In 1976 Robertsons and Spooners joined us for Christmas lunch and in 1977 Andrew and Christine were married.
Our next trip overseas was in 1978. After a few days with Esme Pain, we hired a car and, after dropping Phillip at Heathrow for his flight to Canada, (where he stayed with the Barnes and he and Bertie drove down the West coast of USA together) I drove on alone through to Cardiff where Peter and Heather were living and was there for the birth of Philip Jacob May on 22nd August. Eric was such a good 2 year old that when we went to visit Heather in the hospital his absent-minded father and the two scientists from Italy, deep in conversation, left him sitting in his pram in the back of the van, needing a reminder from me before they collected him and we all went to see Heather. My other memory of this time was watching Eric and a small Japanese friend sitting on the carpet playing chess together. They couldn't converse much but seemed to enjoy the game together. The Japanese mother was really sweet; she was obviously having great difficulty coping with all the strangeness of her husband's transfer to Wales and having to speak English. She told me how good it was talking to me because I 'spoke the language just like her teacher did' and I realised that she was finding the attractive, lilting accent of the Welsh added greatly to her confusion. One day we had a visit from a Health official and when I opened the door to her I thought she had called to see baby Philip, but learnt that it was in fact Eric she was checking up on. But the irony of it was that when she left she failed to close the gate properly and Eric wandered out onto the street - the only time he was likely to have been in any danger!
From Cardiff, where we hired a car we went on 11/9 to Bristol and Chipping Sodbury (tracing 'roots'!) via Taunton and back to Cardiff before setting off for Dumfries to visit Jack & Jean Nicols. While staying with them we all went to see the Whyllies in Patna and to 'Trigony' to see Mary Joubert's relative, Elizabeth Dickson. This too was a memorable experience as 'Trigony' was a large and beautiful home not far from Dumfries and Elizabeth's husband had died quite recently so that she was in the process of selling up the house, plus most of the exceptionally good quality contents and interesting artefacts assembled over the years, because her husband had been a member of a well-known family of tea planters in the east. On the following day she was expecting the Queen's agent to inspect, for purchase, a large, unique Persian carpet in the dining room and she had recently given a small Persian mat, valued at twenty-five thousand pounds to a nephew to settle some of his debts! She showed us an antique teapot in the form of a cottage, asking if I would take it to Mary for her and, before I could express my fear it might be damaged in transit, took me apart from the others to whisper, 'I really want you to have it!' It was difficult to refuse this kind offer graciously but we had only met an hour or two before and I felt it would not be appropriate to accept. The item that fascinated me personally most of all was a small, oval water colour painting of a pub in Ireland, with a sign over the door saying 'Armstrong' and the coincidence that this name was in Elizabeth's family and in the Nolan's. The artist had painted just 100 of these charming small pictures, shown at the Royal Academy, but he had recently died so that the demand for them, and their consequent value, had increased greatly.
From the Nicols we went to visit their son, David on 23/9 and then to Corstopitum, to see the Roman ruins, marvelling at the under floor heating and water borne sewerage systems; then via Hull and Yorkminster (with Mary Flowers) to Melton Mowbray to see the Barbers; to Willowby on the Wolds (where we met Sue, Stephen Barber and family); Laughborough (where we had our first Carbonara - Phillip's favourite thereafter). We stayed with Blanche Spooner in Colchester and then to Canterbury 4/10 - where we bought the antique mustard pot from Esme's brother; also to London to price stamps to sell on auction and to see Aunt Pomp's house at Bexhill, then on to Little Common to trace Glessings; to Brighton to see Pat Appleton on 7/10 and David Fletcher 8/10. We also visited Roy Striven's brother, Vernon 9/10, then to Pam Roberts at Chichester (arriving late in the evening) and with her to see the Victory at Portsmith 11/10. We visited Mike & Alysia Warner, in Guildford; then Peggy & Leslie Rodgers at Long Parish. In Lyme Regis we found 2 gravestones of the May family and noted ?Met young Harry May, who takes out fishermen in the summer and does leather work in winter- any connection?? Went on to Midsomer Norton 19/10(Blacker family are buried there and information was gathered from the sarcophagus near the main door) Then to Bristol to see the 'Great Britain', returning to Cardiff 19/10 (where Peter & Heather were going ahead with the purchase of Lakeside Road house) and met Prof. Williams. We left for Heathrow 23/10 where Phillip dropped me while he rushed to Herne Bay to sell/return the car and back to the airport. The plane landed at Windhoek as it needed extra fuel due to high winds, and arrived at Jan Smuts late, where Dorrie Robertson met us. On 28/10 we visited Aunt Con in hospital where she was recuperating after an operation and returned to the Cape via Colesberg and Prince Alfred Pass/Phantom Pass to Barrington. We were with Girlie & Stan from 31st to 2ndDecember then home to Gordons Bay.