Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine



Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine


Writes on her research on bathing babies. Talks of people visiting her and meeting man who is taking over their allotment and having difficulties with him over woman who Ursula had agreed to allow to collect current crop. Mentions arranging for gardener to retrieve all their equipment from allotment as well as more discussion on seeds and crops. Mentions baking him a cake and catches up with family/friends news and talk of woman providing domestic help. Writes of acquaintance enemy alien in Holloway prison who might be released with her help. Looks forward to seeing him in Aberystwyth and asks what he has planned for his leave.



Temporal Coverage



Four page typewritten letter


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.




Lido, Sunday evening.
Darling Johnnie, I have just been typing out a list of instructions for myself on how to bath a baby! After all, one can't expect everything to come by instinct, & until it comes by experience, it seems a pity that the baby should suffer. Apparently you should only roll the baby over once during the whole process of dressing, bathing & undressing, so there is more in it than meets the eye! I have also been cutting out & machining the baby's petticoats, leaving all the hand sewing on them to be done up at Aber. Gosh, it is getting near now, I am beginning to see the end of the things that I simply must get done. Today Peter came over in the morning & so did Allan Hicks, do you remember him? A very tall, pink-faced boy with curly yellow hair who popped in one morning last summer while I was cooking & you were down at the allotment. He is 21 today & has 7 days leave. Unfortunately Mr Greenish called in too for more pi-jaw about the fire-watching, so we didn't have time to hear much of Alan's doings I had to go down to the allotment at 11.30 to meet this Mr Searle who is taking over the allotment after us. I told him that I had arranged for Mrs Sullivan, Bridget's sister with 5 children, to go down & pick the greens, & was going to remove what root crops I could before leaving. He began to be a bit unpleasant asking how long the woman would take to remove the greens as he wanted to get on with the digging, so I reminded him pointedly that it was a concession for him to start work at all before our lease was up & he certainly wasn't to touch the greens which are yielding their crops now, specially as she is a deserving widow. I showed him what we had in & the way the crops ought to rotate to make the best of the nitrogen in the soil. But I don't believe he is going to do it the right way. Then I proceeded to dig up as many leeks as I could carry away – they are much bigger & finer specimens than I had thought from the looks of the leaves, & we had a lovely dish for lunch today. The two rows we transplanted first I shall
[page break]
remove on Tuesday when I go down with the gardener (he didn't turn up last week, so I wrote & asked him to come this week even if the weather is bad, because I want him to carry the pea & bean sticks & tools back from the allotment, as well as dig the parsnips etc. The manure heap I shall just have to leave as it is for Mr Searle – we inherited the beginnings of it from the previous owner. The second two rows of leeks are not nearly so fully grown & are not worth bothering about in their present state. If they survive Mr Searle's spade, maybe Mrs Sullivan will take them. I thought I might bring a few leeks up to Aber. with me, & give Ba some – do you know they are 6d each in the shops nowadays, measly little ones too, not half the size of ours! Of course, ours could have done with a few more weeks in the ground, but they are certainly better than lots I have seen offered at shameless prices in the town.
On the way aback I called in to see Thompson, & bought the seeds for the top of the garden, to the tune of 4/9, which doesn't seem exorbitant if it will keep us in vegetables for another twelve months! Of course that doesn't included potatoes, which were the main item last year. I don't think I shall bother with early potatoes, we have still got such a lot up in the loft, enough for us to eat & to provide us with seed potatoes for the main crop. There won't be room to grow so many in the garden, but I think we ought to have some, after all they are a staple food which will help to carry you on if all else fails next winter. This year they are cheap & plentiful, but they may not always be so. Onion seed has gone up a lot, 11d a packet this time, but the others aren't so bad. I bought carrots, early & main crop, peas ditto, onions (Bedfordshires) cauliflower, lettuce, broad beans, beans Canadian wonders (dwarf brown,) parsnips – I think that's all. They hadn't any leek seeds, nor shallots. Then I staggered home with my leeks, pockets bulging with seeds, & the rake & hoe over my shoulder. Of course I had to meet Mrs & Miss Noyelle (Jean) coming back all beautifully dressed from church - & Jane looking like a drowned rat too! Still, if the gardener comes on Tuesday, I shall be able to dispose of the allotment finally – if not I shall have to collect as
[page break]
much of the stuff as I can myself, but I think he will come. I told him in my letter that you definitely want him to do the shelter, & I also gave him my address in Aber.
I have baked a cake which I am hoping to send off to you tomorrow, together with Fawley's pyjamas & other sundries. The idea of the cake is for us to eat together in the evenings, but of course if you want some sooner, help yourself. Ba is on duty tonight – think of it, I shall only have one more night alone in the house, on Tuesday. I shall be quite glad, though I am often so busy that I don't notice it. But I should hate it without Jane – funny how such a small & really helpless little being can be a comfort to an adult human! Did I tell you that I have got a woman coming in each morning till I go (so she says at least, I haven't many illusions left)? She is Mrs Dilly, I suppose that's how she spells it, Mrs Goodrick's daughter who used to work in the Express dairy but for some reason has left. I didn't ask too many questions, I just lock up all possible valuables & thank God she is coming. There is all the sorting & packing, & last minute washing & mending to be done, & I am only too thankful if she will heave the coal & clean the floors & dust.
Did you hear this crack on the radio the other day (I suppose not since you probably don't listen often). A farm labourer was milking a cow when a patriotic old lady passed & asked:- “Why aren't you at the front, my man?” “Because there ain't no milk that end, lady.” I have heard from Mrs Stenzel, she is still at Holloway & I am going to visit her before I leave. She seems to think that if I apply for her release & say I will give her a job in the house, there is some chance of her being let out. It would certainly be a happy solution from my point of view, & I will discuss it further when I see her. In three months the Home Office might possibly have reached a decision too. I suppose your parents would think it very awful
[page break]
of me to employ an enemy alien, even though a refugee from the very things we are fighting? However, times are hard, & I shall just have to have some help in the house when baby is here, & if I can have a woman who is a lady & an intellectual companion as well as a good mother & housekeeper herself, I don't think I can do better, apart from the fact that I should be helping one who has already suffered unjustly quite enough. But maybe it will never come off.
Did you hear the story of the nervous wife who started at every sound outside during an air-raid. Her husband trying to reassure her said, “Don't get nervous dear, that's only a bus.” “Ours or theirs?” Now I must stop & try to get to bed a bit earlier, it has been getting later & later & is hardly ever before midnight nowadays. I expect all that will change when I get to Aber. & I shall go to bed soon after you leave. Have you thought at all about what we shall do when you get your 7 days leave? Of course if it comes towards the end of my time it would probably not be wise to go out of Aber. - I don't want to have the baby in a Youth Hostel after all! I am so longing to be with you again – I haven't had a letter for at least three days & feel quite neglected! Just think of the money we shall save on postage! Have you been able to find out if I shall be able to have a bath occasionally? (it doesn't matter if you haven't & I can't because I shall come just the same.) I will hire a car to go to Paddington, as you command, & will take all the luggage & send the baby's things by goods or however it is they go, there is no hurry for them. Ba is coming with me to the station as there will be quite a lot of fussing round with the travel voucher, R.T.O.,, dog, luggage & all the rest. I will try to have the minimum hand-luggage, & will get a porter when I change if there are no handsome young men to hand my box out to me (there generally are!) I'm glad the girls at Aber. snowball you, keeps your pride down till I come. With all my love Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 1, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19549.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.