Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Red Poppy!

I cannot believe it has been a whole year since I posted here. So much for me blogging Rothwell and Hilda's postcards on a weekly basis. I shall get back to it week...

I haven't been procrastinating- really! I've been busy illustrating. My advance copies of The Red Poppy have arrived (always the most exciting mail package!) and our book launch is on the 14th March 6pm at The Children's bookshop in Kilbirnie. Nipper (Molly) the dog will be there for patting and photo opportunities plus we will be serving suitable rations. My son (trainee chef) is making red cross Battenburg biccies especially. He made a trial batch, they looked great and tasted delicious. Plus of course I think ANZAC biscuits will be mandatory!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A trip planned!

Rothwell's postcards were much more frequent than my blog postings I have to say; he didn't need to scan each one, arrange them, decipher them and upload them. He just had the eagerness of a young man in love to keep him motivated, and he obviously knew Hilda shared his passion. Such confidence!

Speaking of confidence, this blog has suddenly taken on a new meaning for me. I've been contracted to illustrate a poignant ANZAC story by David Hill , to be published by Scholastic for 2012.  It all came about through a wonderful song about a little red poppy written in Canada by Rob Kennedy. This is a moving story set in Flander's field in WW1. I am knee deep in army uniform research at the moment and it seems serendipitous that I should have taken such an interest in this old album of postcards from a man about to go to war...

18 Broadway, Kettering
June 12th 1914

Nz Pxo (my own) Ebsmjoh (Darling)

Thank you for your V. nice welcome letter, which I will answer in due course.
I am writing now to tell you that I am coming to see you on Thursday next: My train arr. St Panchras (next door to Kings X) at 4.30. Meet me there when I arrive- my own dear sweet angel, I can see your darling eyes glistening with joy as you read this.
I really can stand this no longer, so this evening, went to station & to my great glee, I find it only costs 4/3 retn. Will make all detailed arrangements in my letter.
I now think it is impossible for me to spend a week with you in the holidays. Mine will probably be just over when yours begin. At any rate I must come for the August Bk Holdy wk end. Don’t arrange re Batley until my date is fixed, Dadie: The whole of our holiday list will have to be rearranged, I expect.
Are not those P.C’s fine: the 4 best are yet to come. Abundance of love from Rothwell.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

June 1914 and a rainy day

I thought I'd start posting some of the wartime 'funnies' as we get closer to the time Rothwell was enlisted. There is a wonderful collection of very non politically correct cards in Grandmother's postcard album- this is the mildest.

Meanwhile we find Rothwell a little must be the weather, or being away from his dearest Dadie.

18 Broadway, Kettering
June 11th .14

Ma bien aimee,
At this moment I feel tired languid and sad: the weather is enough to make anyone melancholy. It was a glorious morning but now it is raining again. I have no news Dadie Darling. Since I wrote, nothing has happened. I got off at 1.340 today; I had thought of going to Northampton this afternoon to hear the Coldstream Guards full Band, but did not get out in time. I’m glad I did not go now. I wonder where you are at this moment Dadie. I do hope it is not raining at Barnet too, so that you have to stay in, for you don’t get much chance of fresh air & freedom. I hope you enjoy your day in Town on Saturday. Remember me to Auntie. They must have named this village after me. I have not been there yet: it is 4 miles from here. The crypt of the church is stacked with human bones. I shall cycle out sometime. I have 6 cards to send you yet- of Wookton Church, and the remaining 5, of wonderful monuments of the Montague family which are in there. Tea is ready. Goodbye my angel.
Love etc from yr own Rothwell.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

June 4th-9th 1914

It's been more than a month since I posted; I've been busy doing other things- I sound like Rothwell now- will he ever get around to finishing a proper letter for Dadie? Warning, these postcards contain harsh words for a snooping landlady...


18 Broadway, Kittering
June 4th 1914

Nz pxo (my own) efbs Ebsmjoh (dear Darling), nz Usfbtusf, (my treasure)
Again it is only a mere P.C that I am sending you! Still dear Dadie, please be patient, for I have really had no time. As yet, have only sent a P.C home since my arrival. Was intending to start your letter this evening, but I unpacked instead. Am not straight yet even. Got off at 2 o/c today. Cycled to Wellingboro’ & back this afternoon- Went to Northants Agricultural Show. It was a nice change but I wish I could have had you with me. Do write a nice long letter soon, my angle. Have not heard a word from a soul yet. Heaps of love etc. Votre Rothwell.

