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  The Lady Jean Fforde  

His Grace the Duke of Montrose
Chief of Clan Graham

FEET ON THE GROUND is a continuation and expansion of the memoirs begun in Castles in the Air. This book has as its base the Isle of Arran, home to The Lady Jean, and once one of Scotland's foremost sporting estates.

In this book she ranges further afield - to London and her days as a debutante: to her wartime work at Bletchley Park and in India with the Red Cross.

Her marriage to John Fforde necessitated her going with her husband to live in Palestine, Sierra Leone and Northern Rhodesia respectively, and recalls her visits to brother Angus in Southern Rhodesia. Her visits to Monaco when she was in Europe are also recorded here.

The tragic loss of not one, but two castles is described in detail, and this was when her financial problems came to a head.

Despite an abnormally difficult life, her sense of humour never fails, even in the most trying circumstances. She shows courage and a huge degree of resilience through all adversity. The Lady Jean is still resident on the Isle of Arran.

His Grace the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon

Excerpt (Prelude)

"It was a typical Scottish summer's day. Quite warm with mist driving past the windows. I wondered what to do, you couldn't garden in this weather. I didn't really want to walk the dogs, and have to dry two collies. I decided I'd be useful, and go upstairs and clean out a chest of drawers and some old cupboards. They needed it badly.

The first drawer held nothing much, some clothes that didn't fit, and little bags that had once contained mothballs. They needed refilling, so I put them to one side. Then a few odd bits and pieces - a book about exercising, a book about losing weight. These I threw out!
I opened the next drawer.

There! Memories! Memories of a long time ago. Eighty years. There were six beautiful shell-pink ostrich feathers. Sir Abe Bailey had given them to me. He was a famous entrepreneur in South Africa that my parents and I had met when we were out there in 1932. He gave some mottled ones to my mother. We had mine dyed, curled at the ends, and then mounted on a mother-of-pearl handle as a fan, which I was to carry with me eventually when I was presented at Court in 1939.

Lying beside them were the beautiful long white kid gloves, that had reached up to between my elbow and my shoulder which were to be worn at Court and later to a Ball given in honour of Princess Olga, the Duchess of Kent's sister. They had hardly been used more than two or three times, in fact, and they were of very, very good quality. I tried to see if I could fit my hand in but my hands have thickened so, I could hardly get my fingers in. Next door to that was a box inwhich weretwo sets of Prince of Wales' feathers, the head-dresses which we had both worn when Mother presented me at Court. I sat for a while reflecting on the changes which have taken place through these last eighty years, and on the life I lead now - so totally different from the one I enjoyed then."