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Sunday, 29 August 2010

1949 April

April. Ravishing Lucy in The Rivals. Charmian, Donald Cook. Budget, no tax relief. Swiss holiday: unlimited cakes and meat, £110 for three.

Sunday, April 3rd
Saw The Rivals five times so pretty much know it by heart. Had a good Sir Anthony, Sir Lucius not so good, but a ravishing Lucy with very high voltage indeed.

Tuesday, April 5th
Got something out of the National Health for the first time as visited dentist and he told me it need cost me nothing.
Been wondering as houses so impossibly expensive whether I could live in a caravan and run a smallholding. Should have to have plenty of sheds and storage space. It would be good in summer, but what about winter and gales, and the cramped space, yet I should be my own master and live the life I want. Mary tired of living indoors all day and dishing out books to old ladies and does not want to go on living alone. After quarrel on March 24th, did not see her again until March 30th. We were both relieved to find we had thought better of what we said. After supper lay on the bed and after a bit I realized Mary wanted to sleep with me so we switched off the bedside lamp and lay together in most of our clothes, a thing we rarely do, so surprizing and spontaneous.

Wednesday, April 6th
Went over to Mary and discussed the caravan question, finances and so on thoroughly in time we had to do so. Think it good idea if Mary could stand it, but wonder if she would. Living at such close quarters would be the test. Also M wonders if she would be frightened in the country, and there are her ”possessions”.

Friday, April 8th
Broke up.

Saturday, April 9th
Manual work, lawn mowing, compost making, hen house cleaning

Sunday, April 10th
Tea at the Cooks’ to meet Charmian and Jean, her French husband, and their new baby. Donald and his very pregnant wife Doreen also here. Mr Cook talked a lot about inventions for the blind, especially a cigarette supplied with lighter for armless blind man. Mrs Cook very amiable, kind and sensible. The rooms very small and hot, hardly bigger than a caravan.
Began packing up for trip to Switzerland, rucksack, case, thermos flasks, etc.
Budget contained no tax relief at all. Must get accustomed to this. 40% of national income spent by State on community’s behalf. And this proportion could only be reduced by cuts in social services, food subsidies or defence. None of these likely at present whatever government in power. “We must regulate the speed of the development of our social services to the rate at which we can expand our national wealth,” said Sir Stafford Cripps. Our welfare socialism can go no further until more wealth is produced. Nothing more is to be gained from taxing the rich. If we are going to live in a social welfare state, a state of poor men, might as well be a poor man and live in a caravan.

Monday, April 11th
Set off to London, where had lunch at Lyons. Victoria 2pm, Folkestone, bitterly cold waiting in passport queue. As soon as on boat had to fill out form for French stating money in different currencies, nice when boat in rough sea. However, sea moderate. Had tea with Hilary on boat; tea expensive and bad, as usual on boat. The train at Calais did not leave until 7.30, so had an hour a half waiting about. A master woman in the carriage, insisted on having window open. Took an instant dislike to her two small nephews, daughter and husband, who had obviously given up all attempts to cope long since.

Tuesday, April 12th
Through the night rolling and lolloping across France. Reached Chaumont at about 3.30, where I had a walk, Belfort at dawn. Had breakfast at station restaurant at Basle. At nine on train (to Lucerne) in third class apartment crowded with Italian workmen going home.
Lucern, Hotel Raben on the Reuss with a view of the Pilatus with snow lying in the gullies, very blue, and cloud on the summit We had lunch and felt somewhat better, but the disadvantages of hotels soon reared their ugly heads - music from the bedroom next door occupied by three schoolboys. Hilary very cross and bad tempered after night journey.

Wednesday, April 13th
8.46 to Fluellen with packet lunch, cold at first and mist on lake. The boats interesting as full of goods of all sorts, from cows to drain pipes, as well as passengers. Reached Fluellen by boat for lunch. Climbed up to new church and ate our lunch with plentiful meat on footpath, very hot and valley too steep for walking. Hilary lost his first pair of dark glasses!

Thursday, April 14th
8.46 boat to Stanstad, in which we hear an American from Texas discoursing loudly on the decadence of England. Stanstad to Engleberg.... The railway goes on a rack and climbs up through the forest to the high alp. A walk from the station to the funicular, up to the Gerschni  Alp, then  a cable car across the abyss to the Trubsee hotel; this full of skiers. When we got out all snow. Had citron pressé at the hotel at great expense. Hilary rather bad tempered. 

Good Friday April, 15
Breakfast on balcony overlooking river, but light very strong, too strong for comfort. Everyone up early, crowds hurrying to boats. Vitznau. The bright red train going up the Rigi. Alpine meadows, forest, grass  and rock. The summit  with its huge hotels all closed. Extremely hot in Vitznau and difficult to find shade.

