Berthem, once again, early this morning, in blustery conditions and under a troubled grey sky. The lanes and mud tracks were littered with green acorns and sweet chestnuts shaken loose by the gales. The beet mountains have started to reappear. The farmers scatter the shredded beet leafs back onto the fields, soon to be ploughed in, so the fields have a green-brown sheen to them. And then we came to a favourite copse that is now no more, the trees having been cut down and the best trunks tagged and stacked for purchase (picture). When I see such scenes I am immediately reminded of those First World War photographs and paintings (Paul Nash, for example) of the trenches, where heavy shelling had already destroyed the copses but not yet reduced them to mud baths. And then I remembered why. About ten years ago we were on a walking holiday near Verdun. We came to a similar scene of a recently felled copse, with mud and shattered branches all about. On closer examination, though, we realised that the clearance had revealed a segment of the battlefield, complete with barbed wire, vestiges of trenches, and occasional monuments for a fallen officer, with medals soldered onto iron crosses, and more rudimentary memorials.