First chance back to the Lounge after having returned from a week walking the Somme battlefield in France (and then dashing to the 'London Fedora Lounge Summer bash!'). Had a great time and the two guides (they are indispensible for your first visit, as they bring the woods and fields to life with their enthusiasm and knowledge by turning the clock back 90+ years) were just great. It's hard to comprehend the numbers of men who died there on those French fields and the land is still littered with body parts bubbling to the surface each year and ordnance (on one walk I came across FOUR grenades!! just lying at the side of a field. Look, but don't touch...though try telling some folk that!!). Putting it mildly, when you walk across the fields between the two lines (Brit and German) you realise pretty quickly why nothing moved out there in daylight, as it is so exposed. It was a butchers yard (I know, not a pleasant analogy, but pretty apt sadly for this area in 1916). I went this year as it's the 90th anniversary of the first major offensive and on July 1st, many Irish boys (and others) lost their lives and spilled their blood over those fields. Boys as young as 14!! What brought a lump to my throat were the epitaphs on the white Commonwealth graves. Believe it or not, the families were charged by the letter for having an epitaph, and most of these boys were from poor working class families! But they still dug deep, proud races that gave up their sons for King & Country. Some epitaphs were just simple, well known quotes form the bible (eg: Nearer to God are thee...etc), others were very personal (eg: Your sister Bessie and loving mother Edith, in the quiet hours, alone, we miss you son...), or the epitaphs that felt the waste of the war (eg: Was the loss of one so young worth the cost)...and some were the last loving words of a son to his mother, in the last letter she received from her child...(Don't worry mum, I'll be alright...). I saw woods that were now graves to thousands of young men who died in close combat and after the war the bodies were buried under the trees where they fell. Boys came from all corners of the Empire to fight, thinking that if they didn't they would miss bashing the Hun in six months! And as the UK comedy/satire of Blackadder Goes Forth, said, "Give Harry Hun six of the best, and we'll be sucking German sausage in Berlin by the end of the week ...home in time for tea and medals!" Sadly, that upbeat attitude at the beginning of the Great War was not to last as the awful and sometimes prehistoric form of fighting in the trenches and tunnels dragged on for four years at a horrendous cost to many a nation's youth (Newfoundland hadn't recovered by WW2 and hardly had enough men to raise a battallion, such was the loss suffered during the Great War!). Anyway, if you ever have the chance, I'd recommend a walking tour of the battlefields (either WW2 or Great War). Next trip may very well be Ypres and the Salient.