Cycling to Quend

Very sunny day – but not too hot – so we set off for a beach further up the coast as Phil wanted to go swimming.

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There are sculptures of birds on the roundabouts.

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The cycle paths are brilliant – and no hills!

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Went past the marshes – full of birds

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and horses.

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Cute little baby swans!

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Lots of flatness!

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We arrive at the seaside!

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Phil manfully strips off and strides away for a swim – while I sit in the sun and read and knit and bake. Bliss.

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Quend was a bit less upmarket than St Valery-just one street with bars and shops  which led down to the seafront. Bit like a section of Margate.

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But lovely beach,if you like sand.

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Wonder who took this picture?

We  went back a slightly different way to start with- but still flat cycle paths, this time through a wood,

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and then along the coast at Le Crotoy.

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The cycle path went out on a strip of land through the marshes – it was absolutely beautiful.

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From there it was back along the cycle path as far as the turn off for our campsite – where we had to ride up a hill for the  first time that day.

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And home.

St Valery sur Somme

We slept  quite late – and the day was grey.

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Went to the Canvas Holidays tent to pick up some leaflets, and read the messages left by other holidaymakers – including one by a woman who had lost one of her false teeth in their caravan. 

Decided to walk into St Valery to the market- cold to start with –but it warmed up on the way.

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St Valery  was busy and the sun had come out – we walked around the market and bought olives, pickled garlic,  strawberries and melons, and I resisted the temptation of a beautiful red leather bag.(Which I now  wish I had bought.

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There were information boards all over town – so we learnt that the estuary was once a hotspot of worm fishers – as below

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and then a tourist destination.  I must get myself one of these swimming costumes!

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There was a board walk going along the riverfront, and we sat down for a while and watched a pack of sheep on the other side of the river.

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At the end of the boardwalk there was a restaurant with several families eating outside being sandblasted by the sand blown off the beach. We walked up the path to the medieval part of the town.

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Fine set of klaxons!

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Went into St Martins church, and saw the shrine of St Rita – it was as if they had sanctified  the population of a Hull council estate.

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Obviously –again –someone had expected me.

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The little chapel dedicated to the war dead was different, in that it listed the civilians who had died as well, never seen that before.

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Well, we all want a part of Big Alan, don’t we?

When we got back to the market place it had magically transformed itself into a car park .

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We walked through town getting depressed at the price of eating out- and at the price of beer – 7 euro a  pint  of 1664! Back to the caravan and bottled leffe!

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As we walked  out of town we passed a bridge over a stream which in England would have been littered with shopping trolleys – Phil said ‘there won’t be any fish in there’ at which point a loch ness monster flicked it’s tail and swam into view.

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Just caught it’s tail as it disappeared into the depths.

Very windy walk home – which was a bit like playing Russian roulette under the trees! Phil went off for a short bike ride after dinner.

Calais to St Valery sur Somme

On Friday night we had a lovely evening with Jill and Elaine – we watched The Apprentice, while Phil slaved on the allotment. We stayed up far too late,considering we had to be up at 03:15 – but managed to drag ourselves out of bed when the alarm went off.
Got to Eurotunnel  without argument or incident – miracles do  happen – and they have installed a further piece of black magic which recognises your car number plate – so all you have to do is press a button and your ticket spews out.  Security was high – almost every car was being sent through to be searched – until it came to us – and we were waved straight through.  Either our true innocence and goodness shines forth like a beacon or a couple in their prime from Kent don’t ring any alarm bells. Either way –must take up drug smuggling.
It was a gorgeous morning when we emerged into France – sun just up and mist hanging in patches. It was early so we decided to visit my Great Uncle Arthur’s inscription on the First World War memorial at Loos before  heading down to the campsite.
Great Uncle Arthur had been discovered when  my other Great Uncle Mark researched my Mother’s family tree.  He was killed when she was two – and had never been mentioned in my lifetime.  Dan found him in the war records – so we know how he died – but nothing else about him. How sad.
Arthur Espiner war record 1Arthur Espiner war record
Dan found where his inscription  was from the War Graves Commission website –  on the Loos Memorial  in Dud corner cemetery (so called because of the large  number of unexploded bombs found there) We drove into Loos and  after driving around for  a while and  asking directions from a lady walking a dog we found one cemetery – a lovely little corner opposite the school. Had a wander around it –

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and then headed out of town to Dud Corner – on the main road.May  2011 069
Again, it was beautifully  kept– with walls on three sides holding the memorial inscriptions. So many of the gravestones held the inscription ‘A soldier of the Great War –known only to God’
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Made  me want to cry.
We  found Arthur.
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on the plaque and in the memorial book at the gate of the cemetery.
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There was one picture in the cupboard as May  2011 078
well- he looks like a child.
We stayed for quite a while – wandering round and reading the inscriptions, and looking out over the countryside.
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We  found a VC – and the cyclists.
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After leaving we went through a small town where we followed this cyclist- what a strange shape!
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The satnav took us on a wild and mysterious route (Phil says how about mindless – but a satnav doesn’t have a mind in the first place)
At one point we were driving down a tiny one track road in the middle of nowhere, behind a tractor which appeared to be being driven by a drunk – it was weaving from one side of the lane to the other.
We stopped at Auxi les Chateau for a wander around.
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The war memorial was strange as it seemed to have extended the war quite a lot.
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There was a pretty stream-
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     with a gang of wide boy ducks.
I like ducks.
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There was a book fair on at the townhall – and Phil bought some books on the legends of various parts of France.  I was annoyed by a stall holder who ate noisily while trying to sell me the one ‘English’ book he had – the Iliad.  I’ll give you that it was a translation.
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past a shop window –  they obviously knew I was coming.
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The church had a lovely door
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and –joy of joys – a cemetery at the back.
It was a determinedly urban  cemetery –with not a blade of grass nor a flower.
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Well, not a real flower.
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Lots of ceramic wreaths –
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  –  even on tasteful ceramic cushions.
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There were mausoleums (should that be mausolea?)
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And the obligatory ‘awwww’ grave of a 2 year old.May  2011 113
The street down from the church had  tiny houses – several empty and at least one almost derelict. 
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The satnav took us on a wild and mysterious route (Phil says how about mindless – but a satnav doesn’t have a mind in the first place)
He very kindly stopped at one point as I had lost a  knitting needle – took about 10 minutes to find  it under the stare of these cows..
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.. and in front of some windmills.
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Satnav took us down  one more tiny lane – past a peaceful wood.
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We got to the campsite at around 4 – went to the place labelled reception – and waved our piece of paper at them – still unsure what sort of accommodation we were getting. The receptionist said – ‘Oh, this is for canvas holidays’, and our hearts sank, thinking we were getting a frame tent for the week.  We went around to the reception pointed out to us – a tent with a man and a bike – a very nice man – – but in a tent.  It was a relief when he cycled off in front of the car to a caravan.
It was even more of a relief when we got into the caravan and this was waiting for us.
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We had dinner and watched Victorian Kitchen Garden – a good day,