Thursday, 4 September 2014

Was it really only 2 months ago?

They say you can't keep a good man down. Me neither, so I'm back again (Carol will be pleased) with one more post.

Hard to believe that it isn't even 2 months since Grizzly and I rode off into the rain. It seems a lot longer, for me certainly, can't vouch for him. I think having to go to work every day might have some bearing. Without it though, I wouldn't be able to indulge in these escapades, so every cloud, eh?

Thought I'd finish up the blog with my usual facts and figures. I know I threw out a few in the last post but here's a few more, for the stattos amongst you.

  • 2 members of the tour.
  • We set out on the 6th day of the 7th month.
  • The tour lasted 19 days.
  • On 50% of the days we experienced some precipitation, though we weren't always riding through it.
  • The tour went through 6 countries.
  • I took 645 photos.
  • Distance covered by myself, 2851.3 miles.
  • The Sprint supped 231.54 litres or 50.93 gallons of fuel.
  • The total cost of fuel was, £299.36.
  • The best MPG returned was, 67.96, on Day 18.
  • Grizzly and I supped 71 beers each, including 3 at our end of tour farewell dinner back in blighty.
  • Don't ask me how much we spent! €€€
  • The smallest beers we drank were 250ml.
  • The largest beers we drank were 1 litre.
  • I carried 2 beers glasses in my luggage from day 1.
  • We ate 4 pizzas during the tour.
  • We negotiated untold hairpin bends. (some are on video)
  • We/I made numerous wrong turns.
  • We made numerous coffee stops and an equal, if not greater number, of toilet stops.
  • We stopped at hundreds (maybe) zebra crossings in Italy.
  • I rode through 1 stop sign.
  • We walked at least 20km on the tour.
  • We took 1 taxi ride.
  • We stopped at 20 petrol stations for fuel.
  • We stopped in at least 3 McDonalds.
  • Our hotel costs (some including meals) came to £1374.96.
  • Other meal costs (not snacks/coffees) came to somewhere in the region of £300.
  • We had 1 thoroughly brilliant time.
  • We visited the last resting place of 2 of my distant relatives and of many thousands of other brave souls, lost to the 2 World Wars.
And finally, I came back, to my 1 and only, Catherine..... and a number 48 off the Chinese takeaway menu!

You may remember, way back on Day 1, that I acquired a couple of glasses (1 glass, 1 goblet actually) from the 1815 bar in Waterloo. Well, here is a picture of them. As you can see, they both made it through the tour unscathed, thanks in no short measure, to my pants!

For the price of a pair of Grizzly's braces! (US, suspenders)
And that now, really IS the end of this blog. I'd just like to finish up by thanking you all for taking the trouble to follow our exploits, confirm that there will be no Wild Hogs Scandinavian tour in 2015, maybe in 2016 but to say instead, Cath and I will be driving Route 66, next September, so watch out for that blog.

And finally, this has been the William Walker Memorial Tour. May he rest in peace.

Thanks again for the memories Dudley, gone but not forgotten.

William 'Dudley' Walker

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 19 - Arras, St Nicholas to Blighty

We were awake normal time, though I had a little lay in, whilst Grizzly got his gear together and went out to pack his bike. We didn't have far to go, so I didn't feel we had to rush. This was the last day of the tour :-(

We filled up on the staples of the continental brekkie and set off towards the Vimy memorial, about 6 miles up the road. Once again tomtom took us a completely different way to that I had seen when planning the route. Tomtom also threw us, me mainly, a last day curved ball too or should I say curved road. With no sound guidance I'm constantly looking down at the way the roads bend and deciding which turns I need to make. As we came along this particular road, tomtom is showing me straight ahead, on the main road. Well, that's what I thought. In actual fact, the main road curved almost 90 degrees right, whilst our route was left (straight ahead) up a side road. So, I go sailing straight up the side road, only realising as the white line curved round underneath me, what I had done. Luckily, very luckily, there was nothing coming the opposite way on the main road, else Sprint and I would have surely parted company! Thanks tomtom! As we stopped at the Vimy memorial, Grizzly was quick to point out what I had done, though I think it caught him out a bit too. All's well that ends well though. No harm done.

