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‘A Brief Period Of Rejoicing’

Today, 8th May, marks Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Winston Churchill told the Commons :

We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan with her her treachery and greed, remain unsubdued.We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance Britannia.

After six long years and millions of lives lost, the war in Europe was finally over.In London over a million peoplecelebrated and crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the Palace to cheering crowds.

“This is your hour. This is your Victory”, Churchill told the crowds. “It is not a victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole”.

The crowds burst into song singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. If there was one place l would like to have been it was there and then. The atmosphere must have been electric. Britain at its united best.

Click on this link to see a wonderful piece of film in colour of that moment in London: VE Day

Broad Beans

66 years on and my thoughts are also on my garden! We have been having tremendous thunderstorms and huge downpours with strong gusty winds.

It's raining again!

No problems with dry soil now. In fact, the garden is growing by the minute. My runner beans love the rain and are putting on some strong growth. So are my courgettes, squash and pumpkins. The spuds are looking good and so too are the peas and dwarf beans. I applied a soft soap solution on the blackfly on the Broad Beans and it seems to be working, albeit slowly. Thank you to Janet at Plantalicious for sending me a garlic spray recipe to get rid of the nasty blighters. I will use it if the soft soap solution doesn’t work.

I am also taking a chance with nature by planting out my courgettes this weekend. If a frost is forecast l will lay a fleece over them. the same with the spuds and runner beans. This hot weather has brought everything on so quickly l don’t have a choice really. If they stay in their pots their growth will be stumped and they never really fully recover.

Courgettes, squash and pumpkins ready to plant out

The Salad Bar

Everything comes up Roses in the end!

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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in May, The garden

 

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VE Day 65 years on

It is 65 years ago to the day that Great Britain and the rest of Europe were celebrating the end of the Second World War. A war that had gone on for 6 long years, cost millions of lives, had brought untold hardship and suffering to even more millions of people the like of which we will never know. And for those that had survived it was a time to celebrate and rejoice.

Here in France it is a National Holiday and l believe we should do the same in the UK. It seems fitting to mark this day as an entry on my blog. But as such l know l have to keep it short so l hope l can capture the spirit of the time in the following extracts.

On 4 May 1945 the German forces in north-western Europe surrendered to General Montgomery at Luneberg Heath. On 7 May the German Supreme command surrendered at Rheims. The 8 May was designated as VE-Day – Victory in Europe Day (the war against the Japanese still continued). In Britain there was a great deal of rejoicing and for the first time for many years there was floodlighting of public buildings and statues; restaurants, cinemas and theatres were fully lit up. It was said that some children were terrified by the unexpected amount of light!

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, announced to the nation that Germany had, at last, surrendered.

There were scenes of great jubilation, Churchill appeared with the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.He announced to the crowd: “This is your victory. It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best.” The crowds below cheered and sang ‘For he’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ followed by three cheers for victory.

Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth.

VE Day dawned, and for the first time in almost 6 years the weather forecast could be published in the newspapers. ‘Wind freshening; warm and sunny at first but rain can be expected later’, read the Daily Mirror. But the forecast was wrong: ‘the sudden warm snap’ did continue. By the afternoon the temperature in London had risen to 75F and the celebrating crowds sweltered in the unseasonal heat.

Nothing official had been planned to celebrate Victory in Europe. Resentment still simmered in some quarters. ‘A muddle, it was a muddle’. ‘Telling us over and over the church bells would be the signal. And then there was no signal. Just hanging around’. ‘Do ’em no good in the General Election. The way they have gone on over this. People won’t forget it. An insult that’s what it was…No bells, no All Clears. Nothing to start the people off. That’s what they were afraid of…’ J.G.

But the people did celebrate and took it upon themselves to organise street parties up and down the land. Neighbours pooled their sweet rations and made cakes and sandwiches. They tore down the black-out curtains and made them into fancy dress for the children, music was played in the streets and many had bonfires with effigies of Hitler on top of them.


