Maurice’s Story

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Yesterday was Rememberance Sunday. I was asked to recount the story of one of the four WW1 dead from our tiny village. The service was held in the parish Church in the neighbouring village of Sandon. As I walked up in front of a packed congregation to speak I suddenly realised how important my job was. It was my task to tell the story of villager Maurice Barnes so others could remember him. He wasn’t famous, just a simple farm-worker and ordinary soldier, who died in France in 1917. I post my tribute, not to gain praise, but in the simple wish to tell you his story so that you may remember him too…

Maurice Barnes was the only son of Arthur and Eliza Barnes. Arthur (his father) and George Turner (his grandfather) both worked on my grandfather’s farm.
Maurice was born in 1883 and grew up in a cottage on Hickmans Hill, Clothall. The cottage looked towards Windmill Hill, the last hill before Baldock. This was next to a farm track that is now the A507 road.
When Maurice was seven his mother died, on the 23rd of April, St Georges Day. She is buried in the churchyard in Sandon (where the service took place).
Maurice joined his father and grandfather on the farm in 1897 aged fourteen. He volunteered for the army in September 1914, within a month of the outbreak of war. My grandfather’s wages book records his last working week as the 29th August 1914 when he earned 16 shillings, cutting late barley on Windmill Hill.
Maurice served with D Company the 4th Battalion the Bedfordshire Regiment stationed at Bedford before the company moved to Felixstowe to provide home defence in the Harwich area. After the disaster on the Somme in July 1916, the battalion was sent to the Western Front, landing in France on the 25th July 1916 and eventually on to Arras.
At the start of the Arras offensive, Gavrelle was a fortified village in the third line of the forward German defences of the Hindenburg line. If Gavrelle and the high ground, with it’s shattered windmill to the North of the village could be taken, the British Army would be able to observe the German positions on the Douai plain beyond.
It is truly poignant that a son of Clothall, born and raised within sight of Windmill Hill, who spent his last working days on Windmill Hill, should go on to lose his life in an action where the ultimate aim was to wrest control of La Colline du Moulin a Vent – Windmill Hill.
He died, aged 34, on 23rd April 1917, St Georges Day, on the same day his mother had died when he was seven years old.
Maurice Barnes is one of 35,928 names of the missing that are remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial Pas de Calais.
To this day his remains lay somewhere on that Windmill Hill,

Far from Clothall…
Far from Home.
He is remembered.

Baldock Bard
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
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Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

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The Artist’s Gallery!

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Whenever you walk into someones house for the first time, you can almost always tell if they have small children or grandchildren from the artwork displayed in the kitchen. Secondly you can roughly guess the age by the quality and assortment displayed. I’ve always thought it is a vital part of parenting and natural support for a child, although is possibly frowned upon in this modern age of Nanny-State demanding that ‘Everyone’s a Winner!’ Our kitchen has hosted exhibitions down the ages…

Most famous artists,
from whatever ‘school’,
held their first exhibitions,
on a kitchen wall.
Whether England, Holland,
The States or France,
supported by parents,
or uncles or aunts.
And some progressed,
to a better thing,
glorious landscapes,
even Campbell’s soup tin!
On our wall,
(as we oughta!),
artistic progress,
from our granddaughter!

…and I’m keeping them, you never know!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com


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Synchronised Sleeping!

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Our guard-geese are very clever at synchronised sleeping, to the casual observer it may seem ok to creep past them, however the slightest snap of a twig or clack of a stone and they are up-and-at-em! Most mornings they chase me (or anyone else who knows what they want!) down the yard and we have to admit to being mugged again…

The geese are synchronized sleeping,
they’ve got no work to do,
they’ve been on duty all night long,
the over-night security crew!
All of a sudden they start honking,
they chase me – their wings drum a beat,
it may seem like they’re angry,
but they after their breakfast of wheat!

If you’re caught sleeping on the job, just tell the boss you were resting your eyes whilst thinking about the work in front of you!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

 

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No Words!

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Yesterday I flew my trusty Mavic Pro drone in the village churchyard to check on the progress of the new roof (replacing the copper that thieves stole). By mistake I pressed the wrong button and swung the camera up into the sky capturing a breathtaking view. There are no words to describe the result, so I shall not spoil it.

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

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A Miracle Happened Here!

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You can never be sure what you’ll find on the side of country roads these days. Farmer’s gateways with piles of garden waste, not a mile from a re-cycling facility or truck-loads of builders rubble abandoned on the sly. However sometimes you can be surprised, Mrs Bard spotted something on the side of a local country road that made us wonder if a biblical miracle had happened…

Driving along a country road with my Peggy Sue,
the music coming from Radio Two!
She suddenly announced to my surprise:
“I’m fed up with glasses, Damn these eyes!”
Out of the window as a gateway passes,
she threw her new expensive glasses!
As for her actions I didn’t think much,
until on the verge I spied a crutch!
“Peggy Sue, it seems to appear,
that biblical miracles happen around here!” 

