C2: Discovering London. Winter 1958-59.

London —  the first port of call of my Northern Hemisphere adventure.

27th of October 1958

Dear mummy and daddy,

Well, here we are at last and it’s a wonderful feeling. It was so exciting to be here, looking over the railing of the good old Strathnaver at all the activity below, so impatient to be setting foot on English soil especially after being at sea for nearly five weeks!.

 The ss Strathnaver from the P&O Line

The ss Strathnaver from the P&O Line – my home for 5 weeks. crossing  from Sydney to London, stopping at Colombo,Bombay,Aden,Port Said and Marseilles  -in 1958..

The ship had sailed up the Thames early yesterday morning in a thick fog and had berthed by the time I woke up.

By lunchtime the entire luggage was sorted and we were allowed to disembark.

There was a letter waiting from cousin Patty Crennan to say that she would not be able to come up from Hampshire to meet the boat train so I was not expecting anyone I knew to be there, but when I arrived at St Pancreas Station in London, Denyse and Ken Richardson were waiting for me.

I felt very relieved and happy to see them. They bundled me into a taxi with my entire luggage, and off we went to the Ladbroke Gardens Hotel where the Bank had booked me in for this week.

DSC00177It is a private hotel, that is, it has no bar, and is an old place without a lift, and my room is up four flights of rather rickety stairs. It is a comfy old room with a view of the small park below, full of beautiful big maple trees with yellowing leaves just about to fall.

The hotel is full of quite elderly people, some of them permanent residents, I would think. The food is good and wholesome, and there is a bath with hot running water, so I think I should be quite happy here for a week.

After depositing my luggage I went in to the Brompton Oratory to attend a 4:30 pm. Mass — pronounced ‘marse’ by the upper class! It was wonderful to attend Mass again after not managing to do so for six weeks, and to receive communion. After that Ken and Denyse took me home to their flat for tea.

Monday.   I slept very late after all the excitement and finally roused myself and went into town and made my way to the Berkeley Square branch of the Bank of New South Wales. It is tiny as banks go, but magnificently furnished with pile carpet several inches thick, richly carved furniture and fittings, a marble staircase, chandeliers etc.   It helped me feel that my money was very safe there, so I obtained my first English chequebook and began writing!

After that I slipped round the corner to Denyse’s and had a cuppa and a catch up about Wagga Wagga and all the gossip. She and Ken appear to be very happy in a steady, married sort of way — they’re hoping to return to Wagga fairly soon. I am grateful for their company and helping me to ease into life in a very big city!

The rest of the afternoon I spent window-shopping — an occupation which has always bored me before this, but which was wonderful fun, even if the London pavements are the hardest in the world. All the buildings seem very old, but have an attractive quality, as everything seems so solid and mellowed and permanent.

All the shops are very interesting, especially in the famous Bond Street, where everything is so exclusive and where you pay through the nose just to be able to say you have shopped there.

In my new coat in Picadilly Circus

Here I am In my new red coat in Piccadilly Circus gazing up at Eros. Pity about the back the front Coke sign!

Here, the men’s clothing shops are as interesting almost as the women’s and this is reflected in the people you see on the streets. Even the bank boys wear their well-pressed suits, bowler hats and trim umbrellas with an air! – By strange contrast very few of the women are really smart and well groomed. I would say that, on first impressions, Australian girls are much more clothes conscious and more attractively dressed, especially in Sydney.

The winter clothes are less expensive, so they say, but then there is plenty of expensive stuff too. The overcoat that caught my fancy in one window cost £35 Sterling so I will have to just keep looking.

By about five o’clock I had developed an overwhelming urge to buy something and finally did so, and I am very pleased with my purchase. It is a three-quarter-length imitation suede red coat with lambs wool lining and hood attached. -It looks beaut over skirts or slacks and it should prove very handy.

DSC00063Each day I find that I am drawn back to explore the West End, walking for miles, and I am unbelievably exhausted by nighttime.

One special treat occurred on Tuesday when I saw the Queen and Prince Philip driving in procession from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for the opening of the next Parliamentary session.

I stood amongst the large crowd to try and get to see them. It sometimes pays to be taller – like the man in front of me, for example.

DSC00062I managed just a brief glimpse, but it was worthwhile just to experience the excitement of the crowd and see all the pageantry –the magnificent carriages, and the guards on their black steeds with their red uniforms and gold helmets, clip-cloppetting down the Mall in tune with the band. It was quite a buzz!

I shall continue the next episode in the next few days. I love London already.

Meantime, much love to all


The Royal Hotel, Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. 9th November 1958.

Dear Mum and Dad,

police band petersfield shopsI expected to be writing my next letter to you from Petersfield in Hampshire where cousin Patty lives but the future is certainly unpredictable especially when travelling!

Came down to Petersfield last Tuesday evening and I have had a very pleasant few days just loafing and having my first look at rural England.

Mr. Fishburn and Patricia have both been very kind and have given me the run of the house. Their home, which Mr. Fishburn describes as a tiny cottage — three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, a large lounge and dining room, kitchen etc downstairs, and a flat built above the garage for their prospective live-in help.

fishburn's home petersfieldIt is well out of the village and was originally a farmhouse but he sold the fields around the house and just kept a couple of acres of lovely garden.

Their last home in Kent was very big — eight bedrooms, but as domestic help is very difficult to come by here now, they decided to sell it, poor things!

The surrounding countryside is really beautiful, particularly now as the late autumn here has to be seen to be believed when the leaves transform.  Whole hillsides are covered in trees with shades from rich coppery gold to bright yellow, though already the leaves are falling rapidly, and I have noticed the change just in the few days that I have been here.

southdowns late autumnThe fields are very green — and so they should be — there were only two fine days all the summer I’ve been told, and the sheep and cattle are very well fed.

They are able to run about 20 dairy cattle or 50 sheep to the acre in this part of the country known as the South Downs – quite a bit different to the Riverina!

Mr. Fishburn is still not very well, but he was feeling much better on Friday, and suddenly decided that, seeing his doctor wouldn’t let him go to South America, he would take us to the Isle of Wight where he lived as a boy for a couple of years, and so we threw a few clothes into cases, set out and arrived within a few hours at Southampton, 40 odd miles from here.

We were travelling in a beautiful new Rover, which I drove most of the way — believe it or not, at Bill’s request! It was such a buzz to be behind a wheel again, especially in another country! {Another request he made was to call him Bill from now on}.

