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Rushden Echo, Friday 26th October 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins
Miss R Morton

Local Teacher in the South
Former Newton Bromshold School Mistress - In the Channel Islands
Interesting Experiences

The following interesting letter is from Miss R Morton, formerly mistress of the Newton Bromshold school:-

Possibly the following facts about my experiences on an island not one hundred miles from England may be of interest to some of your readers. My journey there was only of average interest, and was—fortunately for me—undertaken throughout with a companion and comrade. A dear little, fresh-coloured, happy-faced sailor boy was in our carriage most of the way, who acted up to the best traditions of the Navy when so placed. He had been rescued from a raft some months ago, he said, as his ship had been torpedoed. It was difficult to associate tragedy with that happy boyish face. Our train did not take us to the docks, but we had to be packed like sardines in a tiny square closed carriage.

Here it was further demonstrated that the Army, like the Navy, consists of gentlemen. There was no room for me to sit, so a big man in khaki, of ripe years this time, and an officer (if not a commander), rose and offered me his seat. The roof was so low that he had to quite double up, and, seeing this, I involuntarily laughed, but thanked him earnestly and would not hear of incommoding him so. Then a woman dragged me on her lap, and the short trip was made in all friendliness, if not comfort. We arrived on board about ten p.m., had to show our passports and fill up two forms, one for immediate delivery, and the other when landing. We had an easy crossing and landed at six a.m. That afternoon my comrade and I visited the school secretary and principal. The latter showed us some quite modern light, and airy schools, and instructed us as to our classes and duties, among which was to teach French, one hour every day. We had tea with the secretary, who afterwards showed us his gardens and greenhouses, which were a surprise to us, being many and large, and full of the loveliest grapes and tomatoes. We had just been revelling in a big bunch of dark grapes for tea. He bade me gather some tomatoes for myself, as my friend does not like them. He then showed us a fig tree with green figs on.

By the way, I tasted my first raw ripe fig yesterday. I am afraid I prefer the preserved variety at present. They look like a dark green pear, but have faint parallel lines down, instead of the spotted appearance of our pears. When quite ripe, one side will be a dark, slightly ruddy brown colour. The inside is red, with a lot of tiny seeds in cases that appear to be stalked: the whole being fleshy and juicy. My fruit had the inner sutures just open. I looked at it with a feeling of distaste after I had bitten into it. I said it looked like a piece of half-raw foreign meat. My friend said the taste was like melon. I only know that it wasn’t as sweet as I expected. Our hostess says they make lovely jam.

We have lodgings by the sea, and such a pretty fifteen minutes walk to school each day, through lanes lined with now flowering tamarisk trees, and giving glimpses of sea and rocks as turn corners. We have had glorious weather these few days. The sun is quite hot upon me, as I sit on a pebbly beach and write. Some girls are going to bathe. They were hidden in a hole in the rocks until this moment. Now a soldier appears, towel under arm, looking round at me as he goes further off, with, I fancy, some doubt and disfavour. Then he sees the girls and the girls see him, and peep at him coyly from the shelter of their rocks. After all, he only paddles, but the girls are far in now, and emitting joyous cries. It is a very rocky coast here. It is a bay. There are rocky promontories and islands scattered about. I gathered some pink thrift flowers, also samphire seed and leaves from the rocks in one direction this morning, and noticed some patches of golden lichen. Hydrangeas and fuchsias grow luxuriantly in gardens. Pampas or silver grass is another plant I’ve noticed and we saw what we thought to be a kind of palm tree in flower in a garden on our first day. By the way, no one yet has been able to tell me what kind of flower the fig tree has. A responsible person says that what will be next year’s fig is like a bud and is on the tree now. I’m curious about it. Of course, there’s plenty of seaweed. We saw a garden manured with it last night. I specially enjoyed a walk by the sea one evening. There was a lovely sunset. The rocky coast and hilly wooded heights around were most picturesque. The sea reflected soft colours of the sky—mauve, pink, and gold. I was admiring these with rapture, when I became aware of an added beauty in the appearance of a new moon, faint at first, but brightly luminous long before I could tear myself away from the beauties of the scene.

I went shopping in the town yesterday. I saw some hot house grapes at 5d., and home-grown tomatoes at 3d. per lb. Figs are ½d. each, and a child showed six big apples it had bought for ½d. They say that coal is from £4 to £5 a ton, though. However, we don’t want much of that yet. On the whole, I feel very pleased with what my sister chose to call “a mad adventure.”

I have just come from my first church service here, which was all in French. I quite enjoyed it: following the familiar words and tunes in another tongue was so interesting! They spoke so clearly, too. One hymn was “Brief life is here our portion,” in French, and they finished up with “God save our Gracious King” just as we do, only also in French.

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