Like the Memorial to the Missing, the Vimy memorial is huge. This is the Canadian memorial and once again it is covered with thousands of names. It is brilliant white stone, beautifully carved and very well designed. We took the usual photos and then drove a little way back down to the visitor centre, to check out some trenches. This seemed to be the place to come if you like jogging, as there were a number of older ladies and gents, 'running' along the roadside.

Vimy Ridge Canadian Memorial
The visitor centre was closed, we were that early but we had a quick walk through the trenches. Much of the surrounding area has been left as it was, so the woodland is pock marked with shell crater after shell crater and one is respectfully asked not to walk in them.

We remounted, our next destination, La Coupole, a German V2 rocket bunker, now a historical exhibition and 3D planetarium. Our fuel stop today was at the end of the day, back in Calais, so it was a straight ride through. En route we had to make a slight detour, as our road was blocked but eventually, after zigzagging through some back streets, we found the main road again. It was probably about 11:00 by the time we arrived at La Coupole. A visit could take 2.5 hours, so we worked back from our train time, deciding we had to leave, latest 14:00. In the end we left around 13:00.

I must admit to being a little disappointed. After walking through some tunnels and exhibits, you take a lift up into the dome of the bunker, to the two main exhibit areas. One side is about the war in general, the other about the development of the rockets, V1 and V2 and beyond. I didn't feel it was clear when coming out of the lift which way one should go around the place, nor was the wifi headset really much cop. Even so, it was interesting.

V1 Flying Bomb, The Doodlebug!
We were blessed with the weather again. It was once again scorching hot. We didn't have far to go though to Calais, so we set off to cover the last 50 minutes or so. We got to Calais and fuelled up first. To Grizzly's relief there was a manned kiosk, so he could pay cash. Then we went across the road to the Auchan supermarket, to buy some sweeties. Grizzly was getting some for grand children and friends kids, me for the children at work!

Purchase made, we went across to MacDonalds one last time for a drink, and a chicken wrap, in Grizzly's case. And then it was time to make our way to the tunnel. We were a bit early but that meant we could get an earlier train, though only 15 minutes earlier.

As I stopped at UK border control, a nice smiley blonde lady (unusual I know, for border agency staff) told me I'd have to take my helmet off. "it's not a pretty sight" I said. As I took it off, she said, "oh, yes, put it back on"! I said to her she could have flattered me a bit, to which she replied, that she'd seen a lot worse. I suppose that was good enough, best I was going to get anyway.

We got on the train and were loaded with 2 other bikes. An Irish couple and a guy on a Harley Road King. We spent most for the journey chatting with him. Both had a fair way further than us to go and as we came off the train, they both shot off and left us. 50 minutes later, we were outside my home and unpacking all the gear from the bikes. That was it, my tour was complete.

I'd set out on 6th July in peeing rain and returned on 24th in scorching sunshine. In that time I had covered 2,851.3 miles and ridden through 6 countries. It had been a blast but it wasn't over yet. We still had the end of tour dinner, which turned out to be takeaway Chinese from the village and Grizzly still has to make his way back home, via Leigh Delamere services on the M4. After the Chinese , which was washed down by another 3 beers (71 in total), we had a quick scan through some of my pictures. There are over 650 though, so they shall have to wait for another time. You've seen a smattering of them throughout the blog but I still need to get them (a selection) loaded up to Flickr, so I'm not done yet.

Cath came round for the Chinese and stayed over, so it is her turn to suffer my snoring.  Tomorrow, she'll be off to work and I am working from home, just as soon as Grizzly hits the road.

Day 18 - Pont L'Eveque to Arras, St Nicholas - Part 2

It was by no means gourmet but it filled a gap. The drink was probably more welcome than anything, despite not being chilled, as the sun was blazing down once again.

