Saturday, 28 October 2017

Our Very Own Tour de France - Day 65 - 68

 Lac de Der to Le Crotoy

Wednesday 25th October 2017

First of all We'd like to wish our son Adam 
and Granddaughter Evelyn a very happy birthday
We hope you both had a lovely day with lots of little surprises

Today was also very special because we got our first glimpse of our 4th grandchild - even though he or she wont be born for another 4 months!

And in comparison to all of the above, our day was quite dull really - we travelled further north for a good chunk of  it in what was an uneventful journey!  We left Lac de Der with the sound of honking cranes in our ears and aimed for an Aire in the small town of Neuilly St Front which was just over 100 miles away.  However, when we got there we didn't like it much, so over a  late lunch we mulled over where we could go instead, and for inspiration we studied our trusty Aires in France book and discovered Chateau Thierry which was about 15 miles away.

The book identified a riverside parking area that would charge us 8 euros for the pleasure of being there, but it also informed us about an American WW1 monument which stands as a memorial to the American troops who fought  and died in the Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne offensives.  Once we'd settled in we walked up to the  memorial which stands high on a hill above the town, and although it was a bit of a muddy steep trek, and despite the fact that some aspects of  the building were covered in scaffolding, the views of the monument and the surrounding champagne vineyards made it well worth the effort.

We learnt that on the 6th June German machine guns and sharpshooters inflicted the highest number of casualties ever sustained by the US Marine Corps at that time.  Fighting continued for weeks because the German troops were well dug in, and not only did they fight  ferociously, but they also released large amounts of mustard gas.  However, in the end the American troops were victorious but only after monumental loss of life.

Champagne vines

Thursday 26th October 2017

This morning we woke to thick murk that obscured our early views from our windows, and which persisted until well after lunch time, but as today was to be another long driving day we didn't waste much time in setting off on our journey.    Our mission was to get back to France's North Coast - specifically to the town of Le Crotoy where we plan to spend the next 3 nights before a last dash to Calais for our crossing back to Blighty!

We eventually parked in a little Aire where for a small sum we have the additional comfort of electric hook up so we'll be able to enjoy the luxury of hot water and heating if we need it!
And after quite a hectic 10 weeks I think our plan will be to have a bit of R&R before we have to face more long drives in - but they will be well worth the effort because they will take us home to  spend the next month with our much missed family. 

Friday 27th and Saturday 28th October 2017

The town of Crotoy is situated in a wide tidal bay on the estuary of the river Somme and opposite Le Hourdel where we first started this tour, so when John suggested coming here I really thought we'd be stopping at the sea side!

However, when the tide goes out  it retreats so far you need a telescope to see it - a bit like Skeggy reallyπŸ˜‚. 

And this exposes a massive expanse of sand, some 14 km across and like a giant scallop shell, thus making it ideal for what used to be one of the areas main industries, and what is still a pass time for many locals - and that's cockling!

On Friday we went for quite a long walk (10 miles ish) around the bay and while we were out we saw lots of people indulging in obtaining a free tea!  Apparently, in this area millions of cockles and other molluscs live buried in the sand forming colonies in the northern part of the bay.  However, even if we got out there with the locals and gathered some I'm not sure I'd know what to do with them, or even if I'd actually fancy eating themπŸ˜• YUK!

Don't think that's quite right!
Then on Saturday we took it easy for most of the day and also took huge advantage of our sites free WIFI.  John had started looking round on YouTube for some of his childhood favourites such as Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet, Super-Car, and Torchy The Battery Boy - and much to his delight full episodes of many of them were available - so you can imagine how he spent his morning! Me, well I started searching on a download site I subscribe to  (File Factory) and found 39 full episodes of Stingray so that's all on a USB stick now and stored away for a rainy day!  And I ought to tell you about John's other new pass-time - he's making quite a good hairdresser, and if I'm not careful he might start to charge soon!

In the afternoon we ventured out again in the opposite direction, and although we had a  very pleasant walk it was very windy and quite cold.   Because of this I'd thought it was a good idea to take some hot chocolate with us so we could sit on the sea front and sip it while we watched the tide race in - but there were two problems with that!  First we were too early for the tide and it was to cold to sit and wait, and secondly, when we tried to drink our hot chocolate the wind whipped up such a swirl in our cups that we ended up wearing more of it that we drank - but it was funny!

Anyway, once more that's it for now - and for this tour this is probably the penultimate episode - but we will see you again in a few days when our feet are firmly back on home soil to tell you how it ends!

Part of Le Crotoy Bay on a Cold Windy Day!

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