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Mike's Blog - Day 52

VE day.

Not a very good plant picture today, but this Camellia rarely catches any frost damage in a sheltered dell behind the monkey puzzle.

We have also planted a tender plant from Chile here as it’s so sheltered and it’s doing well, just in bud so pictures of Embothrium coccineum to follow in due course.

We are fortunate to have such a fine old monkey puzzle in the garden. It was planted approx. 150 years ago by the family who lived in Hollingside House at the time, the Roberts family possibly. They certainly lived there earlier last century. What a grand house it must have been with servants, stables and views across to Mt Oswald and the country house that stood where Collingwood College stands today, much like “Downton Abbey”!

Those views have gone now that the trees around the hillock where the monkey puzzle was planted have grown tall.

If you ever explore behind the Monkey Puzzle you will find a gravestone carved with the initials F J R. As I understand it, this is for Major Frederick John Roberts (“Freddie”). His family buried some of his uniform there after he was killed in France.

He is buried in France and a few years ago I was visiting some war graves with a friend and we made a detour on our way back to Dunkirk to visit the cemetery where he is buried. It was on the outskirts of a small rural village by a farm as I remember. A fairly small cemetery compared to those we had seen around Ypres, but just like the rest, very solemn places indeed. This cemetery, as many, were sites where field hospitals and clearing centres had been built during the conflict.

Here is the link to the cemetery. The history is there too:

https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/16500/chocques-military-cemetery/.

This is the link to Major Robert's record:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/167052/ROBERTS,%20FREDERICK%20JOHN.