Wishing you all a minor miracle of your own today!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

 

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The Fortune In Your Sofa!

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23:59hrs on Sunday 15th of October is the last day you can use the old pound coins in shops before they become worthless pieces of metal. About one in 30 of these coins in circulation is counterfeit. However it is estimated that over £400m-worth of these coins are still in circulation, that’s a lot of coins down the back of someone’s sofa…

There’s a fortune in pound coins,
down the back of your settee,
420 million golden pieces,
should be easy to find and see!
Every time someone’s sat,
in comfort in your house,
the settee has collected a charge,
squirrelled it away like a mouse!
So check all your furniture,
before Sunday’s last deadline,
and if you find those millions,
you know that they are mine!

Happy searching amongst the crumbs, sweet papers and general sofa-detritus! You never know what you may find!
Have a very Happy Friday!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
Season Ends 14
th October 2017
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Out-Barded in the Barn!

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Last Sunday the village church relocated to our barn for the Harvest Festival. About seventy people came to celebrate harvest, sing the old favorites and have lunch afterwards. It was a great way of remembering how lucky we are in our lives. However during the service I was unexpectedly called up to the front by one of the two vicars and given a poem to read. I’d been out-Barded in my own barn. So for my 1,600th blog posting I can include a ‘Guest Verse-monger!’My grain barn was laid out as a church
including hay bales on which to perch,
a heap of oats a pile made of bean,
a big-bale altar in between!
Then all of a sudden I was called,
had no idea – was not enthralled,
was handed a sheet for me to read,
on which was a verse – I didn’t dare plead!
So thanks to Nick Lyness (With no alarm!)
I was ‘out-barded’ in my own barn!

With many thanks to Fiona and Nick for taking such a truly memorable service. It’s not often that something that doesn’t involve dust a brush or a lorry happens in the barn!
I have reproduced Nick’s verse below for all to see, beneath that dog-collar he has hidden talents – Many thanks for writing such nice things about me!
© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
Season Ends 14
th October 2017
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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A Harvest Bag of Beans!

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This is a week of Harvest Festivals. On Monday I went to a service held by my Granddaughter’s school, it was an amazing modern service, not a hint of ploughing the fields and scattering. I remember going to a harvest festival at my daughter’s primary school many years ago when the vicar was late! During the pause, before he finally arrived carrying his shopping and wondering why everyone was assembled in his church, I re-wrote the words to a seasonal hymn! Somewhat changed here we go again…

We plough the fields and scatter,
with help from the EU,
soon we will be on our own,
that’s right – just me and you!
Herman, Jaques and Roberto,
will sneer at us and say:
“There’ll be no trade agreements,
why don’t you go away?
You’ll have to take our exports,
as for our markets all’s not as it seems,
any agreement we might have had,
ain’t worth a bag of beans!”

With apologies to all but it seems that farming will soon be on its own in a cold harsh climate with only the British Government to rely on for assistance (Ha Ha!)

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
Season Ends 14
th October 2017
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

 

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Feeding The Farm Staff!

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These last few days I’ve been busy loading oats. This is a tricky operation as the lorry has to be full to the brim in order to achieve a useful tonnage (oats weigh considerably less than wheat). When I have made three large heaps on the trailer, the driver drives forward as fast as he can before slamming on the brakes. This helps to level the load and fill up the odd corner before I load more! Unfortunately in these days of automatic sheets to cover the load, some spillage occurs. This is warmly greeted by certain members of the farm staff who have been waiting to pounce nearby…

You can tell I’ve been loading oats,
some have spilt in the yard,
the geese all honk “Thank-you,
it’s our payment for being on-guard!
We wander around at night,
we sometimes honk for danger,
then our silent attack,
and see off a lingering stranger!
Christmas is coming,
on oats we’re getting fat,
we’re too old and tough to eat,
thank heaven’s for that!”

If you are having trouble with strangers, get some geese (they don’t like it up ’em Captain Mainwaring!)

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
Season Ends 14
th October 2017
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Oats From A Different Angle!

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When you have a drone you get to see everyday actions from an entirely different angle. I had never thought of filming the loading of a lorry as I’m normally doing the loading. Last Friday son-in-law John drove the JCB Loadall, leaving me free to film. It was also handy for the lorry driver to be able to keep an eye on the load so we could get the maximum amount of light-weighing oats per load…

John is driving the Loadall,
he is very careful,
not to spill,
only to fill,
and keep everybody cheerful!

The Bard flies the drone,
over the lorry trailer roam,
it avoids the dust,
that’s a must,
digital pictures not Kodachrome!
My Mavic Pro does seem to like to get in on the act, could this be an ‘Auto-Drone-Selfie?’
Apologies for the poor quality verse!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until 14th October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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