John's Blog – musings about things which interest me
Category: Lines – Roger
Roger Lines was the second child, after Michael, of George Edward Lines and Doris Joan Stevens. Growing up he wrote to, mentioned, or was mentioned in letters to his siblings, Michael, Jennifer, Jeremy and Tim.
He had a lifelong interest in Forestry, which he studied at Bangor, after his National Service in India. He worked for the Forestry Commission and was awarded an OBE for services to Forestry
My father, Roger Lines, was a research forester, working for the Forestry Commission. When, in the early 1970’s, I did my Statistics O-Grade I was fortunate to be able to help with some real research at the, then fairly newly established, Forestry Commission Northern Research Station. I was chopping young Sitka Spruce trees, grown under different conditions, in half at the basal node, and weighing the root and stem halves to determine how the environment in which is it grown affects where the plant puts its energy.
On the door of my father’s office was, in lieu of an official plaque with a job title, a clipping, presumably from some forestry journal, which simply said ‘Mr Acid Rain’
Acid Rain was one of my fathers many forestry related specialities. In earlier years soot from factories and power generation had been deposited on nearby vegetation, (and building and clothes on washing lines) physically blackening them and cutting off the light. The Clean Air Act of 1956 had greatly reduced smoke, but the sulphur which was still being emitted from the higher chimneys which were then being used was carried by the prevailing winds across the North Sea, where is acidified the rain falling on the Norwegian forests, stunting their growth.
Six hundred years later, in March 2021, another gigantic Treasure Ship sailing from the far east along roughly the same route, sailed past Yemen, but became stuck in the Suez Canal. This time Europe was immediately aware, and not simply because it made a dramatic story, there was a real impact on some prices and on availability of some items. (This is slightly reminiscent of the expected effect on the price of goods when the sailing barque Kishon was due to arrive at some destinations, but on a much larger scale).
Another item dominating the news in March 2021 was the Covid-19 pandemic, and how vaccines – developed with impressive swiftness, could be fairly distributed around the world. Although the various vaccines tend to be associated with particular countries (or even cities – unless it is just around here that the Astra-Zenica vaccine tends to be called the Oxford vaccine), supply chain difficulties tend to reveal how interconnected all the items required to create a vaccine which can be delivered to people really are. The interconnected nature of today’s world also makes a worldwide response to the pandemic essential, as if there are large populations of people who are transmitting the virus then it will mutate amongst that group, and will re-emerge as a new threat.
The worldwide flow of goods, information, wealth and problems.
As an aside I am currently reading ‘Good Economics for Hard Times‘ which has some interesting commentary, by Nobel Prize in Economics winning authors, on the traditional thinking on Free Trade, Globalisation, Migration etc. This article is already long enough, but I really recommend this book if you are interested in the economic issues raised by our Interconnected World.
When we were young, Christmas was a very special time for my siblings and me. We lived in Edinburgh, but our Grandparents, and most of our relations, lived in the south of England, or even further afield. Although I have written about going to Pickwick for Christmas, my father’s parents must have moved when I was quite young, as I remember being at Rest Harrow during the Winter of 1962-63, when the elder of my sisters was a baby, and the younger not born. (Although, when she was a small child and was told she did not participate in such great adventures she would protest ‘I was there, in Mummy’s tummy!’). Rest Harrow was snowbound, as was the whole village of Medstead, and my father had to walk to Four Marks for bread and milk. It is possible that we did not then go on to my mother’s parents at Little Cucknells,
Our normal pattern was that we would travel from Edinburgh to Rest Harrow – usually by car, with the journey becoming swifter as the years passed – in the early days I believe the trip incorporated a Bed and Breakfast somewhere around Nottingham. I do also remember flying (in a Comet) and being put to bed, and then woken to be taken by taxi to the station to go down on the train – though that may be have been to Pickwick.
Pre-Christmas at Rest Harrow
On arrival at Rest Harrow there were several common events before Christmas. Grandpa would have bought a Christmas tree, which would be in a pot in the sun room, awaiting our artistic, or enthusiastic labours to decorate it. We eschewed the minimalist approach, and it was impressive how many of the glass baubles would still be there every year, despite having been put up by small children.
As my brother and I grew usefully tall we also had the honour of helping to decorate the large Christmas tree at St Andrews Church in Medstead.
