We’re just back from the Armistice Day commemoration ceremony at Nouzerines’ war memorial. It is the most perfect day, sunny, warm and still. It’s hard to think it’s November. Look at that blue sky.

The occasion begins a little after eleven when the three flagbearers followed by the Maire carrying a wreath leave the Maire. Everyone falls into step behind them and we walk to the side of the war memorial dedicated to the solidiers who died during the First World War.

The Maire lays the wreath and then two messages are read out, one from the association des anciens combattants en france and one from Monsieur le Président. Both end rousingly with ‘Vive la République. Vive la France.’

The Nouzerines-based children from the three schools in our local co-opérative always stand at the front during the ceremony and every year they contribute.

For the last few years they have recited a poem by a local person. This year they went musical, and sang the first verse and chorus from La Marseillaise. They did brilliantly. A lot of the older people were humming along and they got a good round of applause when they finished.

Here’s what they sang:

Allons enfants de la Patrie

 Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

 Contre nous de la tyrannie

 L’étendard sanglant est levé

 Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes

 Mugir ces féroces soldats?

 Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras.

 Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

Aux armes citoyens

 Formez vos bataillons

 Marchons, marchons

 Qu’un sang impur

 Abreuve nos sillons

Now this translates as:

Arise children of the fatherland

The day of glory has arrived.

Against us tyranny’s

Bloody standard is raised.

Listen to the sound in the fields,

The howling of these fearsome soldiers

They are coming into our midst

To cut the throats of your sons and consorts.

To arms citizens, Form your battalions,

We’ll march, we’ll march march

Let impure blood

Water our furrows.

That’s one impressive national anthem!

Then the bearers lowered their flag and there was a minute’s silence for everyone who died during the First World War. Finally we processed round to the other side of the memorial which commemorates the soldiers who died during the Second World War and later conficts, and there was another minute’s silence.

It was over. There is always a cup d’amité on offer at the Auberge, but since we always cycle down to the ceremony, we never partake as we many not get home! Drinking and cycling don’t go together.

Now we’re back I must carry on tackling the apples and pears we’ve harvested this week. I’m peeling, chopping, stewing and freezing them. I may diversify into a little chutney making over the weekend.

There’s at least 10 kg in the three biggest bags, so I’ll be busy for some time. And there is still plenty of fruit lying around beneath long abandoned trees, calling for me!