We first met Linda when she lived in Rochechouart, in the Haute-Vienne region of central France.
That was way back in 2009, and Linda had only 3 cats. Two elderly Siamese brothers, and a playful Burmese. We were delighted when she asked us to house/pet sit again in July 2018, while she went on a short business trip to Madrid.
Now Linda lives on acreage in Le Pin La Garenne in Normandy, and has 3 dogs, 2 donkey’s, 5 horses and one cat, all are rescue animals except for Marcel the big black cat, whose owners have moved back to the USA, and couldn’t take him with them.
Linda has now given these animals a wonderful life, saving the horses and donkey’s from the abattoir, and the dog’s from shelters after they had been confiscated from abusive owners, or like Guinness whose elderly owner died, and the family didn’t want to keep him.
It was only a short sit for Linda this time, but it was lovely to catch up again after all these years, and to spend time in this peaceful home, caring for all these lucky animals.
Well it’s been a good couple of weeks since we have WiFi so this post is a bit of a catch up on what we have been doing.
POST BIKE ACCIDENT.
I’m happy to report that since I have passed the ‘cursed’ bike over to Brian in exchange for his Gazelle (which I really wanted in the first place), there have been no more falls.
I am missing those lovely bike paths in The Netherlands and Belgium though, this having to deal with cars, trucks and buses passing by you on tiny little street can be a little frightening.
YPRES, the CITY of PEACE
One hundred years ago war raged around this area, and claimed over 600,000 lives. Australian’s, New Zealander’s, British, French, Belgium and soldiers from India all fought here, and the memorials to the missing and the graves of those that didn’t make it home dot the landscape.
Every evening at exactly 8pm the Last Post has been sounded since 1928 under the imposing arches of the Menin Gate. It is a very emotional ceremony, with wreathes laid nightly, and a platoon of British soldiers in attendance with their Captain reciting the ‘Ode’.
The Underground City of Naours.
I had heard about this site before we left earlier this year, so it was a definite stop for us once we were back in this area.
Initially quarries that were used to shelter local inhabitants from at least the 17th century in times of invasion, the caves contain about 300 rooms. There are chapels, rooms that families lived in, and places where the animals were kept, one cave is more than one kilometre long.
The caves were also visited by the WW1 soldiers based around this area, with over 3000 inscriptions un-covered to date. We were very lucky to be taken by one of the researchers to a special room in the cave where there are hundreds of Australian names and the places they come from inscribed in pencil, and looking like they were done yesterday.
It was nice to think that these soldiers had a day away from the battle field, and even better that these inscriptions where accidently discovered only four years ago.
The researcher was very interested to discover that both Brian and I had relatives that fought here on the Western Front, and has taken their names and battalion numbers, and promised to get back to us if their names are discovered on the cave walls in the future.
FRANCE and it’s ‘Petite Cities of Character’
They are usually marked by a green box around their names in the map books. Most are reasonably close to a motorway and with interesting architecture, cafe’s, and we usually try to stop at them at least for a coffee.
Neufchatel en Bray is one of these places, and not only did we discover a beautiful little town, it was local market day and I bought a most delicious local cheese I have never tried before.
Brian was more interested to discover the site of a V1 Museum at Val Ygot in the Eawy Forest, just outside of town.
These V1 and V2 secret weapons, were rockets with the capacity of reaching London when fired, and there were more than 400 launching ramps located along this coast from Dunkerque to Cherbourg, with the UK coast only 30kms away.
The site we visited was destroyed by the allies after being discovered French Resistance just before it was completed, but a second generation of lighter rockets and launchers in this area were very active and took many lives in both England and the surrounding area where some landed after a malfunction on firing.
A local group of volunteers has preserved this site which was devastated by allied bombings, and it has been re-forested Germany for war damages.
RECENT INTERESTING CAMPING PLACES
In Ypres we stayed on what was once the front line in 1917, but looking over this peaceful wheat field that is here now it’s so hard to imagine what it must have been like then.
Hardelot Plage (beach) had a free aire that was surrounded by golf courses, and some of the most beautiful homes we have seen. Thatched roofs, exquisite grounds and one even looked like a mansion sized Hobbit House. Jazz festival topped it off.
Les Canards de la Germaine, a farm stay/stop with goats (very cute), chickens (fresh eggs), peacocks (just noisy) and the best tasting geese (foie gras).
La Poterie Cap d’Antifer our favourite lighthouse stop on the cliffs. We were here back in late April for a night, but decided another night was necessary.
Pointe de la Varde, Saint Malo
This was a terrific spot, so good we stayed the whole weekend. Overlooking the ocean, with a westerly outlook to catch the sunsets from the ancient fort on the cliffs. Also a great bar where we watched the World Cup Soccer match between France and Argentina, with France winning 3-2.
Hillion, this is where you want to come for moules (fresh mussels). With it’s shallow sandy bay with extremely low/high tides that leave the mussel beds exposed for the farmers to drive their tractors out for the harvest.