In Flanders Fields

Cathy Posting:

We are still on the Aire overlooking the lake just outside Ypres(N50.83628, E2.90506) Kampeerautoterrein Zillebekevijver

This morning we were up and out early as were were keen to visit Ypres, it was just a 2 mile walk in the drizzle and first stop was the umbrella shop! we had a little walk around the ramparts of the city walls and noted the location of the Menin Gate for later on. On the market square The Lakenhalle or Cloth Hall houses both The Visitor Centre and the In Flanders Fields Museum, the IFFM being named after the poem by John McRae link here , the hall was almost completely demolished in 1914 but is now reconstructed finishing in 1967 and I have to say I couldn’t tell it was a reconstruction.

A visit to the In Flanders Field Museum is most definitely recommended by us, it’s dedicated to the study of the First World War, the museum is very interactive and many multimedia applications , each visitor is given a poppy bracelet which allows the interactive experience. It’s hard to remember that approx 10 million military personnel were killed or missing in action and almost 7 million civilians died also, there are many variations on these numbers and it’s unlikely that we will ever know the true number.


The Cloth Hall

Tonight we went to hear the Last Post link here at the Menin Gate Memorial, this is a memorial to the WW1 soldiers of the former British Empire and it’s allies who lost their lives in the Ypres Salient, the memorial bears the names of nearly 55,000 soldiers and officers whose graves are unknown. The Last Post is played by the buglers at the Menin Gate every evening at 8 O’clock in honour of their memory and tonight we witnessed the 30,993rd occasion since 1928, a very somber and emotional experience it was too.


Menin Gate – looking towards The Cloth Hall

I’m off for a cup of tea now as we need to plan tomorrows journey,  we don’t want to drive for more than 1.5 to 2 hours, we still don’t have a planned route however we do know that Munich, Venice and Croatia are currently on the list.



I’m a motor-homer let me out of here!

Dave here;

(hopefully the google map location worked above, bear with me if it didn’t)

Buzz, buzz, buzz the alarm goes off at 4am, by 4.20am we were ready to leave this Aire at Canterbury for the euro tunnel. I popped over to the ticket machine, guess what, it’s broken! The screen was locked at a £45 credit card payment at 8.32pm last night! I frantically put my ticket in all the slots and then any slot but to no avail!

Now we are trapped in the compound, the barrier can only be opened with a ticket. The clock is ticking, I press the help buttons but there’s no response, I run around to the other side of the building, there might be another ticket machine, there isn’t. I can see another payment machine inside the building, but the doors are locked! A quick look around for a telephone number but there isn’t any information at all.

What am we going to do? Incredibly a council employee arrived in a van, I literally pounced on him, not a pretty site at 4.35am! After a quick explanation he kindly opened the building and I used the inside machine, made my payment and we escaped!

Drove to the tunnel but due to my poor planning, I had to stop twice at the terminal, once to dig the passports out and my debit card that I paid on, secondly to switch the gas off, we joined the queue but we didn’t make the 5.45 am, we had to wait for the next one at 6.20am

We were directed on to the train carriage about 6.10am, now we were in the first 10 vehicles at the front of the train.


35 minutes later we arrived and drove off cautiously and slowly towards Dunkerque. I have to familiarise myself to the new driving situation, positioning despite the van being a left-hand drive. I quickly grew in to it. After half an hours drive we pulled off the A16 for diesel at 1.37 euro per litre.

Breakfast at the seaside, pulled up at Dunkerque near the beach front, the weather is not so kind, it’s pouring with rain and very grey, we would like a walk, but we didn’t sleep last night and need to have a nap.


A wet & windy Dunkerque

We moved to an old Aire camping spot 200 yards away and we had 40 winks. Awoken by the council maintenance team cutting and strimming the overgrown grassy areas, we have a look at finding somewhere to sleep tonight. After researching we decide to go to Ypres about 30 miles away and stay on a newly built Aire. Put the coordinates in and off we go, after an hour it doesn’t feel right, and we end up outside a farmer’s barn, this is definitely not right!

We check the coordinates again and I had mixed the digits up, maybe it’s because I was tired, the correct ones entered and now it’s another hour’s drive! I am annoyed with myself, but I’ve learnt an invaluable lesson to check the map after the coordinates have been entered.

Found the Aire easily and it’s a good spot, by a large lake surrounded by tall trees, it has all the usual facilities (no toilets) for 8 euros per night including electric. (N50.83628, E2.90506) Kampeerautoterrein Zillebekevijver.


Please can you say that again!

It’s a short walk in to Ypres tomorrow and the weather forecast is looking better as well.