Soon after the car was driven on to the ferry, (I had handed over the wheel by then) we sailed off down through the Southampton Waters and across to Cowes which is on the north side of the island, and is where Prince Philip and his cronies have their yachting parties.

A mediaeval apothecary in the Winchester Museum

A mediaeval apothecary in the Winchester Museum,  a far cry from a modern commercially oriented pharmacy.

On the way to Southampton we also stopped off at Winchester, which is the cathedral city of the Hampshire County. It is a very old city, steeped in history, and I would love to spend a little time there later just soaking it up.

It was the capital city of the country in the ninth century and has had quite a few ups and downs since.

There is a magnificent statue of King Alfred – –  the one who ate the cakes – in the town square, and they say he was buried there.

king Albert Winchester

The statue of King Albert in Winchester, with  Auntie Linda in the foreground, taken just a  few years ago.

We explored the most famous bits of Winchester and this included its old Norman cathedral, which is very impressive historically and architecturally.

We wandered around and looked at all the tombs and effigies of various cardinals and other important clergy and aristocracy who have been buried there since the 12th century. There is even a statue of Joan of Arc near the tomb of an old rogue called Cardinal Beaufort who participated at her trial before they burned her.

The Mary Chapel is one of the loveliest parts of the church. I enjoyed watching an elderly lady lovingly arranging flowers on Mary’s altar while we were there. In the past I have been under the impression that it was not within the tradition of the Church of England to give special attention to Mother Mary. I have since discovered that this is the case in the so-called lower Anglican Church but not in the High Church.

It was getting dark by the time we left Southampton, around 4.30 – remember we are going into winter here – so we didn’t seem much on the run over, which took about an hour. Neither of the Queens Royal yachts was in view, which was a disappointment.

hotel ventnor patricia crennan & mr.fishburn (1)

Bill Fishburn and his wife my cousin Patricia Crennan in front of the Royal Hotel, Ventnor on the southern side of the Isle of Wight overlooking the Channel towards France .

From Cowes, we drove across the island to Ventnor on the south side of the island, which is about 20 miles down by 50 across, and there are took up residence at the Royal Hotel which was very pleasant, especially considering it is the off-season.

At dinner that night we were intrigued by  a very frail little old lady with a black wig who was sitting by herself with her head buried in a book through most of the meal.

We later discovered that she is Hillaire Belloc the writer’s sister, who lives at the hotel and spends all her time reading and writing.

DSC00155We spent most of yesterday sightseeing. Ventnor itself is a very popular summer resort built on the side of a very steep hill stretching down to the beach, such as it is.

Once up over the hill — or the downs as the locals call it, the countryside appears like a patchwork quilt with its quaint little farmhouses dotted all over it.

The weather was quite fine — really extraordinary for this time of year apparently — it should be rather blizzardy. Actually, the climate on the island seems to be a little warmer than on the mainland, and I have loved being here and putting my camera to good use.

ventnor isle of wight

Overlooking the English channel and the town  of   Ventnor on the south side of the Isle of Wight from on top of the downs,

We would have stayed longer, but Patricia remembered an important cocktail party they had been invited to at Churt in the next county, so we rushed back in time to go out for the evening.

It was all very grand, held in a beautiful manor – it had been the home of David Lloyd George and some of his family still lives there.

You will remember him as a radical Liberal British prime minister, bringing in many reforms. As Chancellor he was famous for having held things together during the First World War, and later becoming the first and probably the only Welsh PM of England.

They even say that English had been his second language. I certainly hadn’t realized that the Celtic language was still alive and well, though there wasn’t any evidence of it amongst any of his descendants at the gathering.   They all spoke very proper English!

One dear old lady was very impressed that I had come all the way from ‘Orstralia’ on my own.   She said how lucky we young ‘gells’ were to be able to come ‘home’ from the colonies for a visit, and reminisced about how different things were in her day when she had been in India!  I couldn’t believe my ears.

She then asked me how long I intended to stay, and when I answered that I hoped it would be for a year or so she leant over, patted me confidentially on the arm and asked me to make her a firm promise – to find time to visit Paris for a weekend!  –  obviously it hadn’t occurred to her that I would have any interest in exploring the rest of Europe.


caringly adjusting safety pin

London Beefeaters – caringly adjusting a safety pin, in preparation for the ceremonies at Westminster.

Back in London, I had the chance to go into the city just in time for the opening of Parliament by the Queen.

It seems that the English people never tire of standing around waiting to get a glimpse of her, for there was a tremendous crowd already lining the streets to watch the pageantry.

I went with  with my friend Jill Hillman, whom I met on the Strathnaver, and I arrived just half an hour before the procession went by.

The royals were in a closed carriage so I only managed to get a glimpse of the Queen but we got a good look at all the guards and cavalry and splendidly turned out horses, which was really quite exciting.

After the crowds dispersed we wandered through Westminster Abbey, then to Whitehall and the Parade ground where the Queen observes the trooping the colour, then along to Trafalgar Square where we fed pigeons near Nelson’s Monument as everyone does.

After that we wandered along Charing Cross amongst wonderful second hand bookstalls, and then up to Piccadilly Circus, through Soho and the markets around there, and finally to the splendid frock shops in Regent and Bond Streets.

The whole excursion was a marathon and took us nearly all day. I felt like collapsing when it was over. Forgive me if this is beginning to sound like a live game of Monopoly!

The next morning I met Laurie and Barbara Oliver at Earls Court and we went to the Annual Motor show, which was on all the week. It was very impressive — in spite of the fact that there were no Holden cars on show Dad.

Picadilly Circus showing Eros in front of Australia House,and The Strand running down towards the Victoria Embankment.

Piccadilly Circus showing Eros in front of Australia House, and The Strand running down towards the Victoria Embankment – a good place to view Cleopatra’s Needle and then cross Waterloo Bridge to explore South bank.

There were dozens of different brands and designs including one car made of fibreglass which arrived when ordered in eight separate parcels which you could assemble yourself by just following the instructions in the manual.

It costs £260 Sterling, more or less, with no purchase tax. Should I send you one home for Christmas?

That afternoon I had my hair cut by a chap recommended by Denyse.   It was quite an experience. – All very casual and friendly. They had a large poodle in the salon, which kept trying to jump into my lap. Halfway through my hair cut we paused when a woman came in

Cleopatra's Needle.

