Vacances en France – 2018 – Carrière Wellington


On our last day stopping with the rellies, we headed out to Arras. On previous visits we had only ever dipped our toes into what this town has to offer and we had passed by on many occasions.

One thing we did know was that Arras is sitting on a maze of tunnels, and therefore felt it was way past time for us to find out more.

So of we went to Carrière Wellington.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say…


The Carrière Wellington is a museum in Arras, northern France. It is named after a former underground quarry which was part of a network of tunnels used by forces of the British Empire and Commonwealth during the First World War. Opened in March 2008, the museum commemorates the soldiers who built the tunnels and fought in the Battle of Arras in 1917.

500 miners from the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, including Māori and Pacific Islanders, recruited from the gold and coal mining districts of the country, were brought in to dig 20 kilometres (12 mi) of tunnels. They worked alongside Royal Engineer tunnelling companies, made up by now of British coal miners and expert tunnellers who had built the London Underground. Many of them were “Bantams“, soldiers of below average height who had been rejected from regular units because they did not meet the height requirements; others had been initially rejected as too old, but their specialist mining experience made them essential for the tunnelling operation.

Thousands of soldiers were billeted in the tunnels for eight days prior to the start of the Arras offensive on 9 April 1917. At 05:30 that morning, exits were dynamited to enable the troops to storm the German trenches. The Germans were taken by surprise and were pushed back 11 km (6.8 mi). This counted as an extraordinary success by the standards of the time. However, the offensive soon bogged down and it was eventually called off after casualties reached 4,000 a day.


From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carri%C3%A8re_Wellington>
Ready for the tour

Hopefully, the following pictures, will give a sense of the conditions under which the men of the New Zealand Tunelling Company worked and also the cramped space that thousands of men endured prior to beginning the attack.

The following image shows just one of the many stairways, to be used by the men as they exited the tunnels. They would have climbed in single file, popping out above ground to confront the German soldiers. I wonder if the first man up was a volunteer ?

With all the men inhabiting the tunnels a fair amount of drinking water would be required. They had their own water supply. The following image shows a water trough to the left. The trough is full of water, showing just how clean the water was. Center of the image is a mirror whose reflection shows the well from which the water comes.

Also from Wikipedia …..


The Carrière Wellington museum consists of a visitor centre displaying historic artifacts and presenting the historical context of the Battle of Arras, including the work of the tunnelers and the military strategy that underlay the tunnels’ construction. It was opened to the public on 1 March 2008.
The tunnels are accessed via a lift shaft that takes visitors approximately 22 m (70 ft) under the ground inside the galleries of the underground quarry. The tour consists of both guided and audio-guided tours on a planned path accessible for wheelchairs. The visitors discover the development of the strategy of the Battle of Arras, and also the daily life of the tunnelers of New-Zealand and the soldiers of the British Expeditionary Forces sent in these tunnels to prepare this battle.




The site is also a memorial dedicated to the battle of Arras, with a memorial wall remembering all the regiments involved in the battle of Arras. Since the Hundred Years of the battle in 2017, a second memorial wall is dedicated to portraits of NZ Tunnelers, and a statue was installed in the park for the remembrance of these tunnelers. Each year, a ceremony is organised at 6.30 am on April 9th.

An interesting and enlightening day. I am ever amazed at the amount of effort, the soldiers of the First World War, expended for so little gain.

As this was to be our last day, before heading back to good ol’ Blighty, we all went out for a family meal. And so, after a good meal at Beers & Co., it was back to Achiete and bag packing.

Vacances en France – 2018 – Lochnagar, Australian National Memorial and Amiens


Having travelled up from Troyes to Achiete le Grand, we settled in to spend time with Gerry’s brother and family who live in France.

Living as they do in the middle of the Somme department, they are surrounded by many memorials and graveyards dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during the 1st World War.

