November News from us and the goings on at No.fifty6.

Posted on 30th November 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

November News from us and the goings on at No.fifty6.

Perhaps by Vera Brittain
Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although I feel bereft of You.
Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of Spring seem gay
And I shall find the white May blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.
Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.
Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to the Christmas songs again
Although You cannot hear.
But, though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

Vera is probably best remembered as the author of Testament of Youth, recounting her experiences during the War in which she lost her fiancé, brother and two close male friends. It is a favourite book of ours.
Vera left her studies at Somerville College, Oxford to become a VAD nurse in June 1915 and became engaged to Roland Leighton in August 1915 whilst he was on leave from the Western Front. Roland was killed by a German sniper in December 1915 near Hebuterne. Vera and Roland were due to be married during his Christmas leave; her close friend Geoffrey Thurlow was killed in 1916; Victor Richardson, another close friend, died in 1917; her brother, Edward, was killed on the Austro-Italian Front in June 1918.
She writes : “I ended the First World War with my deepest emotions paralysed if not dead,” This would not have happened if I had had one person left… I could have married Victor in memory of Roland, and Geoffrey in memory of Edward, but the war took even the second best. It left nothing. Only ambition held me to life.” Vera’s ambition was that her writing should tell the story of Women, often overlooked at that time.

Roland Leighton is buried in Louvencourt, a 20-minute drive from us and a beautiful CWGC Cemetery. Vera visited the Cemetery herself in 1921 and 1933. As we stand on the steps, we take in the view that she describes so well in Testament of Youth, the fields unchanged over the decades.
Thank you, Vera, for realizing your ambition, through personal loss, and telling the story.


This November there is peace, the farmers have been busy harvesting late crops, ploughing and reseeding, the continual cycle of life and agriculture in these fields which have witnessed so much. The weather has been mild, wet and windy, but now the frosts have begun, winter is on its way.

Personal News

We wanted to update you on some personal news. Julie discovered that she had a problem with her aortic valve that she had had since birth but had been undetected and asymptomatic, but was now wearing out and leaking. Julie was born with a bicuspid, rather than tricuspid valve. After many tests, Julie underwent an operation to replace her aortic valve. This occurred at the end of October in Amiens and the operation was very successful and Julie is now well on the road to recovery after 12 days in hospital. We would like to thank all those who have supported and sent best wishes over the past few weeks. It is now behind us; we are going to take it easy over the next few weeks here at No.fifty6 as Julie continues her rehabilitation and David recovers from doing an exemplary job looking after her. It will be business as usual from the New Year.
We also have to mention how FANTASTIC the French health service has been. The care, expertise and attention Julie has received every step of the way has blown us away and has aided a speedy recovery. It has also given Julie the opportunity to brush up her medical French and David a chance to chat up the nurses and doctors with his builder’s French. Life is sweet.

Remembrance Day

We did not take part in Remembrance Day activities ourselves but friends Clive Downer and Paul Livings braved the very wet and windy elements and joined our village commemorations and The Friends of Lochnagar for the service of Remembrance at Lochnagar Crater. Thank you to Paul for the photos.
We held our own Remembrance reflections here at no.fifty6.

Animal PostScript

Shere the cat has been keeping an eye on Julie’s recovery from the comfort of his red mat.

The chickens are in fine form. Particularly as a visit from Julie’s 3 sisters and niece Jessica to see how Julie was progressing led to them helping David move and clean out the chicken coop. The wet weather meant it was an onerous, muddy task. But now the chickens are clean, dry and warm again and forever thankful to their Aunties.


The 5 hens watch proceedings from a safe distance.   Wendy, Ann and Debbie get chicken cleaning! 

Comments (44)

Phillipa Baker says:

Sorry to hear Julie has been unwell and glad that she is now on the road to recovery. I'm sure David did an excellent job as nurse maid!
Looking forward to seeing you both next year, have a wonderful christmas and a very happy new year.
Pip and Mick Baker.

Andy Kellett says:


Sorry to hear you have been unwell, but delighted to hear you are recovering.

Hope to see the new re-built Julie ( and the clapped out David) in the new year.


Brian and Margaret Havery says:

Sorry to hear of your heart condition Julie,it must have been a massive shock for you both,thank goodness all has been resolved,wishing you a speedy return to your usual very special self.
Our very best wishes always,
Brian and Margaret xx

Jean and Peter Mason says:

So glad you are on the mend Julie. I read Testament of Youth years ago but didn't realise that Roland Leighton was buried nearby. Have a wonderful Christmas both.

Paul & Elaine says:

Glad to hear the recovery is going well Julie - best wishes to you both for a peaceful and relaxing Christmas

Paul and Elaine xx

David Mollington says:

It's always a pleasure reading your news and now an extra pleasure to learn that Julie is doing so well. Thank you Nurse David for doing a marvellous job. Look after yourself too. Happy Christmas to you both. Love from Naughty Dave. Xxxx

Popke Graansma says:

Good to read you are well on the road to recovery Julie. Keep on the good work David !

Lol Ward says:

Wishing you a speedy recovery Julie, take great care of that wonderful lady David. Thinking of you both. Merry Christmas. DLOY Old Comrades Association.

Simon Dickens says:

Julie so glad to hear that you are well on the road to recovery. Wishing you both a truly happy and healthy Cristmas and New Year. Although i've watched Testament of Youth as a film i've not read the book. Its on my list now thanks! Take care Simon.

Gary James says:

Wishing you a speedy recovery Julie. You both need a nice break. Hope to see you both in February.

martin howard says:

Glad to hear you are well on the road to recovery . Enjoy your Christmas and the New Year. Look forward to seeing you both in the Spring . Love from Kate & Martin

Melanie and Michael Yip says:

Sorry to hear Julie's has been unwell, but very pleased that her surgery and recovery has been uneventful. Best wishes to you both hopefully we will get back to visit one day.

John Mepham says:

Glad to hear your well on the road to recovery Julie and that David has been looking after things. All the best for the festive season ahead from Waterdown, Ontario !

Chris Prince says:

Hi Julie and David, Sorry to hear Julie has been unwell but so pleased that she is on the road of recovery and David has taken such great care of you. Take care put your feet up and enjoy taking it easy Julie. Wishing you both all the very best for the Festive Season. Love and Best Wishes Chris & Bill xx

Gerry says:

Delighted to hear that all went so well for Julie and wishing her. and of course David, a truly healthy and happy festive season.
Nollaig shona duit

Tim Brown says:

So pleased to hear that the recovery is going well. Have a lovely Christmas with some quality chill time and a fabulous New Year.
Look forward to seeing you both next year
Tim and Deb xx

The Weatherall Boys says:

Julie, take it really slow on the recovery road mate. March 2018 I had a similar Op they told me it'd take me some 8-10 week to get back on deck, it took a lot longer. But life rolls on, it's amazing what replacement parts they can fit into one body. I love it when I go through security at airports. Best for the festive season to you both from the Great South Land.

Andy Rawson says:

Good to hear Julie is in the mend and David has been a good nurse. Ohhh matron!

Neil Mackenzie says:

Wishing Julie a very speedy recovery and best wishes to you both for a happy Christmas and a healthy 2020. Neilx

Julie Cauvin says:

Hope you are feeling better soon Julie.

Gary J Jones says:

Hi Julie and David. Here's wishing Julie a good recovery after your operation. Take advantage of the rest and really hope you both have a Christmas filled with many memories for you to cherish for many years to come. Certainly hoping to get back over sometime next year to sample your excellent hospitality again? DLOY OCA

Graham Taylor says:

Here is to a speedy and full recovery Julie. Best wishes to you both from Graham, Kath and the boys from the DLOY Old Comrades Assoc.

Roy & Cathy says:

Very pleased to hear that Julie is making a good recovery and that the French health service has served her well! All the best for Christmas and the New Year. Roy & Cathy

Karsten Lund says:

Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery Julie, and wishing you both a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

Roger and Elaine says:

Very pleased to hear Julie is on the road to recovery. We do hope you have a great Christmas and New Year. We are really looking forward to seeing you both on May.

Katrina McGurk says:

Glad to hear that you are recovering well Julie, and keep up the hard work David!
The “boys” are very much looking forward to their visit during 2020.
Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas.

Robert Mumford says:

Hi Julie and David,

So glad to hear things are going well with the recovery Julie and will continue to hold you in our prayers. Hope you and David have a nice relaxed Christmas before you return to the hard work of looking after us all so well.

Lots of love to you both Bob and Jill x

Sandy Biback says:

So pleased to hear Julie is on the mend and David so glad to hear you took such good care of her and all else. Vera article—thank you for sharing

Laurie Peacock says:

Really glad to hear Julie is recovering well. Thinking of you both. Love & Best wishes from the Gatwick Pals & Families xx

Brian Janman says:

Glad to hear that Julie is recovering well from her Aortic Valve replacement operation. Take it easy girl and let David do the heavy stuff. Best wishes to you both.

John Ellis says:

Morning both, Great to hear that Julie is well on the road to recovery. Enjoy the Christmas break and the gradual return to full fitness.
Hopefully the Devon boys can return in the summer

David Harvey says:

Glad to read of returned health & happiness. Enjoyed your tale of Vera and her poem. Her photo is at Lochnagar Crater. I paused there in August to tell her story to Larry & co. They did not know her story. It was the Headmaster of our local public school at Uppingham who told Leighton, and the rest of the leaving sixth form, ‘If they didn’t join up to fight they were better off dead’!

Geoffrey Nougher says:

Great to hear that Julie's operation was such a success and that her recovery is going well.

June & Dave says:

Wishing you both well, especially to Julie, have a great Christmas and successful New Year. Love from June, Dave, Brenda & Brian (no garlic) X

Dan Steele says:

Great news that your operation was a success.
Your health is your wealth.

Mike Light says:

Sorry to hear your news Julie.....Can I wish you well in your recovery.
Happy Christmas and New Year to you both x

Bill and Anne Williams says:

Wishing you a speedy recovery and thinking of you both, regards Bill and Anne

Heather and Malcolm says:

You know we are thinking of you ... keep getting better, to full health. As always, it's good to hear from you. XX

Colin Gribble says:


Glad to hear that you are on the mend. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

Sam & Steve Ingram says:

Wishing you a speedy recovery Julie, so glad the op went well, must have been a worrying time for you both. Well done to David for looking after her!

Ashley Atkinson says:

Great to read that Julie is doing so well - best wishes to her from us
Enjoyed the Vera and Roland input - also one of my favs
Was at the service at The Crater - even helped by doing some reading!!

Lucy says:

Wishing you a continued good recovery Julie.

Rob Kirk says:

To 2020 and beyond! Much love - Rob and Elaine. A mai. Xxx

Gordon&Joana (and Mary) says:

Good to hear the positive news. ‘Perhaps’ we can now think about coming in the New Year ... Happy Christmas you guys with love from all of us. X

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