Cleopatra’s Needle protected by a pair of  Sphinxes on the river bank.

with cups of tea all round. I’m told that these additions to the service are not typical of the general hairdressing experience in England!

Thursday and Friday were also busy; first I registered with the Pharmaceutical Society and then visited Australia house in the Strand, and there said hello to Janet Martin as you suggested.  she looked very well and a little older and more self-possessed than I remember her.

Afterwards, there was time to visit the Hague Whiskey company Head office in St James Street, as uncle Pat had suggested. Mr. Holden, their President, was there and he made me very welcome.

Uncle had already forewarned him that I would be in London. He arranged for me to have lunch with two of the directors, Mr. Tucker and his son-in-law David Reid, the following Monday.They all spoke highly of Pat as their “man in Australasia” and were obviously fond of Auntie Linda of course.

Haigh Whiskey headquarters at St James House in St.James Place not far from Buckingham Palace

Haigh Whiskey headquarters at St James House in St.James Place not far from Buckingham Palace

They took me to one of the top restaurants in London, ‘ l’Ecu de Paris’, where I made the most of a delicious meal.

I politely declined to drink the Hague whiskey so I had to tackle a half bottle of wine on my own.  I found that my feet didn’t hurt nearly as much as usual during the afternoon shopping.

Saturday was also a delightful day. Peter McGregor, the deputy Purser on the Strathnaver, called for me in the morning in his 1958 Ford Zephyr and we set out for Esher — a very pretty village on the outskirts of London where he lives with his sister and her husband when he is on leave.

On the way we did a ‘pub-crawl’, and I had my first sample of English pubs, which really are delightful. Here a pub is a drinking place only — the word is in no way slang-ish – where there is accommodation as well, it is then called a Hotel.

No effort and expense is spared in keeping the pubs spic and span, but strictly in the tradition and flavour of the old English Inns. In many of them the regulars have their own special beer mugs decorating the shelves, and of course, have their favourite spot to sit.

The manager is always dressed to the nines even when serving behind the bar – no rolled up sleeves here-, and the girls behind the bar are also very pleasant and well dressed.

What impresses me most was that there is no smell of stale alcohol pervading the bar room or lounge.

We visited three or four pubs before arriving at the Hinchley Wood Hotel for a delightful lunch, and after that went to watch the Old boys of Peter’s School play hockey. What an energetic game that is!

After the match we retreated to the clubhouse for the evening. It felt just like Saturday night at the golf club or the boat club back in Wagga. The evening finished at Peter’s watching TV and eating chicken sandwiches and then back to London.

Sunday.   I have stayed overnight with Barbara and Laurie Oliver, my other friends from the ship in their little cottage in Norbury, and now it is about time to return to London to go looking for a bed-sit and then find a job for a month or two.

I am so pleased that you are keeping my letters, as I don’t seem to find much time so far to keep a note of my doings diary wise.

Lots of love to everybody.

 


24 Nevern Place Earls Court where all good Auzzies head for!   20th Nov.58.

Dear Jan,

I’m so glad to have your letter and know that you are feeling a lot better. This is your birthday letter and the enclosed present is a contribution towards a holiday fund when you go down to Sydney for Claire’s party, and before you start looking for a job. — With luck the cheque won’t bounce as I remember leaving a little bit behind in my local account.

As you see by the above address, I’m now back in London and settling into my first bed-sitter. It was the first one I applied for as the result of a tip off by another Australian. It looks as if I have fallen on my feet again. London landladies, for the most part, can be pretty tough, I hear.   However, our Mrs. Napier seems to be quite kind-hearted and likes having lots of young people around, and the building seems to be full of young Australians, South Africans etc.  all up to the same purpose as me.

The dining room is in the basement where breakfast is served between seven and 10, and always consists of cereals, porridge, bacon and two eggs, toast and tea – a generous start to to the day!    For the other meals we manage ourselves, but she doesn’t mind us using the kitchen instead of eating out.

I am on the ground floor and this week  in a room of my own usually occupied by an Australian television person called Eunice Parker. When she comes back at the weekend I will move in with another girl whom I haven’t yet met.

The rooms all have gas fires with a slot machine attached so as long as I don’t run out of money I’ll be able to keep warm enough for the winter.

Earls Court, where many Australians end up living for a while, is very central — not far by tube to the West End.

It is just full of flats and bed sits, mainly very old buildings. I am enjoying the colourful and friendly environment, as there are plenty of rather strange and bohemian people wandering around.

One evening I was coaxed into going round the corner to a pub where  lots of Aussies gather. It was quite rowdy and with  plenty of music to listen to. There was one young Australian fellow there – Rolf Harris, whom everyone seemed to know – entertaining the crowd with songs about kangaroos and other Australiana.  The night out  wasn’t quite my cup of tea – too much like pubs at home, and I am here to seek out new experiences and meet people from other countries.

I am very impressed by the Tube — London’s huge underground electric train system, which is certainly wonderfully organized and very extensive but easy to navigate if you carry a tube map.

One of the pair of Sphinxes which sit either side of Cleopatra's Needle beside the Thames in Victoria Embankment

One of the pair of smiling Sphinxes which sit either side of Cleopatra’s Needle beside the Thames River on Victoria Embankment. That’s Big Ben way in the background.

It is the best way of getting around if you don’t mind not being able to see any scenery en route. The lines are on different levels and you reach most platforms either by lifts about four times the size of an ordinary lift, or by escalators, which are about the length of three flights of stairs in one.

I love coming to the surface at each station for the first time, not being sure of what new scene will present itself.

The buses are a bit slower, but are better for watching the world go by. They are all a bright red, and no more than five people are allowed to ride on them standing in the aisle, quite a bit different from Sydney, wouldn’t you say!

I have come to know my way fairly well around the West End already, but it has meant wearing down a fair bit of boot leather.  I haven’t lost my way so far and if one is not sure where to go, one only has to ask a Bobby , their name for a policeman — they are wonderfully polite and helpful

The shops are still keeping me entranced, and I keep getting an overwhelming urge to buy things which I am happy to curb a little or I’ll be cold stony broke in no time.

Tower of London homemade postcard

Tower of London homemade postcard including chopping block and axe!

By the way, I have sent off the family Christmas parcel, including gifts for aunties Linda and Bet, so please send them on for me. The mail closing date was only a week after I arrived so it was quite a rush to get it all organized, but quite a lot of fun at the same time.

