Latest News

As passionate hosts and historians, we’ll be writing regular articles about the past, present and future events at No.fifty6 and the Somme.

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July at No.fifty6 – Record temperatures, personal reflections and harvest time

Posted on 31st July 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

July at No.fifty6 – Record temperatures, personal reflections and harvest time "I hear a voice that grieves for battle’s fruitless harvest." Siegried Sassoon.

The farmers have been harvesting in a month that has been dry, blue skies and very, very hot. Record temperatures with an unprecedented 42 degrees here, too, too hot. The ground is arid and golden. Just before the heatwave last week the farmers toiled night and day to bring in the wheat and barley harvest. There have even been field fires through Picardie as any little spark can ignite the arid crop stalks. An entire field behind Mouquet Farm has been turned to black ash due to a fire.
We have had a busy month, always stories to tell and among the many smiles and much laughter there is sad rabbit news.

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June at No.fifty6 – wild winds, heatwaves, peace remembered and many a story

Posted on 30th June 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

June at No.fifty6 – wild winds, heatwaves, peace remembered and many a story When it is peace, then we may view again
With new won eyes each other's truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving kind and warm
We'll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm,
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.
Charles Hamilton Sorley 1895-1915

The weather has thrown everything at us this month, majestic electrical storms, wild winds, downpours of rain and then the second half of the month – unbroken sunshine and we end the month with a heatwave and record June temperatures. A gentle breeze this week has kept us sane while the rest of France is really suffering but it is too hot to be out for long unshaded.
This month guests have come with their stories to tell, pilgrimages to be made, and we have commemorated the Centenary of the Peace Treaty.
The extract from the poem above – Soldier and War Poet Sorley was killed at the Battle of Loos but his words ring true today as peace is more important than ever.
As you receive this month’s newsletter, ceremonies will be taking place across The Somme to mark the 103rd anniversary of the start of The Battle of The Somme.

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May at No.fifty6 – May has brought many surprises and stories to tell

Posted on 31st May 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

May at No.fifty6 – May has brought many surprises and stories to tell May - “Here, leave desolate, passionate hands to spread
Violets, roses, and laurel with the small sweet twinkling country things
Speaking so wistfully of other Springs
From the little gardens of little places where son or sweetheart was born and bred.
In splendid sleep, with a thousand brothers
To lovers—to mothers
Here, too, lies he:
Under the purple, the green, the red,
It is all young life…” (Charlotte Mew, poet 1869-1928)

May is a capricious month – promises of summer, but hanging on to spring and changeable weather. Spring flowers and rapeseed give way to poppies and wheat. Some hot days, some chilly and wet, now getting more stable with pleasant May weather. May begins and ends with Fete Days in France on 1st May you give friends muguet – lily of the valley, to bring happiness, and the month ends with Ascension Day. It has been an extraordinary month with lots going on, stories to tell, only marred by one sad chicken story.

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April at No.fifty6 – Spring is here and with it many stories to tell

Posted on 30th April 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

April at No.fifty6 – Spring is here and with it many stories to tell April - Hush, thrush! Hush, missen-thrush, I listen...
I heard the flush of footsteps through the loose leaves,
And a low whistle by the water's brim. (Wilfred Owen)

April brings spring in full glory here. The dawn chorus is in full voice, the daffodils give way to tulips and many of the fields are bright yellow with rape/colza. The weather has seesawed between hot and sunny with drinks on the terrace to wet, cold and very windy. Whatever the weather has brought us, the history of the Somme and the extraordinary events here have captured many of our guests this month with many thought provoking and poignant moments shared by all those who gather round our table. No one leaves the Somme unmarked by their experience here. It is like the men whose stories we can only begin to tell want everyone to take a piece of this place back in their hearts with them…

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March at No.fifty6 - Winter Blows Out and Spring Breezes In

Posted on 31st March 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

March at No.fifty6 - Winter Blows Out and Spring Breezes In March, always capricious has been a month of two halves weather-wise. The first half was wet, windy and chilly. We had a week of windstorms with gusts up to 100km/h which saw tree damage and electricity lines down in many parts of the Somme. Luckily, apart from a few wayward branches on our trees and a few roof slates, (now repaired) we had no lasting damage. The second half of March has been warm and the blue skies are back. A beautiful weekend of Spring weather saw us put the clocks forward one hour on Saturday night. Spring really has arrived. It has been a busy month here, guests finding their way to our door and even a few outings for ourselves to discover new places.

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