April. Sports day in peace (and sunshine). Exmouth, Dartmoor. Jack Potter on Malaya. Beekeeping.
Monday, April 1st
Boat Race Day on Saturday and to my great satisfaction Oxford won it. Moving to listen to the news and that this was the second “peace” boat race I had experienced – the last in 1920 (or was it 1919?). Anyway made you feel good to think that there was another normal event of peace restored again, and as popular as ever.
I spent Sunday helping M tidy up and clean her new flat, all very compact and convenient. We went out to tea to stop ourselves from working but about six we had got it ship shape and had thrown out masses of stuff belonging to the old tenant.
Wednesday, April 3rd
Sports Day in peace and the veterans back from the war. A most lovely spring day, warm and sunny. Many parents came and it was the most enjoyable sports day I remember in 12 years. There has not been a warmer day at this time of year in the 90 years since weather recording started. The thermometer in London reached 75 (F).
Just heard from Timothy that whereas in the old days on our passports we had strings of titles and a coat of arms, now we have Ernie Bevin. He has no titles and no coat of arms. Very awkward, very awkward.
Thursday, April 4th
Kept a long standing promise to Hilary that I would take him in a canoe when he could swim. We went down the regatta course to Remenham.
Saturday, April 6th
Dug my allotment with Heath. Got a lot down and no ill results to back!
Monday, April 8th
To Exeter and found Molly at Maud’s cleaning furniture out of Glenbanna [Home of Diarist’s father in Exton].
Wednesday, April 10th
Started off by car to Runnage. Had a look in Cathedral on way where they were removing scaffolding from organ with its newly restored and gleaming pipes. Strange to see cars scattered about the devastated area – no lack of free parking space now! The drive to Runnage was lovely, but the moor dark and blackened by burning of heather in which since it was not allowed during the war there was a lot of leeway to make up. The liquid call of the curlews, which always thrills me, came to us across the marsh. Ruth had a good lunch for us at the cottage with plenty of butter and cream. The cottage had a long room with a low ceiling, stone floor, tiny windows, an open chimney and bench fitted round the wall. The shippen and hayloft was next door, dark cramped and medieval it might have come out of Wuthering Heights. When the heifers were in they had to lie tail to tail. There was a pump and an inconvenience some distance away.
Wednesday, April 11th
Went to Exmouth in the afternoon. All, the wire and other relics of 1940 – 45 have been cleared away. Only white concrete holes about every five feet in the Promenade told where the steel stakes had been driven. The lawns were cut, the shelters painted, men were at work repairing the front, and the marks for parking cars were all newly lined out. Everything is being done to get things cleared up, tidy and clean for the summer visitors. The Clarence in the Close gleamed in its cream stucco and the Royal Arms stood out in blue, red and gold. I felt heartened by these signs of recovery….
Friday, April 12th
To Exmouth where had lunch, queuing at 12.30, then by the ferry to Star Cross where I caught bus to Teignmouth. To Shaldon to see boyhood friend Wilfrid Westall. Must say I thought him rather decayed from overwork. We walked along the estuary with the sun throwing a beam down the water to the sea. A charming place. It was a lovely day with a brilliant light but a cold wind.
[Wilfrid Westall became Suffragan Bishop of Crediton 1954 - 74]
Saturday, April 13th
A wonderful spring day. Gardened for Maud in the morning and in the afternoon went to Exmouth, tottered along the front to Orcombe Point, paddled, had tea from Signor So So’s Ice Cream Parlour and then tottered back in easy stages. Maud a bit doubtful about going to Exmouth on Saturday because of the proletariat from Exeter, but enjoyed herself, I think, and the proletariat proved very well behaved!
Good Friday, April 19th
Came back from Exton last Saturday very comfortably, train not full and ran ahead of time. Tuesday went canoeing with Hilary, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday gardening and bees. Hilary helped with the bees for the first time in my best beekeeper Wellingtons and gloves. He was very sensible but today when a cloud of bees buzzed round him he left. However, I told him to go away and they would leave him. Presently he returned and helped me with the last of the hives quite cheerfully.
Today we went on the Goring downs in the afternoon and took our tea. The first time I have been with Nora and Hilary since 1929. We did some bird nesting at which Hilary proved most efficient.
Saturday, April 20th
Busy gardening and working with bees and making goose “palace”. Hilary helped me with the floor of the latter but owing to faulty knowledge of five times table was unable to calculate the number of bricks required! Better at nature study.
Ester Sunday, April 20th
This afternoon had a successful tea party with two Clayden boys, Alexander and Victoria Weiss, Hilary and Alan Potter. Jack Potter told me something of the utter corruption and inefficiency in Malaya. They were told they were joining the world’s greatest naval base only to find when they got there that they were not expected to use their A.A. guns because there was a shortage of ammunition!
This week the foreign ministers are to meet in Paris to prepare the peace treaties with Italy, Finland, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria, but the reality of the situation is far different. The real division is not between the victorious and the defeated but between East and West…. Have just looked at last year’s Diary at Easter. Full of jubilation. Wonder if this will make bitter reading in future. It seems far away and long ago so quickly has the gulf between Russia and the West grown up.
A good talk by a scientist in “the crisis of our time” series. He sees the crisis in the terms of the recognition of man’s moral and spiritual life, of goodness as goodness. Only if we can reach some common moral agreement about goodness can enough mutual trust be created to make international government work.
Easter Monday, April 22nd
One satisfactory thing about the Budget this year is the earmarking of 50 millions from the sale of surplus war stocks to the Land Fund, from which such things as youth hostels, national parks and the National Trust will benefit. …. We went to picnic this afternoon on the Ewelme downs and looked for bird nests but found very few.
On Friday memorial windows to be dedicated at St Sepulchre’s, Holborn, to Sir Henry Wood. His father sang in the choir there and he was appointed assistant organist at the age of 13. Masefield has written these lines.
At this man’s hand a million hearers caught
An echo of the music without flaw
Whose endless joy is Heaven’s only law.
O music lovers, bless him in your thought.