Monthly Archives: July 2012

20120704 – The Somme

Wednesday – warm, cloudy and sunny.

Happy 4th July to all our American friends. Momentous day as scientists announce the finding of the Higgs boson – the elusive god particle. See cartoon explaining it here – http://vimeo.com/41038445.

Say goodbye to Barry & Dot. Really enjoyed their company. Now they’ve gone we can expand onto their pitch and with a bit of luck may find someone to rent out their caravan.

Drive down to Parthenay to visit the market and pick up some more wine. No parking anywhere so we give the market a miss – oh dear, how sad! Give the rest of Parthenay a miss. Just get wine and diesel and a new top for Wendy – you can never have too many tops.
Gradually packing up.

Pleasant surprise as Brian and Barbara just turn up. It was going to be a alcohol free night but it would be so rude not to invite them round to our patio for drinks. 4 hours and 3.5 bottles of wine (fortunately Wendy was on brandy so there was just about enough to go round) later we call it a night.

Thursday – rain in the morning but back to normal by the afternoon.

 

Cleaning and packing up.

In the evening we go round to Brian and Barbara’s for a quick drink before setting off down to the Cygney together for an splendid evening meal. The set menu for E25 was awesome for a 4 course meal – too much. Very enjoyable and the company wasn’t too bad either:-).

Friday – grey and with some rain.
Fortunately we manage to get packed up and away before the rain sets in. A new record for packing up – only 2.5 hours:-7. I truly despair, this is the one aspect of caravanning I just can’t cope with. How can anyone spin it out to last so long?

Drive up to Asseville in the Somme. Big mistake going around the Periphique in Paris, I knew it could be bad but
not this bad. Note to loony self, in future avoid Paris at all cost.

Hotel is a All Seasons Hotel – new style Ibis – very comfortable, trendy decoration and excellent evening meal and breakfast. Yes, yet another dinner!

Saturday – warm, sun and cloud.

Up early for a great breakfast. Then drive to Albert to start the Great War Trail around the Somme.

Visit the museum and underground tunnels there. Very interesting. Then drive around the trail. Visit the Newfoundland memorial parker and the trenches; then onto the British- Franco memorial at Thiepval memorial to the missing; then go in search of the Lochnager Crater. Finally find it, we think, well hidden away and after all that it’s closed! Pity about the trail as it’s so badly signposted. Has any lazy sod bothered to check it out? Considering there are more tourst info offices in the area than fleas on a mangy cur, it just amazes me how it can be such a balls up.


There’s graves everywhere; masses of them; conditions were appalling; it makes you wonder what men of steel they must have all been. How did they cope and what gross incompetence led them to their deaths. Good news is that all the graves are well looked after  and quite rightly too. Quite sadly so many of them say “A soldier of the Great War – known unto god”.

When you look at all the lives lost you really wonder why the French don’t treat Brits and Americans as honoured guests. In two world wars our countries have been their. Yet, no special relationship. Perhaps it’s as that gay historian geezer said, “whenever you bail a country out or save them all you get is long term resentment”.

Only manage to do half of the trail before we have to leave for the Tunnel. Really interesting day and would be well worth going back to do the other half of the trail and the museum at Perrone.

 

Get to the Channel tunnel 90 minutes early and as it’s a busy day we don’t get moved onto the next train but are scheduled
for our booked train crossing. However as soon as our letters called we drive down to the train and are loaded onto two trains earlier than our planned crossing – two morals there, don’t travel at weekend and as soon as you’re called go as they just load you onto the earliest train, irrespective of the letter allocated.

Pleasant evening and yet another pleasant evening meal in the Folkstone Premier Inn.

Sunday – Sun, cloud and of course some rain.

Welcome back to UK motoring. Two Motorways closed. They’ve even come across a new idea now to make life even more miserable . Yes, one of the motorways was closed for an imaginary traffic accident – what ingenuity. On the plus side I have to say I’m amazed that there was only two sets of road works and no major traffic hold ups – congratulations.


