5 Hall Dene Close, Merrow. nr Guildford. Surrey. 26th February 1969
Back in bed, 'our' bed, after 6 weeks in back of taxi or in Spanish 'Pensiones', hostels, etc. Chronologically:- Got a letter from you in Rome, via the bank, mentioning Cecile* and A.B. in Milano so wrote immediately, popped into Consulate to get very efficient shorthand message as to finding their apartment, called in one afternoon, for cuppa, when Cecile was very busy fixing moving in details, with Jimmy away 'presenting credentials' in Turin. Met Elizabeth, 'Tim', to my great surprise, as I really didn't know she existed. Then away for that night in local Youth Hostel which proved to be closed for 2 months for renovation. Also there, 2 others, a Liverpudlian bloke and a Columbus, Ohio girl travelling together, so we invited them in (the taxi) to eat with us - we bought pizza, cheese, wine, and mortadella sausage & had toasted sandwiches al fresco, and a lot of fun, in the icy weather. They trotted off into the night, we camped there, tripped around Milan next day, and returned to Cecile's 5pm that evening for dinner and to stay the night, in a CENTRALLY HEATED apartment - for three days previously, we'd had snow and ice, mountain passes, Autostradas, (motorways) closed by snow and striking toll-collectors - the taxi, unscathed until then, got clocked by a sports car racing up hill the other way, which lost control on a corner and smashed into our left hand front wing, wheel, etc. Only surface damage to us, but it bent the sports car.
Well Cecile and Jimmy pleased to see us, terribly good to us, and full of news of folks at home (including a few snippets of inside family information hitherto denied me!) Thence on up the mountains to Mont Blanc, on which ascent the motor developed a frightful knock, which decided us to drive dead slow non-stop across France (snow and ice the WHOLE WAY, from the Alps to the Channel.) Quite a thrilling event, looking back on it. Now safely back in or near London, the taxi has lost the knock entirely, and continues to perform like a charm - she seems almost ready for a Scottish tour: this after visions of abandoning her somewhere in Switzerland or France, after the Mont Blanc Tunnel! The latter, incidentally, a bit of a treat - 7 miles long, passing directly under the mountain - lit all the way, but with the rattle of the engine echoing wildly in the apparently endless cavern - more than exciting I assure you.
Back in London we stayed with Terry Watkins (my best man) in his Chelsea flatlet, which was jolly decent of him, 3 of us in the one bedsitting room, for a week or so, while we travelled to Woking daily, hunting flats: we now have this one - the upper floor of a semi-detached house in one of Guildford's 'Estates' - very comfy if undistinguished, 7 guineas per week, including hot water and a business woman landlady (no husband, but she's Mrs.) whom we never see. Terry lent us £30 to pay our rent in advance, Keith sent us $US 50 Christmas/touring present, Pennie's Great Aunt Carol £10, and now we are pretty well back on our feet, with the Henfield electricity bill covered, and me back bus-driving, but with my name on Employment Agencies books for an Engineering staff (i.e. white collar) job. There appear many good possibilities in the area. Pennie has ideas of part time salesgirl in 'Marks & Spencer', the huge clothes store: £10 for 4-5 days per week, it seems. Both very well and in high spirits. Love D xxx
Love to all, Dad, Andrew, Doodie.
P.S. Total cost of our 5,000 mile holiday, including boat fares = £130 for 40 days.
* Cecile Jamieson was a school friend of David's mothers)