Hi Everyone! Welcome! Your Willards start going out today! Perhaps by the time you read this Blog about Remembrance you will have yours already! MUSICA?Willard goes out in groups, twice each day, today, Wednesday and Thursday (we go gently in order not to break the Internets) ~ if you’re signed up and you haven’t gotten yours yet, you will soon. And when you do you’ll find out we have a Giveaway of lots of new products!
These to be exact! I thought I’d help out with someone’s holiday shopping this year! You’ll read more about it in the Willard, but for now, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the bottom of this post (look for tiniest words at the bottom, “leave a comment” ~ click there, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered). In a few days Vanna will pull a name, I’ll announce it here, and let the winner know via email! And now, on to our regularly scheduled programming . . .
Would you like your story for today? That’s why I’m here! Storyteller Blog lady! It’s almost November … and I’ve waited a whole year to tell you about this wonderful thing that happens in England in the first weeks of November, which Joe and I discovered last fall when we were visiting. 🍂 And now, I figure, we’re close enough!
It’s actually a lovely tradition that started in America in 1920 when the Poppy flower was proclaimed by the United States to be our national emblem of Remembrance. For Armistice Day, for never forgetting and for the prayer of peace. See Joe? See that red poppy on his jacket?
Here he is again, walking home from shopping at Blenheim Castle in Woodstock Oxfordshire, with a poppy on his jacket. Because in England in November . . .
You rarely see anyone who isn’t wearing one . . . I wish I’d taken a photo in a train station, so you could see how popular it is. You get used to it, then you start to fall in love with it, and especially the idea behind it.
This is Joe and Paul ( Rachel’s adorable husband, English man extraordinaire, one of your funnier and more charming humans on the earth), both poppy-decked of course.
We went to a dinner, and everyone was wearing a poppy . . .
Me too . . .
And Rachel too.
Because they are everywhere you go, and for a donation to the Royal British Legion ~ a pound for a poppy, you can pin one of these to your coat. The appeal raises millions for the care of British Veterans and their dependents, and by the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the whole country is decked in solidarity-red for remembrance, and silence is observed to honor those who were lost.
We read the paper and learned the significance of the Poppy.
As the years went by, other wars and all their memories have been added to what was the war to end all wars, the first world war. Flanders Fields were the battlefields in France where so many were lost, the “western front”. . . is now covered in poppies for remembrance. And a beautiful heartbreaking poem was written:
The first Poppy Day was celebrated in England in 1921, and has continued every year since.
There will be no forgetting . . . the whole country shows their gratitude and old men wear their uniforms on the street with pride. I think maybe because when bombs literally fall on your house and your neighbors house, you have a different relationship to war than others that don’t.You turn on the radio, and there’s Vera Lynn singing We’ll Meet Again back in the day with the voices of servicemen and their sweethearts singing along, and you can feel the heart in the moment . . .
Poppies are everywhere, including pillows and sachets in the Blenheim Castle gift shop!
And we ended up with a bouquet of them for our kitchen counter.
You would find them on the street in simple little places . . .
And in the cities too . . . these are part of the Field of Remembrance, a small graveyard set up each year next to Westminster Abbey in London.
And there are remembrances in every small town . . .
Here we are in downtown Woodstock where we were staying, a small town in Oxfordshire with a population of 3,000, just around the corner from Blenheim Castle where Winston Churchill was born.
We had just come walking back to the High Street from the Castle (staying in the Bear Hotel ~ some parts of it 900 years old, you can see it on the right), and didn’t know what was going on when we saw a crowd had gathered, families, babies, and dogs, people of all ages, clergy and soldiers too. It was 11 am on Remembrance Sunday, and the village had stopped to honor Armistice Day as they had done for 95 years, for all those who served and died in war since then ~ this quiet remembrance was happening in every small and big town in England at this same moment. MUSICA.
Afterwards we discovered that Winston Churchill was buried nearby, in a tiny churchyard in a small village called Bladon. So off we went through the golden air of the English Countryside with this music playing in our car to find Churchill’s grave. 🍂
When we found Bladon, we fretted about leaving our car parked halfway in the street that was only a bit more than one car wide, but it was the best we could do and still be in the town. How they could have had a state burial for one of the most famous people in the world in this teeny place with zero parking lots is a mystery. But look at that beautiful house. See the roof line, all curvy and crunchy from age? It’s a miracle that they managed to hold onto the beauty of the architecture as times changed and such things as bathrooms and electricity were invented ~ how they did it is beyond me, but they did!
Nothing in the town had changed since the day the Prime Minister was laid to rest, except the people. The generations have turned over more than once.
We walked through the quiet streets of the village looking for the church listening to the birds singing . . .
. . . enjoying cottages and curtains . . .
. . . and people who brought nature inside.
We peeked in the windows at the far end of this house with the amazing vine . . .
. . . and saw these! It was the Studio of a sculptor . . . ohhh, I wanted in so bad!
Open Daily 10-6 (EXCEPT while we were there) said the card in the window . . . but another sign said, Closed!
So I was happy to take pictures of stone houses with names on them . . .
and of course, the little charmers out for a walk . . .
And there it was, the flag flying over St Martin’s Church . . . where the bells had just rung for Armistice Day.
A small rather austere church . . .
with lovely details
And a sweet peaceful graveyard, these being my favorite, family gravestones held in nature’s embrace.
Next to Churchill’s grave were simple memorials, and benches for sitting . . .
with rather an amazing drain in the stone path ~ I had to take a photo of it!
Churchill’s grave sort of broke our hearts. Everything so real. I couldn’t help but think of my dad who had fought in that war and had died a few months earlier. 😢 We’d been to Churchill’s wonderful house called Chartwell and learned about him and his fascinating wife Clementine ~ and here they were, buried together. History of the world, just waiting for us to find and remember and learn.
Sure and certain hope.
Afterward we stopped at a nearby pub to read our paper and eat “Sunday Roast” ~ which most British pubs have every Sunday ~
a glorious menu consisting of your choice of beautifully cooked roast beef, roast chicken or roast pork ~ with Yorkshire Pudding, stuffing, roasted carrots, parsnips, and potatoes with gravy.
And poppies on the mantle . . .
After lunch we drove to Oxford to see Carrie and Stuart, who took us on a wonderful tour ~ here we are in one of the churches.
Then back to Carrie’s kitchen which was in full-remembrance mode. We had a wonderful visit with them . . . but when we got back to our rental house, I noticed I had lost the poppy from my jacket. wah.
We spent more weeks in England, taking long walks under blowing leaves, enjoying the fall, and did not return to America until late November ~ celebrating Thanksgiving on the ship!
And finally home, where our sweet kitty Jack was waiting, and of course we brought our poppies home with us . . . And a few days later, a package arrived from England.
A book gift from Carrie, along with the poppy I’d dropped at her house! Total perfection!And that’s my story for today, Girlfriends . . . in a couple of weeks, it will be November 11 … Veterans Day, I hope I see some Poppies to buy!
Here is my kitchen this morning, sparkling with light from the sunrise…It’s our time now . . . and one of the gifts of remembering is the gift of knowing the real and important things of life, and passing them to the ones we love . . .
Clothespin caught a leaf, and I got to make a wish. So I think we can all make a wish!Ah yes, time for tea! Hope you enjoyed our trip to England . . . now, look just below here, see the tiny words, “leave a comment?” That’s where you enter for the drawing! Have a wonderful day! xoxo