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