My Life at DWS by Vera Gibbon

A climb up Cader Idris

"Each Easter term we climbed Cader. One fine Saturday, chosen by Miss Nightingale (the headmistress until 1940) as being suitable weather, she would announce that this was the day for climbing Cader, so we collected sandwiches from the school kitchens and set off. We went up the long way and returned, having touched the cairn at the top and perhaps having a photo taken, by sliding down a scree path which led to a cold mountain lake from which we drank thirstily. A short way up the road to Cader we passed near Miss Nightingale’s Welsh cottage to which, if we were lucky, we would be invited to have tea. There was a pool of cold water near it and, if we were brave enough, we would be allowed to swim in it. It was, indeed, very cold water! What I loved there was her harmonium with pedals to keep the organ working and an open fire in the hearth."

A School Trip to Paris

I had been very anxious to go on this trip and the cost from door to door was £8. That sounds very, very cheap nowadays but it was more than a week’s wages to many middle class people in 1935. We travelled by train to Victoria station in London and then on to Newhaven and ferry overnight to Dieppe. Some girls managed to sleep for a while in the two-tiered banks down below which were hard and covered in strong moquette which scratched. So along with a few others I went up on deck and was blown by the refreshing breeze, it was a great deal better than in those stuffy bunks. We were accompanied during our journey by a crate or two of croaking frogs. I tremble to think what they were doing on a ferry to France!

My father lent me his VPK camera, a little black folding camera so I was able to take some photographs. We stayed at the Hotel Trianon Palace in the Rue de Vaugirard, reputedly the longest street in Paris. French guides took us around Paris, to Fontainebleau and to the Sèvres china factory. We also visited the Louvre where I saw the portrait of the Mona Lisa, les Invalides where I saw Napoleon’s tomb. It was sunk below floor level so that, they told us, we would have to bow our heads to look at it. We went to the Vallée des Rochers where we ate our picnic sandwiches and to the Petit Trianon. We went to the Paris Opera to see “Rigoletto.” On our last day we were sent shopping at “Au Printemps” where I bought a copy of “Angel Pavement” by J.B.Priestley for my mother, who was fond of that author. For myself I bought a Complete Works of Shakespeare. One might think it strange to have to buy that, but our school text books were provided by the school for its pupils and this one would belong to me. I still have it.

Extracts from a diary written by Vera Gibbon whilst at DWS during the 1930s. See the related item which is a pdf attachment of her diary.

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