Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd September (yes, I know, I’m way behind) and we are on the home straight.
We leave Verdun carried in a lightly dented Gandalf. A bit less grumpy but somewhat melancholy as our trip draws to a close.
We should consider ourselves lucky as back in 1916 the battle of Verdun stopped 300,000 men from ever leaving this place. (Thus putting our minor problems into perspective.)
We are heading for Saint Omer. It’s not a great place to go, though I’m sure the tourist office would disagree, but it does place us within 40 minutes drive of Calais and Le Tunnel.
While Mrs P drives Mr P spends a fruitless hour tying to find a campsite. We swap driving and within 5 minutes Mrs P has found a spot.
4 km from the centre of town in the Marais of Audomarois or the Marshes of a saint Omer.
Way back in the 7th Century local monks here started carving channels through the sodden peaty soil for cultivation. A thriving market garden industry was in place by the 19th century and today, more than 50 vegetable varieties are grown there. Admittedly 49 of those varieties are cabbage but still…
The influence of cabbages can be felt, quite literally, when, following every harvest, fences across the region are blown down by mysterious winds seeming to emanate directly from the marshes.
Enough silliness. It is a beautiful place…
It’s a bit like parts of the Thames near Henley, though without the aeroplane noises, congestion and ocean going liners.
(Aside: Why do people buy ocean going vessels to noisily cruise up and down a 60 foot wide, 3 mile stretch of the Thames at Henley?)
All this loveliness is too much for us so we cycle into town to have an end of trip drink.
We don’t stay long. If we missed the crowds, noise and smells of the Thames then Saint Omer did its very best to make us feel right back at home.
After a quick drink, a dose of other people’s cigarette smoke and a vehicular assault on our ears we head back for the tranquility of the marshes.
Where Mrs P feeds the duck…
…and Mr P tries out the very latest in aquatic turbo trainers.
All followed by a lovely glass of French red.
Last year, at the end of our 4.5 month trip one the final photos was an image of our shadows on the beach in Spain. Whilst this is not quite the final blog post of the trip it is the final photo of this particular post, we thought we would do something similar…
Tomorrow, Le Tunnel…