The while family would also be involved, to varying degrees according to skills, in the preparation of Christmas dinner. My Grandparents approached gardening on a serious scale, so harvesting and preparation of winter vegetables was a communal activity, preparing sprouts, peeling carrots, parsnips and potatoes, as well has mixing (and tasting) cake ingredients. Aunty Jennifer always made her famous cheese straws, in a variety of shapes.
Christmas Day at Rest Harrow
We would wake on Christmas morning to find that, no matter how resolved we might have been to catch him in the act, Father Christmas had been in the night and managed to fill out stockings (we used Heriots school socks) with presents. It is possible that Mother Christmas might have taken some tips from her relative, George Braund, and switched the stockings for ones which had been filled earlier.
The stockings managed to achieve an impressive balance, considering our range of ages, between fairness and personalised interest. Several of our toys only really made sense as communal toys, even though we knew which specific parts were ours – examples of this were the Floral Garden, the Zoo (with Britain’s Zoo animals) and the Farm (again Britains Farm animals, though with out of scale farm machinery. The stockings were filled in roughly the same order, and so opening them together we might have clues about what type of thing might be inside the individually wrapped parcels (in venerable wrapping paper). Recurring themes were
Some kind of small torch
A cub/scout/brownie/guide diary
little sets of colour pencils
Chocolate coins (I suspect one bag was divided into four, and the balance became a delivery fee)
The aforementioned animals, parts of gardens and so on
A paperback book
Always a satsuma in the toe of the sock.
Opening the stockings often occurred on my parents bed, where they would be suitably impressed by the wisdom and good taste of Father Christmas.
We would also show our new presents to Aunty Jennifer, who lived at Rest Harrow, and to Uncle Tim, who came from Geneva for the Christmas period. As a bachelor uncle – who had the opportunity to give us slightly less suitable toys (I remember a battery powered walking, noisy robot) Tim was relegated to the sofa bed on the lounge, where he may not have been having as restful a night. Despite this we felt it was our duty to bounce on him in the morning to wake him up. Some years later Tim married and had two daughters, and my brother and I relinquished the bedroom we had used, to sleep in the lounge. I remember being awoken on Christmas morning by the enthusiastic bouncing of two small girls, egged on from the doorway by their father, Uncle Tim.
During the morning my Uncle Michael and Aunt Fanny would arrive from London, and my Uncle Jeremy, with Aunt Claire, and her mother, Oma (Flemish name for Grandmother), and cousins Peter, Ian and Robert from Southampton or later Gosport. If the weather was fine we would go out into the garden.
My Grandmother would make a quiche for Michael and Fanny, who were vegetarians, but the rest of us would be keen to try it, as well as the traditional turkey. Fitting about twenty people round the table was a challenge, but we managed (sometimes by having a children’s table). The Christmas pudding had silver threepences cooked into it which were then exchanged for real money. Afterwards everybody helped clear up and wash up. We listened to the Queen’s Speech on the radio, and there would be the traditional family photo, in the sunroom if the weather was bad, of outside if we could. In the early years this was my grandfathers prerogative, using a self timer on his camera, with varied results. There are a number of pictures of a Grandpa shaped space in the family group, and I am sure there should be some of the sky or the grass due to tripping over the tripod trying to reach that space. We then chatted, or played games until the prolonged departures of the day visitors, normally after even more food.
Entertainment at Rest Harrow
There was no television at Rest Harrow for several years, when they were common elsewhere, but there were plenty of books, including a full set of the Swallows and Amazons series, and The Far Distant Oxus. We also played games, my grandparents had a Deluxe Edtion Scrabble board, on a turntable. Aunty Jennifer was a whiz at Pounce, and we also played Pickwick Rummy. She also always had some kind of craft activity available, from candle making to painting. She was also headteacher of Herriard school, and would bring musical instruments back from school. She also had a guitar, which we would attempt to play – she would teach us some chords, but we would generally forget them by next Christmas and have to start again. My cousin Peter, an accomplished musician, sometimes played his violin.
