|11th November 2022 in our village|
We have now been home from the UK for two weeks. Two rather busy weeks, but without work at the château it has been good to have a variety of things to fill my days with.
I can vividly remember our first autumn in France, eighteen years ago. September had been hot, with misty mornings turning into afternoons with temperatures hitting 32º. October was mild, as was the beginning of November. However, as the 11th of November arrived, so did the cold northerly winds, the air became glacial and winter began to bite. This is a pattern that has repeated itself many times over the years. On Thursday, we awoke to mist. It was much colder than Wednesday and our bike ride out of the village to the egg farm wasn’t fun. The air was heavy with moisture and each pedal stroke felt like the mist was pushing against us and progress was slow. We arrived back home soaked from the water droplets that had seeped into every fibre of our clothing and unlike the September misty mornings, this didn’t lift to reveal sunny skies. The chill it brought with it remained, and the house felt cold. I thought the mid-November weather change had arrived, but just to prove Mother Nature has the final say, yesterday and today have been warm and sunny, lunch-in-the-garden days.
Yesterday, the 11th November, was Remembrance Day, and a public holiday here in France. It was lovely to catch up with our neighbours and friends outside the salle des fêtes and take part in the memorial service. The maire read out a letter from the government before one of the children laid the floral wreath and then Adrian and I laid our Royal British Legion poppy wreath before reciting the famous verse from For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon, in English (Adrian) and French (me).
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
|Lantern des Morts, Pierre Levée cemetery, Poitiers|
Growing up, attending this ceremony was something Ed always did, without question, from the age of four. Imagine how proud I was when he sent me a few photos from the local ceremony he’d attended on Friday morning from the Pierre Levée cemetery in Poitiers. It was a slightly larger event than our village one, with a number of dignitaries laying floral wreaths at the foot of the lantern des morts that stands tall and proud in the cemetery, the rows of French and German First World War graves standing silently behind it. As in our village, the council try to involve the younger generation in the ceremony, with each wreath being presented to the person laying it by a younger person from the crowd and Ed was selected to hand the President of the Conseil Départemental de la Vienne his wreath. Well done Ed, but I think Adrian and I deserve a “parenting pat on the back moment” too for bringing him up to realise how important these ceremonies are, and how we must remember the fallen.
Today the sun is still with us, so a bike ride with friends to market was a great start to the day. Coffees, croissants, a few chores in town ticked off and lots of laughs and chatter. Buoyed up by a morning outdoors, this afternoon was also spent in the garden, cutting back the fennel and hollyhocks, tidying the daisies and mowing the lawn (maybe for the final time). The doors and windows have been open all afternoon, the washing is out, Ed and Pearl (who arrived last night) have walked the dog, as well as catching up with their friends for lunch out and the back garden looks much tidier. This evening we will enjoy family time together and maybe even aperos in the garden.