Wednesday Feb 28th /06
My dear Mother
Here we are back again at Petone, it is very nice to be back & have a little breathing space once more. Your letter via Naples came yesterday morning & I was very pleased to find it waiting for me. I was very much amused at Cyril’s letter. I expect he enjoyed the electioneering very much but it was trying for him to have to go to school before the election. I am quite glad you are going to have the Watson children later, I think it ought to work well & it will be such a good thing for you not to have so much house work to do, we never liked seeing our little Ma wearing herself out with dusting etc. If only you can get two decent servants I am sure it would be a great comfort. I hope Fred Butler’s voyage will do him good. I saw in the paper yesterday that an Evesham man was lost overboard coming out on the Corinthia, I suppose it is a son of Henry Fields.
They all think Auntie looking very well after our trip & say I have got fat don’t wonder when I think of the appetites we had in the strong west coast air. I noticed the difference very much when we got to Nelson which is a very warm relaxing place something like Torquay I should think, I shouldn’t care to stay there very long though it is a very pretty little place. Aunt Lottie’s money seems capable of going a good long way, you must think so too when you read of all we have been doing. I don’t think though that travelling out here is so much more expensive than in England just the actual railway fare is perhaps, but hotels & odd meals are cheap to our ideas, you scarcely ever pay more than 2/- for a good lunch or dinner. The coaching was one of the most expensive parts of the whole trip & then we secured box seats beforehand which were extra. We were most fortunate in the weather on the whole, it is such a wet part that one can hardly hope to have no rain at all, & some people have nothing but pouring rain all the way.
We shall I think have a fortnight here before going up north, there I think our trips will be taken in this order. Napier, Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland, Wanganui River, New Plymouth & Marton. We may possibly not get all this in before Hubert’s wedding & if not shall I suppose leave something till later, but I don’t think Aunt Lottie contemplates that. She means in any case to be back for the wedding as she is anxious to see a nephew married. She has promised to give me £1 towards a new hat, I shall have to get a nice one for that occasion. She has also just given me 10/- pocket money, so with little refreshers of this sort my money is lasting out pretty well. There is quite a house full here just now the two Secretan girls from Christchurch are here for a week, they seem nice girls, they are step daughters of Mrs Secretan who was Mrs Lewis Coster. I much prefer the look of them to the Ned Coster girls at Nelson who struck me as not being quite good style. The new servant here is a great improvement on the last, (though crossed out) it was rather an influx of visitors, four in one day, however she seems not to make much of it. Aunt Lottie & I have been to church this morning, it being Ash Wednesday. I am afraid Church seasons are not much observed out here as a rule. I am hoping we shall be somewhere where we can have a quiet time in Holy Week. I suggested to Aunt Lottie one day that it was a pity all this next trip would be during Lent but she didn’t seem to mind.
Ann is going to have a nice little outing. Mr Riddiford is sending her over to Sydney with the Riddiford children & Ruth Humphrey. Mrs Riddiford's niece who is 15, to meet Mrs Riddiford on her way out from England. They are to start next Saturday & will have about 10 days there before she arrives, Mr Riddiford has given them I believe £100 for expenses so they will be able to have a very good time. By the time we get back I suppose Ann will be at home again, I scarcely feel I know her yet having only seen her when she runs in for her flying visits home. The other two of course I know much better especially now after having been away with both of them. It is very nice to get Maidie away from home, she becomes less of a Martha, that I think is rather her failing when at home. Dolly is so bright & cheery that she makes a very pleasant companion. Aunt Bessie seems very well, it was a good thing for her to have a small party at home for a bit, she gets tired out with too much noise & talking.
It will be getting pretty near Easter by the time you get this but I expect there will be another mail reaching England nearer to Easter & I shall have to write again before we leave here. There is always a notice up in the post office here giving a list of mails & dates of their arrival in London. On our travels I was rather vague about all mails except the Frisco & I am afraid missed one or two. Give my love to little Judy please & thanks for her letter, how nice it will be for her to have the little Watsons to play with, it will prevent her becoming too much of a little old woman. We have such piles of newspapers to read up, they did not trouble to send them on to us, so now there are six Public Opinions to be read up besides various others. I am very glad always to see Public Opinion. It is nearly lunch time & I must stop. With very much love to you all
From your loving daughter
May E Sladden
I haven’t heard the date of Hubert’s wedding yet, these things are kept so very quiet out here, one feels it would be an indiscretion to ask!
My love to Ethel & thanks for her letter from Chelsea. I am so glad she & K had a nice time there.