleep again - but felt well. Boys awake and bright at 7.00am. All had fine slow wash and baths - tidied - re-arranged boys - made up parcel for Moss Bros. - and down to breakfast 8.45am. All ate well - good breakfast - joined by John Cromie who was impressed by first stay in Cumberland. M. had puffed wheat and plaice - C. puffed wheat and sausage and beans. I cornflakes and kipper - rolls, coffee, chocolate, ?

Closed bags upstairs - down again - gave Moss Bros. parcel to hall porter, wired B. and off feeling brisk on dry lovely day to Selfridges: "did" the toys and the rest of the shop. Boys liked kitchen dept. almost best. Found that Formica can be had on thick 6-8 ply base to any size - but is brittle stuff alone and difficult to lay down with Bostick. If required Selfridges will get me any size or shape - fairly dear. "Warrite?" similar - not too nice. Saw a few interesting lamp shades. Note - especially close-fitting ceiling type.

Bus to Oxford Circus - down to Hambleys. Let boys have fill of gazing and playing. C. bought a small wagon for his train after endless deliberation! Over to Irish Travel Agency - could not book berths - but may get them on boat. Got plane seats from Manchester cancelled (good job - I believe they are grounded by fog again!). On down Regent Street - through Swan and Edgars - nothing new to interest B. and over to Brasserie at Lyons at 12.15pm for good lunch at 2/- each. Still well! Then to Simpsons - as M. wants to buy a target face for his bow and arrow with his 5/-. Great good luck to get shop-soiled full sized face of first grade canvas for 15/- - less than 1/2 price. Left it there to pick up later. Tube to Leicester Square - "did" bookshops on Charing Cross Road - including "Better Books" where I bought a couple of bargains - and Foyles where we bought a book for Colin - as we all felt he hadn't a sufficiently good present from Austria.

A few more shops - thought of going to Newsreel cinema - but time hardly sufficient - so had a quiet little tea in cosy in tea part of Monseigneur cinema at Picadilly - boys had ices - chatted - then at 3.30pm called for target face at Simpsons. M. clutched this to his bosom and din't part with it till we got on the train! Called for bags at Cumberland. C. insisted on taking rucsac - I the bags - off by tube and got train in nice time. All feeling well.

Train off at 4.30pm - overjoyed! M. and C. have devoured some comics which I bought at the station for them - have explored all the lavatories and are now playing with C.'s motor? and reading Colin's present!

Train 8.30pm: Nearing Liverpool. Good journey: had good dinner and boys have travelled quietly: all well: so glad to be almost home and with B.

On Liverpool boat at 11.30pm: Train late - fog. Have learnt that all air flights have been cancelled! Safely on boat and got good cabins without difficulty. Tried to phone or wire to say boat might be late at Belfast - but efforts unsuccessful. Took children for Ovaltine and rolls - self coffee - and off to bed at 11.00. Shall turn in myself. Very happy: hope B. not kept waiting. [End of journal.]

Sport Hotel, Igls, Austria, in 2016
Post Office and Church in Main Square of Igls, Austria
Map of ski lifts and trails in Igls, Austria, in 2016
Cable Car station and view from same in Igls, Austria
Igls, Austria
Igls, Austria
Igls, Austria
Igls, Austria


Here, for reference, is my father's original journal:

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Last updated 7/30/99.
Christopher E. Brennen