We spent Whitsun week touring the Somme, a long-held wish of my partner and the Mother-in-Law; absorbing the history of the First World War, and seeking out the resting place of her Great Uncle Austin, late of the Somerset Light Infantry, who was killed in the first Battle of the Scarp (Battle of Arras) on 11 April 1917.
I must confess to never having been much of a historian, but was fascinated by the gardens of remembrance, memorials and monuments, museums and artefacts, and learned an enormous amount about the Great War, especially from a most excellent museum visited on our last day, the Historial de la Grande Guerre at Péronne.
In one of those serendipitous coincidences that occur all too rarely, I had happened to sample a new tipple in the hotel bar the night before; the dagger felt at discovering the absence of the much anticipated brew Pelforth was healed immediately upon my accepting the waiting staff’s recommendation, and imbibing of a bottle of Colvert, a local beverage from Picardy, brewed in, of all places, Péronne.
After a superb tour of the converted 13th Century Castle that houses the very modern museum, and a splendid lunch in the town square, I steered our party toward the nearby Information Touristique with the intention of locating what I hoped would be the nearby brewery. Again, my luck was in, as the Brasserie De Clerck was in walking distance. The brewery was established on the site in 1924, but the family-owned Brasserie has been in business since before the French Revolution, and the eighth generation of De Clercks now carry on the tradition.
Now one thing that A-Day gave us, and is a gift that keeps on giving, is the removal of connected party restrictions upon the acquisition and disposal of property within SIPPs. Were the French to recognise our trust law, which they don’t, I would have happily proffered guidance in return for some of the wonderful product of the Brasserie De Clerck, the Colvert being complimented by “Poppy”, a brew created to mark the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. No matter how long established, nor when premises were purchased, there is scope for efficient tax planning provided by simplification. The sticking point pre A-Day was always the difficulty of accommodating the existing owned premises of the established company. There is also opportunity for tax-efficient succession planning using the medium of pensions. This is a much overlooked benefit of simplification, particularly for the family business.
Later that day, after buying some fine examples of the legacy of Jan De Clerck, we navigated our way North from Péronne to the rural settlement of Monchy-Le-Preux, where, just outside the village, within earshot of the A1 motorway, we located Orange Trench Cemetery, and the final resting place of Great Uncle Austin. As far as we were aware, as third and fourth generation descendants, we were his first visitors in the intervening 92 years. Lest we forget.
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