9th March 1942
Many, many Happy Returns of the Day. Twenty three now, no I cannot believe it. You are getting old aren't you? Do you think you will feel like walking on Saturday or will the old bones not stand up to all that exertion? I wonder where we shall be 10 years from now. Very much married I should think.
Shandy also sends his very best licks for your Birthday. He has made it very difficult for writing so I'm sure he was asking me to give you the above message. He is now hastily tearing up paper for the "Save the paper campaign"
Thank you for your lovely long letter. It arrived here about 11 o'clock this morning so the post from Swansea seems much better than that to here. I'm sorry you had to wait all that time for a letter, but I quite thought you would get the parcel on Friday. I posted it Thursday 9am. What a pity I'm not at Headquarters. I know the post is much quicker from there.
I'm so glad you are feeling better now and so well that you had that lovely long cycle run. I hope you will take me to some of those places along the Gower Peninsular. I shall love seeing all those little villages. Don't you think it would be a good idea to stay at the Langland Bay Hotel, if that is fairly reasonable, at Easter? I could stay at the Macksworth for the last night couldn't I? I should think we would have to book up fairly soon, as Easter is very popular still for a holiday and the Langland is sure to be full up at that time.
Well now I want to get this off my chest. It's about the Income Tax. I shall have to pay. The income tax people at the P.O. a Harrogate have notified us of the amount we shall have to pay commencing April. Well they have me down for a deduction of 7/- per month. and Ethel who perhaps just earned a couple of pounds more than me last year '41 – '42 will have to pay £1 per month. Now here is my working out of what mine should be:-
1941 – 1942
Salary April – July £48 8 3d
August – March £94 15 5d
Total earned £137.3. 8d
Deduct one tenth 14.
Total 123. 3 8d
Personal allowance 80
43. 3 8d @ 6/6 in the £ = £13.19.6 a year or £1.3.0d approx per month
This is a lovely Birthday message for you , but I simply couldn't wait to tell you. I hope you didn't mind. Perhaps you will confirm my figures. Now, what would you do? Write to ask them how they arrived at the seven bob or wait 'till they find out, by which time my husband is paying the tax. We shall probably be presented with a big bill later in the year, if we leave it. On the other hand perhaps when our incomes are combined they will not discover the mistake at all (some hopes, I suppose!!!!!)
This Morning I got up early, 7. o'clock. Dad cooked our breakfast. I did the fires and made some beds and did all the washing up before I left this morning. Mother is feeling a bit better today, so she got up and sat by the dining room fire. It was a rush for me and its amazing how much work you can do in an hour if you hurry. When I arrived at the office this morning I was just about tired out after our hectic weekend. Cooking for nine people is no joke and I only hope we don;t have 9 little Critchleys running around in years to come because that would just about do me in & you too I expect. I don;t know how some people manage do you?
Well I have you have had a very happy Birthday and that next time we shall be together. Your real Birthday celebrations are next weekend aren't they? I'm very much looking forward to the week-end. The only time we ever find real happiness is when we are together.
I'm fire watching 'til 12 midnight tonight,
All my love,
Extract of a letter from Tom to Margaret 8.3.42
First thank you for the parcel and letter yesterday. Oh dear it was dreadful – Wednesday to Saturday without a word from you! When the postman brought nothing on Friday I thought "How sweet of her – she's sending that chocolate". And so you did. So my patience (or more truthfully, lack of it) was rewarded by two letters yesterday, and nice long ones too.
Well, yesterday I did what I have been intending to do these last two months; I went all round the Gower Peninsular, from side to side, and from end to end. The weather was lovely, fine and sunny, and pleasantly warm, so I left on my bike after dinner – about 2.00 pm
On the way out – westward. along the north side of the peninsular – there was a stiffish head wind, and progress was rather slow. Eventually I arrived at LLangewith, at the extreme north west corner of the peninsular, about 3.30, and saw all Rhossili Bay stretched out below – 3.5 miles of firm hard flat sands, stretching to Worms Head on the left. On the right the coast could be seen meandering on for miles towards Tenby, in Pembrokeshire. The sea was very calm, and the sun shone on it most refreshingly.
I had hoped to cycle on the sand to Worms Head (the south corner of the Gower) but access to the beach was impossible, owing to the defense regulations. Consequently I had to scramble and push my bike over gorse and bracken along a track on the downs that border the sea. This proved rather hard work, and I wasn't sorry to get to Rhossili.
From here I started back on an eastward direction along the southern coast of the peninsula, and with a wind behind, things were rather easier. All the way, for about 12 miles, the sea was close at hand, so I imbibed great quantities of ozone! I made a number of detours, mostly along cul-de sacs, to places of interest and little coastal villages, principally to see whether any of them offered suitable accommodation for us at Easter. However, I saw very little that tempted me at all. These little Gower villages are all alike and very pretty they are too. Little white washed cottages, often overgrown with roses, or honey suckle – not in flower of course – and white washed farms. Horses and cows wander around the villages ad lib. There is the ubiquitous inn – usually very picturesque – and the chapel or church. These Welsh village churches have a character of their own. In this part of Wales they all seem very old and weather beaten; and do indeed symbolise that longing after something eternal, in direct contrast to the transient things around.
Such are the Gower villages. Picturesque as any you could find, but not offering the hospitality of a night to "foreigners" such as you and I! Probably this is why they are relatively unspoiled.
Now, where was I when I began that lengthy digression? Oh! yes; coming home. I felt fairish tired now, and hungry and thirsty, though I was able to relieve the latter by eating some snow that was still left by the roadside (jolly good grub I reckon too!!)
Eventually I arrived at Langland Bay at about 7.30, & had a goodly supper of fish and chips. Far across the sea, the Lynmouth coast – the honeymoon coast! – stood out more distinctly than I have ever seen it. So calm was the sea that it looked like a vast unruffled lake, with distant blue mountains raising at its farther shore (for so the heights of Exmoor looked as dusk began to fall).
This Langland Bay place is the real cream. People were having four course dinners of soup chicken etc. I had a very nice sole and chips a really large chunk of fish about 9" x 3" x 3". Someone else was having plaice – a biggish gentleman, about a foot long (the fish, not the bloke) and (don't tell your Pa! He'll be green with envy!!!)
After supper, night had fallen, and the stars were shining brightly. I felt passing wearied, but had at length managed to arrive home about 9.15, where to my joy I found your letter awaiting me. It was too late then to write my usual Saturday evening epistle, so I postponed it until today.