Dad and Mother met me at Dover - taken aback at my size! (I lost that extra weight very quickly without any effort.) Dad had taken delivery of his new Morris car, and we motored to London via Canterbury. They were staying at a hotel in Knightsbridge and I installed myself in the Helena Club, 52 Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, which was to be my headquarters for the next eighteen months - although I didn�t then know how long I�d stay in England.
The Helena Club was specially for working girls and students who didn�t have large financial resources. I think it cost �5 a month. The patroness was Princess Helena Victoria, and on one occasion during my stay there Queen Mary visited the Club and greeted us all. We had breakfast and dinner only there, the meals being served in the basement. The catering was done by domestic science students, and for dinner we were restricted to certain courses - I can�t remember exactly how it went but it was quite clear to us residents but difficult to explain to our occasional visitors just what they were allowed to choose. A favourite dinner for me was green peas and fresh asparagus.
The Club was two elegant terraced houses turned into one, with a large entrance hall and the Secretary's office in the reception area and a wide sweeping staircase rising from it. My bedroom was high-ceilinged but small in itself as it was partitioned off from a much larger room. My first room-mate was Jean Shufflebottom from Lancashire, a quiet reserved girl, and we saw little of each other. The view from our second floor window was across the Bayswater Road and directly into Kensington Gardens. I got to know those Gardens and Hyde Park very well, as I walked to and from College most days.
The first time I did the walk was to reach the parents� hotel, when I joined them for a Sunday service at St Columba�s Presbyterian church where Dad�s cousin Rupert Simpson was the (fashionable) popular minister, but he didn�t impress me and I never went back to his church.
Mother took me shopping, with my cousin Ruth Millis as adviser, and she bought me various garments including an evening dress which I insisted, against their advice, had to be black satin which we got at Marshall and Snelgrove. I did so want to look sophisticated.
The first time I wore it was to the theatre when Dad and Mother took Jean, Robert McDonald and Dr Forman in a party for my 21st birthday. The play was �Tobias and the Angel� by James Bridie (his real name was Mavor and his mother was a cousin of Dad�s). [think the parents (both lots) hoped that Robert and I might make a match, but I don�t think either of us was really ever interested.
Among my birthday presents was a writing case from Aunt Emily, a pearl and diamond ring from Mother and Dad, a tortoiseshell brush, comb and mirror from Aunt Margot, a clip-on diamante watch from Aunt Katharine - and a silver cigarette case with my initials on it from Harry. There was great rivalry between Aunt Lizzie and Aunt Kate, who about now changed her name back to Katharine - and Aunt Lizzie then instructed the relations to call her Elizabeth.