The Christmas present from Aunty Jennifer to my brother and me was a trip to London, on the train, visiting famous sites, such as Madame Tussauds and the Post Office Tower – back in the days when you could eat at the top. We traveled on the Underground, very exciting for boys from Edinburgh, and ended the trip with a visit to Hamleys, where Great Aunt Peggy was managing director (though we were more impressed by the railway running round the big central staircase, the teddy bears the size of a grown up and other amazing toys)
Christmas at Little Cucknells
When we were young we did not really celebrate New Year, but had a second, quieter, Christmas with my mother’s parents at Little Cucknels, in Shamley Green. Our interactions with Grandfather Box were limited – I only really remember him lying in bed in a downstairs room with the curtains closed, and greeting him awkwardly on arrival, and saying farewell when we left. Grannie Bee (My mother said it was because she was busy as a bee – though I assume the name really came from her being Box) cooked a second Christmas Dinner for us. She too cooked a Christmas pudding, but every piece came with a sixpence, courtesy of sleight of hand in the serving process.
Meals were cooked on the Aga, which also kept the kitchen and adjoining small dining/sitting room warm. I remember both at Little Cucknells and Rest Harrow (and at home in Edinburgh) that hot water bottles were part of the bedtime routine.
If the weather was good we could play in the huge, overgrown garden, or Little Cucknells wood, and if the weather was bad we had our new toys or books to read. Although the house was full of interesting antiques, such as the Bell of the Kishon, the longcase clock made by my Great, Great Grandfather – William Braund Box, and a chess table made by some ancestor – a model of this table made by the same person is in the Queen’s Dolls house in Windsor Castle – they were not very interesting to children, though the copies of National Geographic, with their maps and pictures of exotic places gave plenty to read and look at.
We would also go and visit my mother’s sister Aunt Sue, with her four boys, and her husband (until they were divorced) who I mainly remember for the smell of brandy and cigars, at their home in South Stoke, with Wolfie, the Wolfhound.
Somewheres and Anywheres
Receiving scans of Christmas past from my father’s slides sent by my sister coincided with me reading ‘The Road to Somewhere’ by David Goodhart. (I am still in the early stages). The book relates the differences in attitudes to society, and life opportunities between the majority (about three in five), of Britons who still live within 25 miles of where they were born – the Somewheres, and the possibly less grounded, but more influential Anywheres, who lack the deep connection to a single community, although they may well be members of several less tangible communities. My father, for example, spent most of his life far from his London roots, but was a member of a small international community of Research Foresters.
When my mother brought me home from the Simpson Memorial Ward at Edinburgh’s Royal Infimary, the house she brought me to was 2, Lovedale Grove, Balerno. In those days Balerno was a village outside Edinburgh, although it is now a suburb.
Although quite small, the house had enough garden to keep my parents occupied, and I probably ‘helped’ with my toy wheelbarrow.
The elder of my sisters was born here, apparently a quick home delivery.
When my Grandparents left Grove Farm at Box, where they had been farming, they moved in to 141, Lordship Road, Stoke Newington with my Great Grandfather, Joseph Lines. This was around 1925, and may have been prompted by the death of my Great Grandmother, Jane Lines (nee Fitzhenry) on 7th June 1925. They lived with Joseph and helped run G&J Lines, until he died in 1931. They rented The Cottage, 55, Anne Boleyn’s Walk, Cheam, Surrey for about 3 years, while they had a house built on Warren Drive, Kingswood, so moved in probably about 1934.
The house was named Pickwick, after the village near Box.
The family were still living there when I was young, though I do not have clear memories of the house. My parents lived in Edinburgh and we used to spend Christmas with my Grandparents, traveling by various means. One of my early memories is of a taxi ride through central London, and the lights of Piccadilly Circus – there was nothing similar in Edinburgh.
I have some 2″ Slides from my Aunt Fanny’s collection, which show Pickwick, which I have photographed to reproduce here.
My Grandpa (George E Lines), known in the family as Chief, and my Granny (Doris Joan Lines – nee Stevens), known in the family as Mouse.
When my grandparents moved to Rest Harrow the croquet set moved with them, and we all played croquet as children.
I do not wear a tweed jacket and a tie for gardening, I feel I am letting the family down !
Roger Lines, my father, went on to travel the world as a Research Forester, but this letter finds him in January 1953, right at the start of his career. The previous letter in my possession, written by him at the end of his first week in the office has him about to move into 27, Dalrymple Crescent, and this letter is written from there.