The following is from a woman working at W.V.S. headquarters in London and describes the night in a letter to a friend:

We all walked to Buckingham Palace. As we got in front of it the flood-lighting flicked on. It was wonderful…magnificent and inspiring and it seemed we had never seen so beautiful a building. The crowd was everywhere and yet one could walk through it. We edged our way to a good view of the balcony, which was draped with crimson, with a yellow and gold fringe. The crowd was such that l have never seen- l was never so proud of England and our people. It was a crowd of seperate individuals. There was never any mass feeling. Everybody spoke quietly or was silent- everybody looked just relieved and glad. We waited. Coloured rockets went up behind us. Then the King and Queen and two Princessses came onto the balcony. We yelled and yelled and yelled and waved and cheered. They waved back to us. It was wonderful…then we began  to walk.We went to a huge bonfire in the park. People had joined hands and were circling round it. We walked by the lake- there were coloured lights in the trees and bushes reflected in the water. We came out of the Park by the Middlesex Guild Hall. It was floodlit in a warm yellowish light and looked medieval with flags from what looked like the battlements.

We went to Big Ben. It was floodlit and looked magnificent. I heard myself say ‘Dear Big Ben! Dear Big Ben!’ The Houses were floodlit from the river and all the lights along the Terrace. What moved us all beyond anything else was the great Union Jack on the Lords. It, alone, was floodlit by lights going straight upwards. It was a great, lovely Union Jack, flying grandly in the sky by itself…We walked to the middle of Westminster Bridge and stood there. Searchlights were all rotating and making a kaleidoscope pattern all over the sky. County Hall was lit in two colours and the training ships in the river strung with coloured lights…We walked back to Parliament Square and turn ed to face Big Ben. It was a few minutes to midnight…At one minute past, all fighting was to cease. It was absolutely silent. Big Ben struck. Just before the last stroke it had reached one minute past. A great cry went up and people clapped their hands. Something went off with a bang…The tugs in the river gave the V sign. It was unforgettable.



 
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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in May

 

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Vegetable luxuries

Another entry from Mr Middleton’s ‘Digging for Victory’.

In these critical times the wise gardener is thinking of the winter supplies, and concentrating his energies on getting plenty of the utility vegetables. Potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, swedes, artichokes, and winter greens are of the first importance. But it doesn’t follow that we should deny ourselves everything in the nature of a luxury, especially as some of the so-called luxury vegetables can be produced without interfering with the general Dig for Victory plans.

Variety is good for us, and the vegetable diet can become a little monotonous without the addition of an occasional novelty, just by way of a change, and to add interest to the proceedings. Apparently a good many of my listeners have been thinking along these lines, for l have had quite a lot of letters lately about such things as mushrooms, melons and pumpkin: to say nothing of asparagus, peaches, and strawberries.

Now l am not going to advocate the growing of any of these in war-time if it means neglecting the essential subject; but where they can be conveniently fitted into the scheme of things, to add variety, and make life a little more worth living, l’m all for them, in moderation, of course.

Anderson Shelter

Mr Middleton goes on to tell us how to cultivate mushrooms under some turf or in a cold frame; and to make use of every square inch in the garden by growing marrows on top of the Anderson air-raid shelter! He was way ahead of his time when he suggests after thinning out the seedlings of turnips, carrots, onions, lettuce and parsnips, not to throw them on the compost heap but to use them in a salad. I believe people today are paying a small fortune buying salads in this form!

He finishes off by adding:

‘One thing l like about war-time gardening is that l have less mowing to do; there isn’t much left to mow, so l can get on with the hoeing instead; hoeing between the vegetable rows is a much more useful occupation, and keeps the crops on the move, so don’t let the hoe go rusty.’

I couldn’t agree more! We have just had a spell of long overdue rain so it should be perfect. Have a great weekend and remember tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of VE Day.

 
 

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