7 May 1916

Yesterday, as I said I probably should, I sallied forth to see our new home.  The car which was to fetch me in the morning & take me round did not materialize so some other method had to be devised.  Riding was out of the question as distances were too great, so I accepted the offer of a lift on a car that was going there but could not bring me back, trusting to luck that I should find something this morning coming in the right direction that would give me a lift.  My new coat & a few washing things were all that I took with me & I reached my destination without mishap.  It is a very pretty little town that we are going to & I think we shall be very comfortable.  There is an interesting old belfry-gateway, & the ruined remains of a really beautiful old chateau.  Two or three towers & some lengths of very thick walls are still standing, while down the centre is one wall of the banqueting chamber with a row of eight windows – somewhat dilapidated but still worth a visit.  The whole ruins are surrounded by a deep moat planted with all manner of trees & shrubs, & in & out among the masonry are plants & flowers of all descriptions.  On the whole quite the best thing we have seen out here.  I had not however got much time to spend sight-seeing so hurried round in order to get a general idea of billets & then set out on foot for the next village, a matter of some three kilometres.  Curiously enough in this village I came across the very regiment to which a lot of our people went we first came out.  I had dinner with one of their Coy Messes – & a right royal feast it was, & then retired to bed in a somewhat dirty little attic.   In spite of the dirt I managed to sleep very satisfactorily & arose about six o’clock to the sound of reveille blown on a bugle – a noise that I have not heard for quite a long time.  It was raining a little as I set out for the next village, but nothing to hurt.  This was about five kilometres away but a small hamlet in between seemed to be a promising place for breakfast so I made a halt there.  Quite a delightful old lady at the first establishment provided me with the necessary water for my toilet, & followed this up with an omelette, plenty of bread & butter & a large bowl of black coffee.  Her charge for all that lot was 8d!   Needless to say she got a little more – the hot water alone was worth all that.   My last village proved as easy to billet as my first & second had been & it was not long before my job was ended.  I was now faced with the problem of how to get back.  I was off all the main roads, & nothing was at all likely to come my way, so I set out once more on shanks’ pony to walk to the nearest “lorry” road.  On my way I was fortunate enough to get a lift of about a mile on a private car, but the rest of it had to be walked.  Once on the main road it was not long before a lorry came along which carried me on for the next six miles, when I was again “on the road”.  This time I had walked two miles or so before anything turned up, but when it did it took me to within half a mile of the mess – so I was really in good luck.   Bonnassieux, I found when I got back, had gone off in an ambulance that he had managed to borrow in the hope of being able to find me and bring me back.  He had quite a joy ride for the day but of course failed to achieve his object.  When he did get back I had to dash off again & try & settle up with a hospital unit about their billets, a little judicious work behind the scenes with their mess president, & the production of a bottle of port, settled in a fairly short time, what no amount of arguing could have settled in a hundred years.  I am getting very sleepy so will cease to wave this pencil.

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