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May on The Somme  - A German Pilgrimage, Kindnesses and Stories to Tell

Posted on 31st May 2024 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

May on The Somme  - A German Pilgrimage, Kindnesses and Stories to Tell Although it has 31 days, May has seemed to pass in a flash.  The month blew in with rainy days and a chill in the air and though there have been sunny days it remains unsettled at month end with more than average rainfall and a couple of storms. Very unsettled. All the rain means the landscape is lush and full, green and healthy. The hedgerows are brimming with life and the grass grows thick and green. The winter brown coat has turned to Springy green. Full of life and vigour. The birds are nesting and the dawn chorus is a cacophony of natural sounds.  

There is a lovely feel to Spring on the Somme. The landscape is green and lush, the young barley and wheat tremble in the breezes creating a shimmering sea of green that entices you in to explore more. And explore is what our guests have been doing. Even the rain hasn’t dampened anyone’s enthusiasm.

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April on The Somme - Wet & Windy Weather, Pilgrimages, Helping Hands and Anzacs

Posted on 30th April 2024 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

April on The Somme  - Wet & Windy Weather, Pilgrimages, Helping Hands and Anzacs April, come she will, when streams are ripe and swelled with rain….so the song lyric goes.  And there has certainly been rain, more rain and winds, temperatures much colder than average, with 2 night frosts last week,  The heating remains on and warming meals are sill the order of the day. We feel we are on the cusp of more settled weather though and the cold, rain and wind hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of either our guests or ourselves. It has been a very busy month here, with never a dull moment. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Though we sometimes wonder when we find the time to write this- but we do enjoy putting together this summary of goings on here. We get great feedback about the newsletter and that is so lovely, knowing our scrawlings are read and enjoyed across the world.

Despite the weather, the farmers have been seeding, spraying, and feeding crops though everything is a little behind. Outside our front door the landscape is bright yellow from the rape crop – also known as colza or canola depending on where you are – Mash Valley and the ridge behind is smothered  in a bright yellow coat.

Other signs of Spring are the beautiful bluebells in Delville and High Wood. We remark that this little plant, straggly and inconspicuous as a single flower transforms when it works with fellow bluebells to come together to form a carpet of blue/violet like a satin carpet for an emperor. The blue hue caressing the curves of the trench lines in Delville Wood Definitely a case of strength in numbers and a place once ravaged and war torn now beautifully transformed by nature. The Somme is very good at that.

There has been plenty to occupy us this month – in fact we haven’t stopped and there is always something interesting going on.

 This month’s poem was brough to mind by guests Darryl and Janet from Australia. Before their visit they wrote:

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March 2024 News from No.fifty6, Spring is Here After a Busy Month

Posted on 31st March 2024 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

March 2024 News from No.fifty6, Spring is Here After a Busy Month This comes with wishes that you have had a Happy Easter Weekend as we Spring forward an hour into the lighter evenings here in Europe.

Wow, where has March gone? It has been a busy, varied and rewarding month that has flown by, with so many interesting people and stories shared.

Weather-wise it has been a real mixed bag. Interminable rain, grey skies, with blue-sky days counted on one hand. Despite this the daffodils are defiantly showing Spring is here and the quality of the light improves, with a rich quality which illuminates the landscape when the sun peeps out from the clouds. Like a camera obscura revealing its magic.

We often think and remark that Nature does win over War. We see it here in the landscape  once so ravaged and witness to so much death and destruction has been taken back by nature, reclaimed as it were. It’s just humankind who messes things up. Sentiments echoed in this lovely, poem:

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February 2024  - News from No.fifty6 - Leaping into March!

Posted on 29th February 2024 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

February 2024  - News from No.fifty6 - Leaping into March! Often February is a bridge between winter and spring  but this February has had it’s wild moments  - it has felt like the month has a life of its own, contrary, exerting authority over the weather. We have had stormy days, high winds, a lot of rain and very few blue-sky days with a chill still very much in the air. While our spring flowers are beginning to poke their heads above the soil, they are not yet brave enough to come out fully and expose their Spring glory.  Walks out have meant coats, boots, gloves, hats and a dogged determination. A trait which our loyal customers have had and it has been lovely to have them here exploring the battlefields and sharing stories. In return for braving the elements in February you get to share the battlefields in their pared back beauty. No high crop to spoil the view, nature and wildlife around you, silence, no footfall  other than your own, and of course the unique history can truly envelope you, giving up its secrets.

There has been a lot keeping us busy this month as well as finding time to go out and explore and discover new stories. Living on The Somme, we never get bored.

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January 2024 News from No.fifty6 - Snow, Hardy Visitors and More

Posted on 31st January 2024 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

January 2024 News from No.fifty6  - Snow, Hardy Visitors and More January brings with it a feeling of of new beginnings, and we certainly hope 2024 is a good one for all the No.fifty6 community. The star this month has been the weather, ever changeable, defining the landscape. After a mild December, the temperatures plunged for most of January. Minus 10 on some nights and below freezing some days too with freezing rain. We had a considerable dump of snow mid month, which is more unusual these days. While it brings a new beauty to the landscape  it disrupts for a day or two.  It was lovely though to put the boots on and walk with the crunch of snow underfoot the only sound. So peaceful. Then a period of wetter and windy weather followed and the snow disappeared, but at month end it is more stable, with some blue sky days but still chilly. 

During January there is a stark beauty to the landscape here, it is laid bare and invites you in to explore even on the coldest day. David says it is the best time to see the historic landscape as the contours and topography are clearly visible. No crops to spoil the view.  Trench runs in the woods become visible, without their cover of undergrowth. Our walks take on a new dimesion as we spot new things, a shell hole here, a bunker there.

And in January, no matter the weather, the farmers continue to work, ploughing, seeding, and already some areas already have a green thin coat, new life emerging. Others have a rich deep brown of furrows of life-giving soil.

So as we trudged in snow and thought about all the history around us, the beautiful landcape and the cyclical nature of life around here, we couldn’t help but think of Wilfred Owen’s beautiful poem:

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