AVRILíS NEWSLETTER Ė JUNE 07

 

WEDNESDAY

 

Here we are again at Avrilís in the first week of June, and as we all know, what a glorious place it is to be at anytime, but particularly in the early Summer Ė lovely sunshine, a cooling wind, the garden looking really colourful; the poppies are especially stunning.

 

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Most of you will recognise the poppies as being on the roadside bank between Samís Abode and the pond.And it was from that sunken corner of the garden that I heard Avrilís voice greeting me as I arrived, a couple of afternoons ago.After a couple of hours of hard driving, by just walking into Avrilís front garden, I had slipped into the most wonderful sleepy, summer afternoon, where the world was at peace, and Avril, looking very well herself, was tending the garden.If I had had any doubt as to why I head in this direction when the opportunity of holidays comes around, and I certainly had none, then they would have been utterly dispelled in these few moments.And if youíre not sure how to relax, someone will show you how..

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Not the first to make herself comfortable at Samís Abode while the eponymous sentry is absent.

 

 

A look into the visitorís log for the last couple of months shows further ties with Avrilís adopted archaeology group, No Manís Land.Whilst only Luke stayed with Avril this time round, the whole band turned up for dinner every day, and several convivial evenings were spent whilst partaking of Avrilís good food and making valiant attempts at drinking Avrilís beer barrels dry.No Manís Land were putting extra work into the Thiepval Wood trenches that they had been previously been excavating in the spring and autumn of last year.

 

Now I am about the farthest you can get from being an expert on Great War ammunition, but even I recognised straightaway, that Avrilís display in the tearoom was a lot better than before; very clean and tidy.Well, you didnít think that Luke was going to have stayed here, without putting his skills to good use, did you?He was the perfect person for Avril to have go through her collection of Great War items, which I believe had been housed in the shed next to the chickens.Luke advised Avril to keep just a couple of good examples of each thing, and sell the rest.But things did not go quite according to plan.One or two items were not quite as harmless as first thought, and the bomb disposal expert always on hand with the No Manís Land group thought that said items should be removed officially.When they were, it seems that rather a lot of Avrilís collection went with it.Consequently, although Ocean Villas is now a really, really safe place to stay, our beloved hostess is not going to be making her fortune through the sale of Great War memorabilia.She has been told that no one should be selling nose cones anymore; she wonít be, but neither should you be drawn into buying from anyone else.The funny thing was that I had also had a feeling that the back of the chicken shed looked tidy as well, although I couldnít put my finger on what had been done; Lukeís influence again, of course.

 

The Durant group have also been back in the area Ė mainly centering their efforts on the German tunnels at Y Ravine.However, Avril is hopeful that they will be investigating further underground possibilities on her property in due course.

 

Andy Robertshaw dropped in again fairly recently, and he is in a much happier frame of mind now that he works for the Royal Logistical Corps, and is developing strong ties with the Imperial War Museum.He is a very welcome visitor to Avril as he continually inspires her in her many projects Ė after all, we all need to have some outside encouragement, no matter how well it may look that we are doing.

 

 

Sometimes Avril gets an e-mail from someone who wonders if she can solve a mystery, or give information.Iím surprised she gets the time, but this morning Avril said she needed to go to the cemetery at Doullens to get a photo of a headstone.Naturally when offered the chance to go along, I was definitely up for

 

it.It was in the cause of one of those interesting stories that you happen upon from time to time.A lady in North Wales had bought a book of Common Prayer, issued to one soldier, and inscribed by him inside was a message confirming his gift of said book to another soldier who had been of great comfort to him whilst they were both at Puchevillers hospital.We were looking for the soldier who is believed to be the original owner of the Prayer Book.If we have found the right person, he seems to have survived that particular hospital visit, only to die of wounds about a year later.The lady that bought the book, has I believe, tracked down descendents of the original owner, and sent them the book.