27, Dalrymple Crescent
I have been able to make enquiries in the Scottish Banks. They have no bank charges in the accepted sense, but charge 6d per cheque. With a current account you have to pay at least £2 per year, however few cheques you draw, but you can draw 40 per year without paying anything above £2. If I had £100 the bank charge would be less that £2. This has to be thought out however on a parallel with the Savings Certificate scheme whereby £100 means £3 per year interest. Thus the Lloyds system is fantastically expensive if you draw few cheques (as I would). According to your letter they first of all want to charge £2-7-0 per 50 cheques and then they expect you to have £100 in a credit account so that altogether they are getting £5-7-0 per year for doing practically nothing. Perhaps you would like to confront them with this.
I have today opened an account with the Edinburgh Trustee Savings bank so I won’t be short of ready money again. Whilst on financial matters, you wouldn’t care to be Dependents would you ? There is Civil Service scheme whereby aged parents can be helped out of a contributory pension scheme.
It isn’t one of these “something-for-nothing” schemes though. There is a more or less compulsory scheme for Widows and Children through which means a deduction of 1 1/2 % from salary which you pay even before you have a wife let alone a widow. I shall have to propose by saying “Will you join my Widows and Children’s scheme ?”
Can someone with great strength (Jennifer) and mechanical aptitude (Daddy) get my bike down from the attic and see what Tim has pinched from it and whether the tyres still hold up. I know the electrics don’t work but only I think there aren’t any lamp. It would certainly be very useful up here, especially at lunch time but I don’t know how much it would cost to send it up. Could you find out and let me have a report on its condition ? (This sounds like one of my Memos to foresters)
The glasses don’t fit very well so I am having them bent a bit by a local optician. When I’ve done this I’ll send this pair down to have the lenses changed.
p.s. What was in the Sunday Express ?
In the meantime will banks are sorted out I will get John Spears to pay a cheque that he owes me into your account.
As far as I am aware, my father did not use the Widows and Orphans scheme as part of his proposal to my mother, indeed I do not think they had met at that stage, although my mother was already friends with my Aunt, Jennifer, of the great strength – as they had met at Froebel College in about 1946.
I believe my parents first met at Lockley Lodge, near the Dale Fort field study centre in Pembrokeshire, although I am not sure exactly when – it had to have been after this letter in January 1953 and November 1955, when my father announced his intention to propose. It was his work for the Forestry Commission which took him to Pembrokeshire to study wind blow, and being in the area he went to his sister, Jennifer. She was staying at the Lockley Lodge with my mother, and Eleanor Grey – a friend of the Lockley family. Lockley Lodge is now the owned by The Wildlife Trust of West and South Wales, and is the place where you buy boat tickets to get to the island of Skomer, but in those days was probably owned by Ronald Lockley, a pioneering naturalist, who farmed on the island of Skokholm, and wrote many books – including ‘The private life of the rabbit’, used by Richard Adams to provide background for Watership Down.
My father and my mother went for a walk around the Deer Park at Wooltack point and discovered their common interests in nature. My father lured my mother to Scotland with a promise of ‘A buzzard on very telegraph pole’, which caused our car journeys round Scotland to be enlivened by shouts of ‘There it is’ when we spotted a buzzard on a telegraph pole.
My father, Roger Lines, had been interested in trees since he did his Scout Forester badge. He noted the trees he saw while serving in India, and after his return he took a degree in Forestry at Bangor.
He joined the Forestry Commission, based in Edinburgh, and wrote this letter home, a week after he started, which I think was in late 1952.
Dear M & D
Thank you for your letter with the ration book. Let me go through your letter. My office is now looking a little more lived in, with a cosy fire (much better coal up here) and my Alpine Calendar for 1940 on the wall. My IN tray is normally full and my OUT tray empty.
I have now formally started constructive work for the F.C. by having thrust onto me an expt (experiment) on the flushing of Spruce which has plants in a nursery at Tulliallan (just across the Forth from the Kincardine bridge). I have to get them planted out at NewcastletonRoxburgh in the spring. Unfortunately the labour for this comes from the hotel at Kielder which is closing at the end of the month, so it is possible that the expt will be shelved until next year. All the labour will be sacked and the Conservator has been to London to see if someone has just made a mistake. London told him there was no mistake so it means that the whole forest will just about have to close down. Its all mad as the cost of this would be terrific in terms of neglect, rabbits getting in, plants getting swamped with weeds etc. You cant get accountants to see this sort of thing though.