 Well we’ve had great 9 weeks. We’ve survived without committing mariticide. Although packing up Friday morning did come close.

Home to meet up with Nat and Paul who are doing a house swap in our home. They’ve had the joys of being part of an historic occasion on British history, they survived the worst rainfall in June since 1766, not much consolation for the awful weather they’ve had.

In the evening we got our for dinner – yet again – to the Strawberry Duck. Great Beer but food was a tad disappointing.

We probably won’t be back to our luxury home until August next year – assuming all goes to plan. We’ll miss it
but the good news is that I won’t have to tow for over a year – I won’t miss that or the packing up. Perhaps next year we may come down in the Merc and do some touring as well – Venice, Florence, Croatia and Southern Germany would be very pleasant.
Thanks to all the friends both old and new that made it all so enjoyable – you know who you are. Between us we certainly helped the French wine industry and probably postponed that Hollande geezers attempt to single handedly sink the French economy by at least 20 minutes.

Tough on those miserable gets who don’t seem even able to manage a cheery salutation or hello. Why do they bother caravanning, should stick with holidays in a solitary confinement cell.

 

 

Meanwhile if anyone knows who this Snail Sucker is please let me know. He represents all that is bad about France. A stereotypical Frenchmen. A truly objectionable miserable SOB. In future his image will appear on any French blog where we’ve encountered France at its worst – expect you’ll be seeing a lot of him.

 

 

 

 

 

To sum up “A lovely country spoilt by the French”.  If they didn’t have the good weather and the close proximity we’d avoid the French like the plague.

Never mind only 6 weeks to go before we escape again.

20120628 – Last Days in France

Thursday – too hot and sunny.

Camp siteWell it looks like we both provided a feast to some starving mosquitos yesterday. One day later we can see how many bites. That’ll teach us to go walking by the river on a humid day without the benefits of Deet or having had marmite butties the previous day.

It’s so hot it makes you appreciate why shaded pitches are so popular over here. We’ve just booked for August 18th next year but are now wondering whether we’ll cope. Unlike Arizona it can be a very humid heat – very debilitating.

Spend the morning doing the nerdy things. Crack off my first Ajax and PHP web pages. Really excited, sad but who cares.

In the afternoon I escort Wendy to her weekly highlight at the InterMarche. Achieve my mission objective (2 dozen bottles of wine) within 5 minutes so for being such a good boy I disappear to the cafe for a coffee and some iPad time. Wendy’s no doubt mightily relieved as she doesn’t have to drag a bored complaining husband around.

In the evening we go round to Dot and Barry’s patio for drinks. Two bottles of wine and 4 hours later it still in the mid twenty’s as we stagger back for bread and cheese.

Snazzy games title introduced:

The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production.

News of the computer game came as Tehran played host to the country’s second International Computer Games Expo. Press TV, Iran’s English language propaganda channel said (maybe alluding to the Salman Rushdie fatwa game):

The organisers considered the event as an opportunity to introduce Iranian culture, value and Islamic identity to international computer games designers and producers.

Little has been revealed about the game but its title suggests players will be asked to implement Khomeini’s call for the killing of Rushdie.

Car for saleHmm Iranian culture, that sounds interesting, perhaps they’ll do one called “Stoned” where you’ll get the virtual chance to stone someone to death or “chopper” where you get the chance to do virtual amputations or flogging – all in the name of the religion of peace.

Friday – warm, sun and cloud.

At last my claims that coffee is good for you have been vindicated. Recent studies show that;

Coffee found to boost muscles in the elderly helping them maintain their strength and reduce their chances of falling and injuring themselves.

Two cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart failure and

Consuming caffeine has also been linked to improved thinking processes and improved memory skills in later life.

It looks like us silver surfers need to get knocking back the coffees – get the Blue Sumatra out. Now we need more research on red wine and German lagers.

Thouars churchThankfully it’s a bit cooler so we manage to clean half of the caravan. My view is we should leave the other half to next year.

Saturday – warm, sun and cloud with an odd sprinkle.