I met up with Barbara yesterday, and we went off to see the Tower of London. Although she is English, she had never visited there even though it is in the city.

Our guide was very entertaining and revelled in telling us all the gory stories of the various people of fame and ill-fame who had been imprisoned or executed there.

The Tower, and the crown jewels which are kept there, are guarded by the Yeoman warders, more popularly known as the Beefeaters.

The Crown Jewels are absolutely breathtaking but it was difficult to do them justice with a camera as the rooms were rather dimly lit!

crown jewels london tower (1)

Just some of the Crown Jewels on display in the Tower of London.

As well as the most famous crown in the centre of the display there are a number of crowns worn at the different coronations, jewelled sceptres and swords and maces etc. worth many millions of pounds altogether, and needless to say, are very well guarded!

The main tower is now a museum, full of old armour, swords and cannons and other cheerful things.

After exploring the Tower, we wandered into the Church of all Hallows, the oldest church in the city, which had been bombed in the war and since rebuilt.

The floor of the crypt is at the same level as the pavements of the street in the time of the Roman occupation – 380 AD, so they were saved from putting in a floor, as the cobbled pavement of tiny stones had remained intact.

Sunday.   I am enjoying the delights of discovering wonderful theatre, which is very accessible and remarkably inexpensive and so much to choose from. I had a great day yesterday. In the afternoon I went to the Royal Opera house in Covent Garden to the ballet. The theatre isn’t nearly as grand as it sounds — a very shabby building inside, and situated in the east end of the city near the markets. The program began with Noctambules — a rather weird clever modern opera in one act.

It was followed by the famous ballet “Giselle” danced by the wonderful ballerina  Beriosova and her partner Brian Ashbridge.   It was beautiful to watch and moved me deeply in parts.

The only other show that I have been to so far was a delightfully naughty French play called Irma la Douce. I went with Denyse Richardson.   Theatre seats have apparently recently increased in price, and the cheapest ones up in the gods are now about four and six pence, still very much better than in Australia and often just as inexpensive as going to the movies. How lucky I am!

By the way, I was rewarded at Sunday Mass at Petersfield last week to find myself sitting across the aisle from Alec Guinness and his wife. – Made it difficult to concentrate on my prayers.  They live quite close to Mr. Fishburn’s. It seems that the local parish priest converted Alec to Catholicism, he himself a convert.

Last night, I went out to dine and dance with an English chap living here at 24. We went to the Lotus house at Marble Arch in the city, which they tell me is the newest Chinese restaurant in London, and a very smooth place to go to. Six different dishes were brought to the table and we served ourselves with as much as we wished from each one. It was absolutely delicious — a really pleasant evening all round.

It is so good to be finally settled in the one spot for a while and finally have all my clothes out of the suitcase for the first time in over two months, so I should be able to settle down to more regular letter writing now. Please keep me in touch with all your news. I was happy to hear that you have your boyfriend worries sorted out, you lucky girl! How did your exams go? Claire’s also?

Have a wonderful birthday — love to everyone


November 26th

Dear mummy and dad,

I have finally enjoyed a quiet weekend at home. We spent a while on Sunday looking at everyone’s slides on a screen. There are quite a few South Africans here, and two of the boys, Peter Joyce and Joe Day are particularly nice fellows and very lively company.

It was Peter’s screen and I was able to see my shots blown up for the first time and also be introduced to quite a bit of South African scenery, as well as interesting photos of Brussels, where they had already visited, and which was really spectacular, so I will add that city on my list.

On Monday morning I moved into my permanent room on the ground floor, which I am sharing  with a girl called Sue Alden. She lives down in Hampshire and goes home at weekends, and I think I am going to be quite happy to have her as a room-mate.

Lord Nelson, Trafalgar Square

Lord Nelson, Trafalgar Square

After lunch yesterday I wandered down to the National Art Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

It houses a wonderful collection of all the old Masters and so much more besides. There is one of just the three paintings done by Michael Angelo, also the famous Virgin of the Rocks painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, who also did very few paintings. There are also many others which were so familiar that it was a thrill to see the originals.

I spent several hours there and of course I didn’t get around to all of them, so I will be back here very soon. So much beauty and talent in just one splendid building!

After I had a snack, I then went to see the Merry Widow put on by the Sadler Wells opera company in their own theatre. It was wonderful to hear all the lovely old songs sung so superbly!    You would have really enjoyed it. What a day!

It is now Thursday, and yesterday, as you may have read in the papers, the Queen, Prince Philip and Mr. Nixon all turned up at St Paul’s Cathedral to dedicate a monument in memory of the American forces who died in Europe. I was there too, outside of course, and saw very little of what was happening in the church.

I learnt a lesson as far as royalty watching goes. If you can find a position where you can see anything at all, don’t change it with the hope of finding something better.

St.Paul's Anglican Cathedral, Ludgate Hill, City of London

St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Ludgate Hill, City of London.

When the Queen had left, all the Admirals, and generals and Lords and Sirs etc etc all stood around on the steps of the cathedral waiting for their Rolls-Royces to arrive. Each one’s car was announced over a loudspeaker as they drove up, so I slipped up and stood with them, with no one any the wiser, and was able to see who’s who – it was fun rubbing shoulders with the aristocracy, so to speak!

After the crowd had dispersed, I had a wander through St Paul’s, which, as you may know, is the architect Christopher Wren’s great masterpiece. It has a very impressive interior, vast with a very uncluttered look, which gives it a rather modern appearance.

This apparently was Wren’s intention. He objected to the statuary and memorials and so on, which fill up so many of the old churches. It is a High Church establishment of course. A notice saying that a priest was available for confessions after any of the services intrigued me. I thought that that was a ritual confined to Catholics!

st.martins in the fields

St. Martins in the Fields Trafalgar Square just near the National Gallery.

Another church, which the Queen often attends, is St Martin in the Fields, which, more accurately, can be found in Trafalgar Square! When visiting there one day, I was surprised to see a couple of women making devout signs of the Cross while saying their prayers.

Last night I watched television in our shared living room, and saw Nixon, PM Macmillan and Prince Philip speaking at a banquet at the Guildhall. Philip was quite good — dry and a little blunt, McMillan very good but a little sombre, and Nixon was excellent. I thought that was a very good thing, as there seems to be an extraordinary amount of ill feeling against Americans in this country. In fact I have found that if you want to keep the conversation light and pleasant when talking to the English, you leave America out of it.

