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Author's Chapter Notes:
Happy New Year, everyone, and may 2015 bring you health, joy and good friends. This is the year that runs up to a couple of other drabbles, A Holiday for Christmas and the Daft Days (sorry, I can't do the links).


Bridge of Earn

My dear wonderful friends,

Thank you so much for the beautiful bouquet! The flowers have brightened up the ward and delighted my fellow patients and the staff. Snow is still lying deep, though neither crisp nor even, so they are doubly welcome as a splash of colour on a dreich afternoon. You will note that I am picking up the language well and dreich is just so descriptive of the kind of leaden sky, lowering, depressing early darkness that we have today. I do hope that the weather is improving in Armishire. It must be so difficult to keep the girls occupied when they can’t let off steam outdoors.

Though the hospital is on the Spartan side, it’s very up-to-date in equipment and methods. I am rather Matron Gordon’s pet because of Dunc and Meg who, in their different roles, seem to be sprinkled with stardust as far as she is concerned. The surgeon, Mr Belvedere (isn’t that a splendid name?), will have both of them assisting at the operation tomorrow and that’s rather comforting. Meg told me that she will be doing the ‘bone harvesting’ and, very apologetically, confessed that she’ll be cutting in one of the few places the Gestapo missed! Oh well, what must be must be! Of course, Meg has been there every time I’ve gone under the knife and Dunc was there for all the important early ones so as Meg said “We know where every misaligned piece of bone is!”

Sorry this is so short but Dunc has said he will post this on his way home and he’s anxious to get back to Dolly and the baby, Much Love, Gren

PS. Grizel, your godson, young Master Duncan Cochrane Gellatly, was sneaked in to see me yesterday. What a lovely baby he is, full of chuckles!

BoE, Friday

Dear Chaletians,

I am not sure when this will get to you but if my tractor lift arrives and the trains are running I shall be able to keep my promise to Gren to let you know how things went as soon as possible!

Anyway, the good news is that Gren has come through the operation and she is, if not exactly comfortable, at least awake, alert and fairly cheerful. It will be some time before we will know how well the bone graft has taken but the toes look healthy and are quite responsive!

Kingston Belvedere’s technique is new and quite radical – he works extremely fast and the assisting surgeon doesn’t get time to breathe - but he has had very good results. Several of his patients have been able to dispense with their canes. I don’t think that is a possibility for Gren unless we can work out some way of repairing her hip joint but if all goes well she should at least be able to put her foot on the ground without pain and with a bit more flexibility.

Love, Meg’

Chalet School
Mid March

Dear Meg,

We are delighted to hear the continuing good news about Gren. Profuse apologies for not writing sooner and I am aware that, though we have sent cards, we do owe you several letters between us!

Life here has been both hectic and worrying. Not only have we been subjected to alternate bursts of heavy rain and howling blizzards which then melted leaving seas of mud everywhere but we have been struck by an epidemic of a mysterious throat infection which has so far defied the best efforts of Jem Russell, Jack Maynard and company to identify it. Hilda and Nell are tearing their hair out and Matey is fit to be tied!

We might have had to cancel the half term break anyway because transport is difficult all over but we certainly could not send children to unsuspecting homes carrying goodness knows what germ. They will have a good weekend of fun though the Juniors and Junior Middles are quarantined and not at all happy about it! Still what cannot be cured and all that. Must close and get on with telephoning the parents to tell them that their darlings will not be home until the Easter hols!

Much love to Gren and your good self, Rosalie

Late March

Dear all,

News from here is that Gren is fine and looking forward to getting out of Bridge of Earn and back to Glasgow at the weekend if the weather permits. She is able to sit up now so Dougie is bringing the brake and I am going with them to transfer her formally back to Rottenrow.

I’m sorry that the throat business doesn’t seem to be clearing and that little Margot has been so ill. Please tell Joey and Jack that she and they are in my prayers. I know the San and the local Health people have carried out all appropriate tests from throat swabs to checking the water and milk supplies all to no avail. Keep me informed. I really don’t like ailments which cannot be pinned down and, yes, Hilda, I do know that isn’t good grammar! Love, Meg

Postcard from the Chalet, early April

Meg, catastrophe! The drains are the problem, it will be a long haul and we may have to move! Nell

Postcard from Dunkeld, Easter weekend

Aaaarrrrgghhhh! Of course! Why on earth didn’t I think of that? Good luck with the flitting, Meg

Chalet School, St Briavel’s
Early May

Dear Meg,

I hope you are well and it is good to hear that Gren is making such good progress. It sounds such a simple thing, being able to describe a circlle with your foot without pain, but it has been so long since she could do that it must seem like a miracle.

