Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday 24th December 1938

The icy arterial road to Town. But – only 2¼ hours to Ealing! Left Hawthorn Court after lunch. They were amazed that we should venture forth at all – and with no – apparent – destination! A khaki-greatcoat warmed my back. Lois nursed a hot water bottle. Western Avenue. A steady stream of traffic had made it slushy but there was little ice. We noticed occasionally a couple in a Ford Eight – a cheery looking bloke and a girl with a bright kerchief on her head.

High Wycombe. Up Dashwood Hill at 30, whilst a gold ring went on the third finger of a left hand and we became Mr and Mrs Davidson. 3:15p.m. A multiple car smash. The Ford Eight was next to us. I spoke to the driver. Yes, he had come from Ealing. And wither? “Oh, Shipston on Stour – if we can make it!” A nasty moment, descending a steep hill, when we slid into the slush at the road’s edge and skidded. We passed the Ford Eight. Exchanged signals.

The Oxford by-pass. Ford Eight just behind – but they didn’t turn off at the anticipated roundabout! Road became better. Accelerated to 45 for a while. At dusk however, the Ford Eight appeared again and hung upon our tail. Darkness in the Cotswolds. Awful, occasional, ice ridges transformed the road surface into an iron ploughed field. Quite exciting and (literally) disturbing when one hits a series of these bumps at 35 or 40mph and dare not brake for fear of a skid!

Overtaking intermittent long strings of slow-moving cars. Always the Ford Eight followed just behind! A car had gone into a roadside drift; the road being temporarily blocked, we all stopped, I at the head of a long string. The Ford Eight was just behind and we heard the driver say casually to a bystander, “Oh, we’re going to Wales!” Apparently they’d been a change of plan… Downhill run. The Ford Eight stopped by the roadside – probably at a café. Saw it’s lights fade into the distance as we went on.

A garage. The fierce little bantam of a man, arguing with the mechanic. “He is a twirp” said the man who was serving us. “What is that?” asked my companion with interest. “A parasitic type of insect found on sheep, and known as a tic.” “Happy Christmas!” cried Angel satirically to the disgruntled garage proprietor, as, leaving us, he turned to deal with the “tic” or “twirp”.

Cheltenham at teatime. A fine drizzle of rain. No snow! Tewkesbury. No snow, roads fairly dry. Severn Stoke. Kinnersley Court. We drove into a wet-looking farm yard.
“Will you come straight to your room, Mrs. Davidson?” said the maid. Mr and Mrs Nixon.

Supper. Angel had a bath first. I sat talking to the Nixons. A tousled fair head popped around the door; “The bath is yours, M’Sieu!”


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