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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: May 2011

9 - MATTERS OF GRAVITY

Summary

Following completion in California of the 1957 nucleosynthesis paper, Hoyle developed a strategy for spending some weeks each year at Caltech. In general, he did not reside there during the university summer vacations, which he could have done without seeking permission from authorities at Cambridge. There were good reasons for staying in Britain in the summer months. Barbara had taken a dislike to Los Angeles and Fred absolutely detested its smog, which drove him indoors when it was bad. Fred, Barbara and the children enjoyed old-fashioned seaside holidays in their caravan, rather than expensive visits to California.

When Fred returned in 1957, the family had arranged to move from their country house in Little Abington to a fine home being constructed at 1 Clarkson Close, on land belonging to St John's College. However, the builders were running two months late, which forced the family to live in their caravan for several weeks. As soon as the school holidays started, Fred's Humber Hawk hauled them to Scotland up the old A1 road (which was not then a dual carriageway). From there, they crossed to Northern Ireland, then travelled over the border to the Republic of Ireland. For six weeks of glorious weather, they parked in a narrow lane hemmed in by stone walls, sited 400 feet above the sea.

Over the years, Fred used caravan trips of this kind to compose much of his science fiction.