January 1st 2020 dawned a little grey and misty but it's not raining.
Having done some research it appears that there are several Eden 62 (a nature organisation specific to Pas de Calais) not very far from Arras. We have visited several of their sites over the years
and they have some excellent ones so it seemed like a good idea.
Having taken the obligatory photograph of our hotel we set off for the Bois de Maroeuil, about 10km away. These were very pleasant indeed, but were not as large as we were hoping, plus there was
a great deal of logging and general maintenance going on so some of the paths were closed and we didn't spend as much time there as we expected.
Having had a look to see what else there was in the area we discovered that there were some standing stones not too far away - and in the direction of Vimy Ridge, at which I wanted to take (yet) another look.
Known as les pierres jumelles, they were a little forlorn standing there in the mist...
Next stop Vimy Ridge. The visitor center was not open but we could walk arount the site (there is also an excellent underground walk available when the center is open but this is accompanied).
These are not happy places at the best of times but when it is cold, grey and misty they are at their most atmospheric. The first picture was taken from a fire-step in a Canadian front line trench: the small
green hill further back was the line of the German front line trench. Pretty much close enough to see the fear in the eyes of the man that your generals had told you was your enemy and taught you to hate
before you killed him...
The next picture is no-man's land. Less than 100m wide...
This was the German front line trench, a meter or two above the level of the Canadian front line.
The view from a fire-step in the German trench.
After having a cup of tea in the warmth of Bertha we decided to head for another of the Eden 62 reserves. We had seen signs for something called The Lichfield Crater and decided that we would follow the
signpost on the way to our next destination. Sadly, this road turned into a track - I thought that we weren't going to go off-roading in Bertha any more! - and getting to the crater appears to
involve crossing a muddy field (and it's still cold and dank outside!) so we decided to give it a miss. Fortunately the 'road' didn't deteriorate any further and turned out to be passable!
After some trouble finding the nature reserve - Google Maps doesn't always get it right! - we discovered that it wasn't quite as big as we were hoping. Having made the effort to find it we did take a walk
around it, however. We saw a few birds - but nothing out of the ordinary - and went back to the car.
We had pretty much had enough by now, so we decided to head back to Arras. As we passed through one of the many small villages around Arras I was astonished to see a W124 Coupé! Naturally
I had to get a photograph - which apparently caused some curtains to twitch as I was doing so!
Sadly, it's now 2nd January and we have to return to the UK. One of the things that we wanted to do before we left - we hadn't had time on New Year's Eve - was to visit Les Carrière Wellington.
The name has nothing to do with a certain duke: it has to do with the nationality of the men who created them - New Zealanders. There were others called Auckland, Dunedin etc. There were many quarries beneath Arras and the idea was to join them up to create
a network of tunnels in which upwards of 40,000 soldiers could shelter prior to the Battle of Arras. Sounds grim, but it was dry, relativley warm - certainly with that many men there - compared to above ground in April and,
best of all, safe from the shells and sniper fire...
The last picture is one of the exits to the battlefield. This is probably one of the last things that many men saw.
A memorial in the grounds. The museum is a fascinating and moving place to visit.
With a boot full of 'supplies' from the supermarket next door to the museum, we headed for Calais, with a diversion to L'Ascenseur des Fontinettes, a huge boat lift on the canal
just outside St Omer. We were aware that there was going to be some restoration done and it looked as though it had started. We'll just have to go back again to see what is done to it...!
After an uneventful trip back to Calais we survied the M25 and finally arrived home, having collected the cats from the cattery on the way.
With Bertha safely in the garage it is time to start on the 'supplies' that we bought!
Well, another fantastic trip in Bertha. She has performed flawlessly, been incredibly comfortable and stress-free to drive and we have had a great trip. Let's hope we can do a much longer trip in her
sometime. I wonder if she would like to go to the Harz Mountains or to Stuttgart...
Oh, and I should add that the boot is suffienctly large that we could have bought twice as much wine and beer and still had room for the suitcases: a very practical car as well!