Bonjour, tres bien, Le Plume and all of that Jazz
So I have been a busy bunny.
Day 14 started as the Chilean lady in the room next door, woke at about 5ish to go spend a penny. If you remember, I was in the room with the Bed in the roof and it was the same set up in her room. There is basically one piece of plywood between the rooms and you could hear a nat fart (of which she had probably endured the noise of me doing the same all night...fromage!).
I could hear and visualise her progress as she got out of bed, crawled to the steps, got one leg on the first rung of the ladder and then promptly fell all the way to the bottom. If she had not been busy cursing the owner of that fine establishment, she would have probably heard my giggling before asking if she was ok....... to which the guy in the room on the opposite side answered in the affirmative, before then farting himself....It just felt so French.
I then moved from Lille to Arras with a Lift from Marc who was great to chat to and dropped me right in the centre of the town. I had a great day exploring the whole city and can honestly say I saw every point of the compas in the place. I was underground at the Wellington Tunnels, which are some limestone mines used by the British in 1916 to launch a surprise attack on the Germans, popping up literally meters short of their lines. 24000 men lived in the tunnels for a week before the assault but I bet it still smelt fresher than my room the previous evening!
I then climbed the town steeple to get a grand view of the whole place: Most of the city was destroyed during the battle, but was rebuilt the same so you can recognise the buildings in the footage from the war. We all see the black and white films of the 1st world war, with everyone walking fast and looking a bit Chaplin esq, but to see it in all its glory, removed some of the detachment that those pictures can cereate. To then visit the British cemetery with 2500 solders Interened in it and to see a lot names on gravestones of men from the Royal Warwick’s (my county) brought home the reality.
HOWEVER the massive monument building at the side of the cemetery has every wall covered with the names of those who’s remains they never found. It’s huge, there are many many walls and they are all covered....its so sad 😞
In an attempt to lighten my mood a little, I visited a very nice patisserie and pushed half of a cream cake into my face, much to the amusement of the owner.
I pushed onwards to Amiens and arrived about 3 in the afternoon. I couldn’t decide if I should push on the extra 20 miles to where the Somme battles were fought or sit in a bar and watch England gloriously defeat the rotten Frenchy types at rugby 🏉, It would appear I made the wrong choice. Great afternoon though as I sat with the French family who owned a bar and who were very garcious in victory, even buying me a drink to drowned my sorrows.
Tomorrow I hit the Battlefields proper and will spend a few days visiting places which names have become very familiar to me over the past few weeks, as I’ve read about the utter slaughter that happened there just over 100 years ago.
Again I will leave you with a little passage from the Book ‘The Somme’
‘The ill-fated attack by the 7th Green Howards went ahead at 2.30 p.m. Many of the attackers were predictably mown down, as the battalion lost over 350 men within three minutes’