Sunday, 18 November 2012

Back Home

It's always nice returning home after a trip away. It's not all the washing that needs to be done (in my case very little) but all the home comforts that I've missed. Which is why I just pottered around the house yesterday, taking in all I'd learnt over the two days I spent in Ypres and the Somme and doing a bit of baking. Some of the things I saw were so awe inspiring that they will stay with me for a lifetime. We visited so many cemeteries over the two days and there were stories at each one. We visited the grave of a 15 year old boy who died on the front. Of course, he never should have been there but was desperate to fight for his king and country. His name was rifleman Strudwick and as you can see has been remembered by many people.

His grave stone is in the Essex Fields cemetery in Flanders. This was the first cemetery we visited and there were a lot of tears shed as we listened to these young men's stories.
Essex Fields

As we stood and listened, the leaves were gently falling off the leaves in the mild wind. It was a very poignant moment as it brought to mind all those lives cut short. Of course it was much more peaceful than it would have been on the battlefield.

On the last day we visited the site of the Lochnagar mine explosion. In peacetime it just looks like a large crater in the middle of the countryside but it has an amazing story behind it.

Here it is in the mist. On the 1 July 1916, the date which marked the start of the Battle of the Somme, tunnellers set off an explosion with 60,000 pounds of explosives underground. They had tunnelled from the allied front line underneath no mans land and set the explosives underground. The end result is a crater 90m across and 30m deep. Today it is peaceful standing on the lip of the crater but I can just imagine the noise at the time. This was the largest man made explosion before the atomic bomb. When we visited a wreath had been laid in the bottom of the crater. This happens twice a year on 1 July and 11 November, armistice day.

By the way, this is the picture of the chocolate shop we visited in Ypres before the last post ceremony.

We had a chocolate from the box yesterday and it tasted luscious.

Talking of chocolate, I made another vegan chocolate cake yesterday. I think it is the easiest cake I have ever made. This time I made double the recipe so that I could make a layered cake for a 95th birthday tea which we went to yesterday afternoon. I sandwiched it with chocolate buttercream (made with pure margarine so the cake was still totally vegan). I had a lot of positive comments about the cake although my ds still thinks it's not as good as his granny's chocolate cake. I'm not sure I'm ever going to meet that high standard.

I'm off to teach at synagogue this morning so I'll have to leave all my making and baking until this afternoon. I'm planning on baking the focaccia (I made the dough yesterday) and flapjacks which are our weekly staple. I'll see what inspiration strikes when I'm back home.

Hope you all have a lovely day.

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