Feb 15th 1906
My dear Father
I was very pleased to get your letter written just after Xmas also Mother’s of a week later, Dolly brought them with her today the Frisco mail must have reached Petone this morning just too late for her to bring, however I can look forward to getting them at Nelson. The Frisco mail is almost always a day or two late & the Italy ones are sometimes early so I have always got your letters in the order in which they are written. It was very nice to hear all about your Xmas Day I am so glad you all spent such a bright happy one. I have been rather hurrying the diary of todays doings not wanting to begin another sheet, but I can tell you anything I have omitted. We had such a nice little visit at the Byrches they were all so kind & hospitable & really pleased to have us. Mr Byrch has got a good deal greyer, he had a nasty spill out of the dog cart about two years ago which for a few weeks paralysed one leg, Connie says he has got a good deal greyer since that. He seems quite recovered though, but he doesn’t ride & doesn’t in fact seem to be any hand with horses, so the two boys Jack & Fred do most of the active work on the farm riding round after the sheep etc. & Mr Byrch keeps the accounts & overlooks things generally. Jack & Fred have turned into regular colonials in look at any rate, caring little or nothing for their personal appearance, shy but not too dreadfully boorish, I should say they are both very good fellows. Mrs Byrch told me about George, he seems to have behaved in a very peculiar manner going off without saying anything, no one knows why, they only know he is some where in Australia. The girls seem to have taken to the life very well, though Connie regrets the old life, she & Mrs Byrch have to work very hard indeed & of course there is very little amusement for them. Mrs Byrch however looks very well & not a bit older than when she left. I think the life must suit them on the whole. Winnie is 17 & seems a nice bright girl, they will be glad of her help at home now, she only left school at Xmas. Both the girls are quite at home with horses & can ride & drive sometimes. They have a servant but at present she is a very incompetent one. Mrs Byrch makes butter, she said she learnt how to from the shepherd’s wife. I hoped I should not be asked my opinion of it & luckily was not, as I really could not honestly have complimented her, when she said she could only get a poor price for what she sold I couldn’t help thinking “I don’t wonder”. However she may improve – they have of course not many neighbours & those there are they don’t seem to care much about, but they lead too busy a life to be dull. This morning after seeing us off Mrs Byrch said we might think of them at the wash-tub! Mr Byrch gave me a photo of the house for you I can send it from Petone, he also said if you would like a frozen lamb sent over, I said I thought you would & was quite sure Mother would! So you may receive one shortly, perhaps in time for the Easter holidays. It was delightful having the chance of a ride yesterday. I hope it may not be my last. I had a very long & most interesting letter from Marian today, she also had had her first ride, she said she felt “very unsafe at first but imagined it might be very delightful after a little while”. Her Natal visit must have been most interesting & I expect she was delighted to see Tom on the way. I must give Ethel the rest of my news. I hope by the time you get this George will have had good news re his exam. I was very glad to hear Col Lang was re-elected, you must have had a busy time electioneering.
Very much love to you all, Your loving daughter
May E Sladden.
Don’t you think we are having a delightful trip the little rest at Amberley just prepared us for Part 2 of our Southern tour which we are just beginning.