I’m finding that the television programmes here are of a very variable standard, but, on such an occasion as last night, it is a wonderful asset. I also viewed the Coronation of Pope John 23rd, which was really impressive – a great introduction to St.Peter’s Basilica.

Next episode coming up shortly. Meantime, much love to everybody.


Earls court. December 4

Dear family,

Now that I have settled in well, I am beginning to get used to the difference in seasons from the southern hemisphere. The days seem to be getting shorter quickly. It is quite dark by four o’clock now and it is usually a bit foggy, though not intensely cold — yet!

guarding the houses of parliamentThis restricts my sightseeing to wandering in and out of historical buildings and museums and so on. It is now quite apparent why this is the theatre season. A bright musical in a cosy little theatre is a good way of escaping from a bleak, black afternoon or evening. All of the shops and theatres are centrally heated so that it is only cold when travelling from one spot to another, different to our winters back home.

Fortunately, Mrs.Napier whom we all refer to as Ma has a horror of the cold and keeps this building well heated, which I am told is very different from most bed sit establishments.

In fact about the only thing that is challenging about the place is Ma’s tongue, which is incredibly sharp when she loses her temper, and that is quite often. As someone remarked during one of her tirades at breakfast this morning, Ma doesn’t just climbed out of bed on the wrong side – she falls out!

Everyone gets a piece of it now and then. I copped it the other night for forgetting to wash the griller! No comment please! Incidentally the board is four guineas a week, which is a tiny bit dearer than most bed-sits, but worth it for the extra amenities and rather home away from home atmosphere.

I am afraid I am still not working. There is a shortage of jobs at the moment. However, I  admit that I don’t feel very worried about it, even if the bank balance is receding a little, as I am still keeping myself very happily occupied just exploring and letting myself relish being in the middle of a great adventure that I have been dreaming about and planning for ages.

On Saturday afternoon I had my first visit to the London Palladium, which is famous for its variety shows in the old music hall tradition. ‘Large as Life’ was the show and the main star was Harry Seccombe of The Goon Show fame — a fat, rollicking comedian who really kept the ball rolling during a wonderful program. It was a little like the Australian Tivoli programmes but of an infinitely higher standard. The costumes and sets were very lavish and spectacular and the theatre itself is very attractive – it is new and more comfortable than most of the live theatres.

On Saturday night I had my first game of squash at the courts quite close to here. I went with the three South Africans, Peter, Joe and Jennifer. We came home at about nine and cooked an enormous meal. The boys have been here about a year and are quite good cooks by now.

Then after Mass on Sunday at the new church in Kensington, a few of us went for a walk through Holland Park, which is close by. You will be hearing more about the parks in London — such a joy to wander through, and a great way to watch the passing crowd.

We then returned to No.24, pooled resources and together cooked yet another great meal. Once we had recovered we then settled down to a game of Solo and ended up with a very funny dice game called Liar’s dice at about 11 o’clock. So much for Sunday!

Houses of Parliament, London

The Houses of Parliament, London looking very impressive from the other side of the Thames.

Finally on Monday the sun came out, so I went forth with my camera for the first time for weeks and wandered along the Thames, crossed a few bridges, peered at the Festival Hall near where Lambert House  the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Palace is.

It stands just opposite the Houses of Parliament on the other side of the river.

I ended up at the Tate Gallery not far along on the South side,  It is another great gallery – very modern and it houses paintings and sculpture of the more recent British and foreign artists.There always seems to be so much to take in at one visit.

I’ll need to come back and spend more time there and become much more familiar with modern art especially that of

Waterloo Bridge.

Waterloo Bridge. including a handy foot-bridge to get to South Bank.

W.M.Turner  who paints wild, colourful seascapes and landscapes.

On Tuesday it felt like time to visit the Pharmacy Journal offices to put in an advertisement to find some more work.

I discovered the British Museum which was just around the corner, so I began to explore it. Some of the most interesting exhibits are the manuscripts — the original Magna Carta, can you imagine? Also a copy of the Bible in Greek from the third century, and other equally fantastic records, still remarkably preserved.

While I was there, there was a lecture being given on the Elgin marbles, so I listened to that, as I knew very little about them, and I was very pleased that I did. They are a  part of the remains of a marble frieze decorating the outside of the Parthenon temple in Athens, carved by the ancient Greeks, and depicting a procession in honour of their goddess, Athena. Much of it was partly destroyed by the Turks, who, they say neglected preserving it after they took over — I am not too sure what the Turks would have to say about that!

A couple of centuries ago, a certain Lord Elgin brought all that was left scattered around the temple back to England at a cost of £75,000. There is now much contention as to whether they should be in London or returned home to Athens.

I completed the day at the theatre again, a delightful little Irish comedy called “She didn’t say no”.

Exploring the City of London - the heart of the financial district whhich had been very heavily bombed during the war.

Exploring the City of London – the heart of the financial district which had been very heavily bombed during the war.

Yesterday I applied for a job in the City of London, an area I shall attempt to describe in another letter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nearby was the monument commemorating the great Fire of 1660, also the Bank of England, the Mansion house where the Lord Mayor lives, and also the Royal Exchange.

The latter looks very impressive from the outside – they all do with their grand facades of Greek columns – but apparently it is usually empty, except for a Red Cross Christmas bazaar happening there the day I came by.   Unfortunately the job was gone by the time I arrived, but I did enjoy the sightseeing!

A newsy letter from down under will be all I need to help me get over that disappointment!!     so till then, love to everyone  ……..


24 Neven Place. December 12, 1958

Dear family,

Just after I finished writing last week, I had a phone call from the chief pharmacist at St Stephen’s Hospital, Chelsea, asking me to do a 3 to 4 week locum, and so here I am, finally at work again!   This is a very old hospital — it looks like a cross between an ancient castle and a church, and has 400 beds and a dispensary staff of about eight.

The pay is 16 guineas a week, equivalent to £21 Australian, which doesn’t seem very much, but the hours are very good — nine till five, and nine till 12.30 on Saturdays, with no other weekend work. The hospital is only a trip by bus from Earls Court, taking just five minutes.  In fact, if I rose early I could even walk there! A midday dinner is provided for the nominal charge of two and a penny, so you can see that, on the whole, my living expenses are very manageable right now.