I have discovered after working here a week that office hours are 9 – 5.30 with 45 mins for lunch and 9 – 12.30 on Sat. Actually I thought they were 8.30 – 5.30 and have often worked til ten to six. Even so I dont feel exhausted at the end of a day as there is no-one to harry you and I get through more by doing it in my own time. I have spent quite a lot of time (office time, they are very good about that sort of thing) so far trying to find suitable digs.
I advertised in the local paper and got about twenty replies. Some were in Leith, too far away, others I visited and wasn’t impressed. The vast majority were in flats or tenements which are a great feature of Edin. These great grey granite blocks go up 4 or 5 floors and have a dimly lit main stair. Most are 100 yrs old but in reasonable condition. I went to see the Fergusons the evening I got your letter, but Nora had already gone down south. After they had gathered who I was (rather awkward) they were very hospitable and I have a standing invitation to go down and watch T.V. any evening when I am not busy. They also were very helpful in giving me advice about the digs letters I had received and finished up by giving me tea and shortbread. Having visited some more of the recommended ones I have finally got myself “bedded-down” with Mrs Harper 27, Dalrymple Crescent, Edinburgh 0. Phone Edin. 45574.
In contrast to the flats, this is a large single house set in its own garden, rather like some of the older houses in Sutton
Mrs Harper seems a reasonable person, well educated and with two chn. I am going to have a bed sitter about the size of the spare room. Large sitting room which I imagine I shall only use in summer. More later, I move in on Monday. £3-3. less lunch during week and reduction for time away. The point is that Dalrymple Crescent is a turning off Lauder Rd.
Weather so far hasn’t been to bad, not so much snow as fog and ice, but we have had nice days as well, and I seem to be getting on well with our Scots foresters (v. important). Office Staff is 13 including me but the chiefs are M.V. Edwards the boss, ex Burma, knows Darjeeling, highly intelligent little man. chn; John Zehetmayer English. Navy Lt & Oxford 5yrs in Research & one of the bright young men. 2 chn ; Faulkner, young ? 2yrs
This unfortunately is where the letter that I have ends – the final page has gone astray somewhere.
Better Coal – in those days Scotland was still a coal mining country.
I think he transferred down to Alice Holt and, as children we would go and see him and his family, and participate in “Nurdling” – where this YouTube clip seems a bit similar to what I remember – basically a kind of mad obstacle course.
Although it seems unlikely, I think the early Headquarters of Forestry Research in Scotland may have been in Lauder Road, I know they did not move into the ‘new’ offices at Sighthill straight away.
My Father, Roger Lines, managed to land his dream job of working for the Forestry Commission in Edinburgh, after gaining a First Class Honours degree in Forestry from Bangor.
He wrote home after his first day at work (I will update this if I can work out when that was), to update his parents.
Just a few more words to let you know how things progress.
Work. Seemingly should prove fascinating, I can pick my own field within limits, people I have to work with are most kind & helpful. They abhor red tape and no one has ever mentioned such a thing as working hours yet. They are approx 8.30 to 5.30 but no one worries. My pay should be about £635 p.a. and on my numerous trips I get 3 7/6dper day on top of my normal pay.
Car I shan’t need to buy one or use my motor bike as there is a brand new Hillman with glistening paint on tap, but I shall need to be able to drive it sometime.
I am going out tomorrow to a meeting of all the Conservators & some D.O.s of Scotland so I shall be in a unique position. Half my job at first is to get on the right side of these boss men as they can make life difficult if by annoying them you have to go through official channels.
Digs Mr Gray cannot have me, its all a big mistake as he has two chn. to look after as well. He has given me an invite to come up tho’
I shall definitely be coming down in July as we have a conference at Alice Holt then, but may possibly come down before. I don’t really know yet.
My boss M.V. Edwards has invited me to tea on Sunday. Another couple who are staying here have also invited me up their new house when they are settled in so the old charm is being brought to bear.
I have my own office with chair, table IN & OUT trays, telephone and blotter but nothing else.
Alice Holt is the Southern research institute of the Forestry Commission. My Grandparents would later move to Medstead, not far away.
There has clearly been a plan that my father would take lodgings with Mr Gray, but these seem to have fallen through, which is why he is staying at the Atholl Hotel for the time being. This hotel does not appear to be around any more, but I suspect was chosen as being available, and probably cheap.
I remember my father did ride his motor bike all round the country, visiting forests and meeting the local lairds, as Forestry was part of the governments plan to combat depopulation of the countryside by encouraging planting of forests.