Yep, deja vue!

Having 'feasted', we made tracks for our next stop, just a few kilometres up the road, the crash site of the infamous Red Baron, Baron Manfred von Richthofen. There's not much to see really, a sign board telling that this is believed to be the spot where he crash landed, after being shot from the ground by Canadian troops and a field of corn! It's great to stand and imagine the scene though, of his Fokker Tri-plane coming to ground 96 years previously, just where you are now standing.

Back on the bikes and you'd think we were heading for Scotland. Nah, the weather is far too nice! We are though, heading for the Lochnagar Crater or the scene of La Grande Mine. This is a massive crater, maybe 30-35 metres across and 15-20 deep. It was caused or created, by the Royal Engineers, who dug tunnels under the German trenches and planted masses of explosives. The destruction of this part of France, by the 'mine' heralded the start of the Battle of the Somme, on 1st July 1916. It is said, that the blast was so huge, the sound was heard in London and that it showered dirt and debris, 4000 feet into the air.

Lochnagar Crater
I walked one way, Grizzly the other. There were a couple of coach parties, so it was quite busy. On my way round, I came upon a cross. A memorial to one chap who had gone missing when the mine was detonated. His body, believe it or not, was only recovered as recently as 1998! As I continued my way around the crater's rim, I noticed some guys filming, near to where Grizzly was standing. As I approached I asked Grizzly if he knew who they were. He didn't but a little detective work, i.e. looking at the writing on the tripod bag, showed they were from BBC's Newsround programme. I've not got a clue who the geezer was doing his bit to camera but I know it wasn't John Craven!

Back at the bike and getting ready to go, I heard Grizzly talking to someone. Then he beckoned me over. It was a French couple, Bertrand & Valerie they introduced themselves as. Bertrand wanted to know if we had anyone in our family who had fought in the Somme region. I explained we had a relative (William) buried at Corbie, who had been killed in 1916, like so many, many others. Bertrand said that his grandfather was 93, too young to have taken part in the war but is forever grateful for the sacrifice the soldiers made to free France, as was he and with that he shook my hand and thanked me. Gulp! Made me feel quite humble, a totally unexpected but moving experience. I replied that we should all be thankful and with that, they went on their way.

Astride the Sprint again and another shortish dash up the road. This time we were heading to the Memorial of the Missing. I'd seen photos but had no idea how big it was, until it appeared over the hedgerow. We parked up in the car park, made our way through the visitor centre to the monument itself. I have no idea how tall it is, I dare say you can google it, suffice to say, it is big enough to list the names of approximately 73,000 soldiers! Yes, thousand!

Memorial to the Missing, Thiepval
We were almost done for the day now, a small jump from this village of Thiepval, to Pozieres took us to the Australian and Tank memorials. Directly opposite each other on the roadside, one, I'm sure you can guess, commemorates the first use of tanks by the British Army, which took place in this area. The second commemorates the exploits and sacrifice, the greatest of all by the Australians during the war and is known as the Windmill site. The ruins of the windmill, destroyed during the battle in 1916, can be seen under the grass, ahead of the memorial stone. From July to September 1916, the Australians suffered 23,000 casualties at this site, with more than 6700 losing their lives. The figures for the loss of life in this area are staggering, yet it's all so calm and peaceful now.

Australian Memorial, The Windmill Site, Pozieres 
Photos done, next stop was our hotel, just north of Arras.

I gestured to Grizzly and said " I wouldn't be surprised if it's raining over there". "Nah, we'll be OK, I can feel it in my water".

A few miles down the road, it started to rain. Not massively but quite big drops. As we turned north, I could see we were heading towards the brighter and blue sky, so I pushed on without worry for the waterproofs. Before long we were in the sunshine again and parking up at the hotel.

