|Caroline Davies at Pigeon Ravine Cemetery, one of the prettiest and most poignant cemeteries on the Western Front.|
On 2nd October, the 2014 Writers' Pals met at Lille Europe for the annual trip to the trenches with military historian Jeremy Banning. Five days, four nights to The Somme and Ypres this year, with a flying visit to Mons and the Boar's Head en route between the two - it was another unforgettable trip. We'd asked to walk as much as possible, thus the cemetery above became to start of a very hot walk up the 'Gloucester Road' up to Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille. We had extraordinary weather this year!
Caroline Davies and I are collaborating on a collection of poetry inspired by the memorials of the Great War, and these trips are always such a rich source of ideas.
|Unveiling of the monument to the Royal Sussex Regiment, at Priez|
|The regimental badge, the wreaths|
Back in time a few weeks, to 10th September, and we (Chris and I) were in France as well, at a village called Priez, for the unveiling of a monument to the Royal Sussex Regiment. The village is tiny - blink and you'd miss it, as they say - but 100 years ago to the day, Sussex lost its first men on the Western Front right here. It was poignant in the extreme to be with many ex-servicemen of the Sussex Regiment, who marched down the hill from the ridge on which the battle was fought, into the village - man in their eighties, seventies - veterans of the last war, many of them.
The Western Front holds many such memorials, most of which were put up after the Great War. It was a huge privilege to be there to witness this one being unveiled - and when the French band played Sussex by the Sea with great gusto, this Sussex-dweller certainly felt it.
Backwards again - my husband isn't the keenest of battlefield visitors - but on our way down to Priez, I managed to introduce him to a few places, not just British/English memorials, but Vimy Ridge (Canadians), Mametz Wood (The Welsh), the Ulster Tower (Ulstermen), Ayette Cemetery (Indian and Chinese and a German grave), McCrae's Battalion memorial (Scots), and Thiepval memorial (Commonwealth and French).
|Church, Varengeville, with Monet's view of the same church from the valley...|
Writing things have not taken that much of a back seat - (despite the fact I'm not meant to be writing much, opportunities keep popping up, too good to miss!)
|Hershman and Gebbie, Oxford.|
And, also with writing, I had a wonderful wonderful week at Anam Cara Writers and Artist's retreat from 11 to 19 October. Goodness me - what a lot I learned. Led by Bernard O'Donoghue, and in the company of some stunningly good writers from the US, Ireland, UK and Switzerland, it was the sort of week that should be prescribed on the NHS and after which all would be well for years.
Other writing bits - poetry getting written, a poem due out in Confingo Magazine, and nice news about the illustrated collection Ed's Wife and Other Creatures, which has found a publisher - but more of that when contracts are finalised.