Our first trip out took us to the crater formed by the Lochnagar Mine


The Lochnagar mine south of the village of La Boisselle in the Somme département was an underground explosive charge, secretly planted by the British during the First World War, ready for 1 July 1916, the first day on the Somme. The mine was dug by the Tunnelling Companies of the Royal Engineers under a German field fortification known as Schwabenhöhe (Swabian Height).
The British named the mine after Lochnagar Street, the British trench from which the gallery was driven. The charge at Lochnagar was one of 19 mines that were placed beneath the German lines on the British section of the Somme front, to assist the infantry advance at the start of the battle.
The mine was sprung at 7:28 a.m. on 1 July 1916 and left a crater 98 ft (30 m) deep and 330 ft (100 m) wide, which was captured and held by British troops. The attack on either flank was defeated by German small-arms and artillery fire, except on the extreme right flank and just south of La Boisselle, north of the Lochnagar Crater. The crater has been preserved as a memorial and a religious service is held each 1 July.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochnagar_mine

Amongst the many memorialised, at the crater site, is Cecil Arthur Lewis (29 March 1898 – 27 January 1997). He was a British fighter pilot who flew in WW1, went on to be a founding executive of the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) and also enjoyed a long career as a writer.

Lieut. Cecil Arthur Lewis

From the crater we made our way over to the Australian National Memorial & Sir John Monash Centre, about 30 kilometers away, at Villers-Bretonneux.


The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is the main memorial to Australian military personnel killed on theWestern Front during World War 1. It is located on the Route Villiers-Bretonneux (D 23), between the towns of Fouilloy and Villers-Bretonneux, in the Somme départementFrance. The memorial lists 10,773 names of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force with no known grave who were killed between 1916, when Australian forces arrived in France and Belgium, and the end of the war. The location was chosen to commemorate the role played by Australian soldiers in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux (24–27 April 1918).
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial consists of a tower within the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, which also includes a Cross of Sacrifice. The tower is surrounded by walls and panels on which the names of the missing dead are listed. The main inscription is in both French and English, on either side of the entrance to the tower. The memorial and cemetery are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villers%E2%80%93Bretonneux_Australian_National_Memorial

Touring this site was very emotional and the Sir John Monash Centre provides huge amounts of historical information as well as an intense audio/visual experience.

These are some of the signs along the entrance way ……

And then it was time for lunch which was at the Leon de Bruxelles restaurant, Glisy. Here we had Fish and Chips and moules. Yuuumy!!

The afternoon was spent in Amiens, walking the streets and touring The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Amiens, or simply Amiens Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church and the seat of the Bishop of Amiens.

Suitably filled with history and architecture we headed back to Achiete, for cheese, meats and alcohol.

Cafe on the Dam


Took a trip out to Serpentine Dam and had lunch at the Cafe on the Dam. Here are a few of the locals who joined us for lunch ……

Bin Chicken / Tip Turkey


Bin Chicken / Tip Turkey / Dump Duck. These are all local names for the ubiquitous Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) 

Apparently the Bin Chicken is widespread across much of Australia. It has predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long down curved bill and black legs.

These birds are the subject of a “Planet Earth” documentary ….

And even their own animated series ….

Although they are seen in the wild, they have become a feature of the suburbs in WA.

The picture at the beginning of this post was taken behind the Divers Tavern, Broome.

One can only begin to imagine what kind of “bin juice” this Bin Chicken has been drinking

Look What They Did – Vandalism


Look what they did to the Bell Tower in Perth. Criminal, vandalism is what I say

When the tower was first constructed it was surrounded by park land and fountains. Was visible from all directions and from along the shore line.

This is what one travel blogger had to say …….

This is the hallmark of Australian tourism located at Barrack Square of Perth. Bell tower has high glass spires and it is the largest musical instrument in the world. Here, you can also try your hand at the art of ringing bells. The bells in this tower include original bells of St. Martin in the Fields Church, the Parish church of Buckingham Palace in London.

Read more at: https://travel.snydle.com/10-stunning-places-to-see-in-perth.html | The Gypsy’s Passport

Well not anymore. I guess developer money has spoken.

