We’ve never really conformed, when it comes to family holidays. In part because we both aren’t fond of lazing about by pools or on beaches, also because the Hub is essentially the world’s greatest fidget and I guess because we just like doing things a bit differently! I never quite understood the desire to return to the same complex/cottage/campsite year on year. But then, isn’t that what we do, every time we head to our (not so) secret hideaway in Dorset?! Let’s not dwell on that! There was the year we gave our wonderful Travel Agent, Jenette (www.traveloptions4u.co.uk) our budget – never big – and she found us this wonderful apartment in Pula, Croatia. Sun, sea, history, great food and not a Brit in sight! Then there was the time we asked our Dutch friends to recommend a place in Holland which was properly Dutch and not a typical tourist destination. So we found ourselves on the island of Texel (pronounced Tessel, without the ‘x’), being welcomed to the traditional harbour festival and enjoying amazing sea food suppers when the children were asleep! Last year we took some time to explore the beaches of Normandy, synonymous with D-Day. We have found that the children connect with historic events and the associated media attention if they have experienced places first hand. So the timing was deliberate and justified, as they embraced the superb commemorations and subsequent school topics this summer.
This year’s summer trip was equally as deliberate, but far more personal. We spent some of our trip across the Low Countries in Passendale, taking time to visit the daily service at the Menin Gate in Ypres and visiting Tyne Cot cemetary. But the main purpose of this part of the trip was to locate the grave of Corporal Walter Scarlett, of the Leinster Regiment. Comparatively he was an older casualty of the Great War, killed at the age of 35 and to that end his daughter (the Hub’s beloved Gran) had clear memories of him leaving for the Western Front in his uniform, as she sat on the wall outside their home. He didn’t return. So yesterday, as I watched, bursting with pride, as the Hub marched with the Royal British Legion Standard at Bletchley Park (long story), we kept Walter and his pals in our thoughts. Never more did the words of Robert Laurence Binyon seem more relevant or meaningful:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
As we head towards Armistice Day, perhaps you can take a few moments to reflect on these words. Wherever you are and however you do it, please take that moment to keep men like Walter in your mind. Whether we agree or not with the politics, many young men and women for centuries have given their lives for the causes they believe in and they deserve our time, if only for two minutes each year.
Much love to you all,