My Dearest Mother
I hope you have got the war loan certificate all right. I had Janette Taylor up here yesterday to say goodbye: she is going home on Saturday. She will get to open day, lucky girl. We had tea out in the garden which is looking jolly just now with anchusas, canterbury bells, rockets, sweet Williams, ( the pretty ones from home are doing well) english iris, foxgloves, pinks, lychnis and the delphiniums are just beginning.
Then in our annual borders we have cornflowers, annual gypsophila and phacelia with other things coming on and our earliest row of sweet peas is just coming out. Our roses are nice: I cut two pretty buds of Mme Jules Grosley a day or two ago, but the ramblers have been absolutely devoured ‘til the leaves are absolutely naked down to the ribs of the leaves: they are small green caterpillars who do this and try as one will they seem to multiply faster than one can catch them.
On Sunday Tim and I went for a long bike ride, we left at 1:30 and got back at 9:30. We went about 55 kilometres or about 35 to 36 miles. It was pleasant going. We went to a very pretty place called Pont St Pierre which is on the Andelle, a delightful trout stream a little bigger than the little Eau but not much. Of course Tim achieved a puncture which I mended with great swish thanks to the nice little box you sent me. We had tea and boiled eggs at the hotel and then went to see the chateau which is partly old and partly restored. It is surrounded by a moat on all sides and though inhabited was empty for the moment so the lodge keeper showed us round, a nice Frenchman ex-soldier with one arm. The front of the chateau is a façade flanked by round towers with painted pepper pot tops and pierced by a gateway which leads through into an old Cour d’Honneur now laid out as grass and flower beds. It had originally been a hollow square this old place but now the back has been lost by fire. The Andelle flows through the grounds on one side and a canal from its waters is on the other. There is a wonderful spring in the grounds: a tiny brook in a grotto and at the bottom of the water, which is about two feet deep and as clear as crystal, one sees the sand bubbling in over a dozen places and the water must literally pour out to judge from the overflow. There is another strip of ground with small springs in it which they have made into watercress beds. Then on the canal was an open air launderie (wash house) it was just a strip of cemented quay with a roof of thatch on uprights and the thatch was all grown over with iris germanica, a very common form of decoration out here.
We tore ourselves away from the chateau at last and rode on to our objective a ruined abbey of the 11th century. We crossed the Andelle and found it, a charming little ruin of the transition period with such a funny squatty old stone bridge over the river and all the abbey is surrounded by water meadows. Then we rode on to the little town of Fleury sur Andelle; the town is dull for all that it has such a pretty name and then we climbed hard for a mile and a half to get back from the valley of the Andelle on to the plateau where we live. We were on the Paris, Rouen Havre road and jolly bumpy and holey it is but edged with tall poplar trees either side. We rode to a village about 7km from the hospital and supped sumptuously off omelette aux fines herbes and strawberries and cream with delicious fizzy cider. Then we got home and slept like logs. My hay fever is very capricious and variable. One day I may go past hay and anything you like without turning a hair, another day I nearly sneeze my head off a propos of nothing in particular.
Last night we rode out into one of the many wooded valleys round about here. The whole place was purple with foxgloves and pink with orchids and lots of wild strawberries.
I must stop now
Best love to you all
Your loving Dorothy.