Friday, November 11, 2016

Unite Not Fight

French Village Diaries Remembrance Day Unite Not Fight Melle France Belgium Germany
The French, German and Belgium flags in Melle Deux Sevres

This year marks the 100th anniversary of many of the bloodiest battles of the First World War including the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Verdun in France. It is also a year that has seen many political changes being made across the globe. Britain has voted to sever it’s ties with the European Union, believing it will be a better place standing alone and sadly newspaper headlines that have celebrated policies to reform immigration rules and give British jobs to British workers have led to anything and anyone foreign being deemed to be suspicious and not to be trusted. As an EU immigrant from the UK living in France and the granddaughter of Irish immigrants who moved to England in the 1930’s this makes me uncomfortable and worried for our future. I’m not an American so don’t really feel I have much to say much about US politics, but again when I read newspaper headlines that talk of building a wall on the Mexican boarder, refusing entry to all Muslims and inciting hatred of minorities, I feel sad and disappointed in the way the world is heading.

French Village Diaries Remembrance Day Unite Not Fight Melle France Germany Belgium
The students from Melle, Melle and Melle in our local paper

Thankfully, I have also seem a glimmer of hope this week for a future where ‘unite not fight’ could be a real possibility. Despite the atrocities and loss of lives of 100 years ago, our local market town of Melle, where Ed goes to lycee, is twinned with Melle in Belgium and Melle in Germany and it was heartening to see the Belgium and German flags flying alongside the French tricolore outside the town hall. This year marks the third year where students from all three towns have got together, united in remembrance of those who died in the First World War. In 2014 they attended a ceremony in Belgium and last year they were in Germany. This year our European neighbours are here in France and participated together in a ceremony this morning.

French Village Diaries Remembrance Day Unite Not Fight
Poppy wreath and French floral tribute

Sadly we couldn’t attend as our village held it’s own ceremony, where two French-born British children laid a Royal British Legion poppy wreath alongside the commune’s floral tribute entwined with the ribbon of the French flag. I see this as another sign of unity between European neighbours and the positive integration of migrants into the community. It was also lovely to see so many villagers of all ages attending the ceremony today, although I’m sure the sunshine provided a bit of extra encouragement. 

Ed visited Melle in Germany, on a language exchange programme last month. In fact it was there that he spent his 16th birthday, with a family he had only met five days before, but who made a real effort to make his day special. I am looking forward to welcoming their son Maik into our home next year and although I will probably never meet his parents, I am very thankful to them for making Ed feel welcome in their home.

French Village Diaries Remembrance Day Unite Not Fight
Laying the Poppy wreath in France

I feel we need to do all we can to encourage the younger generation to reach out to each other and build positive bridges with other nationalities and cultures. We are living in a world that needs to remember the conflicts of the past and learn to #UniteNotFight for the future.

This post has been linked to #AllAboutFrance.

Lou Messugo

Monday, November 7, 2016

Autumn colours in the Deux Sevres

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Autumn in the vineyards

The autumn colours this year have been magnificent and although I probably say the same thing every year, this year I am sure they are better than in previous years and I’m not the only one to think this. I have a friend in the village who has lived here much longer than I have and who has shared photo after photo exclaiming this year to be exceptional.

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Autumn bike rides

Getting out on our bikes, walking the dog or even doing the school run or airport drop off has revealed a feast of golds, reds and oranges of all shades, often glowing in the sunshine, that have really lifted my spirits and made me thankful to live where I do.

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Our walnut tree

We have many different fruit trees in our orchard, but rarely have we had much leaf raking to do, until this year. Looking back, it seems most years we have a mid-September frost, usually only for one night, but it is enough to kill off the courgette and tomato plants and cause the cherry and plum tree leaves to drop. Add an autumn breeze and magically the leaves have gone. 

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Our red cherry tree

This year, with no early frost, the cherry trees have shown their colours in a surprising way; the leaves on the yellow fruiting trees turned a golden yellow, while the red fruiting trees turned from orange to deep red and have clung to the trees as long as possible. I can’t believe this is our 13th autumn and I’ve never noticed this colour difference before. Raking and mowing the fallen leaves was hard work, but good exercise and worth it to be spending time in our colourful orchard.

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Frosty morning

This year our first frost was last night and wow, what a frost. Scraping the car windscreen at seven o’clock this morning was finger numbingly cold and I wished I’d been able to find a pair of gloves, but as most days last week we were able to cycle in shorts and sunshine, I was woefully unprepared. The car was warning me it was minus 3 and a low-lying mist surrounded the village. It was a dark drive to get Ed to school, but the first pinks of the sunrise brightened up my journey home silhouetting the trees, wind turbines and even the deer in the fields. I don’t really like cold mornings, but I could forgive the frost this morning, as it was so very beautiful.

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Frosted fruit tree leaves

As I sit here indoors with a cup of coffee and the sunshine warming me nicely, despite the fact the windows need a good clean, I can see the remaining autumn leaves falling like rain as they succumb to the cold. Sadly, I think in a few days our stunning autumn colours will have gone to be replaced with bare winter trees and hedgerows.

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Tree-hugging on a dog walk in Melle

At least I have my photos to look back on. I have been sharing quite a few on Instagram but here are a few more. I hope you enjoy them.

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Sunlight and autumn leaves

French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Autumn fire
French Village Diaries Autumn colours Deux Sevres
Golden yellow walnut leaves

This post has been linked to Paulita’s Dreaming of France. Click here to read more.