Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Normandy Beaches

Last Friday, 6th of June was the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings; that horrendous battle that caused the loss of so many lives but saw the turning point of World War 2. 
People from all over the world watched the celebrations as Heads of State walked solemnly across red carpets to their appointed seats, each one accompanied by French schoolchildren. Some balanced a hand on the children's shoulders; others solemnly shook hands before beginning their walk and others, including our own Prince Charles smiled and talked and obviously enjoyed their company. The Queen's outfit of lime green made a splash of colour against the sombre clothes of the veterans as she listened patiently to the stories told by these people of her own generation. 
The Queen of Denmark was in bright blue.
However a few days later human interest stories emerged that struck me as remarkable. Two men, both in their nineties and having been on the Beaches in 1944, very much wanted to be there for these celebrations.
The first was refused because of a spelling mistake. Evidently he'd been christened Fredrick (without an e in the middle) but his Carer filled in the more usual spelling of Frederick for his passport.  Surely this could have been overlooked in the circumstances.
The second man, aged 91, did have his passport but was too late to have a seat on the British Legion coach to Normandy so he absconded from his Care Home in Hove.  He simply walked out without a word to anybody and made his way to the cross-channel ferry; boarded it; made friends with other veterans and arrived in Normandy ready to enjoy every minute of the celebrations. Back at the Home, after the hue and cry died down his wife simply said, ‘He’s done worse things than that in the past.’


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Here we are on the first day of June. So May is well and truly out and as the old saying goes,
Never cast a clout till May is out.
Nobody ever seems quite sure whether May refers to the month or to the blossom in the hedges. But now they’re both out and we can safely cast our winter clouts (clothes) in favour of summer ones.
It’s been a strange month – near the beginning the weather was so mild that the trees and the flowers bloomed as they would normally do a month later and it was a delight to drive through the country lanes; a perfect English scene with the sharp greenness of the leaves; the fairy candles on the horse chestnut trees and  yellow rape seed in the fields competing with the gorse bushes that flower by the roadside; lilac and laburnum in the gardens; bluebells in the woods and poppies everywhere.
But now the greenness is beginning to fade. Rain pounded down all last week and the temperature dropped by several degrees making us all think that we’d need to wait a bit longer before we cast that clout.
However, here we are on another gloriously sunny morning. 
Can there be anything so strange as English weather?