Happy New Year into 2022 from No.fifty6
Posted on 31st December 2021 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.
1st January, the dawn of a New Year which we hope will be filled with good times for all, and above all health and happiness. 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 helps heal us all in return for looking after the planet, that Omicron is the beginning of the end of the pandemic and we can all get on with our lives and plan with some certainty. We know we have missed human togetherness, we had episodes of it through the autumn which was a breath of fresh air with guests around our table, and we can’t wait to see you all again.
We hope those who have already booked with us for 2022 are able to see their travel plans take place.
We will be here and ready, fresh faced in this New Year, 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, for the 2nd year running. It is hard to be apart from family and friends when Christmas is all about the inner child in all of us. But staying put was the right thing to do and there is also something rather lovely about the 2 of us having time on our own. A time to reflect and recharge.
Reflecting it seems, is what Geoffrey Wall did on writing this poem called New Year’s Eve 1915.
And so the year is dying in the night.
Another moment with its hopes and fears,
Another instant with its smiles and tears
Is passing to its fellows as I write.
Perchance, amidst the musical moonlight,
Across the valley of forgotten years,
Another stood: and watched the rolling spheres
That cleft the purple heavens in their flight;
And pondered on the meaning of it all:
But here the moonlit hours flow softly on,
Unheeding that o’er half the World a pall
Of unthought sorrow lies; and peace is gone
From many homes; and many men must fall
Before the dawning New Year dies anon.
Geoffrey Wall was born in Liscard on the Wirral 3rd March 1897. His family emigrated to Australia when he was ten years old and he attended Wesley College Preparatory School in Melbourne.
Geoffrey began writing poetry at Wesley College and his work was published in the school magazine. He enrolled at Queen’s College, at Melbourne University to study the Arts in September 1915. At the end of his first year at university, Geoffrey returned to Britain and joined the Royal Flying Corps. After training in Oxford and Denham, he was sent to Netheravon Aerodrome in Wiltshire. Geoffrey was killed in a flying accident in England on 6th August 1917 aged 20. He is commemorated in the Raikes Lane Cemetery, Frankby, Wirral.
December has had cold spells, fog, but it ends milder and wetter, very soggy underfoot and mud on all the tracks. It hasn’t stopped us walking and exploring. The fields are either seeded with new growth appearing, or deeply ploughed. The farmers have toiled through December.
Winter light toiling in Sausage Valley.
Omicron is creating havoc across the world it seems. France has closed its border to the UK for anything other than essential travel. We hope that is reviewed soon. We will of course keep you updated with any Covid travel requirements as the borders reopen, but at the moment, even if you could travel, a negative test not more than 24 hours old, is required to enter France, and a test before your return to the UK and Day 2 PCR test is required by the UK.
We have restrictions here, but nothing that impacts on us day to day. Mask wearing continues to be obligatory in enclosed spaces (and some town centres) so that is second nature to us.
We received our booster jabs in December. Thank you, scientists and health care workers!
One thing to note, France is strengthening its Pass Sanitaire. From 15 January 2022 those who have been double vaccinated for more than 7 months will need to demonstrate they have received an approved Covid booster in order to keep their Pass valid. The Pass is required to travel on public transport, for bars, cafes, restaurants, museums, cinemas, sports events etc and applies to tourists as well as residents. So, when you do travel, please make sure your vaccine certification includes your booster shot.
We are always happy to help if you need any help or advice about what is required.
A Christmas Walk to Ovillers
On Christmas Day we walked to Ovillers Military Cemetery where we said hello to 2 soldiers in particular. Different backgrounds, different battles, but they now lie together in peace.
Christmas Jacob Rees, born on Christmas Day 1899, enlisted with the Denbigh Hussars Yeomanry and served with the 16th Royal Welch Fusiliers. He died on 26 August 1918 aged only 18 and is commemorated on the War Memorial in Pentyrch near Cardiff, where his family lived.
Christmas had joined up before, but being under-age was sent back home. However, he enlisted again once he was 18, obviously determined to “do his bit” and follow his older brother Edgar, who had seen active service in France as a gunner with the Royal Artillery. Early on the morning of 26 August 1918 the Royal Welch Fusiliers started their attack at Mametz Wood, the scene of so much Welsh bloodshed two years earlier. From Mametz they fought on through Bazentin to try and clear the Germans from Longueval. It was in this attack that Christmas was killed. He was taken to the Red Dragon Cemetery, the burial ground for The Royal Welsh which was situated in Mash Valley between Ovillers and La Boisselle. After the Armistice, Red Dragon was concentrated into Ovillers Military Cemetery where Christmas now lies buried.
As a postscipt to Christmas Jacob Rees a friend in Cardiff, Gwyneth Jones, walked to Pentyrch Memorial and took these photos for us on New Year's Eve. Wonderful. From The Somme back to Pentrych.
Gwyneth's photos of Pentrych Village Memorial
Baptiste Marie Joseph Herbreteau was born in August 1892 in Chauche in the Vendée. He was a young farmer before joining up to fight for France. In the fierce fighting over Christmas 1914 at the bottom of our village of La Boisselle, Baptiste was killed on Christmas Day and was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was 22.
We will remember them.
Nous nous souviendrons d'eux.
Christmas Trees in the Streets of La Boisselle.
Again, this year, Christian Bernard, our Mayor, offered everyone in the village a real Christmas tree, as long as it was on the roadside and was decorated so that the village was illuminated for Christmas. Many families took part – including us-and they did look pretty.
Despite the cold and wet weather, work has continued at Thiepval. We have had a team of 4 stonemasons from Belgium staying with us until the Christmas break. Their work is to be applauded. After finishing for the day, they dine here then go straight to bed, exhausted from the work and the weather. It has been too cold for the special glue they use to set, so they have been making many stone pieces from as small as a penny through to large shapes ready to be fixed in position when the weather is warmer and dry enough for the glue to set. We have learned so much about their painstaking work. The scaffolding has been removed from the top third of Thiepval as the work there is finished, but there is still a lot to do on the main pillars. Work resumes next week after the Festive closure.
Thanks to the stonemasons for sharing their work.
Marge is doing fine. She is our one French hen and takes herself off to bed every evening as soon as day turns to dusk. She is a hardy old girl who loves chatting to the horses in the back field or to David when he daily fills up the wild bird feeders! Hares and pheasants are ever present on our walks. Nature is marvelous.
Lucky to capture this hare.
David’s New Year Cracker:
I just spoke with Bill Withers.
I told him Ain’t No Sunshine is poor grammar.
He said “ I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know”
All is well at no.fifty6.
Happy New Year
All that is left is for us to wish all our wonderful friends and guests past and future a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year. We look forward to reconnecting with old friends and new in 2022. Please stay safe. Stay healthy. Here’s to the future. Bon annee.