My trip to Paris

Read Part One.
Read the whole thing on The Diaries page.

My trip to Paris
April 5 – 14 1941

April 5, continued

On the journey to Salisbury the only thing I can remember seeing was the cider orchards of Whiteways. We got to Salisbury at 6.30 and got to Southampton an hour later. On the platform an aunt and uncle of Eleanor’s appeared to greet her, and I wrote a postcard to Mum and Dad – leaning on a trunk.

Then we left the station and made for a café or something. Southampton seemed a jolly nice place. The Civic Centre was a super place with a huge clock which was floodlit. We found a café, I believe it was called the Bungalow or the Shore, I can’t remember which, and went in. Ursula and I sat together and had ice cream and lemonade while the rest decorously drank tea and secretly envied us.

I rubbed out my postcard and rewrote it. Most of the party seems a bit weak – as it may have been the excitement – and had to take advantage of the amenities provided by the café. Ursula and I were stronger and listened to the music, and said at intervals, “Isn’t this lovely?”.

Then we went by tram down to the docks, after having posted our cards, all of them minus stamps. We had the old entrance gate to the city pointed out to us, it is now in the centre of a street.

We got to what was evidently the docks, but we all went in a little office or something, and answered a sheet of seemingly stupid and senseless questions. Then we wandered vaguely through what seemed like a huge shed – probably was – and an old man asked us if we were the Wayfarers. Having assured him that we were the WTA we passed on.

We saw one group of people, one of them a girl with a grey cape, who we christened the Stuck-Ups, and a young man with sandals who we dubbed Grecian Nose. Then, with all these interesting people, we found the ship. The S.S. Normania.

After a lot of pushing and fighting, we found that our berths had not been reserved. Some of the seniors had to sleep on deck, but we (the “little” ones) had a salon to share with another school. Ursula and I had the bottom bunk on the left. They were kind of brown damask bunks with one blanket and a couple of pillows.

We removed the top layer of clothes and got into, or rather onto, the bunks. We all ate apples and biscuits, and were entertained by, among other things, the episodes of the old stewardess, and Olive in a petticoat. I made frequent expeditions into the lavatories to peep through the porthole windows to see if we were moving.

Several times we tried to go to sleep. I nearly dozed off once, but was wakened by a funny noise, which I found, on craning my neck round the cupboard of lifebelts, was a stewardess eating toast. Then the old stewardess came back with another party of girls, and told them to be very quiet as we were asleep after having a very long journey. (Subdued sniggers came from various directions.)

However about 11.30 the engines started up and there was no doubt that we were moving. I went to sleep finally about midnight, and comparative peace reigned in the salon.


Read Part Three.

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