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Category: General News

Deconfinement, Ongoing Remembrance, Heatwaves and Big Skies - June at No.fifty6

Posted on 30th June 2020 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

Deconfinement, Ongoing Remembrance, Heatwaves and Big Skies - June at No.fifty6 As we write this, 1st July is upon us, a date synonymous with The Somme, the date on which the 1916 battle commenced. For us it is a day for reflection and looking forward, a date bound up with so many reasons why we now call The Somme our home.
This year of course, Somme commemorations are different due to Covid. There are no big organised ceremonies but the essence of The Somme is not to be found in any ceremony. It is to be found looking over the now beautiful fields, the skyline, the dips and curves which caress The Somme. Come here and you truly connect with the land and its history. There is no place in the world like it. Come and remember, come and reflect. Come on a personal journey, as we did many years ago, a journey for us which continues still. The boys who were here, those who still lie, those who went home who have now all passed, they maybe would like pomp and ceremony with the great and the good at Thiepval, but we also believe they would have appreciated being remembered in quiet, personal ways, more than 100 years later.
So while we would have been happy to stand in a favourite spot this morning, we are inextricably bound and connected to The Lochnagar Crater. For the first time in 41 years, Richard Dunning has not been here for a 1 July. So we were more than happy to lead, on his behalf, an intimate, short, symbolic service at Lochnagar this morning at 07.28hrs, the time the Battle commenced. Julie led the proceedings with words read from Richard, one wreath and one French gerbe were laid by Mayor Christian Bernard, and our friend Cyrille Delplanque played the bagpipes to start and finish, and we blew our whistles just as the men did to encourage their comrades over the top. We stood in silence to honour them.
We can never say thank you in person to the men who walked this hallowed ground 104 years ago today, but we can remember, we can reflect and we can pledge to be good people, live good lives, and embrace our fragile, hard won freedoms to do good. Thank you to that gallant generation who gave so much. We will remember them.

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Nature, Lockdown Easements, Staying Safe, Ongoing Remembrance - May at No.fifty

Posted on 31st May 2020 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

Nature, Lockdown Easements, Staying Safe, Ongoing Remembrance  - May at No.fifty After 60+ days of full, strict lockdown, there was a slight easing of lockdown here from 11th May. Since then we have been able to go out within 100km radius of our home, while maintaining social distancing. So this has meant we have been able to do what we love to do – going out and exploring the wonderful Somme, visiting cemeteries and memorials, being mesmerized by nature and paying respects to the fallen. That first day we took a simple picnic and went to a favourite spot of ours, up on the bank behind the red dragon at Mametz. Just us, nature and the boys who remain there. It was chilly with a bracing wind, but there was something life affirming about it. We walked across the valley to the outskirts of the wood and watched the wind create rhythmic waves in the barley growing in Death Valley. That was the start of several journeys out for us. Not a problem social distancing, just us and those who lie in these green fields of France.

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Staying Safe and Well in Extraordinary Times - April at No.fifty6

Posted on 30th April 2020 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

Staying Safe and Well in Extraordinary Times  - April at No.fifty6 As we write this it is Day 44 of total lockdown here in France. Again, it is not the newsletter content we thought we would be writing this month, but we are aware that in many ways we are living history at the moment. These unprecedented times will be looked back on, evaluated, studied, commented on, argued over, for many years to come. We are fit and well and following government advice and hope, wherever you are, you are too.

Of course we have been closed. Those booked for May have trickled through their cancellations. Some for even later in the year, it is a rolling programme. There is nothing to be done, and we know our loyal guests and friends will be back to The Somme and No.fifty6 just as soon as circumstances and procedures and lifted restrictions make it safe to do so. We will weather the storm. Health is the most important thing.

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March News from No.fifty6. Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Measures

Posted on 31st March 2020 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

March News from No.fifty6. Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Measures Well who would have thought that in the space of a month since we wrote the last newsletter, we find ourselves in the middle of unprecedented times for our generation with the pandemic of Covid 19. So, like over half the world's population, we are in lockdown and this is not the newsletter content we thought we would be writing this month. We are fit and well and following government advice and hope, wherever you are, you are too.

In early March we had 2 guests, Paul and Jane from Rutland and just as they left, Europe started to shut down and we have had no guests since. Those booked for March, April and May have trickled through their cancellations. Some for even later in the year, it is a rolling programme. There is nothing to be done, and we know our loyal guests and friends will be back to The Somme and No.fifty6 just as soon as circumstances and procedures and lifted restrictions make it safe to do so. We will weather the storm.

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The Dawn of a New Decade at no.fifty6 - January 2020 News

Posted on 31st January 2020 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

The Dawn of a New Decade at no.fifty6 - January 2020 News No sooner were we celebrating New Year than January is over. There is something lovely about January here – yes, it is cold but the landscape is stripped back, you can see for miles and there is a winter beauty. The weather has been chilly, damp and grey – no snow unlike last January and hardly any frosts. It brings to mind Ivor Gurney’s Poem “On Somme”:

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