The poor old bell tower is now swamped by highrise buildings. Gone are the open spaces and fountains. Should you venture up the tower, the only real view is directly across the river. The bells are still ringing but are only audible when you are close by. The loud music from the nearby bars tends to drown out the lovely chimes.

This is nothing but commercial vandalism. Perth City should be embarrassed and ashamed.

Vacances en France – 2018 – La Calsade to Moulins


We awoke to yet another glorious, sunny morning. Needless to say, we were sad to be leaving the gite which had been our home for the last three weeks. Settled up with our host, had to pay an additional 11 euros for electricity. We had a couple of cold days during the first week and during the second week, one of the electric heaters was inadvertantly left on over night. Oh well, it could have been worse.

With our car fully loaded and one last check around the gite, we set off, leaving Badailhac and travelling up through Vic sur Cere to Le Lioran. Here we entered the tunnel. On exit the sun had gone and the temperature , according to the car, was 8 deg C. Everywhere just looked chilly and grey.

We had a trouble free journey to Moulins. The temperature slowly rose and with the sunshine reappearing the day carried on as it had started. We had made good time and checked into our hotel, Le Clos de Bourgogne, early. We had a refreshing cuppa before going for a stroll through the old town.

With the sun setting we made our way back to the hotel where we made a couple of FaceTime calls back to the UK and family. This was the first time we had any WiFi in three weeks. It was so nice to hear and see our daughters and grand-daughters.

We had opted to eat at the hotel but what wasn’t made clear at check-in, was the fact that there was to be no menu choice. Apparently, on Mondays the hotels restaurant only caters for residents. I have pretty broad tastes when it comes to food. However, Gerry is a little more selective. As it happens, we needn’t have worried. The food was very nice. To start there was Pate En-Croute, followed by a Duo of Fish (Salmon and Monkfish?) in a white buttery sauce with vegetables. The dessert was a fruit crumble (Figs, Raspberries and Apple). An unusual ingredient, for us, in the crumble was Mint. It did seem to work but for me the one thing that was missing was the custard.

Vacances en France – 2018 – Disappointment


Our last day at the gite, before heading up through France to visit family in Achiete-le-Grande. Time to tie up a few loose ends.

On numerous occasions, when heading out to visit places of interest, we had passed a sign with the name “Calmejane”. We always referred to it as Call Me Jane. Never having been down that lane we decided to explore. Turns out that the sign post indicated the name of the family that lived at the end of the lane, a dead end or should I perhaps use the French cul-de-sac ?

Similarly, we had passed this field with donkeys. On this occasion we stopped to say hello. They were very friendly and curious. Sad to say they were expecting treats and we had none. They were quick to snort their disgust and soon lost interest in us. They were very cute.

Having disappointed the donkeys, by turning up without any treats, we decided to follow road past the donkey field. Just to see where it led. After a couple of kilometers, we found that it led to a small group of private houses. Another dead end, a cul-de-sac. There were some great views en-route though. Disappointed, we enjoyed the same views on the way back to the donkeys.

The Road To Nowhere

We then drove down to Vic-sur-Cere to get fuel and cash in preparation for our journey north, this being our last day at the gite.

We had cleaned and packed earlier, so we were basically killing time until we could go to a restaurant for an evening meal. Big mistake….

We should have found somewhere to eat at lunch time. Waiting until 19:00 before approaching our restaurant of choice was a huge fail. No only was the restaurant closed but the hotel, Hôtel Restaurant Beauséjour, seemed to be too !!! Our second choice, Casino de Vic Sur Cère, was open but there was a private function in full flow complete with live band. The restaurant itself was shut. Similarly, several other local restaurants were closed. The only viable choice seemed to be to travel into Aurillac, a thirty plus minute drive. Not far but neither of us really wanted to do that. So it was back to the gite.

In anticipation of our departure, we had run our food stocks down. We had bacon, eggs and cheese and bread. So our Sunday meal consisted of eggs and bacon on toasted french baguette. It was actually very good, but was the cheapest sunday meal and I didn’t even get a tip.