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November 2023 News - All our News from The Somme
November, November, where did you go? The month has past by here in a blur of activity.
So, what has been going on this November?
The weather has been wet, wet, wet! The wettest November we can remember for ages. Oh, and not forgetting Storm Ciaran who blew in with a savage intensity. Luckily, no damage here, but the Pas De Calais just north of us has seen some of the worst flooding for a generation. It also blew down some of the large trees in Newfoundland Park. We have had the odd, chilly, blue-sky day thrown in and even our first frosts of the winter. The light has sometimes been exquisite, the rain bringing clouds and rainbows and the mists bringing a surreal, ethereal beauty as we look across our beautiful landscape. Still the farmers toil, the tractors clogged with mud, deep ploughing and reseeding in evidence. Final crops such as sugar beet have been collected. The landscape while the same, changes its quilt for winter, already a green hue from new seedlings.
What poetry has inspired us this month?
October 2023 - Summer gives way to Autumn ….All The News from No.fifty6.
October– we normally talk of mellow mists and fruitfulness for an October Somme and while this is true for the last week, summer stubbornly held on for the first half of October with warm, sunny days and perfect light. . which is confusing Mother Nature. We kept saying the weather is bonkers. Guests were wearing shorts and sunhats and sitting on the terrace. Now though, the heating is on and it is time to get Autumn cosy. The farmers are busy – potatoes and sugar beet being harvested and already The Somme has a green coat of new crop carpeting its contours, compared with the deep brown of those that have just been ploughed and wait the next sowing. There is a quality to the light in October which is very specific to the month. Lower sun means the light is more golden, softer, gentler, as if winter is being held back as long as possible. We have had some beautiful sunrises and sunsets too.
As usual, there has been a lot going on this month and life at no.fifty6 keeps us busy but happy.
Knowing our love for poetry, one of our many guests this month put us onto this poem. “Ici Repose”.
Bill Pinfold visited with friend David Middleton. Bill wrote after his visit:
September 2023 - Autumn with Sunshine Begins on The Somme, Stories to Tell
September – a favourite month of ours - not quite Summer,not quite Autumn, but you can see the season changing before your eyes. We have had mixed weather this month, some rain, but mainly unseasonably warm weather, more like July than early September (35 degrees) and then days of a super 23 degrees to finish the month. However, it is clear Autumn is knocking. The light is more golden, the sun setting earlier over the valley and rising later. The fields take on a different hue. The potatoes, onions and sugar beet are being harvested and winter crops are now being sown. The bees busy on the asters and ivy, the last pollen before winter.
It was on a lovely September evening that we joined our guests Ian and Janet Lyall and Janet’s sister Christine at Authuille Cemetery. It is a Cemetery they get drawn back to time and again and on their visits, most evenings, they sit by the Cross of Sacrifice and have a drink with the boys.
August 2023 - A month of Good Things and Sad News – Life's Twists and Turns
Posted on 31st August 2023
by Julie and David Thomson
in General News.
August - Oh, where do we start this month? There are things to say, which we don’t want to write as if not writing them will make them not true. But they are. We have lost a good friend and a good chicken this month. There we’ve said it. Now let’s push it away and write about it later.
August - a mixed bag of weather. Some dry, dusty days, others stormy and days filled with rainclouds. France pauses for holidays (not a month to get anything administrative done), farmers still toil. And as always, wonderful, interesting guests find their way to our door, eager to explore the wonderful history and landscape around us.
The landscape is now golden and brown, not green and fertile. The wheat harvest is over, replaced by hay bales dotting the landscape. Already, Mash Valley has been ploughed and reseeded, making the most of the sunshine and showers. Potatoes have been sprayed to kill off the leaf and put all the energy into the secret orbs beneath the soil. Maize grows tall and sugar beet waits for its later harvest, growing fat and sweet. The cycle of nature continuing.
There has been much to keep us busy this month and much for us to ponder and think about as we work here and look over that amazing rolling landscape.
July 2023 No.fifty6 News: Commemorations, Harvest Time, Personal Pilgrimages.
Posted on 31st July 2023
by Julie and David Thomson
in General News.
July - Mid-point of the year so it is appropriate we looked back and forward this month. The weather has been a real mixed bag, commemorations kept us busy, farmers kept busy harvesting, wonderful guests, and as always things keeping us busy but happy at No.fifty6.
The iconic day of 1st July brought rain, and while there have been lovely summer days, it feels like there has been more rain than an average July. While most of southern Europe has had a devastating heatwave, our temperatures have been normal, and we are thankful for that. It seemed only yesterday the fields were bare brown earth, then verdant growth like the Somme was coated in a green banket, but the farmers began harvesting the wheat from mid July – Le Moisson – The Harvest. All around us the fields are golden with wheat stalks, the precious grain collected by the harvesters, much needed to feed this war-torn world. The stalks are rolled into bales and soon the cycle of ploughing and reseeding the next crop will begin. The cycle of life in the fields which saw so much death and destruction continues.
Of course, each day in July we can’t help but think of each day being another marking the Battle of The Somme. The headstones mark the days like a calendar, with no July day being exempt from commemorating someone’s loved one. So on July 4th we thought about Alan Seeger. His poem “I Have a Rendezvous with Death”, is one which resonates so clearly in July.