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A month of dedicated writing time disappears more quickly than you can imagine. But not without trace: 50,000 words, thousands of photographs, a host of new friends and memories and ideas and focus. Retaining the last as I squeeze back into life on the opposite side of the world, especially at the frenzied festive season, proves a challenge.

But here I am in the first week of 2014, once again writing, juggling work and family and editing and any number of commitments, wishing it was less hot and that I had fewer interruptions, and that Paris and Ieper and Scotland were only a train ride away.

And an email arrives from Vollezele; one of the writers who shared the Villa reminding me of that time and space, and I am once again standing in the narrow kitchen, looking out at lawn and woodland and thinking about artillery fire while I wait for the coffee to brew and the world a hundred years distant to shape itself in my mind.

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