My workmates are rather a funny lot. The chief pharmacist is an old fellow who wanders around talking to himself most of the day, and always puts everyone into a panic on Saturday mornings to make sure that he gets away on time. His assistant is an older Scotswoman, who rarely gets on with the female staff, but so far so good with me!

My task is mainly outpatient dispensing,- many thousands of pills a day! What has shocked me is that so many of the prescriptions are for Tuberculosis patients.   It seems that this is a complex legacy created by a combination of climate, the effects of two world wars, and poor living conditions in some pockets of the city.

Because of the national health scheme, medicine is free here except for one shilling per script, and all medical and dental treatment is also covered. This all sounds good, but I am told that in some ways, it has resulted in a decline in standards and service to the public.  Australia seems to be getting along without such a service so far. Maybe that will change!

This has caused me to reflect that we are fortunate having a climate as kind as it is, and that our standard of living is quite good compared to Great Britain and much of Europe, and also that we have not had to endure as much suffering and destruction directly on our mainland from war.

I have started this letter at work during my lunch hour. To be honest, I have to admit that I am finding it rather grim to be back at the grind after weeks of wonderful idleness. I suspect that I was never really meant to work!! My letters may not be quite as newsy for the next few weeks, but what has to be has to be — or so my bank manager tells me!

Last Friday I had another very pleasant luncheon with three of the Hague Whisky directors, again at another top-notch restaurant. I even indulged in a plate of oysters, which are an absolute luxury over here. Naïvely, I had not realised this. Most people have never even tasted them, and they cost the earth.

The restaurant was one of those which provide two menus, one without prices for the guest, and one for the person who is paying the bill, listing the prices . I didn’t realise this also, but it did help me understand later the look of polite surprise which flashed across the face of my host when I ordered the oysters!

On Sunday night, five of us from no.24 went to see South Pacific, filmed in Toddeo — the great three-dimensional, wider scope etc etc film medium. Actually it is very spectacular and the film was a delight — all the songs sounded so fresh again, and there was scope for a little more story than in the stage show.

Last week I also saw a matinee of The Boyfriend, which has been showing in London for over four years. Just imagine that! It was really good fun — a musical play of the early 20s. You would have both enjoyed seeing it.

Mavis Fishburne, who is Bill’s daughter, lives in London, and has kindly taken me under her wing. She is a bit older than me, but has already come to feel like a good friend. On Monday night we went together to see an autobiographical play by the famous American playwright, Eugene O’Neill. It was called A Long day’s journey into Night, and it was about as grim as it sounds.

It wasn’t a pretty story, and the acting was brilliant, resulting in a very realistic and uncomfortable experience!

xmas%20tree%20in%20trafalgar%20square[2]

Trafalgar Square’s Christmas Tree in the rain.

Two quite famous actors, Anthony Quinn and Gwen Ffrangdon-Jones took the main parts.

I’m sorry I forgot to acknowledge receiving your letters. It gave me much pleasure to catch up with the news. Next I will be looking forward to all the details about the special upcoming birthday party.

It seems hard to believe that Christmas is so near. I doubt that it will feel quite like Christmas being away from home.

I will probably experience a really good fit of homesickness that day. Fortunately, I will not be missing out on a Christmas spread at no.24.

They say that Mrs. Napier usually does us proud with the traditional Yuletide dinner.

Ma Napier presiding over her Christmas lunch.

Ma Napier presiding over her Christmas feast, –  Joe is front right and Peter behind the camera and Ma seems to be really enjoying our company, and joining in with the fun.  She didn’t spare herself when it came to the Christmas dinner. – a nicely decorated table with generous servings  of several traditional courses and we supplied the wine and beer.

I have made several friends amongst the inmates who don’t have homes to go to either and who will be there to share it with me.

I believe that it will be the four South Africans –  my friends Peter  and Joe and another couple.

There are already Christmas decorations going up and we will be sharing a few little presents and making a party of it, with other friends dropping in as well.

The Christmas party in full swing..with Peter hiding from the camera -cant remember why?!

The Christmas party continuing in full swing..with Peter in behind hiding from the camera . -cant remember why?!

 

We will be drinking a Christmas toast to you across the ocean, so dont forget to join in and toast us as well!

Please pass on good wishes to all the friends, relatives and neighbours  and share my news with them. I am sure that they will understand that individual letters are a bit beyond me.

So, lots of Yuletide blessings, loving good wishes and warm hugs to everyone of you.

Enjoy your summer holidays and have a swim or two for me

 

 


 

Earlscourt. 22nd of December

Dear mummy and daddy,

I was so pleased to have both your letters in time for Christmas. They arrived at the weekend as there had been a special delivery on Sunday and there will also be another delivery on Christmas Day.

Thank you daddy for taking care of that little debt of mine. I shall probably buy a nice new cardigan with the three guineas, and will count that as my present. I also received a parcel from the kids a few days ago, so a very big thank you and a hug to everybody.

I do hope that my parcel has arrived in time, and please don’t go trying to work out how much I spent on your presents, as the declaration of costs on the outside of the parcel needed to be under estimated. Friends in the know said that this was the usual practice to avoid having the customs opening up the parcels.

Joe Day Windsor Castle

Joe Day in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Yesterday, Peter, Joe and I went for a bus ride out of town to Windsor Castle.

It wasn’t till the ride home that I began to get a bit of the Christmas feeling. It was seeing that most of the homes along the highway had the Christmas trees standing at their front windows, all beautifully decorated with little coloured lights. Perhaps you could try it next year in the big window in the lounge room!

We found Windsor castle closed at the moment, unfortunately, so we were not able to see any of the rooms, but we did wander around the grounds.

windsor castle

Another  aspect of Windsor Castle

It is such a massive old Castle with turrets and moats and all the things that castles should have, and being a little way out of London, it is considerably cleaner than most of the famous old historical buildings in London.

The playing fields of Eton are just below the Castle– I am sure you have heard speak of the playing fields of Eton, where many great men of Empire played in their youth. They look more or less like any other playing fields, only much greener!

Next, we came across a classic little Windsor style restaurant, with a blazing wood fire in an old-fashioned grate, red and white check tablecloths, gleaming copper jugs hanging on the wall, low beamed ceilings, and just for effect, a handsome black cat curled up in the corner. We each had a large helping of ye old home-made steak pie with veggies, then apple tart and custard, followed by coffee, all for just five shillings.