18 Broadway, Kittering
June 9th 1914

Nz pxo Mpwf (my own Love)
Nz Ebsmjoh (My Darling)

I am still on the P.C game- there are 8 more to come yet- the best ones too. Have not had time to get letter off; it is half-written at present, and I shall continue it tonight & probably post it tomorrow night. Have just written to Earnest – I must write home soon. This morning I printed photos- also got my things straight for the first time. Now…

(next postcard)

...perhaps I shall have time for writing to my little Dadie. It is about 4.30, & I have not been out today yet. I don’t think I will go to church tonight, but go for a walk instead & get on with your letter too.
I do wish there was some prospect of seeing you Dadie- if only you could get out on Sundays! (I hope Mrs. P reads this- how shocked she would be! But perhaps in future she would not meddle with other people’s private correspondence- just like a kid on b who knows no better) Must get to post now Darling. Heaps of love etc from votre Rothwell

and I'd love to know what a kid on 'b' is!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wesley House, Bury St E.
April 11th 1914

Nz Pxo (own) Bohfm (Angel),

Nz (My) Txffu (sweet) mjuumf (little) Dadie,
Arrived here safely at about 9pm- found that Percy had been on my train from Combs. Grace met us. Gordon & Jack are here- & Bertha from Bps Stortford- Have announced my firm decision to be back at Baldock by 8.10pm Monday. I do wish you were here my Dearie: I should be satisfied then. It is just striking midnight. This bridge is very old, part of the monastery. It is nice to be home again, but I am lonely. Goodnight Dearest. Ifbqt & Ifbqt (lots & lots) of mpwf (love) & hjttft (kisses) from your own Rothwell.

and then two sent seperately to join together:
Baldock April 6th 1914

Nz Pxo (own) Ebsmjoh (Darling) Bohfm (Angel),
Efbsftu (Dearest) Hilda,
You will rec. these two P.C’s tomorrow evening: Take care of them as they are two of your 60. How excited you will be now Dearie!!! I have been down at Masons’ from 6.30- 9. o/c  
this evening- so am pleased have not had the chance of brooding on the slowness of time: the remaining 2 days…

next postcard

… will pass very quickly now, my love. I will meet you as arranged 9.19pm; am longing for that hour to arrive. Mind you get a mhbd (nice) gzs (hat), one that I shall like.
Dearest, please do be dbsfgvm (careful) jo (in) London- both of the traffic, and of people! I am always worrying the whole ujmf (time) xijmtu (whilst) you are usbwfmmjoh (travelling) alone and am always glad to see you safe home.
Efbsftu (Dearest) of Bohfmt (Angels), I am terribly excited. Good night, Darling- Heaps & heaps of love & kisses
From Your own Rothwell.

I hope Hilda got a very nice chapeau for this much anticipated meeting!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

March 1914

Baldock Mar 10th ‘14

My Efbsftu, (Darling)
It has since occurred to me that I should much prefer blue, to match your scarf, but please yourself of course. I should like you to get a blue one though, Dadie. Am going to Westell’s nature lecture at P.O at Letchworth tomorrow. Bailey’s have taken a box for it.
Mpwf & ljttft (love & kisses) from Your own Rothwell

No pressure for the blue Hilda...
I realised I missed the one below so have included it before we get to far into 1914!

Baldock Dec 16th 1913

Lx Cdzqcrs (My Dearest) ‘Hildear’,
Am very sorry that I shall be unable to meet you on Friday (if you are returning then) So you ask Auntie to send down for you; you must not walk unless you are obliged to Ebejf (Dadie).
Will cycle up on Friday as soon as I can. Your P.C is awaited. Be a good girl; you will be very excited now I know. Goodbye Ifbqt & Ifbqt of hjttft (heaps & heaps of kisses) & love from Votre (your) Rothwell

I love that Rothwell is so certain that Hilda is barely able to contain herself at the thought of his arrival. What a confident 19 year old he was!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

February 25th 1914

Now their code gets trickier- they swap some letters about so that Efbsftu and Cdzqdrs both spell ‘Dearest’ which can best be seen if you lay two alphabets together and offset them by a letter. At this point in time, they are just having fun with the code because there are clearly no state secrets hiding there (or naughtiness!)

Baldock: Feb 25th 1914

Ma bien aimée : (my good love) I am afraid I shall not be able to get a letter off until Friday: I have not had a chance to start yet, but am going to tonight. Udqx nboz sgzmjr gps (very many thanks for) yours of Thursday last- Saturday. It was such a sweet one Dadie!!! You never told me you are on duty this week- Good Luck Dearest!!! You need not post me a letter on Sat. as I shall be away- so that you will have more time on Sunday & I am sure you have not much time this week. I should write to Trumans now, I think so that you can get their form filled in & send it back to them by next week. Good-bye, Heaps of kisses & usual love from Yr. Rothwell

Baldock March 2 1914 11.50pm

Cdzqdrs ne Bohfmt, (Dearest of -1 dozen- angels) ma bien aimée, (my good love) Dadie,
Thank you very much for your very nice letter of yesterday. I promised I would start writing you tonight, but I have not been able to get going. I ibwf tfou gps zpvs (have sent for your Easter present) this evening, Dadie, my Darling. I know you will like it. Our Inspector cleared on Saturday. I enjoyed the weekend immensely & I think I have a lot of news for you. Le sera demain le trios (will it be three tomorrow) in 3 week’s time- how lovely!!! Am quite impatient. I shall be disappointed if I am moved before Easter- Will write a soon as I possibly can. Mpwf & Ljtt gspn (love & kiss from) Your own Rothwell.

wow...his three grandsons could do with using 'Dearest of 1 dozen angels' from time to time (just speaking on behalf of the wives here...). I'm wondering if I will find a message in code tucked under my coffee cup;  epou gpshfu up qvu uif opnqptu pvu my love...