21/2/1919 Ville Roquebrune
My dearest Mother
Here I am really arrived in the most wonderful place. After 21 hours in the train I fetched up here, feeling inches deep in dirt and very sleepy. I will try and describe this place to you. The station is a wee place between Monte Carlo and Menton and on the opposite side of the bay in which Monte Carlo lies. The villa is a gorgeous white house well over a 100 feet from the sea with a garden running down in terraces. I am now sitting on the lowest terrace looking out into the bay with sheer rock below me and a small place chipped out for the railway to run, about 40 feet below this terrace, and then sheer down to the sea again, which is the most gorgeous real tourquoise blue and dashing against the rocks. Yesterday it was rainy and cold, today it is absolutely baking. The sky is very blue but full of white clouds so there is no sun glare. I am sitting in a thin Summer coat but I am sure I should be quite warm enough without it. This is really a place for Army Sisters, when I arrived I was greeted very kindly by Miss Geddes, Matron in charge. I was taken to my room, which I share with a VAD Sister, and I had a gorgeous hot bath and dressed for dinner.
The villa belongs to a Mrs Warre who has lent it for a convalescent home for Nursing Sisters. It is a most luxurious private house, beautifully furnished. There are nine Matrons in the house, I’m told some of them are Matrons in Chief so the atmosphere is a little overwhelming, but still one can dodge them pretty well. I have a lovely little white bed very comfy with mosquito curtains and three windows in the room and a balcony. Two of the windows lokk out over the bay. I don’t know if you’ve ever been out here but the vegetation is wonderful. Palms, oranges and lemons growing on trees, bougainvillea, geraniums, flowering cactus, mimosa, almonds, magnolias, heliotropes, roses and many other flowering shrubs, some of which I have never seen before, and some whose names I have forgotten, grow in the utmost profusion.
I had breakfast in bed this morning, after having gone to bed early and slept like a top. Fried bacon, which I like now, toast and jam all beautifully served. The mountains which run up from behind us are lovely with clouds sitting on the top of them.
The journey down was rather trying I spent the day in Paris with Fraser’s uncle and aunt( having reported at the BRCS HQ and left my kit there ) I went back there in the evening and was motored to the Gare de Lyon and safely tucked into the 8:15pm express. We were six in our carriage, 4 army sisters and 2 VADs ( myself and another) The heat was appalling and we had to turn off the radiators ( all through the cold weather the carriages were almost unheated) I dozed in my corner waking up with cramp or pins and needles every few minutes. Shortly after Lyons I woke up for good to admire the Rhone Valley which is really lovely. The river was in spate all muddy and swirly and the willows and reeds all muddy too. The rocks in the foreground were muddy and the distant hills purple, all the houses built of mud or mud and stone with warm red tiled roofs which made lovely splashes of colour. A little further and there were whole orchards of almond trees in full bloom and funny little twisted grey green trees. I wondered if they were olives. The express by which I will return tomorrow week has just rumbled past below me. We breakfasted early in the train and got very excited when we came to Avignon looking for the bridge. We saw two bridges but whether either was the celebrated pont I doubt.
At Marseilles we halted for half an hour to stretch our legs: the approach to Marseilles with the estuary is very pretty. After Marseilles we lunched , at least some of us did, and then I sat in the next apartment to my own which was VADs only and we yarned. The railway is most fascinatingly built all along the coastline with a constant view of the sea. Even in the grey misty rain yesterday the sea was blue.
Matron is over at Cannes, I’m going over to see her one of these days. I expect I shall be very busy when I get back as Stouffs is going on leave and I shall be left in sole charge of the shop.
Has Robin got home yet ? I quite expect to hear that he and I were in Paris or Marseilles on the same day. It is very thrilling about John and Elsie I suppose they will be home about the middle of May. Are they coming for 6 months or a year ? He ought to get a year after being so long without leave. I suppose the kids will stay in England.
Did I tell you that the man who outed Asquith is Fraser’s cousin ? His son in law Sir George Stirling is Colonel of the Reinforcements Camp at Rouen. He is in the Indian army really but got badly pipped [shot] in the war and has this permanent base job now. He is quite a decent sort and we have seen a lot of him lately, he came to our dance and we saw him at the hostel dance and so forth.
I really must dry up now: I have no more news and the sun is scorching me.
Best love to you all
Your loving Dorothy.