We are now settling in to our new home on the Island and it does always seem to be said with capital letters, by the way! I must say it is a bit different and I am not at all sure that I like it.

Armishire may not be the most scintillating place in the world but at least one could escape to do some shopping, have a quiet coffee or go to the cinema in Armiford. On a free weekend it was possible to visit London. From here, it would be the ferry to Carnbach, bus to Swansea, train to Cardiff, then change for London and by the time you got there it would be time to come back!

Hilary Burn is keen to have boats and I must say I wouldn’t mind that myself. I was rather good when we were in Tyrol and it could at least give me the illusion that I could escape.

It does seem a bit odd not to have Madge and Jo somewhere at hand though staffroom opinion appears to agree that the Heads like it this way……..

Best wishes, Grizel

Mid May

Dear Grizel,

Oh, you poor soul! St Briavel’s does sound a bit on the wee side and rather dull in comparison to Armishire but, correct me if I am wrong, wasn’t your last trip to London to visit Gren when she was in King Edward’s? In 1945?

Anyway, Dolly is so looking forward to seeing you in summer and showing off the big handsome boy! He really is a sweetheart, full of smiles and chuckles and Dolly looks so well and happy.

…….. Love, Meg

Bracken Lodge

Dear Hilda and Nell,

How marvellous that you can join us for Goodwood! Maman and Papa will be delighted, and it does fit very neatly between the two weddings. The Marchmont cousins have a wonderful old house, with rooms galore and Aunt Millie is the most hospitable person I know. Although I still have my cane I am finding walking much easier and am thoroughly looking forward to my first proper visit to the races since before the War!

Sadly, we won’t be having Meg with us either for the races or for Mary or Gillian’s nuptials. Of course, she is studying for her final surgeon exams and working fulltime in a busy Casualty department. She hopes to move into one of the flats close to the Infirmary soon, too, so has her hands more than comfortably full at the moment.

What a terrible fright your young runaway gave you, and herself by all accounts! I’m glad she reached safe haven and I hope her reunion with her father is soon and sweet.

With love from Gren PS Dougie send his best wishes!



Dear Nell and Hilda,

……………………………..How very Jo-like! The house wall beginning to lean and her first worry is whether it will over shade her peonies! I hope they can shore up the foundations and pin the wall. It’s a beautiful house and she does love it.

I do feel for them all over young Margot but I can see the wisdom of keeping her in Canada for the winter. It will be good for Josette, too. She made a very good recovery from the scalding but I did always worry that there might be a problem at a later date. Being out of wet and windy west Wales will do none of them any harm!

Oddly enough, the doctor from whom I shall, God willing, inherit the flat is Canadian. It’s a very good thing for me as he has no interest in taking his Utility furniture with him so will sell it to me for a song! Auntie Mary is looking out for a decent bed-settee and then, cue drum roll, I can invite friends to stay!!.......................................... Love Meg



Dear Hilda and Nell,

How lovely that you can both come to bring in the New Year in Dundee! The family are really looking forward to meeting you and have all sorts of plans for your entertainment.

We’re all feeling a bit above ourselves as Kate gave us the shock of our lives at the British Legion Remembrance Concert on Friday. We knew that both she and Mickey were in the massed schools choir and there was a mention that she had a little solo bit. I was there with the Legion, of course, and the rest of the family turned up as usual to support the bairns and hear the bands. You could have knocked us down with a collective feather when the bold Kate stepped forward and sang, of all things, “Nearer My God To thee”, note perfect, word perfect and with the massed choir doing a harmonised humming effect behind her. I didn’t realise I was in tears till Sergeant McGurk passed me his handkerchief to dab my eyes!

It was a minor sensation in the neighbourhood for everyone except Kate whose only interest next morning was to get up to Uncle Bob’s allotment to check on her Brussel sprouts. Don’t be astonished if she wants to talk to you about plants, Nell…………… love, Meg

St Briavel’s

Dear Meg,

Just a brief note to let you know our travel plans. There were no sleepers available but we did manage to book seats so we shall be leaving London on the evening of the 30th with our train due to arrive in Dundee West Station at 7.30am on New Year’s Eve. I hope this is not too early for you.

Looking forward, with just a little trepidation, to enjoying a properly Scottish Hogmanay. God bless you, Hilda

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