Playing fields of Eton

The Playing fields of Eton

After that, we felt fit enough to brace the cold air and went wandering down the narrow streets through Eton, window-shopping along the way.

Last Saturday, it was time to go to the city to look at the beautiful Christmas lighting in all the shops.

The whole of Regent Street is wonderfully decorated with festoons of coloured lights, and lanterns strung from shop to shop from one end of the street to the other. I found myself wishing that Leonie was here with me to see the wonderful toy displays in the windows.

My next theatre treat was a live broadcast production of the Goon show put together on the stage in a funny old theatre on the edge of London. I had been able to acquire complimentary tickets at New South Wales house. It was riotously funny watching how it was done.

The three stars of the show, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers shared all the parts between them and were kept very busy darting around the stage. The sound effects man, whom we could see behind the little screen, was also a big part of the performance. There was also a royal box in the upstairs part of the theatre, and a couple of the family were there and came in for plenty of irreverent attention from the cast, much to the delight of the audience.

It has been so good to have a little break from work and indulge in some more entertainment and other outings.

On Thursday Barbara and Laurie and another Australian girl and I had a wonderful dinner at an Indian restaurant, where the waiters glided around in national costume, including turbans. Eating a selection of delicious traditional curries was just another novel culinary experience.

After that we made our way to Covent Garden to see Turandot, one of Puccini’s operas — a magnificent spectacle with beautiful singing. My only complaint was that the beautiful young heroine was played by a rather plump and 40-ish singer. To be fair to her, she had a really superb voice. My friends advised that if I really wanted to enjoy opera, it would be better to stop being so picky!

Television has also provided some wonderful cultural treats in the last few days — Maria Callas the famous Greek soprano. (part-2-1960/chapter-8-paris-in-the-spring-1960/) singing Tosca at the Paris Opera.   On Sunday night it was ballet – the Nutcracker Suite starring the wonderful Margot Fonteyn and her partner, the oh- so- handsome Michael Soames.

One of the girls at No. 24 is in the chorus of My Fair Lady, and she invited a few of us to visit the Drury Lane Theatre to have a look around backstage between shows. Rex Harrison’s dressing rooms are almost a self-contained flat, and there is also a special sitting room which is kept for the Queen to use at interval when she is there. I will finally be able to get to see the show myself on 16 January.

A happy New Year to you all and lots of love …

P.S.  Could you please send me some of the good underwear I left behind? Can you believe that cotton spencers are unprocurable over here!


Dear Mum and dad,

Well, I’m sure that you will be impressed to know that I am back at the grind again.   I reported in to the office of Lewis and Burrows, a well-known chain of pharmacies, on Monday morning, and was sent to their branch at Westbourne Grove, an area just north of Kensington, for two days work.   It was a rather grim old pharmacy in a run down area.

Then, by way of contrast, I spent the rest of the week at the Westminster branch, where there turned out to be quite an interesting scattering of Lords and Honourables and other significant people on the books.

There is a flu epidemic abroad at the moment, resulting in a general shortage of staff right throughout  London, so I don’t know where I’ll be working from one day to the next.

One great advantage is that it gives me the chance to meet and observe quite a cross section of Londoners, and to learn a lot more at first-hand about them and the variety of living conditions, and also the differences in class in different areas, which is so much more in evidence in this country than in Australia.

On the whole they are a more friendly people than they are reputed to be, though, funnily enough, it is much easier to strike up a conversation with them once they know you are not English!

The general standard of living is not quite as high as Australia in lots of ways. Taxes are really crippling, and everyone seems to have to count their pennies, and many can barely afford to have their fortnightly annual holidays down at the sea.

Very many married women have to work, if not full-time, then at least part-time. – What they gain by having a free medical scheme seems to be eaten up by the higher taxes.

Friday.   I remarked earlier in the letter that, because of the flu epidemic, I didn’t know where I would end up next, work wise. I know now! I am also bedridden!

I succumbed on Sunday evening and have spent the week in bed. I wasn’t very ill, just miserable enough to want to stay put under the blankets, particularly as the weather out of doors appeared very grim through my window. No snow to break the monotony so far!    I am beginning to think that the image of a White Christmas is no more than a tourist promotion!

This spell away from work is helping me to reflect on my wonderful London adventure as I find it winding down to an end for the time being.

At the moment I am trying to organise my movements to the continent, beginning with the skiing holiday in Austria.  After that, as you know, I will be heading for Perugia in central Italy to begin my Italian lessons.   Sometimes it all seems like a dream that, bit by bit, is turning out just as I hoped, and with enough little surprises now and then to keep me on my toes!

I invited Laurie and Barbara to come to dinner here last week and treated them to a large Auzzie style steak — a luxury that they have missed since leaving Australia. Good meat is very expensive here.

They have just about decided to settle permanently in Australia instead of staying in England and will be returning there next September. I am pleased about that, as they have become good friends and will be waiting for me when I return.

I hope to write a cheerier letter to you next weekend.  Meantime lots of love to you all

 


Dear Uncle George,

Thank you so much for your Christmas letters. I was really happy to know that you had been able to join the family for Christmas, and that you have not had to work so hard since.

My travels so far have been a very rich experience. I hope to go snow skiing in March to a resort in Austria, travelling across through Calais, Basel and Innsbruck. A fortnight later, I will pop on the train again and proceed over the Brenner Pass down to Perugia, where I will be spending an exciting three months learning to speak Italian. I am very grateful for your encouragement to do this!

I have recently had a couple of weeks off work with the flu, but I am fit again now and working hard, saving for my travels on the continent. Luckily I am currently working as temporary manager at the Lewis and Burroughs branch at Earls Court, just around the corner from where I am living.

I recently went to a lecture given by Father Joseph Christie S.J. at the Chelsea town Hall. You may know him? It was a very inspiring talk — a very nourishing spiritual experience to have just before I set out on the next phase of my travels – and delivered in a very different style than the Redemptorists, thank heaven!

It would be wonderful to be able to meet up with you on the continent later, if this works out for both of us.   Keep well!

Fond wishes from Shirley.


The Birches, Headley, Hampshire. 21st of February

Dear family,

This is the address of my friend Sue when she is at home with her parents in a little village down in Hampshire.

beautiful Hampshire woodlands

beautiful Hampshire woodlands near Sue’s home.

