Change of travel plans
10th October 2011
When I first went to Australia I wanted to go to a Footy match but as Anthony hates the game he organised friends to take me to their Collingwood games. The Magpies have just been in the Grand Final – and lost (again) – so I knew that when they arrived here in France Judith and Ray were going to need cheering up.
To make life easier they had chosen a Eurostar that stopped at Frethun near Calais and I had just about made it out to Montreuil when the phone announced a message. Can’t check it whilst driving but that’ll be them getting on the train I reckoned. Then a second message arrived, and a third, and a fourth. Thankfully I had to get fuel, so having stopped at Carrefour I checked the messages.
Train cancelled. Next train in two hours. Doesn’t stop in Calais. Meet in Lille 1530 ?
About turn ! and head back inland towards Arras and then up the autoroute to Lille.There was no rush, but Lille is a very big city and traffic can be a problem. How long did I need to give myself to get to the station ? You never know with towns. So I gave myself forty-five minutes from the Auchan at Seclin and was in and parked within ten ! Huge underground car park. Took me fifteen to find out how to get out. So glad I wrote down the level, row and sector. Pity I hadn’t noted the colour of the block as well !
Anyway, the train arrived and with the magic of platform layouts I was stood at the door as they got off. We managed to find the car again and made our way back to Auchan to get the shopping done. Where’s the wine ? Where’s the beer ? Judith loves cheese, so France is a bit like going to heaven with added cholesterol. We opted for mussels and chips for dinner as that only required minimum work on my behalf once we were back at the ranch.
Of course now that I had visitors the weather turned grey and foggy and over the next two days we did get a bit damp as we wandered about the countryside. They had been doing some background checking and wanted to follow up three of the family members who were on the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. We also had a famous Collingwood player to locate in the cemetery at Heilly. A book has just come out about him and his complicated love affair with the girlfriend of his best mate.
Three days is soon gone though and it seemed that they had no sooner arrived and we were planning our last night’s meal. Ray had never tried raclette so that is what we went for. Oodles of cheese, terrine, sliced sausage, onions and hold the tomatoes (Oh! Ray eats them if they are fried – like somebody else I know who doesn’t eat ‘red’). We had managed to work our way through a fair few bottles of beer and I really should have taken a photo of Ray struggling with the Kwak stirrup glass.
Our last morning was spent at Bullecourt where brothers Herbert and Bert Blyton had died in the last German effort to force the Aussies back in May 1917. From there we did a quick whip into Arras and then on to the train station to get them tickets for Lille. I had been prepared to do the drive but they wanted to spare me the journey.
It had been good to catch up on all the gossip from down under and they’ll just have to come back again for sunnier weather (So July and August can be ruled out !). Sod’s law says that the moment they stepped on the train to leave the sun came out.
Posted : 19 October 2011