Saturday, April 16th
Later breakfast on balcony over flower market. Saw a bald gentleman crossing the bridge raise his hat eight times.10 o’clock boat to (?)Kersiten. Funicular to Bergenstock. Managed to change money at station, which seemed always open - other banks shut.

Easter Sunday
Coloured eggs for breakfast. Train to Kussnacht - band playing in square, C15th houses. Very hot. Had ices in café of Goethe's house in square. Caught boat back which reached Lucerne at magic hour of 6.30 when all boats could be seen streaking back home for dinner.

Easter Monday
Old Lucerne, Lion, Glacier Garden, Alpine Hut. A mistake about "Raum" - pineapple and much cream; felt sick! Cathedral. A pedalo, lowest form of locomotion, with Hilary.

Tuesday, April 19th
Said goodbye to the Raben am See. On train to Fluellen, up to Goeschener; Hilary felt sick and crying so failed to see the best of the view, but given two pills and cheered up.  Bellinzona about 10.30. Nora’s first Italian town, arcades with shops under. Up to the castle above the cathedral with Hilary. Air warm and full of scent of wisteria. Gardens full of magnolias, azaleas and vines. Train at 4.30 to Lugano. Hotel Washington. Dined in strip lighted dining room; asked for water, but told by waiter "We do not serve water in this hotel!"

Wednesday, April 20th
By funicular to boat station then on a boat crowded with Dutch tourists to Capolago. Five trains waiting, extremely hot. Started for Monte Generoso,
but did not go last piece to summit and stayed at Bella Vista and had lunch on terrace overlooking lake and view of Alps, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn. The hotel proprietor had a kiosk; fat, bearded and bleary eyed, he came and talked to us about means of getting money out of Switzerland, though as he put it "Few English (in contradistinction to Italians and French) were against the law."

Thursday, April 21st
Walked, to Gandia along the lake footpath,  passed monument on cliff to Schroder, maestro nationalista. Very bad dinner with Signor So So, quite inedible turkey. Not asked to-night if we wanted any drink at all.

Friday, April 22nd
Left Signor So So's and the old bugger was there to shake hands and bow in his greasy way.To Locarno, a nice place, a spacious and lovely front. Found a pension. Then in funicular to Madonna del Sasso with lovely views over the lake from arcades. Boat to Ascona, whence Hilary and I walked to Bussago.

Saturday, April 23rd
Narrow gauge railway to Domodossola, marvellous valley route along the Centovalli, the best we did. In transit, passports collected at frontier and carabinieri and tecs came on board, leaning out going round corners to see no one jumped off. Long wait before tunnel entrance. Half an hour instead of an hour in Brig, climbing up from the Rhone Valley, the great snow peaks with the evening sun on their overhanging snow fields, solitary, aloof, eternal. Thun, spacious hotel by river, double doors, etc, dinner, wine, a "do".

Sunday, April 24th
Breakfast in room at 7.30. Mist outside. Up to church and castle with Hilary. Excellent museum, arms, glass, clocks, pre-historic, Roman etc. Distant view of Alps. Back to river, saw a dipper. To Berne, Great Sunday crowds at station and on streets.  Hotel de l’Etoile, no running water, Italians, pay on the nail, connecting doors and panels, liberally bored with holes. No bugs or fleas, extremely hot. To find Bears, most of Berne there, then to Cathedral. Thunderstorm and at tea some rain. Up Cathedral tower. To "Lyons" for supper, omelettes and apple fritters, coffee, one drink. Slept badly, very hot.

Monday April 25th
Petit dejeuner at station, where left luggage. Then with Hilary to Natural History Museum, first rate. To "Lyons" for lunch, sat next to charming old lady who had been to England in 1912. To Basel 1.30 train. Raining. Nora's feet bad. Held room at hotel till 10 o'clock, then out with Hilary to make last minute purchases. Walked a long way to get penknife, but saw Rhine. Bought shirt, nylon stockings, lunch bag. Came back to hotel and found Nora had been to chiropodist. Had dinner at station, excellent pork chop, soup and rice. In waiting room nearly an hour. Three Swiss and two English dames, but though Hilary had a corner seat, none for Nora and I.

Tuesday April 26th
Hours passed very slowly and train seemed to crawl along. As day was breaking about five o'clock reached Chalons-sur-Marne. Saw Rheims, Laon, and Amiens cathedral from train. After 12 ½ hours travelling reached Calais. Lunch on boat, a bit choppy in mid-channel. Customs no trouble. Hilary was asked jocularly if he had any revolvers. Caught 5.15 [from Paddington], home 6. 30 after 20 hours travelling.
A lovely holiday and many nice things to remember. We did it on about £110 for three. It was good to have unlimited meat and cakes for a bit and look at the shops even if we could not buy. Hotels no dearer than in England, but better for the money, but teas, incidentals and excursions, etc, were expensive.

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