We were greeted at the desk by a very attractive young lady, jet black hair, very pretty and slim. Certainly the most pleasing to the eye receptionist of the entire tour. Grasp of English, none!  I've never wished I could speak the local language more than I did at that moment. The schoolboy stuff got us by though and we were soon in the room. We had had to book dinner, so we had about 50 minutes to get ready. Grizzly was first in the massive, yet under equipped bathroom, whilst I tried to connect to wifi. Not a chance. Nothing for it, I had to go and ask the young lady for assistance ;-)

It's surprising what you can get done with a few gestures and a smattering of the lingo. Turned out I was connecting to the wrong access point. How stupide of moi! That sorted it was my turn to freshen up, then we hit the restaurant.

The receptionist also turned out to be our waitress, taking our order of salmon tagliatelle and of course, the accompanying beers. The food was OK but in a very runny/watery sauce. We needed the bread to mop it up. Finished we took our beers outside to the garden and chatted. Grizzly sent me back in for another, I guess someone had to do it but by now, 2 big beers in, I couldn't understand a word she said, so asked her for it "en anglais s'il-vous-plait". I'm buggered if I can remember what she said now but I paid the bill and took the beers back outside.

A lovely pair ;-)
This is our last night in France, tomorrow I shall be in my own bed and not having to listen to Grizzly driving them home. I'm sure he'll be glad not to have to listen to my racket either. Seems he has shown the willpower of 10 men, in not smothering me with a pillow. Me snore? Feck off!

We only have about 80 miles or so to go tomorrow. We'll start at Vimy Ridge, then stop off at La Coupole.

Until then.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Day 18 - Pont L'Eveque to Arras, St Nicholas - Part 1

There was a nice spread for brekkie, amongst the best we have had. We filled up with the usual continental fare and Grizzly his half gallon (slight exaggeration) of strong coffee. Fed, we hit the road again, next stop, somewhere, would need to be a fuel stop.

The weather forecast was looking good again, though there was a threat of thunderstorms around Paris. We would be far enough away not to get wet though.

We set out, heading north eastish. I was on the lookout for a fuel stop. Pont L'Eveque itself had a small one but there was a queue, so we rode on by. And we rode on and on. The Sprint's fuel gauge showed 2 bars, which usually gives me about 40 miles. Consumption was down so I maybe had 50 in the tank. As we continued, I saw signs for fuel but never actually saw the fuel stations. Before long I was down to one bar and suddenly we seemed to be in the middle of a huge forest. Now I'm not one to panic but I was starting to get twitchy. I had no idea how long we would be going through this terrain, with no map, only a ribbon of road to follow on tomtom and we'd done about 15 miles since I hit one bar. In the UK I fill up every 200 miles, I reckoned I could maybe get 240 out of it. At the moment I wasn't sure what I'd done. Eventually we came to a roundabout at a major looking road. I pulled over and told Grizzly we needed to find fuel. His older tomtom allows him to search for such things as petrol stations, if mine does, I've not worked out how yet. 650 metres down a side road or 3.3k.

We set off down the side road, which led to a village. An old disused pump sat at the side of the road. Would now be a good time to panic? Grizzly checked tomtom again and said he didn't have anything showing now, then he took off, me in nervous pursuit. Two left turns and there was a fuel station, behind a small parade of shops. The usual unmanned 24 hour job but it was open, that was the main thing. With a sigh of relief, I fuelled up. I had covered 225 miles but it only took 17.5 litres, so I still had 2.5 litres left in the tank. What was I panicking for, good for another 20 miles at least ;-)

Back on the main road we set about covering some mileage, crossing the River Seine, before we pulled into a Les Routiers café for a coffee. There were a few truckers in there, one having a wash in the rest room. As English speaking bikers, we weren't exactly welcomed with a double cheeker. They were more interested in the TV, reporting on the previous days' minibus/juggernaut collision in which 6 people (4 kids) had died.

