Day 14 – travelling and exploring
Moving on again today – back to Buysscheure. Another longish drive, passing through the Champagne region and near more WW1 related places, like Arras, Lens and Bethune, but when we arrived at the Camping la Chaumiere it was a lovely feeling. Very familiar and welcoming. We set up quickly and had a quick beepy. So lovely and quiet here. Today is Bastille Day. We wondered whether it might be another night of trials (fireworks) for poor Arch. We decided to go out for an evening bike ride along the canal at nearby St Momelin, where we had earlier clocked a handy car park. We arrived and then Paul realised he had left the key for getting the bikes off the roof back at the van. Oops! So we retraced our steps and then back to St Momelin. It was a lovely ride and Archie enjoyed himself very much. As did we.
We took the scenic route home and visited the old fort and windmill at Watten. Where there were donkeys!! Including a particularly spiteful one that kept biting the neck of its field-mate. Bully! The fort is on a big hill (the Mont de Watten) which looks out over Flanders and which has been the site of fortifications since Roman times. The windmill there (Moulin de la Montagne) was originally built in 1731 and was used until the mid 1930s. In WW2, the Germans removed the roof and machinery and used it as a look-out. Thankfully, it was bought by the community and fully restored in the early 1990s and it can now grind flour again. It is a lovely spot and well worth a visit and we lingered there as the daylight ebbed away.
Day 15 – a visit to the Vet and exploring
It had been a quiet night, thankfully, so poor Arch was not troubled. Although later today, he may be. Today is the day that he has to visit the vet to certify that he is fit to travel home tomorrow and take a tapeworm tablet, administered by the vet. But first – we had awoken to shocking news that there had been a terrorist act yesterday evening in Nice, with loss of 84 lives. On Bastille Day! Poor France. Feel very sorry for the French today.
We set off for St Omer to buy provisions for lunch and to visit the Vet. The practice is known as “Clinique Veternaire du Haut Pont” and they are well-versed in the procedure and speak very good English. Passport stamped, tablet ingested and good to go. And of course, Archie behaved impeccably for Monsieur Dandrifosse (great name!!) the vet. The price was approx 38 Euros.
We first visited the Marshy area (Le Marais Audomarois) and exclaimed at its loveliness. There is a museum dedicated to the Marsh in St Omer, from whence you can take a ride on the traditional flat-bottomed boat, known as a “Bacôve”. Maybe next time?
Clairmarais is a pretty little town in the marais and we noticed the flags flying at half mast out of respect for the dead in Nice. They had been flying so jauntily in celebration of Bastille Day yesterday. It was very sad to see.
I have grabbed a screenshot from Google maps so that you can see the extent of the Marais (or part of it anyway). It’s fascinating – see below.
There are some interesting ruins of an old Abbey in Clairmarais and we found the war memorial particularly poignant on this sad day.
After our picnic lunch, we decided to visit a nearby WW1 cemetery just outside St Omer and had a hell of a game finding it. It is called Longuenesse and we were just about to give up when we finally found it. We were so glad that we persevered and we spent a while wandering round and reflecting again on the senselessness of the conflict.
It was beautifully kept and seemed a fitting tribute the many men whose final resting place it is.
It was now late afternoon and we had had to go back to do our final bits of packing before our journey back home tomorrow. We had booked to dine at the estaminet on site. We thought it would be interesting to see whether the food was as good as when Bernadette was the chef. Fortunately, it was and we retired full of delicious food and ready for the off in the morning.
Day 16 – Homeward bound 😦
We had a late morning crossing but left pretty early, as we had to get Archie checked in. It is a great set-up there at the tunnel and the animal check-in was functioning well with little or no queuing. We hit a snag at the car check-in point as a couple on a motor-bike were having a blazing row. It was obvious that someone (him) had forgotten/mislaid something vital and she was pretty annoyed with him. The air was positively crackling around them! We sat there for maybe a quarter of an hour – perhaps longer – until one of their friends – who was waiting patiently on the other side – offered to help us reverse out and into another queue. We accepted his help and were soon through and on the train. Homeward bound. Homecoming was made slightly more bearable by the prospect of a party that very evening. Hogfest! We were tired but were glad we went as we had a great time. Thanks Nick and Sarah. It was the perfect end to a perfect holiday.
You may be interested to know that the cost of the repairs to the van from the 1st day of holiday, we now know to be £6,000!