 

THURSDAY

 

At the time of the previous newsletter, the breeding season at Avrilís establishment was about to begin.Now it is finished, and with a degree of success.From eight of her ewes, Avril now has thirteen lambs, having lost only one through birth problems.However, it is now time to introduce you to the exquisitely named ĎLarryí the lamb.This poor young chap was born to a ewe that was rather too small to give birth comfortably, and in the ensuing struggle to bring Larry into the world, he suffered a broken legÖ

 

But here I have to interrupt to let you know the very latest happening at chez Avril.This morning, I am using the kitchen table to rest my laptop on, and only about ten minutes ago, I began to be aware of a faint noise to my right.From the direction of the incubator!Avrilís last comment about the eggs therein was that she thought their potential was exhausted.But here was the living proof that for once she was off the mark.When I got up and had a look, my gaze was met by one very newly born chick, completely out of its shellÖ

 

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And there we have the latest arrival, first of all in the incubator, and then in the safe haven of Avrilís hand.

 

Ok, after that excitement, back to ĎLarryí the lamb.The unfortunate thing was that as well as the leg being broken, it also became infected.He had to be removed from his mother, to be looked after very carefully, and thanks to Avrilís TLC, he is making great strides, although not yet with his bad leg.He is being bottle-fed

it.It was in the cause of one of those interesting stories that you happen upon from time to time.A lady in North Wales had bought a book of Common Prayer, issued to one soldier, and inscribed by him inside was a message confirming his gift of said book to another soldier who had been of great comfort to him whilst they were both at Puchevillers hospital.We were looking for the soldier who is believed to be the original owner of the Prayer Book.If we have found the right person, he seems to have survived that particular hospital visit, only to die of wounds about a year later.The lady that bought the book, has I believe, tracked down descendents of the original owner, and sent them the book.

 

THURSDAY

 

At the time of the previous newsletter, the breeding season at Avrilís establishment was about to begin.Now it is finished, and with a degree of success.From eight of her ewes, Avril now has thirteen lambs, having lost only one through birth problems.However, it is now time to introduce you to the exquisitely named ĎLarryí the lamb.This poor young chap was born to a ewe that was rather too small to give birth comfortably, and in the ensuing struggle to bring Larry into the world, he suffered a broken legÖ

 

But here I have to interrupt to let you know the very latest happening at chez Avril.This morning, I am using the kitchen table to rest my laptop on, and only about ten minutes ago, I began to be aware of a faint noise to my right.From the direction of the incubator!Avrilís last comment about the eggs therein was that she thought their potential was exhausted.But here was the living proof that for once she was off the mark.When I got up and had a look, my gaze was met by one very newly born chick, completely out of its shellÖ

 

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And there we have the latest arrival, first of all in the incubator, and then in the safe haven of Avrilís hand.

 

Ok, after that excitement, back to ĎLarryí the lamb.The unfortunate thing was that as well as the leg being broken, it also became infected.He had to be removed from his mother, to be looked after very carefully, and thanks to Avrilís TLC, he is making great strides, although not yet with his bad leg.He is being bottle-fed

every four hours or so, and if Avril doesnít quite get there in time, Larry is sure to let her know in no uncertain terms.Never can anyone remember such a loud cry from a lamb, and Iím not sure if the rooster thinks he might be out of a job.To see Larry belting across the back yard is a joy to behold, and at top speed, having only three legs working does not seem to hold him back in the slightest.Apparently it seems he is unlikely to be able to put his foot to the ground for another month, so full success can only be monitored after that.However, his fighting spirit has earned him a safe future Ė Avril has determined that Larry will be staying with†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††.††††††††† July07image012.jpg†††††††††††††††††††LambNippleSmallimage010 copy.gif

her for the rest of his life.Above, you can see him in full enthusiastic feeding action.

 

As mentioned previously, there are a dozen other lambs on site, and here is a photo of the other hand fed lamb, Bambi.