Could've been, if I'd run out of fuel!
Back on the bikes, our next stop was the scheduled fuel stop We'd covered about 70 miles since the enforced stop, so this was a splash and dash. As it turned out, we didn't actually go to the scheduled stop. I was just about to turn off the main road when I spotted a Total garage ahead, so we went to that one instead. I used my card and we filled both bikes, not much over €15 for the pair, then we were on our way to Corbie cemetery, the final resting place of my Grandfather's cousin, William.

This time we were blessed with blazing sunshine. On day 1, at Charles Devall's grave, it had been peeing down. This was an altogether more pleasant experience, if I can say that. The gardeners were on site leaf blowing and grass cutting. At the grave, I found a poppy cross, placed there by my brother Paul, just 3 days earlier. I placed my own tribute and took some photos. At this point, a gardener came up and gave me some round lead pellets and a bullet, apparently from La Guerre. How he's come by these just lying about the cemetery after all these years, I don't know. I thanked him and we made our way back to the bikes.

William Devall  R.I.P.
It was lunchtime, so we set off in search of somewhere to eat. We'd hardly got into second gear when we happened across a LIDL supermarket. In we went, picked up some ready made sarnies and energy drinks and ate them in the car park.  Deja vue?


Day 17 - Bayeux to Pont L'Eveque Part 2

It was by no means gourmet but it filled a gap. The drink was probably more welcome than anything, though it wasn't chilled, as the sun was blazing down.
As we discussed our next stop, "what's next Woody?", Grizzly announced that he didn't think he'd make the next fuel stop, despite it only being about 30 miles away. We'd just passed a small fuel station, so he decided he would top up there. No worries, he could always top it off again at the scheduled stop later, which was our next stop in tomtom.

We duly set off in search of refined liquid gold! The fuel stop was lady service, though as she went off to give someone their change, Grizzly made it self service. I'm not sure she was too impressed but it wasn't as if she was going to get a tip or anything. My tip would be, if you want to fill the bike up, don't walk off and leave Grizzly near the pump!

We set off again, now heading for an unnecessary fuel stop. Arriving at the supermarket pumps, we found again nobody manning the kiosk. OK for me but after having seen his credit card charged, apparently, the maximum, at the places Grizzly had used his card, he wasn't about to use it again for about half a gallon. I reckoned I had about 60-80 miles left in my tank, so we aborted and rode the 200 metres up the rode to the Montgomery statue. Unsurprisingly, this place is called Colleville Montgomery. Photos taken, next on our agenda was the German gun battery at Longues-sur-mer. I had the Merville battery in the schedule too but I've already been there and thought with time pressures, we should cut it out.
A big gun, Longues-sur-mer
I'd read that it cost €4 to visit the battery but it turned out that was for a guided tour, of which there wasn't one in English anytime soon, so a DIY visit was free. There are 4 gun emplacements, one destroyed, with fragments of gun barrel buried in the ground but visible. The other 3 were intact and fully accessible. Grizzly was feeling the heat I think and decided one  (the second) was enough for him, so I wandered off to the other two on my own. On returning, I found him lying on the grass, so snapped off a couple of shots of the poor soul. It would have been rude not to ;-)

                      Getting down's alright, getting up?

Next stop on our D-Day tour was one of the most famous sites, that of Pegasus Bridge. It's changed quite a bit since my last visit, when my girls were young, probably 15 or more years back. There is now a memorial centre/museum, which wasn't there before. We parked in the car park and walked back to the site, marked by memorial stones, where the British gliders had crash landed, right by the bridge. I was surprised to see that the bridge is not the original, this one dating from 1994. I didn't recall that from my previous visit.