My Uncle Tim wrote to my Father on 4th August 1953. Tim is writing from 3, Liebfrauenweg, Bonn (OSM), and my father was living in Edinburgh by then.
Auslandsamt der Universität,
Dear Roger, this will take the form of a supplement, or perhaps errata to my last letter. As before I shall only deal with what might be of technical interest to you, and will describe my other doings in a letter home.
I was rather dubious when they told me that goats rubbed the bark off the young trees (as reported in my letter) so I checked up and found they use the same word for deer, so they do have deer here.
First general remarks with no particular connection between them, and in no particular order.
During the war apparently a great deal was taken out of the German forests while very little was put back – I expect it was the same in Britain. One often sees tree-stumps about 6 ft. high round here – it means that they have had the top knocked off by a shell or bomb blast. In fact our sickles have often struck bits of shrapnel and occasionally remains of incendiary bombs etc. Quite a few of the stumps are charred. I am also informed that they had a number of V.1‘s round here (when I speak of here I mean Prüm) and you frequently see great gaps in the woods. Apparently the steering used to go wrong, and they landed sooner than intended.
They have quite a lot of oak here, both the ordinary (European ?) and American Red Oak, which I am told grows more quickly but is consequently not so hard. After the oaks are a few years old they plant beech between them – something to do with keeping down weeds, I believe. The oaks are planted pretty close together – I forget really but I think they were only about 2 feet apart.
There are some rather fine beech woods round here, and natural regen is definitely practised with these – I believe it works out at 2 beech generations to 1 oak generation – I hope you see what I mean.
They have Japanese and European larch also. I have a note about lice and fleas, but I’m not sure if it fits in here. Is larch vulnerable to these horrors ? They have winter and summer limes, they have a flesh-eating plant called ‘Sonnentau‘ (I haven’t seen it) on the nearby Schneifel (I don’t mean they cultivate it !), they have Douglas-fir, of which more anon, and they have a tree with a name like Weimutzkiefer (Weimutz fir) which is also American and grows fast, but I gather it gets diseased rather easily.
I said in my first letter that erosion was quite a problem, but I’ve since been told that it’s not so bad, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to take your choice.
I managed to visit the plant garden during my last day in Prüm. It is surprisingly small – I should imagine only 70 yds x 40 yds or less. It lies in as much of a dip as can be found round here, is is surrounded by a wire-netting fence about 3’6″ high. As I’ve already said, most of the plants come from Halztenbeck when one year old and are replanted in the Pflanzgarten. Only half is being used, the other is full of lupins. (I forget if I’ve told you, but these are about the only thing we leave standing when we go at our larches/spruces/pines/firs). They cant grow from seed here as it is over 500 meters high and during the winter the ground freezes up. The soil round here is primarily clay, whereas I’m told you need a sandy soil for seeds. As it is always pretty damp here it is especially good for spruce, as they can draw in the moisture through their needles as well as their roots. (Does that sound like spruce ?) The wire netting is primarily to control the rabbits which make a nuisance of themselves during the winter. I know this contradicts what I said in the first letter, but these things seem to depend on whom you ask.
In the Pflanzgarten the Douglas Firs are protected by a wiry sort of shrub which the Germans call “Ginster“. It is unfortunately not in my dictionary and I have no idea what it is in English; we have any amount of it in the plantations in which we work. I gather that its seeds, owing to their high oil content, can lie several years in the ground and then come up again. They are draped over the Douglases and protect them form too much snow and wind. The Douglas firs are supposed to grow twice as fast as the spruces (?), and I saw one wood of 50yr. old Douglases. I was told twice, but I think there must be a mistake somewhere, that Douglas-fir costs DM.160 per kilo. They say it is fine for floors and other furniture.
The young plants are actually planted in the Pflanzgarten with the aid of metal strips with notches at regular intervals. They look roughly like this:
The insides of the notches are covered with rubber to protect the young stems. The notches are 5cm apart for spruce (?), 7cm for Douglas and 10cm for larch. The distance between the rows is 20cm for the larch and probably corresponding distances for the others. A shallow ditch or furrow is of course made first, then they stretch a piece of string to facilitate alignment.
I forget to include in my list of pests the most persistent of all – the horse-flies. Whatever damage we may have inflicted upon them in Switzerland has certainly been well and truly avenged. Their mortality rate is still pretty high, but in general they draw first blood.
