David to May Holzminden Letter No 23 June 1st 1918
My Dearest,
Your ideas with regard to the house are exactly the same as mine. I think plain painted walls are infinitely better than paper in every way. I had shown casement windows and I can arrange them so that they can be cleaned from the inside and as regards ventilation the upper portion can open like a fanlight and can be regulated so as to open to any required extent. You shall not have any brass, not even taps (which I know you dote on) as I think we can get these oxidized. As regards the wash basins, I should put a water sealed trap immediately below the basin, so that no smell could come up from the pipe and as regards cost, this would have to be set against wash stands etc but even then they would probably cost a pound or so extra, but I thought the saving of work would be worth it. The ideal piece of ground would be a piece (not necessarily more than 50’ 0” wide) running north and south so that the house faced north and south, that is to say the Dining Room and Drawing Room would face due south and would look straight down the garden, the front garden being between the Larder and Kitchen and the road, on the north side. In this case the Hall, Kitchen, etc could be turned over to the other side without any alteration in the arrangements of the plan so that the extra piece of ground would be on the west side as you say, instead of the east, indeed I think this is altogether a much better arrangement from the point of view of the other rooms too. Got any ideas for the decoration and furnishing of the bedrooms? When I get back we’ll go to the show rooms of the leading decorators – they have rooms decorated in different ways – and we may get some ideas from them.
I am writing to Cox (a post card) by the same post as this letter, similar to my letter of February 1st as follows:-
“Will you please pay the amount standing to my credit above the sum of £25 to Mrs F Taylor of 56 Ramsden Road. Please make the payment through the London County & Westminster Bank, Newington, as before.” Please tell Mum this and ask her to find out from Cox if they receive this post card. She will of course have one post card less this month. I am enclosing a rough sketch of the beach hut. I don’t know if it is anything like the one you thought of. You will see that it is for four as you suggested. I thought that each bed might have a drawer fitted under it, sufficiently large to take one’s clothes etc, or the beds might be hinged, so as to fold up against the wall and so leave the whole of the room clear during the day. I have dotted the position of the beds. The Kitchen could have a portable range and the Living Room a store if necessary. There could also be a trap door into the loft under the roof for storing spare furniture etc. The front windows would have folding doors opening direct on to the beach. I have sketched two elevations, one of course being more expensive than the other. I cannot yet give you much idea as to cost, but it should not be very great.
I am awfully sorry to hear that Helen’s husband has been killed. I thought there might be a chance of the news of him being better. The world certainly seems very small, Hagell was chief draughtsman to a firm of architects and used to be in and out of the office a good deal. He also used to do a fair amount of drawing for us from time to time and is also a member of the Lodge, but I was never particularly struck with him. Funny that Helen should come in touch with him.
With regard to gardening I think we might grow the greater part, if not all, of our own vegetables. Could you keep some rough account of the amounts of the various different things you have, so that we know roughly how much we shall require and also how much to plant. I have just read rather a good book, “Adventures in Contentment” by Davie Grayson. It is written by a man who gave up city life and bought a farm and describes the characters he meets while working on it, from a stiff amn of millions who he gets to grease a cart wheel, to a mad tramp whom he invites to stay and live with him, but who disappears in the night.
Just lately altho’ the weather has been lovely, there have been some fairly high winds and for some reason or other, several times there have been small whirl winds in the camp. One, the other day, started and was about 30 feet in diameter and 50 feet high, a column of whirling dust, which kept going for fully 2 or 3 minutes and then lifted off the ground and went about 100 feet up in the air, the cloud of dust and pieces of paper etc spinning round up there for quite a long time. It was really funny especially as it started amongst a dozen fellows who were sitting outside and who of course scattered in all directions on account of the dust. I went for a walk yesterday afternoon. There has been a tremendous change in the hills during the last few weeks. Some are now entirely covered with the glorious dark green of the woods, whilst others have their lower portions, cut into a patchwork of crops of various colours. It is not unlike the North Downs, (do you remember our walk over Leith Hill) but the whole country is shut in by hills with more hills stretching away behind, and they more wooded than the Downs.
Today they are having sports in the camp and at the moment there is a good deal of yelling going on outside, but I cannot say I am keenly interested, altho’ perhaps I ought to be, anyhow I much prefer being here inside writing to you. I saw one race a little while ago, the boot race. The fellows had to take their boots off which were then piled together in a heap and well mixed. Then the race started, each man searching for his own boots. The one man would grab two boots and go off about ten yards or so and scramble in to them, suddenly find one of them did not belong to him, fling it away in disgust and rush off to find the missing one, which by this time was probably being worn by somebody else. It was not the sort of race that you could say who would win with any real degree of certainty.
I am glad you go to Mum so often, she mentions you in every letter. On one she says “I am looking for May to come to tea and stay on” and again “May is my only visitor”. It is good of you. Of course I’ll be delighted to have that big photo of you. I do hope it is really like you. I am glad you are having part of your holidays early and if the weather was like we had you should have had it beautifully fine. I hope you went away as I know you always need your holidays. I do wish I could have been with you, but as it is I can only dream and dream and that doesn’t seem to make one any forrader.