Today I’m storming up the M1 with Robert to Swaledale in Yorkshire. Specifically to Keld, the village where Rupert Hart-Davis had so many happy holidays with his mistress. They moved there eventually when he retired and was able to marry her.

There might be wifi in our cottage, or then again there might not. There will certainly be excellent walks and, I expect, a splash or two of rain to keep the Swaledale sheep moist. Their milk is used, not exclusively, in Swaledale cheese. I wonder if Robert and I will be as well suited to the terrain as them?

Well suited to the exposed regions in which they predominantly live, the Swaledales are very hardy, thick coated, able bodied, and bold. The ewes make excellent mothers and are known for being able to rear lambs well, even in adverse conditions. They are of a medium build, with black faces marked with bright white around the nose and eyes, and both males and females grow curled horns, however the males horns are much larger. Their coats are thick and very coarse, and are considered a uniform white or off-white colour. The sheep are also known for their tender and good-flavoured lamb and mutton. (Wikipedia)

I have not seen the film Dunkirk and don’t intend to. My holiday reading, though, is on the subject. Sword of Bone, The Phoney War and Dunkirk 1940. It is Anthony Rhodes’ account of his service with the BEF in France and his evacuation from Dunkirk. It was first published in 1942 when it must have been fresh in his mind. It opens promisingly.

“Three of our officers have just got married,” said the officer who welcomed me at the mess. “Seems like war doesn’t it?”

It was the 3rd of September 1939 and it seemed more like war two days later when a general visited us and addressed the troops for a quarter of an hour.

“Officers and men,” he said. “The test has come and we are at war. The enemy is strong and cunning but we can defeat him. You fellows are now going to put your knowledge – and all your courage – and all your training to the test, the acid test – of war,” he said sternly. ” … I know you will not fail, you are all Englishmen.

There were two Welshmen in my section who were very offended by this …

You can see where the material for Dad’s Army came from.

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