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November, 2011:

The Oxford Companion to Beer

Something of a red letter day at Chez Bellebouche this afternoon. The culmination of a long long wait… my publishing debut!

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1 November – Day Of The Dead (All Saints Day) – 2011

Today is a public holiday in France – All Saints Day – the Day of the Dead.

It is a chance to visit friends and family that have long gone, pay your respects and reflect on them and their lives. It is quite a catholic tradition and the little cemetery in our village was packed with people paying their respects, delivering flowers and saying a few quiet words.

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The graves with a small photograph inserted into the stone are the most touching.  A flash of the person that was, so many stories they’ll never tell and a real human face on what is just a memory.

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Another,  sepia shadow from the past, cracked and starting to crumble but just catching the glorious November blue sky.

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Almost every grave at the village cemetery was festooned with pots of Chrysanthemums.  The shops all week have been brimming with these pots.

A total riot of colour in such a stark setting.

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Whatever this memorial once was, it is now on the decline… an impermanence even in death. The body that was interred has long since dissolved, the ground giving way a little and the stone starting to tumble.

The sign at the foot of the memorial…

“Cette concession en etat d’abandon fait l’objet d’une procedure de reprise veuillez vous adresser a la mairie”

So, it’s known as an unloved, uncared-for grave and will be ceded back to the commune in time.

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Breathtaking colours everywhere.

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Another collapsed and vanishing plot.

The very fact that someone has pushed together the little fragments of the memorial is very touching.

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Such a stark contrast between the stones and the sky.

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The wonderful tones of this ironwork, slowly decaying like everything else.

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Anything which has the slightest surface texture picks up lichen or moss.

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Long shadows of winter.   The clouds casting a shadow in the sky, the stones casting long shadows across the ground.

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This grave had the most stunning set of flowers on it.  A beautiful floral tribute of all fresh flowers. Never seen anything like it in my life.

 

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