Monday, 2 July 2012

En France - and Belgium

It's the time of year for our annual visit to the site of the Battle of the Boar's Head and Richebourg St. Vaast - see my blog last June/July for more background
This year Colin and Richard came along, so we started by visiting the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge, a very special place and a spectacularly beautiful monument 

It's better still if there is some weather to dramatise the pictures, and it obliged last Friday

According to the local newspaper the mining area around Lens has been made a special UNESCO heritage site - presume that includes the slag heaps in the background. I can speak for the ones near Valenciennes ( and at Fowlmead) as being good for Butterflies and Dragonflies from personal experience

It really is a special memorial, and a new visitor centre there has recently opened - we shall visit it next time around without doubt, it has very good reports.
Saturday morning we went to Wipers for a look at the recently re-opened Flanders Fields museum in the Cloth Hall, discovering it to be superb and completely unlike the prevous incarnation, which was good enough too, another highly recommended place. Me and Colin slogged up the two hundred and something steps to the belfry - wow, what a view 

An unusual view of the Menin Gate, and no, we didn't stay for last post - the ONLY time to experience that is on a cold and wet winter weekday evening when for me the ceremony is overwhelming in simplicity and sadness

Finally, and very sadly, when we got to Richebourg Saturday afternoon we learned that the driving force behind the British involvement in the commemoration, and the man who finally after 90 or so years finally got recognition for the Battle of the Boars Head, John Baines, had passed away only on Thursday after a long illness which he courageously fought while completing his book about the Battle. Even so his comrades from the Royal Sussex Living History Group bravely went ahead with their involvement, as this picture shows

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