Picardie

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Arrived at Faversham, UK and after a night in the local we proudly took delivery of our new toy. We’re having trouble coming up with a name for her, so would appreciate your suggestions in the comments at the very bottom of the page (while you’re there tick the box that says ” Notify me of new posts via email.”). The winner receives a week for 2 in the ‘Athenian Suite’ (east wing). First stop was an hour away at Folkstone (near Dover) where we stocked up on supplies and tried to source all the little luxuries we would need for the upcoming adventure.

Moving into our European Summer residence
Moving into our European Summer residence

Back at the caravan park I had just worked out the new GPS (we need a name for this too) so when a neighbour told us of a nearby store that may have some goodies we were after I was confident we could find it OK. What I had not considered was the GPS didn’t know I was driving a left-hand drive Motorhome in a foreign country and decided to take me down some of the UK’s famous skinny country lanes. On coming cars were giving Deb puppies but we seemed to be doing alright until a van nearly as big as me decided to speed past without even attempting to move off the centre of the road.  A loud bang announced the departure of both our right-hand mirrors and send my tension level soaring.

The white cliffs of the Côte d'Opale
The white cliffs of the Côte d’Opale

As I was the ‘bloody foreigner’ I thought better to let him do the talking and take it from there. He started with a very aggressive “you aren’t supposed to be here, this lane has width restriction you know” to which I could only meekly reply “I was just following my GPS”, as I stared at the dangling broken plastic bits where his mirror used to live. He then caught me completely off guard with a conciliatory “Ah well we both got damage let’s call it 50/50” as he shoved his hand out toward me. Acutely aware of the many cars lined up behind us both I quickly shook his hand and climbed back into the cab…..day 2 in Britain and I was already ‘shaken but not stirred’!

Art or Graffiti?
Art or Graffiti?

That night we drove to the outskirts of London where we had dinner with Jason, Guy & Shira before getting up early and boarding the Dover ferry for a 1.5 hour channel crossing. We excitedly drove through Calais and headed south down the Opal coast visiting quaint villages boasting some magnificent views of  the white cliffs.

The beautiful Canadian memorial at Vimy
The beautiful Canadian memorial at Vimy

France is divided into provinces and this one is called Picardie. Each province is also sub-divided into geographical areas and the most historically famous area in this province is ‘the Somme’, scene of many WW1 battles. Driving from Amiens to Arras there are many military cemeteries and memorials representing the many nationalities that fought as part of the British forces. Although among the ones we passed was one Australian memorial the better known ones along with museums were in Villers-Bretonneux. We had decided not to visit there but to visit the Canadian memorial instead my reasons were as follows. The cemeteries we did see were all the same, beautifully manicured lawns with white headstones in neat rows and I should imagine just the right atmosphere for visiting family and comrades.

The trenches were curved so as to limit damage from direct hits.
The trenches were curved so as to limit damage from direct hits.

However, neither Deb nor I had any direct link to those buried there other than the fact that we are Aussies and by contrast the Canadians had secured an area that was the scene of a mainly Canadian action at Vimy and had left it ‘as is’ since the day the guns fell silent. This location was amazing and consists of 200m of tunnels, trenches from both sides, a memorial and an information centre which is staffed by dual-language Canadian guides. Many soldiers remains are still buried there so the entire site is treated as a cemetery.

The WW1 front line trenches of opposing forces at Vimy were sometimes only metres apart
The WW1 front line trenches of opposing forces at Vimy were sometimes only meters apart

The guides take you on a free tour through the tunnels and trenches and give you some idea of the conditions while answering any questions. I realise other visitors may have different priorities but we highly recommend this experience to anyone visiting the area.

Debbie in the WW1 trenches at Vimy
Debbie in the WW1 trenches at Vimy

With the WW1 experience behind us it was time to get back to enjoying the sights, smells & especially tastes of Picardie.

