My dear Gertrude,
Two letters up with to-days mail, from you. The later of the two dated November 10 so the time of crossing has not been hastened as yet but I think it should not be long before it is down to 10 days or so. That however will not affect us much if you get away. You report receiving the cable on November 5 so it took 9 days to reach you, 2 days longer than a letter in peace time.
The term as "safe as houses" is quite a common English saying - hence the man I mentioned using it.
The long scarf you mention is in Doncaster, Mother asked me on leave if I wanted to take it back - but as I have a sweater & a very warm coat & we are living civilized lives again I did not bring it. We can discuss when we are together if it is worth your trouble to make it into a sleavless sweater or not.
It would be very nice indeed if Mrs Syd could cross with you & I hope that seeing the delay you are having she has decided to apply for a passport.
By the way the Colonel was in the Mess last night & said to me as we shook hands "Well, Beck I hope you'll be coming to me for that special leave soon". I think it will receive very considerate treatment when I do apply, even if about Christmas time, although I might have to wait till early in the New Year. Usually special leave is very hard to get, even for good reason until 2 months from ones last arrival in France, which would be January 24 in my case.
It seems very like a near departure to be talking of trunks & steamer rugs, It will certainly be best to send the big trunk on to "Braeside" direct.
Sorry Frank Stovs had to have a relapse but pleased to hear he was better again & getting to work. I wonder what his prospects are.
By the way the general opinion in France these days is that the greater part of the Army will be demobilized by the end of March & the whole except any army of occupation, which would be a regular army of course, by the end of May. If that is so, it will give you no more than time to make the visits you wish to. I don't know about Ireland - conditions are very unpleasant there. English troops have had very bad times there - one of Mrs Morris' brothers is stationed somewhere in the South West, & he says they lose at least 3 nights sleep a week through trouble in the town they are near.
You mention being careful about Christmas presents. I am afraid that between the uncertainties as to where you may be then, you may be without one. I arranged just before I left for some butterscotch to be sent to Port Elgin & also to the Stovs - the latter via 139 & that is all I have done regarding Christmas presents to date but I really must write some letters when I get my educational work going a little smoothly.
You mention Cousin Fanny - she was the eldest of the 3 sisters by many years, Cousin Bella is Mrs Hayward.
Evidently you did not recognize the "lots of love dear", it is Auntie Kate's usual way of closing a letter.
We had a big dinner in Mess on Saturday night - St. Andrew's Day - even got a piper, borrowed from a Battalion of the Camerons in the town.
I must close, although I had better go overpage to do so.
I have just taken over the duties of Mess Secretary today - on top of my other duties. The mess is running to a lot more money these days than under war conditions don't know if I will be able to keep expenses down somewhat or not.
Possible this may not reach you, except after a return across the Atlantic, but that won't be an undesirable delay.
Hope everything is going satisfactorily wherever it does reach you & you have good news all round.
With all my love