Tolkien Holidays (II)

[Belmont Hotel, Sidmouth]

To Christopher Tolkien

Begun about June 2nd. 1971.

My dearest C,

I am sorry that I have been so silent. But only a long 'tale of woe', of which you know the main outlines, wd. fully explain it. Here we are June 2nd, and May, one of the best of my experience, has escaped, without a stroke of 'writing’. Not all 'woe' of course. Our brief holiday to Sidmouth, which was what Dr Tolhurst's advice boiled down to, was very pleasant indeed. We were lucky in our time - in fact the only week available at the hotel — since May was such a wonderful month - and we came in for a 'spring explosion' of glory. with Devon passing from brown to brilliant yellow-green, and all the flowers leaping out of dead bracken or old grass. (Incidentally the oaks have behaved in a most extraordinary way. The old saw about the oak and the ash, if it has any truth, would usually need wide-spread statistics, since the gap between their wakening is usually so small that it can be changed by minor local differences of situation. But this year there seemed a month between them! The oaks were among the earliest trees to be leafed equalling or beating birch, beech and lime etc. Great cauliflowers of brilliant yellow-ochre tasseled with flowers, while the ashes (in the same situations) were dark, dead, with hardly even a visible sticky bud).

The Belmont proved a v.g. choice. Indeed the chief changes we observed in Sidmouth was the rise of this rather grim looking hotel (in spite of its perfect position) to be the best in the place - especially for eating. Neither M nor I have eaten so much in a week (without indigestion) for years. In addition our faithful cruise-friends (Boarland) of some six years ago, who recently moved to Sidmouth, and were so anxious to see us again that they vetted our rooms [at] the Belmont, provided us with a car, and took us drives nearly every day. So I saw again much of the country you (especially) and I used to explore in the old days of poor old Jo, that valiant sorely-tried old Morris. An added comfort was the fact that Sidmouth seemed practically unchanged, even the shops: many still having the same names (such as Frisby, Trump, and Potbury). Well that is that, & now, alas, over! I am, of course, still in the doldrums as far as my proper work goes - with time leaking away so fast….

Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #323

No comments: