November News from us and the goings on at No.fifty6.
Posted on 30th November 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.
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.
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.
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.
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.