Monday, July 6, 2009
I am now in Shere, Surrey, not so far from Horsham, but we have travelled here via Godden Green near Sevenoaks in Kent. Olivia picked me up yesterday morning from Linda's place, and in just over an hour we were at the grand house where our ancestors lived, and my grandmother worked as a parlourmaid.
You will see from the photos that the house and gardens are very grand. Olivia was last here in 1942, when a bomb dropped in the garden. She was just a baby. The house was taken over by the military about that time, and not long afterwards, Janet Ashbee (nee Forbes) - Olivia's grandmother - sold the estate. It is now about 25 acres, although it was larger.
Olivia had arranged for us to be shown around the house and gardens and it was a wonderful experience, and I was able to take some good photos. I was particularly looking for rooms where Nevill was photographed playing the piano in the early 20s, and where my grandmother might have served meals and freshments for guests.
Olivia's grandfather "CRA" or Charles Ashbee was an architect and designer, and he made major changes to the structure of the house in the early 40s. However, these changes are reflected in the photos I took yesterday.
On the way home to Olivia's place, we had a puncture (back wheel driver's side) on the very busy A25 and we waited two hours for the RAC. In the end a good samaritan changed it for us, protecting himself and us with his own van.
Today we are just having an easy day with two dogs - Oscar and Ashbee - as company, and a walk around this pretty village. Olivia and Reg have a work studio up the back yard so they are in and out all the time.
Just now, Olivia presented me with one of Nevill's books - a Ruskin fairy tale with his name written in childish handwriting. A lovely gift.
John and I have been able to talk on Skype about every second day and of course by email most days, but his latest email made me wish I were back with him. He had just found out that one of our dearest friends - Maruska - died last Saturday of cancer. John met her in hospital not long after his accident, so that was 39 years ago. So I too have known her since I started work in the disability sector in 1982. She had been to most of our parties and we volunteered or worked together on many an occasion over the years. Vale Maruska.
Tomorrow we are travelling up to Oxford University to the Taylor Institute where much of Nevill's academic material and various photos are kept. He was the second professor of Russian between 1922 and his death in 1929.