I had a very big mail from you the other day – that including the samples of the new British stamps on the first date of issue, for which thought very many thanks indeed. I had only seen pictures of the new stamps in the press, and wondered if you or Dad would send me some on the first day of issue. I think their design is excellent: almost back to the Penny Black simplicity without the elaborate engraving. I’m afraid I do not have any opportunity for active collecting now, but take any thing that comes my way. Did I ever tell you that last year I got a cover franked “Postage Free: Quetta Earthquake” – a device used just after the earthquake there when there were no stamps available.
Of our holiday only a week now remains: we have bright sunny days, but also still a bit of rain. The other day Tess and I had a great tramp – about 25 miles which included climbs and descents – Tess is a great walker. From Naini Tal (6000ft) we first climbed Cheena Peak, a stiff zigzag path rising to 8565ft, then skirted along the hilltop with a magnificent view of lofty snow peaks that included Nanda Devi (24,000ft) which has just been climbed for the first time by a British Expedition from Ranikhet. We had a picnic lunch at a forest rest bungalow, then coming out of dense forest tumbled ourselves down a steep watershed no less than 6000ft. The steep sides of the gorge were lovely: yellow flowers clinging to precipices, giant pines, beds of white flowers, mountain-streams, pools and waterfalls. At the bottom of the gorge we had to wade through a wide stony riverbed as the road had been washed away. Beyond this, at a little native hut, we had tea made and got some buffalo milk for Trixie, our dog. It was by now 4.30pm, and we completed a round by climbing a steady 5,000ft again (eight miles) by the St Loe Gorge, back to the hills surrounding Naini Tal, into which we again dropped down a thousand feet. It was a long pull up, and towards the end in almost complete darkness: as there are numerous panther in these forests, and we have not yet got a gun, we were a bit anxious about the dog.
We were very glad to see the twinkling electric lights around the lake, and scattered over the Naini valley.
We have discovered only too late that these forest bungalows – which are quite numerous – can be obtained for holidays rent free. It would make a glorious and cheap holiday of the camping variety, and we will know what to do another year. There are also many longer treks: one notably to the Pindari Glacier, just on the snow-line, which we will do some other year when Sylvia Ann is big enough to be left behind!
Last night we were at a dinner party at the Bishop’s (a remarkably young one: in fact just an “acting” one), going on afterwards to a Ball in aid of the local Civil Hospital. It was a very enjoyable affair. Tonight we are going along to see Col. Clyde, IMS and his wife. He is a civil surgeon: which is equivalent to GP, and surgeon to the local hospital at home. He hails from Glasgow, is a blunt little man, and told me within a few minutes of meeting him that one day he intended to be the Director General of the IMS.
I was interested in all your details of holidays, and to hear that you all visited Cousins Maggie and Bella which we also intend to do when we come home. It was very encouraging too that Oliver and Boyd were willing to stand £100 for the Saga.
Sylvia Ann is now walking a few steps unassisted, and blows you a kiss (she can also offer her hand for a “how-do” or raise it to her forehead for a “salaam” as required), in which sentiment we all join in sending you both.