Ann rang up about 10:30 and asked me if I could go over to Frome to get her milk as both she and Betty have colds. So, I dropped Linda off at work then drove into town to Betty’s house and got Ann’s shopping list then drove over to the milk station at Frome. After picking up the milk I drove back to Warminster with INXS blasting through the Walkman.

I spent an hour or so in town, most of which was in the bookshop perusing travel guides on Morocco, Tibet and Pakistan. I dropped Ann’s stuff off and had a cup of tea then drove back out to Corton. When I dropped the car off to Linda at the Dove I got roped into doing the dishes! Spent the rest of the day at home.


Jenny and I got up at 5:30 and after a cup of tea we set off down to Salisbury for Jen to catch a train to London to go to work. Once I had dropped her off, I drove back home and went back to bed for a couple of hours.

Juliet and Lydia at Shaftesbury.

Linda went off to work at 10:30 and Lyd, Juliet and I packed up some sammies and a bottle of wine and set off for a drive. We drove down through the Deverills and up over the hills with heavy squalls of hail, rain and driving wind periodically obscuring the bare, wintry landscape.

A Picnic in Eric.

We followed random backroads and eventually ended up near Shaftesbury. We had a picnic in the car as it was too cold to sit outside, then drove up into the village for a look. Bright bursts of sunlight alternated with showers of light hail as we explored the narrow streets looking at shops and catching occasional glimpses of the countryside through gaps in the buildings.

After an hour or so in Shaftesbury we once again followed random backroads stopping for a glass of port at a cozy, crowded pub. It took us about half an hour or so to drive home and when we got there Lydia and Jules packed up their stuff and headed off up to Gloucester. I watched TV all evening.


BOXING DAY Jenny had everyone roused as usual and we sat around talking over tea and toast. It was a cold rainy day and no one felt like doing much so we mucked around the flat for an hour or two then went out for a drive.

The weather had cleared a bit but it was still overcast and windy as we drove down to Sherrington then took a side road up into the hills. When the road ran out we got out and walked up a track through the trees enjoying the cool fresh air. On the way back down, Lydia tripped over and grazed her hands on the sharp chalk shingle. 

Back home we spent the rest of the afternoon drinking and nibbling then in the evening we watched a brilliant movie Back to the Future on TV.


TUESDAY 25/12 – CHRISTMAS DAY. Like a couple of excited kiddies, we got up early and opened our presents. Linda gave me a jersey, all five Viz annuals and a few little bits and pieces. Ann and Betty gave us lots of useful stuff including a book of 250 Tours of Britain.

Linda went off to work at 10AM and I sat round at home until 11:30 then went up to the Dove for a few beers with Bob, Steve and Richard. Lydia, Jenny and Juliet arrived at around 2:30PM and we had a few drinks while we waited for Linda to finish work.

Back at the flat we sat on the floor drinking wine and eating cheese, pate and biscuits. At 4:30 we all went into Warminster for drinks and Xmas goodies with Ann and Bet.

On the way home we called in to see Tina and ended up watching the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on Sky. It was 8:30 by the time we got home and we had more to drink while we cooked up our late Christmas dinner which we ate with great relish while we pulled crackers and let off explosive streamers. The girls had brought us all rubber animal noses so we wore those while we ate.

By the time we had finished eating and doing the dishes we were all buggered so everyone went to bed.

Below are some photographs from that Christmas at Cortington Manor England. We were a bunch of Kiwi kids who had settled down and were happy in our little English world.


MONDAY 24/12 CHRISTMAS EVE. I left home mid morning and drove over to Bath to do my Christmas shopping. It was a fine cold day but gathering clouds gave promise of rain to come later.

I parked in the car parking building and walked over the bridge into the crowded Central shopping area. I spent about five hours wandering around the streets trying to find presents. I bought Linda a Turkish handbag and some earrings and some little gifts for the girls. It was showery as I drove back over the hills out of Bath, the sun breaking through the clouds to illuminate the valley here in there. Back in Warminster I bought a few last-minute things then went home. I spent an hour or so wrapping my pressies and placing them under the tree.

St. John’s Church, Sutton Veny (Screenshot from Google Streetview.)

In the evening I went up to the Dove for a few drinks with the boring crowd there. Linda and I went to midnight church with Ann and Betty. It was a bitter night but it was nice going to communion1 – after nine years!!!

1Having been “confirmed” as a 14 year old I was able to take the Anglican communion. That freezing winter night in the little Saxon church at Sutton Veny was the last time I ever took communion, not being a believer.


I slept in until 2:30PM! I guess I needed a recharge and felt a lot better after such a long sleep. We had Ann, Betty, Diana and Roxy [the Duchess’ grand-daughter] up for drinks in our flat in the evening. Ann gave us a porcelain tray like the one her family has used for years at birthdays. Linda had the flat looking really nice with a Christmas tree, decorations, cards and flowers. Our little coffee party lasted a couple of hours. It was most enjoyable. I think Roxy even enjoyed it!

Our little English home, Cortington Manor, Corton, Wilts.

At 7 o’clock we picked up Stuart Cray and Al and drove into the Rose and Crown where we met Tina and Kath. We had a few drinks there then all piled into our car and drove out to Horsham to the pub there where we spent the rest of the evening. Back in Warminster at 11PM we went to a Chinese restaurant for a late meal.


MONDAY 17/12 – SATURDAY 22/12 It was a very busy week at work and I was pretty crook with a bad cold. By the end of the week I was just about stuffed and feeling pretty rundown. My final paycheck for the year was a hefty £260.

The boning room at Wylye Valley Meats. The boners are L-R: Royston, Adi Hargreaves, John Hargreaves, “H”, unknown and Rocky.


I spent a couple of hours over at Heytesbury on a farmlet owned by one of the directors of WVM trimming feet. The sheep’s feet were in a hell of a state and it took a bit of doing but I picked up £15 for my efforts.


We got up fairly early and after showers etc, we walked, along with the hordes of commuters, over to Barons Court tube station. We caught the District Line to Embankment then the Bakerloo line to Lambeth and walked up to the Red Lion. We yarned to Harry for a while down in the cellar then went up and saw Jen, just back from Africa. We looked at her photos for a while then went down to the office and packed up our tea chest¹, sealed it up and left the paperwork and money with Harry.

After a sandwich with Has next door in the cafe, we caught a bus over to Piccadilly and walked up to Leicester Square and found the offices of TravelMore Limited. It took an hour or so to arrange a return flight to New Zealand for Linda and Jenny Bell2 and we paid a deposit as well.

We poked around a few shops then returned to the travel office to confirm that the booking had gone through. At seven we met a healthy looking Louie and Jenny at Break For the Border for drinks and dinner. We spent a couple of hours there then caught the tube back out to Fulham. We had a couple of drinks at the Carlton Arms then grabbed our stuff from the flat and headed home. 

1A tea chest was a box commonly used for shipping excess stuff back to New Zealand.

2Linda and Jennie were going back to New Zealand for a wedding in March 1991.


We woke up to the sight of heavy snow falling outside but it stopped at about 8AM so we went out and built a snowman. Linda went off to work and at 10:30 Betty rang me to ask if I could take some kids sledging. So I took Gemma, Joanna and Tina’s son Lee over to the hill by Heytesbury roundabout and we spent a couple of hours there sliding down between the trees. Before we left to drive back to the Dove we went up to the top of the hill where there was a wonderful view out over the snow-covered Wylye Valley.

The snowman we built at Cortington Manor on that snowy Saturday.

When Linda finished work we packed some things and headed for London. Going up over the Salisbury Plain, the snow made a lovely picture in the late afternoon sunlight as it threw every detail of the landscape into fine focus. It took us 2 1/2 hours to reach Fulham and after dropping our stuff at the flat we went over to the Carlton Arms to see Lydia and Jenny who were working there. After a couple of warming drinks, Linda and I went down to North End Road for a burger.