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Dear Blair,

I've been having the most wonderful time here in England, thanks to visiting your Aunt Ruth - do you remember her? She moved here when she married in 1980, and we lost touch a year or so later? Well, two months ago she decided to see if the Fort Worth address was still valid, which of course it is, and gave Uncle Andrew her address. I was staying with Andrew at the time and hadn't been planning on going anywhere for a while - yes, even I like to stay put occasionally! But I couldn't resist the opportunity of meeting up with her; we were such good friends when we were young. Turned out she hadn't wanted to lose touch, but her husband was the jealous sort - can you imagine someone being jealous of his wife's family? Especially when they live thousands of miles away and her only contact would have been a dozen or so letters a year. He... well, I don't think it's too strong to say he bullied her into not giving us her change of address when he got promotion and a relocation to another town.

Anyway, he died very suddenly a few months ago. She was a bit disoriented for a while - he'd made all the decisions, paid all the bills, and she didn't have any children to give her a focus. She'd wanted children, but he hadn't - she won't admit it, says he felt that because he could be moved around the country any time he was promoted it would have been very unsettling for any children they might have had. It was a pretty specious argument - you weren't unsettled by travelling around, were you? And he was only moved twice. I'm pretty sure his real reason was that children would have taken her attention away from him. So he had a vasectomy to make sure there weren't any.

He hadn't had the foresight to make a will but, as his wife, Ruth automatically inherited everything. He wasn't a poor man by any means, but she didn't know that - for all she knew, she'd been left destitute or close to it. She was completely lost when it came to managing things, but luckily the lawyer was very helpful, and didn't take advantage of the situation to line his pockets at her expense. Yes, I got her to show me all the paperwork, once I realized just how out of her depth she'd been, and I was satisfied that she wasn't overcharged in any way.

They'd moved to Bristol just a few weeks before he died.

Ruth never got the chance to explore the countryside anywhere she lived while he was alive; he wasn't interested in anything as frivolous as countryside, sightseeing or the history of where they lived. And here - this is an amazing area! I've been here six weeks now, and it didn't take much persuading on my part to get Ruth to come sightseeing with me.

There are some wonderful caves not too far from here, several of them open to the public. There are two in Cheddar Gorge with some quite spectacular stalactites and stalagmites; Wookey Hole is huge; though only a small part is open to the public because to get to most of it you have to swim. People lived in those caves for thousands of years.

We even got as far as Stonehenge on a coach tour one day! Though we didn't have long there. It's impressive, but somehow I expected it to be bigger. But what I found most interesting, and it's more your thing than mine, is a museum. Yes, Sweetie, a museum! Never thought you'd hear me say that, did you?

It's in Bath - the American Museum in Britain - the only museum of American things outside the United States. It's got collections of native American things as well as period room settings from the days of the early settlers - yes, as far back as the seventeenth century! You'd love it, and if you ever get the chance you should come over and visit it. Ruth will be coming back to America with me - she's talking of moving back permanently - but there are plenty of reasonably cheap hotels not too far from it.

I'm sure you could get a paper out of it!

I'll be back in America next month, but I'll be helping Ruth get settled in so I'm not sure when I'll get to Cascade to see you. But I do plan on visiting this year.



You can get some info on the museum at http://www.americanmuseum.org/


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