Manage to clean the other half of the caravan while it’s not too hot.

Now you’re probably all aware by now of the new edict in France that means you have to carry an unused breathalyser in the car. Comes into effect 1st July. Of course you expect that this would be a merchandising gold mine and you wouldn’t be able to get into a SuperMarche or Pharmacy without falling over massive display stands flogging them at exorbitant prices. Wrong. You can’t seem to get them anywhere. But then again this is France. My conclusion is this. Firstly they’re not enterprising. Secondly, and probably more significantly, they know that no self respecting Frenchman is going to bother, it’s just another rule / law to be ignored, it doesn’t really apply to them.

Thouars artworkApparently eating a handful of pistachio nuts a day can help reduce the damage done to the body by acute stress, scientists say. The nuts help lower blood pressure and heart rate in difficult situations. Just what we need to cope with this stressful life. Wendy’s OK with this but she wants them ready shelled. I can understand wanting Trout ready filleted, but come on shelling some nuts is not that difficult – even I can manage it.

Why will I never go to Saudi Arabia:

A Saudi man has been beheaded on charges of supposed sorcery and witchcraft, the state news agency SPA says. The execution took place in the southern Najran province..

The victim, Muree bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri, was found in possession of books and talismans. He had also admitted adultery with two women, it said. Asiri was beheaded after his sentence was upheld by the country’s highest courts.

Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned executions for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International says the country does not formally classify sorcery as a capital offence.

Museum of Resistance & LiberteIs this really the 21st Century?

Sunday – warm and sunny.

Lazy day. Well it is the sabbath!

Cycle into town for some croissants from the bakery. I think they must be giving it away judging by the length of the queue.

Drinks on our patio with Barry and Dot – after 17:00 of course. Try some wine tasting as obviously one bottle will not suffice.

Monday – cloudy but warm.


Clean the car in the morning and take some photos whilst it’s immaculate ready for selling in AutoTrader.

Drive up to Thouars to visit the World War 2 Resistance Museum (Resistance & Liberte).

Receptionist at the museum is classic all that bad about this country. There’s only us there. She asks”just a Arrogant French twatmoment” and then proceeds to do her filing – it’s a wonder it wasn’t her nails – and complete some paperwork. After a few minutes of this charade I’m ready to blast her and vote with my feet. She finally deigns to serve us. Offer her a credit card. Complete look of incredulity – I explain to Wendy she’s obviously never seen one of these before. Where do they get these people from. No concept of customer service. A brown envelope and swift kick up the arse as she’s booted out the door is the best solution. Picture on right is symbolic of all that is bad about France

Museums quite interesting with English audio guide. Thoaurs was the centre for resistance in WW2 and the RAF dropped supplies to the resistance movement. Of course that explains why the large roundabout which has loads of National flags up, including the German flag, does not have a Union Jack or Stars and Stripes! Personally I’ve no problem with the German flag, I’d rather be in Germany any day than with these snail munchers, but I find the lack of a union jack just bloody typical. Why did all those British and Americans give their lives freeing this country from the Jackboot? Why didn’t they just land in Belgium; free the rest of Europe and bypass France.  “A lovely country spoilt by the French”. Such a pity the other countries in Europe aren’t nearer with better weather then we could give these a miss.

Thouars another churchThouars is a horrible town. Full of run down empty shops, even worse than Blackburn or Warrington – now thats as bad as it gets. If you don’t trip up over the mountains of chewing gum on the pavement  you tread into the valleys of dog muck everywhere.

Wendy’s obviously been quietly studying wines and how they are categorised. We’re talking about one I want to try again. “oh I know it’s in a tall bottle”!

Lets celebrate the Hadron collider has finally found the Higgs Boson – the God Particle.

Evening on Barry’s patio for drinks.

Tuesday – warm, sun and cloud.

Awning down and cleaned. Mats up and cleaned just in case it rains Thursday – female logic.

Apart from that a lazy day. Good news is it’s bread and cheese for dinner.