Well I suppose Edinburgh is by now preparing itself to justify its title of cultural capital of the world, and I expect you are more interested in ordering tickets than reading about spruces question-mark and I can’t say I blame you. Has M. or D. told you about my first and true camera love. They say they are going to give it to me for 21st. Whoopee !
Tim remembers that summer, as in recollection the sun shone every day.
He had been in holiday on holiday in Switzerland with my father, Roger, in the second half of June 1953. Tim for two weeks, and my father, who joined the Forestry Commission in 1952, so would have had limited annual leave, only for one week. They stayed in a small Gasthaus in Winderswil, and walked most of the local hills. Tim used his RAF boots and nearly wore them out. Tim did his national service in the RAF. They worked out that horseflies like to follow you up a mountain and attack you from behind, so they countered this by walking up backwards, which – precipices excepted – mainly seemed to work.
Many years later, in 1969, I went, with my parents and siblings, on our first foreign holiday. We stayed with Tim, at his flat in Geneva, and then camped near Interlaken. My father, possibly not trusting us to handle precipices, did not let us in on the walking backwards method, but we remember the horseflies, which did their best to attack us between our campsite and swimming in the lake. We were there for the first Moon Landing and heard the news on the radio.
In July 1953 Tim moved on to Prüm in the German Eifel for 4-5 weeks, where he joined a sort of International work camp for young foreigners, purportedly helping to revive German forestry. This was after his first year at Cambridge and because he was supposed to be studying German he thought it was time he learnt some. They were a group of 15 or 16, all Europeans Tim thinks – he was the only Brit – and they stayed in the local youth hostel. Tim can’t remember what they were supposed to be doing, but they slashed away at everything and he knows they thought they’d set the German forests back by a decade or so. They were a nice bunch and a couple of the Swedish girls came to the UK later and stayed with the Lines family for a bit at Pickwick.
Tim went Bonn next where the university was running some sort of course for foreigners. Tim remembers that he liked Bonn, which of course was then the capital of the FRG, and he bought his first camera, a Paxette, a modern[ish] 35mm job quite unlike his mother’s bellows-type folding Kodak. In those days you could only take £50 out of the country, so it wasn’t bad to have spent 2 weeks in Switzerland, four or five in Prüm and two or three in Bonn, plus the fares to get from one to the other, and still be able to afford a camera. Tim does still remember my resentment at having to pay what seemed an extortionate sum for laundry in Wilderswil.
Then in the last week of August Tim joined the family [who exactly and how did we travel? Train or car?] for a fortnight’s two-centre holiday in Austria, again mainly walking or probably strolling. First week on LakePertisau, second week in Oetz.
My father, Roger Lines, wrote to his sister, Jennifer, probably about 1939. She had been at Croydon High School, and was evacuated to the home farm of Statfield Saye at the start of the war.
How I envy you on having nice dinner and no homework. Michael and I have been writing a play for Christmas which you are going to be in. It is very cold here and the wind is whistling through the trees and blowing down the leaves. Tim pinched his fingers in the coal tongs and started to scream with anger and then he started to cry & say “Those silly tongs !!” Love from
This was probably written in the autumn of 1939, as Jennifer was probably one of the girls who had been sent away to safe districts before the whole school moved. From the description on the school web site
When Miss Adams arrived to take over the leadership of the school, the Second World War had begun. She had just evacuated the Queen Mary High School from Liverpool and travelled to Croydon to find not 800 but 54 pupils, for many girls had been sent away to safe districts. Miss Adams had to act quickly to preserve the life of Croydon High evacuating part of the school to Eastbourne and part to Llandilo in Wales.
The play was probably “The Green Gang” – one of several Family Dramas written by my father (some with Uncle Michael). The programme can be seen on the Family Dramas post.
The reverse of the letter has the tail end of a letter from my Grandmother to Jennifer, but unfortunately I do have the rest of that letter.
lot of time and trouble. Have you seen any warships ? We could see dozens of balloons from our drive this morning, but they disappeared later. They were over Croydon. I haven’t heard where Jean Brindley or Sheila are going to school, or seen them.
Rufie sends lots of licks and little gentle bites.
Lots of love from Mummie
Jean Brindley had been a friend of Jennifer’s since they were about nine, and they ended up going to teachers training college at Roehampton together. Jean was in the same house at Froebel as my mother, which is how my mother and Jennifer met.