We came down here last night. It is about an hour by train from London. It is great to get out of the city for a few days and breathe in fresh, smog less air again, even through a blocked nose!

I have had a very lazy week . I wasn’t feeling fit enough for work, but I did try to distract myself with a film showing at the nearest cinema. Fortunately, it is an excellent film –“Wild Strawberries” by Ingmar Bergen, a famous Swedish film producer. Being a foreign film, you may not get a chance to see it. The little outing did freshen up my cold again, so I gave in and spent the rest of the week quietly convalescing.

Another film that I haven’t mentioned was “The Captain’s Table” – a great comedy which reminded me a lot of people and situations during my own sea voyage! I recommend it!

On Wednesday, Pamela, a lass who had been at both Santa Sabina and university with me came to visit and we gossiped for hours about mutual acquaintances. She will probably come to live at no.24 as she is very lonely where she is at present.

Sunday.   It is a delightfully mild day today here in Hampshire — even some sunshine!  This morning I was feeling loads better already, so strode off by myself to the village for 8.30 mass in a very tiny church hall. ( my hosts are Anglicans, as far as I know)– The hall reminded me of the one in Yerong Creek. – About 40 of the locals were there, and the priest came from the next parish.

During the morning, Sue and I went to say ‘how do you do’ to a young Australian couple who had come to live in a nearby cottage. Later we went for a drive. It is lovely country around here even in wintertime. It is not so very far from Petersfield.

Sue and her Mum and Dad

My roommate Sue with her Mum and Dad at their home in Hampshire.

Sue is an only child. I like her parents very much. Her father is about 70 — a retired colonel.

Altogether he did about 10 years service in the Middle East, taking in the First World War and Gallipoli.

He loves to reminisce as if it was only yesterday. He was very excited to hear that I had been to Cairo recently, and I was able to tell him just a little of what it is like now since the British have left, having visited it on my way through Suez on the Strathnaver on my way to London.

Yesterday a few of their friends came in for high tea  – it is like our afternoon tea, only it is conducted a little more solemnly around the dining room table, and very often includes those dainty cucumber sandwiches we’ve heard about!

One guest was a wonderful old lady in her 80s, who had survived bubonic plague in India, though it had killed her husband and children. She is very lively and could well outlive her second husband, who is 10 years younger than her. He spent most of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to stop her from telling risqué stories!

Since being in London, I have had very little time for reading, however my spell in bed was not altogether wasted. It gave me the chance to read the first volume of Churchill’s History of the English speaking peoples. For light relief!   I then read a really delightful book about Paris called a Narrow Street by Elliott Paul.

Would it be too much trouble to bundle up a heap of Walkabout magazines and send them to the Olivers at Norbury Cross, Norbury, England? I would be so grateful if you could.

I hope that Leonie has been able to settle back into boarding school without too much home-sickness. I am sure you must be missing her after the Christmas break!

I hope to be able to give you my exact traveling details in the next letter – just a few weeks to go!

Much of love to every one of you


Dear Jan,

Thank you so much for your last letter, and the special Christmas present. I loved the cartoons – they seem even more typically Australian when one is away from the country than when at home. It was good to be reminded of how little we take ourselves seriously in many ways!

I enjoyed hearing Claire’s news too. It helps me to feel a closer to home when I get a little taste of the local gossip, and can imagine the two of you preparing for the next local ball.

I am back at work again — this time it is at a pharmacy just around the corner from home, so I don’t have to jump out of bed until the last minute, and am also able to go home for lunch.

I am working as a temporary manager because the permanent manageress is ill, and, as much as I wish her well, I am hoping that she will afford herself a generous convalescence for a couple of weeks. By that time, provided the snow hasn’t melted, I will be off to Austria to ski. Hurrah!

On Tuesday night I went to my first pre-ski class. I am taking six lessons over three weeks — half an hour each one. We do exercises and jump around the room on skis to strengthen our muscles so that we aren’t as likely to break any bones when we get there. I have also taken out a little insurance to protect myself as well. I managed to tie myself in knots in about five minutes as I tried to simulate skiing, and I am now so stiff that I can hardly move!

I tried practicing at home last night, but everyone watching TV downstairs complained that the reverberations I caused were spoiling their viewing.

I have also bought myself a skiing outfit. The ones I saw looked rather drab but I did discover an orange pair of ski pants (all the better to make sure I don’t get lost in the snow!) and I matched them up with a smart waterproof jacket – white squares on a black background.

I have to work on Saturday all day, as here in the suburbs many shops stay open on Saturday and close on Wednesday. We are having a spell of spring weather at the moment, so I’m hoping it will last until Sunday, when I will be heading off for another visit to Petersfield.

I heard somebody comment the other day that London only has two seasons these days — this winter and last winter!

Monday morning. Don’t let me complain about London weather again. There has been sunshine on five consecutive days. If it keeps up the locals will be deprived of their main topic of conversation, though they will be bound to be saying that the fine weather can’t possibly last!

Petersfield was delightful yesterday — birds singing, sheep and lambs in the next field baaing their silly heads off. I have been eating my hosts out of house and home, and dozing in the sunshine in between times. This will be my last visit down here for a while, and I am bound to miss the welcoming homey atmosphere that Patricia and Bill have created for me, and also the beautiful English countryside, now preparing for spring.

The next time you will hear from me will be from the heart of southern Europe. Wish you were here — your health would strengthen in no time!

In the meantime, stay well and keep happy. Lots of love from your big sister

2 thoughts on “C2: Discovering London. Winter 1958-59.

  1. Paul

    Interesting to read about Ma Napier. I also stayed there, but 1966-68, and it sounds like not much had changed since your stay. A tough old boot was ma Napier, with a heart of gold. Brings back many happy memories.

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    Reply
    1. elizabetcrennan Post author

      Hi Paul I was really delighted to receive your comment about Earls Court and Ma Napier. writing about the travels has restored many great memories and I have had a lot of fun adding the photos. I am a slow learner so it took a while for me to see that I could reply to the comments, so apologies for this late acknowledgement. It gave me encouragement when I needed it.
      Recounting the whole journey is nearly complete – just 2 chapters to go, a trip around Spain and the trip home aboard an Italian Liner, this time accompanying migrants from central Europe about to settle in Australia.
      Best wishes to you from Elizabeth

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      Reply

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