The suddenness with which all this took place swept Bridge off his feet. His letters are fulsome, almost too fulsome in their gratitude and thanks, yet these trips were only a modest foretaste of things to come. It was during the following November (1922) that Mrs Coolidge invited the Bridges to attend the 1923 Festival, a visit which she hoped they would combine with an extended summer holiday. For various reasons, Bridge preferred to stay in America during the autumn, not the summer, which was agreed. Nevertheless, the new horizon that had been opened up to him was quite breathtaking - he might even settle in America - although there was one very important factor to be weighed in the balance.
For some time the Bridges had been visiting Marjorie Fass for weekends and more extended holidays at Friston, situated between Eastbourne and Seaford, where she rented a small cottage.3 The beauty of the surrounding downland scenery and close proximity of the sea so captivated them that they decided to have their own house, 'Friston Field', built there.4 By the early months of 1923, plans for its construction were well under way and were constantly in their thoughts - it was their dream cottage. Sometimes, America seemed quite out of the question. In Ethel's words:
I feel we've got to get our Cottage as soon as we can, else Susie [sic] will try to NAB us ... Frank told Susie quite definitely last night that he didn't want to go travelling [but] that he only wanted to get into his own room in the new Cottage and work! She said, 'What about a symphony'!! and F. said, 'Of course, but there's no time while I have to teach and I find it so much harder to write now than 20 years ago because I discard nearly everything!!' So she knows he never wants to live anywhere but England and what's more we won't!5
Nevertheless, even before the American visit the Bridges felt it was expedient to join Mrs Coolidge on a short tour of Belgium and Holland during July, visiting Brussels, Dortrecht and Amsterdam.