Our first of many, many gothic churches, abbeys, etc. throughout France
Our first of many, many gothic churches, abbeys, etc. throughout France
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25 Replies to “Picardie

  1. G Day Deb and Mike Green with envy. Love the blog, site, or what ever you call it, looking forward to next lot of plctures and coments. Have fun. Regards Geoff n Doreen

  2. Hi Mike&Deb. Thanks so much for including us in the blog list. I follow it with enthusiasm. I love the stories you guys tell and also I get to learn English! It is so well written! Keep having fun!! Looking forward to reading about Spain if you guys end up going there!

    Freddy&Cristina

  3. Hi Mike and Deb. The blog is awesome. Can you see my green gills! The photos are fantastic. More please, but not so many that you end up blogging more than travelling! Have fun!! love Lynda

  4. Hi guys ,
    A great Blog , your stories are better than any book I have read and gripping we feel like we are with you the pictures also are superb and we are always left hanging waiting for the next submission .

    Call the GPS .WIFEY (She who must be obeyed )

    The Van COHENABROAD

    LOVE YOOOS ALL

  5. Deb and Mike, love the photo’s and the information, I am so envious of you both.
    Glad to hear the Motorhome was what you had hoped for.

  6. Hi Mike and Deb
    The blog, as always, is terrific and I feel like I am right there with you.
    As for a name for the van, I know this name is a bit long but I am sure you could get used to it after a while, call it the Livesey Holiday House.
    Love
    Peter and Marilyn

  7. Hey Mike and Deb, I really love your blogs. The photographs get better and more professional each time. Please make your next blogs twice as long next time and put in 3 times as many pics. Enjoi. Raps

  8. Hi guys, I agree with everyone else. The blog is great and the photos beautiful. Does feel like we are there. When we were in Canada, we called our GPS ‘gypsy’ because she kept taking us into the black blocks – narrow lanes etc. The van has to have something Aussie in the name. Oi Oi Oi. Keep up the blog and take your time, you’ve got 6 mths x 3 years. Should be just about enough time to see most of it. Cheers Helen and Brad

  9. In 1970 I warned you about your driving style!! Now it comes back to haunt you ! You should have known the width restrictions.. after all Arent you perfect , like the rest of us?
    No Matter.. I am sure you will survive ! After all. you have General Deb guiding your daily activities and ensuring you are both well fed and rested between adventures and able to report here ( as we need you two to do! )
    As far as names for the Van and the GPS.. ‘Miss Peel’ for the GPS ( please note the double entendre for Avengers and the pronunciation )
    The van is a Fiat ?? then in memory of all those fabulously brave Italian soldiers during the war, why not call her ‘ Retreat’ .. or The Retreat .. ( again , a double entendre.. ) actually i am just showing off.. I dont know what Entendre really means 😉
    Love you guys and the Blog..
    Keep it Up Mike !! ( Isnt that what debbie always says!)

  10. I don’t think I found anywhere as comparable in history and magnificent architecture as we saw in France. It truly is an eye opener. As for the name, I suggest rocky is appropriate.

  11. Hi Deb and Mike, sounds like a great adventure, very jealous, great pics’ as for a name for your home , how about a play on words “Cohen our way” or “Cohen home the long way”
    Cheers, Gary & Marilyn

  12. Thanks for including us in the blog. Its so well written and photos are lovely. Very interesting info too. What a wonderful thing to be doing. Enjoy. Viv and Brian Sussman.

  13. How about naming the GPS Con? … Short for Contrary. Loving the blog guys. Looks like you’re having a great adventure. Those trenches look just incredible. Lots of love to you both xxx

  14. Deb&Mike you 2 do have a Canadian connection….Me!! I love the blog. wonderful setup. I feel like I am there. Kelly is going to France in May and I will share your blog with her. I think the name of your mirrorless home could be ‘the great white north’

    1. Lovely blog – as a suggestion, would be good to end each entry with some indication of where next stop is (if you know it that is). Safe travels, John

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