Sunday 30th June 2013

In Flanders Fields

Exactly 4 weeks ago I left Ely does not seem that long at all, in fact in only seems like yesterday but I have seen and done so many new things and met so many wonderful people it also feels like a lifetime.

After waking Dirk, Steffen and me headed to a local bakery to pick up the bread for breakfast, it’s a very popular place and there is always a queue in a morning. It’s so popular they have special extended parking times outside the shop (from 15 minutes to 30 minutes), the bakery even put on free coffee outside the shop for the waiting customers. Once we had collected the bread and the paper (for Inge) it was back to the caravan for breakfast. I then showed Dirk how to assemble his sun shade as I he was having a few problems with it!

Dirk had decided to take us to Ieper (Ypres) for today with Lauren and Steffen coming along, we were heading to the In Flanders Field exhibition in the town which is a about WWI. It’s a pretty powerful thing and you get these bracelets made to look like a poppy which activate information at different points, unfortunately mine decided I could read French so I had no clue what any of the additional information was about. There is one cool bit where you can put in you surname and it will tell you how many soldiers with your name are known to have died in WWI, if I remember rightly there were 15 with my name. I seem to say this about everything I go to but you really should come here and see it.

After the museum we went to the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing it’s a very thought-provoking sight, just the amount of names carved into the walls there from every corner of the globe who fought in Flanders in WWI.

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Then it was time for me to sample my first Belgium Waffle and boy it was damn good!

All to soon it was time to head back to dinner, I went had run out of cigarettes by now so went to look for somewhere to buy more, I’ve been trying to give up but damn they are cheap in Europe! So again I left the camp and headed in the other direction this time and came across the Ramskapelle Road Military Cemetary where noticed the graves of soldiers from the Lancashire regiment and saw one with my surname so I investigated further and the soldiers buried here died when the Germans counterattacked in the region but they managed to hold it off. I spent a few minutes paying my respects just in case he is related to me, my family tree is a bit of a mystery to me. Gave up my quest for cigarettes and headed back to the caravan.

Soon it was time to pack up and head back to Turnhout then on to Rik’s in Vroenhoven and for me to say goodbye to Dirk, Inge, Steffen, Lauren and Sander. We had a little panic when we went to collect my kit from Dirk’s when the poles for my tent went missing but thankfully they had just rolled under a chair and were located again after 15 minutes of frantic searching and me having a heart attack. Dirk, Steffen and me then piled back into the car to head to Rik’s which is quite a trip and we did not arrive until very late in the night where I gave Dirk a big hug and thanked him for the weekend and he drove off into the night!

Thank to Inge for inviting me along for this weekend it was really nice to meet and spend time with you all and I will never forget your generosity.

Dirk, Lauren, Steffen, Sander and Inge my most wonderful hosts

Dirk, Lauren, Steffen, Sander and Inge my most wonderful hosts

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