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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New Year Dawning - Here's to 2021 from no.fifty6
As the dawn of a New Year breaks ,we would like to thank everyone who sent us cards and festive messages and we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Let’s hope the world turns a corner (difficult for a globe) and vaccines enable us all to plan with some certainty and begin face to face human contact again. Boy, we know we have missed human togetherness!
We will be here and ready to see guests and friends when travel is again possible – you know there is nothing we love more than sharing The Somme with you.
Christmas we spent here just the 2 of us, we think it was the first time the two of us have been on our own at Christmas so we made the best of it - we even had turkey and trimmings and pulled crackers. David needs new jokes.
November, The Start of Winter, Remembrance and More, News from No.fifty6
November, it’s as if the clocks changing strikes a chime to wake winter up from its slumbers and start to wrap its cold arms around autumn. Gradually as the month has gone on it is getting chillier, but the first part of the month has been mild with some blue-sky days – just one frost so far and not too many grey wet days. This poem by Edward Thomas, who died in the fields of France in 1917 evokes the month so well…
Beautiful Autumn, Exploring, Lockdown Returns
As the month turns it is All Saints' Day - Toussaints here in France. Autumn is definitely here. There have been winds, rain, sunshine, mild days and the light has softened from summer’s bright halo to a golden crown which accentuates the turning leaves and patchwork fields.
Our friends and farmers Yves and Thierry have been harvesting maize, sugarbeet and potatoes, so across the fields of The Somme there has been a lot of farming activity. At month end some crops still linger in the fields like mother earth is loathed to give them up, but in most cases there is ploughing, scarifying and reseeding going on. The agricultural wheel never stops turning.
Despite having no guests again this month due to travel restrictions, there has been plenty to keep us occupied and we have enjoyed the opportunity to discover the landscape in its autumn glory and visit some new places. But now we are under a strict National Lockdown again.
It is hard, having no guests, we miss everyone, but we know as long as Covid is under control by next year, we have a 2021 diary getting fuller with those who have had to postpone their trips and will come as soon as possible. We know you all miss the Somme as much as we miss you. So what have we been up to?
Weather Changes, Autumn comes Knocking, No Guests but Always something Going On
Last week we were walking on the beach at the Somme coast in 27 degrees then 2 days later the thermometer plunged to 11 degrees and wet and windy weather. At month end it has settled to a drizzly but mild , certainly autumnal weather front. So, the landscape is changing, softening. Leaves changing colour. Fields once plump with crop have given up their treasure to feed a nation, but never empty as ploughing and reseeding continue the cycle of agriculture. The light is more golden, there have been some dramatic skies and sunsets. Autumn has its own soft beauty. And we love it.
It brings to mind this poem by Ernest Rhys written in 1918 – The Leaf Burners, which ends:
Much I thought then
of men that went forth,
Or dropt like the leaves,
to die and to live;
While the leaf burners
with their long brooms
Drew them together
on the day of their death.
I wondered at that,
walking the fell —
Feeling the wind
that wafted the leaves
And set their souls
free of the smoke,
Free of the dead,
speeding the flame
To spire on the air —
a spark that should spring
In me, man of men;
last of the leaves.
With quarantine in place for UK visitors returning home from France, borders closed in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, we have had no guests this month. It is hard, we miss everyone, but nevertheless we keep busy and there has been plenty to keep us occupied this September.
Heatwave, UK Quarantine, A Month of Extremes – August 2020 at No.fifty6
Posted on 31st August 2020
by Julie and David Thomson
in General News.
Well, August has been a month of ups and downs. The month started with so much promise, a pretty full diary, interesting guests due throughout the month, things to do, lovely summer weather, then wham! We and our guests were hit with a UK quarantine, a heatwave, storms, diary emptying…but we are still here and always make the best of things, as there is always something going on. So plenty to share this month.