I may have called a previous day, ‘Day 12’ but if your following this blog that is something that happens frequently and you will have to get used to it. HOWEVER this was day 12!
Today was the day when I eventually became a proper traveller (as in round the world type, not pikey), as I eventually left our glorious shores and headed to the land of empty snail shells and white flags. It was also the first day it had rained since I started (blizzards yes, rain no), and the grey murky skies did nothing to improve the idilic beauty that Dover lacks.
There is an excellent ‘Banksey’ on the side of one of the houses along the very sea front at Dover, of a guy chipping one of the stars off the European Union flag, which is creating cracks all the way through it. Firstly its another great Banksey piece, but also a brilliant reflection of what ‘Brexit’ actually did. I don’t mind being open, I wanted to stay, but I more than accept the majority voted to leave and am not a remoaner. Why do I mention this? I think it is very pertinent to what the next couple of weeks of my trip will be about and will refer back to it.
I was hoping to do a radio interview, with Forces Radio BFBS, just before I left but as time ticked by with no call, I figured that boat had sailed (HEY!! See what I did there?). I eventually ended up sat on the boat, with the ropes being cast off, when my phone rang. It wasn’t a live interview (as I eventually found out), but I chatted with the two presenters of one of the shows and they want to follow me for my whole journey.....”we also want to set you tasks along the way, would you be interested?”...oh yes indeedy I would (always the shrinking violet). I then did a pre-recorded interview with ‘Casey & Jay’ as well as some sound bites which they can use to advertise me with.....
”Hiiiiiiiii this is Daveee Mills with Casey and Jay coming all over BFFBS ....er...ah bollox sorry...can I start again?”
1 hour 30 mins later I was Jonny Forigenier. I found a cheap and cracking room to sleep 💤 in, on AirB&B, and my thanks goes to Edith who has a stunning house on the west side of Calais.
Between Edith’s house and the beach there is a military cemetery, which has soldiers from all over the world and from both sides of the world war 1 conflict. This chapter in our history will be my focus for a couple of weeks as I tour the battlefields and try to consider why man is so fixated with trying to kill fellow man?
An inscription I noticed on one of the beautifully kept gravestones, of a soldier killed in 1917
”Our beautiful son, taken to soon, but will forever be ours. Mam and Dad”
Set off with the aim of reaching Lille today. Had done some searching of the internet with regards hitchhiking in France 🇫🇷 and it all said ‘don’t even bother’ when near Calais....so I didn’t.
I did though find something called BlaBlaCar which is a car sharing thing. Cheap as chips 🍟 and easy to use with everyone being verified by the site before allowed to travel. So £8.50 got me to Lille in just over an hour.
I really like Lille its a really nice looking city, I wandered all around the place seeing the sights and really felt good. The sun came out, the streets were busy and everyone was dressed very nicely (apart from me obviously), I wandered to the citadel, which is a fortification built in the 1700’s apparently and on the way passed a Rhinoceros 🦏 , some Zebras 🦓 and some Pink Pelicans. I then stopped and returned to make sure I wasn’t whacked on some narcotics and it turns out I was bimbling past the Zoo.
I again found an Uber cheap room on AirB&B but walked in and wondered why there was no bed in the room.......going to the loo at 3 in the morning could be interesting,!
I will finish todays blog with an excerpt from ‘The Somme’ by Hugh Sebag -Montefiore (real name!!)
this was about an action witnessed by an officer who was surveying, what he thought was the thousands of dead and dying British soldiers lying in no mans land, on the first morning of the Somme offensive:-
“One particularly fine effort was directed by a dozen men against a point in the German trenches known as the Heligoland Redoubt. They sprang suddenly, as it seemed, to life, and dashing forward at a sharp pace, only to be burned to death by a discharge of flamethrowers, just as they breasted the parapet. This was in the afternoon. The sight of their crumpled figures staggering back from the tongues of flame and smoke, tearing hopelessly at their burning clothes, then falling one by one, was terrible. “