28 July 2014

The Somme Weekend - Part Deux

Sunday dawned quite early as it was very warm and humid overnight. I had the windows open but had to tie them together with my belt to make sure they stayed open but not blowing about.

I packed and then went down a little too early for breakfast so took my bag out and loaded the panniers.  It was still alternating between warm and sunny and drizzle.

When I went back in, David was up. He'd had a ground floor room facing the street so was unable to open a window.

Amiens Hotel

Breakfast at the Central & Anzac Hotel is dubbed continental, but it is far better than that might suggest.  So much to eat! Once Lainy came down we were ready to get going.

The first stop of the day was to be the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.  The run wasn't too far from Amiens and once again we were in waterproofs.  When we arrived there was a coach from Slovakia and a large group of tourists ahead of us. Tourists sounds a bit "sniffy" but no meant that way. We were tourists too.

The monument commands the high ground and the Australians had to cross flat open land to assault the enemy positions. 

Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux

Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux

Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux

There are 1535 identified burials but so many of the stones are of an unidentified soldiers. More information

Once we had navigated the car-park,  newly surfaced and a little slippery with inlaid marble slabs, we made the short journey to Corbie.

In the military extension to the municipal cemetery there are many burials. Mostly soldiers that died of wounds after being moved back to the hospital at Corbie.

It's here where I wanted to plant a poppy cross for my Grandad's cousin William Devall. We have done it before but I guess the clean up by the CWGC gardeners have got rid of it.  When we arrived Alan and I arrived first and we cleared away some tree branches that had dropped onto the stones under the big tree.

I found William, and planted my cross and took some photos and then returned to the bikes. 

William Devall @ Corbie

We decided to make a change to the plan and opted to go back to Albert so we could visit the museum under the town.

Somehow I managed to miss the Red Baron, in fact the waypoint didn't appear on TomTom! Ian said it had pinged up on his Garmin.

Before the museum we adjourned to a cafe for a drink to fortify us for the museum trip.  It is well worth going to underground.  It's only €6 each to get in and although some of the models (manikins?) are a little strange looking, the message of what it was like in the trenches is pretty well conveyed. The assortment if guns and other paraphernalia is extensive. Most poignant are the personal items such as toothbrushes and things that the men would have had on them.

We passed quite a time in there and came out to what appeared to be dry weather!  Hurrah. Checking the clocks showed that we had less time to get to Calais than we had thought and so the rest of the tour was scrapped and I told TomTom to take us to the ferry port.


With Ken and David both needing fuel before we would arrive at Calais, I said that we should stop at the services on the A26 northwards after Vimy. We made good time along the road past the Tommy Cafe and Pozieres towards the A1 and then onto the A26.

Stopping as planned for a fuel stop and lunch stop. The food in the services was probably better than most at British services but wasn't all that marvelous by French standards, although the baguette and frites filled a hole. But in common with France it was expensive! Gone are the days of the three course 10 franc menu!!!

The rest of the run back to Calais was only marred by the toll plaza having a problem where it wouldn't accept anyone's credit card.  The car in front of me seemed to have done something that caused it to shutdown and need manually resetting after every vehicle. I don't lile automatic tolls as I never understand how they differentiate between bikes and cars.  Bikes generally pay less than cars in France!

Once back at the port, the passport controls were relatively painless and we had a short wait to be loaded onto the boat, where we went to the coffee lounge to chill out, surrounded by kids and maybe even adult supervision.....  

They have so many school parties that they even announced over the tannoy for teachers and accompanying adults to supervise the kids in their party.  They didn't do that good a job of it!

Once we docked, we shook hands and then went our own way.

I think everyone enjoyed the trip and I would like to thank everyone that came and made it so enjoyable.

We are already planning Part Deux. Aiming to go a few weeks earlier to visit the places we had to drop this time.

Later in the year I will look at a hotel. With the distances involved on the Somme. Maybe choose the Central & Anzac again as Amiens has all the bars and restaurants we could ever need.

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