[Remember: click on pics to enlarge, right click, back to escape.]
This is Bartons Mead, the house that Rufus and Bee rented in Epsom while he was Southams’ Bureau chief in London, England.
It’s big, isn’t it? Just for the three of them?
Well, yes it was. But this was England in the thirties – people with decent salaries were expected to keep servants, so there are rooms for them too. It was a nightmare for Bee, always hiring maids who never stayed long. And there was a cook. Anyway, after Christmas 1929 she needed to get away, so she and Rufus booked a hotel for ten days in Palma, Mallorca.
So the day that Derek got his holidays, they rushed off to London and caught the Dover train.
It sounds as if something dreadful’s about to happen!
It was – when Rufus went to buy Bee a drink he discovered he’d left his wallet, with all their holiday money, at home!
Help – what did he do?
Well, they turned out their pockets and handbags and came up with £5 between them. Not enough to get them to Mallorca! Then a complete stranger in their compartment offered to lend Rufus another fiver – it looked like this –
Wow, that was pretty nice of him – but that note looks more like its worth a thousand pounds!
Old fivers always did. Anyway, Rufus reckoned they could make it on £10. So, instead of everybody having to wait at Dover while he went home for it, he telegraphed his secretary, the super-efficient Grace Knowles, to go to Epsom, find his wallet and airmail it to their Hotel in Palma.
Wouldn’t that take ages?
It would nowadays. But Miss Knowles mailed it that afternoon in London and it was waiting for them when they arrived at their hotel in Palma, thirty-six hours later!
This was how the airmail package arrived – there was no airport in Mallorca in 1929. And this was how the weary travellers got there, after an overnight ferry-ride from Barcelona.
Well, that’s a happy ending – good for Rufus for figuring it out.
He hadn’t been a wartime staff officer for nothing, you know. It made him a pretty efficient guy – and one who didn’t tolerate fools – so not an easy boss to work for.
And, after all that excitement, did they enjoy their holiday in Mallorca?
They did, each in their own way. Bee really wanted to rest, and to read and write letters in the sunshine, while Rufus preferred rushing about. They made several hairy mountain drives – about which they wrote different things in their diaries. On a day when Rufus wrote – “Gorgeous day. Back over mountain road by 5pm” Bee managed – “had a very intelligent and careful driver, which was just as well as our way back over the highest peak on the island was a series of hairpin curves.”
She obviously felt it was risky, while Rufus – again, thanks to the war, I suppose – seemed not to notice the risk. What had they been to see?
On that occasion the Manacor caves, full of wonderful stalactites.
They are pretty spectacular – though I don’t suppose they were lighted like that in 1929.
Maybe that’s why Bee didn’t rave about them. And they both liked touring the churches – including the Cathedral in Palma.
Its a bit like Canterbury cathedral on steroids, if you ask me!
Bee took Derek in there one day but soon fled “as we couldn’t stand the impassioned oration of the Spanish priest.” But they all went to High Mass there. Ever since the war– when the only churches in Flanders had been catholic –Rufus had been most ecumenical in his religious observance. And one day they got back to their ‘very English’ hotel to find a Thé Dansant in full swing. Bee would probably have enjoyed it but, led by Rufus who disliked dancing, they fled! Bee wrote: “Walked into town in the mud (it was raining)and sat in the cathedral where a queer ceremony was in progress. Organ played a bit – very beautiful.”
Was this castle in Las Palmas?
It’s called Bellver Castle, and Rufus and Bee marched up there together one morning, though both preferred visiting churches. And eventually they went home again, spending a day in Barcelona and three in Paris, on the way.
Is this Barcelona?
A panorama of the Barcelona International Exhibition of 1929, no less. They happened upon the last week oand had to drag themselves away to catch the night-train to Paris.
I love Art Nouveau posters – of course it was all the rage at the time, wasn’t it?
It’s heyday was really before World War 1, but these are definitely done in Art Nouveau style. If you look closely , you’ll see the main exhibition building, shown in the right hand poster, at the top of the hill in the panorama.
So they took the night train to Paris?
And dined at the famous Cafe de la Paix the first night they were there.
Though, it being January, they probably had a table inside, didn’t they?
Yes, and it would have looked more like this, I think. The next day they ate at the Auberge du Pere Louis, which had been in business since 1903 and is still going strong!
After all that, I’m sure they were glad to get home.
They crossed the channel in “the storm of the century”, according to Rufus. Or, as Bee put it – “None of us ill! Had a dreadful time getting into Dover Harbour. So glad to get home to see Totem and Kiki, the former mad with delight.”
I see the delighted Totem. But why was Rufus wearing that awful hat?
It was 1930, remember – enough said.