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Cathy Winsor

11th November

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Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:45

I had vaguely thought about going to the mountains again today, the weather was beautiful. We live in a valley, but on clear days like today you can see many of the peaks from the bedroom window. In the end I surveyed the backlog of housework and unfinished Open University activities and decided Philip could go on his own (which he secretly enjoys as he can walk faster, and climb higher peaks. So I caught up with domestic tasks, vacuuming and mopping floors took up most of the morning. Two of the cats joined me for lunch on the terrace, hovering hopefully until I gave them some morsels of cheese. My intention was to sit at a desk in the afternoon and work systematically through some of the OU activities, but I am so enjoying Bill Bryson’s 'At Home', I was distracted from my efforts.

Philip came home looking suitably exhausted, and with lots of photos of snowy peaks. He had been disappointed to find other walkers on the trail, forgetting it was a public holiday. Armistice Day is more widely observed in France than in England. Every village in France has a memorial to those killed in the two world wars. Wreaths are laid, the mayor will make a speech and school children will recite the names of those who died. I always look at the names on the memorials when we are walking through a village. Often as many as three or four young men from the same family were killed, especially in WWI. One can imagine their mothers' grief. WWII is still talked about in the bars and cafes, not just by those who fought, there are not many of them left, but often by those who have heard the stories of the occupation from their parents and grandparents.  A French friend told me there are still deep divisions between families and villages, between those that collaborated and those that joined the resistance.

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Please show some pictures of both the mountains and the war memorials. I used to work in France and once found myself travelling the entire length of the Western Front. I indulged my interest in the First World War fed by stories of my late grandfather who was still alive at the time. (1993) more on him at www.getjackback.wordpress.com
Cathy Winsor

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Jonathan, in reply to your comment, here is a link to some some WW1 memorials, and photos of yesterday's walk. I read the link to your grandfather's war experiences. So much has been forgotten, reading these sort of personal histories would be a good history lesson in schools. My father was a navigator in the RAF in WW2, sadly he rarely spoke and never wrote about his war experiences, but I know it was nothing like WW1.