 

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Bambiís mother is Megan, who in turn is a daughter of Libby, who at eight years old is Avrilís oldest ewe.Snowy, whom you may remember was temporarily lame at the time of the previous newsletter, is now the mother of two strong and healthy lambs herself.

Not counting this morningís surprise arrival, the headcount for chicks this year was ten from four mothers, whom even Avril admits are vicious, and three hand-reared.A couple of the ten were lost before this week, and unfortunately the mothers set upon another of the chicks yesterday, and were not satisfied until they had killed it.So todayís arrival is particularly welcome.

 

The cat population remains at six Ė I think this is said in a state of relief that the number has not increased, although apparently not for the lack of trying by yet another outsider.

 

 

The dog population nearly decreased by one.About six weeks ago, Bonnie strayed onto the Rue Delattre, and was hit by a vehicle.Bonnie suffered a very badly broken leg; however, the attendant vet was absolutely amazing, and gave the stricken dog the best possible help.Bonnie had to have a metal plate inserted into her leg; but Avril was told that if Bonnie was restrained for six weeks or so, by that time she could be taken for walks.The great news is that Bonnie has made a complete recovery Ė you just wouldnít guess that anything had been wrong.And she isnít short of walks, being a resident also seems to qualify you for a place on the walk rota.However, Avrilís sofa has suffered greatly Ė an enthusiastic young Labrador, confined to barracks is going to get a touch boredÖ

 

 

Yesterday Avril received a very agreeable package from the people at Talbot House in Poperinghe.Contained inside were a particularly friendly letter, some excellent pamphlets for Talbot House, and best of all, a copy of their recently produced publication that has been put together from the memorabilia of Tubby Clayton.This is a welcome addition to Avrilís library, and though will not take too long to read, will Iím sure, be very enjoyable and interesting.For those of you that have not visited Talbot House, this book and the pamphlets will certainly influence you to make the pilgrimage as soon as possible.It is an incredibly moving place to visit.

 

 

The main news of the previous newsletter was about the Wall of Remembrance.The momentum for this important project is gradually building, though naturally a lot has to go on behind the scenes before things take off more publicly.But take off is exactly what is hoped will happen at the chosen time, as Avril has only had encouragement where the wall is concerned.

 

A committee has been formed and has had its inaugural meeting.An association has also to be set up, and Avril and her son Mark will be attending a meeting with the accountant to that effect towards the end of the month.A supplier of the bricks is being sought, with a good possibility showing its face in that direction, but as yet, costings still have not been worked out, and as everyone must

 

 

 

appreciate, that is the keystone upon which everything else will bear out.All that can really be said right now is WATCH THIS SPACE!

 

One of the points made at the first committee meeting was that the Wall had to be given priority over the museum and the other projects that Avril has for her complex across the road.When the idea of the wall first came about, it was rather thought of as a moneymaking sideshow for the museum.Now Avril and most of us she has talked to have come to realise that the Wall is if anything, more important than the museum, and will be the project that draws people to the area.And then, if paid the respect it so clearly deserves, will really be the source of funding to everything else that Avril wants to achieve, the museum, the wonderful collection waiting to inhabit it, the completion of the reproduction trenches, the excavation of more original trenches, and ultimately the whole complex being one devoted to Ďliving history.í

 

 

SATURDAY

 

Two days on, and I am very pleased to report that our successfully incubated chick has now been placed under one of the brooding hens outside, and they have already achieved the mother-child bonding necessary.It really is one of those life-affirming moments.

 

The big day is on the horizon again!Yes, itís less than a month to the 1st July.This year, Avril will be opening up her barn on the opposite side of the road, and a bar within will provide baguettes and bottles of beer for refreshment throughout the day.Everyone is welcome to enjoy the fare, and meet with whomever is doing likewise.As regards entertainment, the Somme Battlefield Pipe Band will be playing at Avrilís during the afternoon, at an as yet unspecified time.

 

 

Jon.