Over the bridge is the famous café. Its proximity to the bridge meant it was the first dwelling liberated by the British soldiers on 6th June. The place is filled with memorabilia now but despite the lady saying "no photo", I managed to squeeze one off, as she prepared our coffees. Coffee drunk, we made our way back to the memorial building. In the grounds sits the original bridge. We managed to get a couple of photos over the fence, neither of us having the inclination to pay to go in.
Back on the bikes, we were less than an hour away from our hotel in Pont L'Eveque. The Eden Park sits on the banks of a huge lake, a very pleasant setting. Although it was quite a posh place, the room itself didn't provide any aircon and wasn't actually that big, so I guess you are paying for location. We freshened up and then went in to dine. Overlooking the lake and being watched by about 20 ducks (which, incidentally, was on the menu!), we ate fish and chips, washed down with some Pelforth Brune, taking our beer total for the tour to 65.
View from the restaurant, Eden Park Hotel
Grizzly took a wander outside to take some photos and came back agitated by a large dragonfly he had seen. If it was as big as he made out, it was probably a bird but who knows? I'm waiting to see the photo evidence.

As usual, I'm listening to Grizzly's snoring, which signals it is near my bedtime too. Tomorrow we head into World War 1 territory, the Somme region, with, amongst other things, a visit to William Devall's grave.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Day 17 - Bayeux to Pont L'Eveque - Part 1

If he was a little smaller, I could get him stuffed and mounted in a clock!  I'm getting used to it now though and this morning, after a quick visit to the loo, I got back into bed for a few minutes more, much to Grizzly's chagrin.

Eventually though, I was up watered and fed along with my Irish chum and we set wheels in motion for the brief ride up to the British Cemetery. Parking up in the car park of the Museum of the Battle of Normandy, we took some photos of the tanks and then walked up the road to the cemetery. This is the largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France. Over 4600 graves, including 466 German soldiers. The gardeners were out mowing the grass, even at this early time. More photos, one or two with Dudley's bandana and we were back on the road.

Churchill 'Flame Thrower' Tank

Our first stop, another not originally on the itinerary, was at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. This was the first town liberated by the Americans, as they fought their way off and away from Utah beach. The focal point is the church around which the main road skirts. Around the square are memorabilia stores, museums and about a dozen story boards, telling of events that occurred during the liberation. I don't think Grizzly got any stickers here but the memorabilia shop was selling uniforms, Nazi flags and even machine guns!
A few miles up the road is Utah beach. Lining the road are special memorials to soldiers that lost their lives. For example, A soldier called Jones had a memorial in his name, Jones Road, it read. A nice touch. There are also kilometre markers, starting at the beach, with kilometre 0.

We parked up and took a walk down onto the wide expanse of beach. It's easy to see how the advancing soldiers were cut down so easily by the German machine guns on that day in June 1944. It's equally difficult to understand how the blazes they made it off there but make it off they did and the rest is history. We took photos of the various memorials before Grizzly got the scent of stickers once more, at the close by café/souvenir shop.

Utah Beach
Purchase made, we were back on the bike. heading for Pont du Hoc.

The sun was well and truly up now and we were roasting, as we parked the bikes up. I'd hardly turned my back for a split second, when Grizzly was 'in conversation' with a couple of French ladies, probably both of whom had been alive during the war! He's an old dog ;-)  They were keen to know where he was from and what make his bike was, thinking, I believe, it was a Harley. I don't think they or he understood what the other was saying really but the message was never the less conveyed and they went off happy.
Pont du hoc is where the American Rangers scaled sheer cliffs in an attempt to disable the German gun battery at the top. After fierce fighting and many casualties, the determination of the Rangers paid off and they were able to capture the cliff top, only to find no guns. However, moving inland they discovered the guns hidden down a country lane!

Looking over the cliff, I have to say, it doesn't look too steep but them I'm looking down, not trying to scramble up with someone shooting at me! A remarkable story though, as were many during the war and testament to the bravery of our American allies.
Looking over the cliff, Pont du Hoc
Our next stop would be the other American beach, Omaha and the American Cemetery. We didn't do the beach this time, as the cemetery is set back a ways (for the yanks ;-)  ) and they reckon about a 30 minute round trip. It's not the shallow beach that Utah was. Here the dunes rise quite steeply off it and must have afforded the Germans a superb vantage point and site for their machine guns. Once again, it is difficult to comprehend how the Marines got off the bloody place.

Turning away from the sea, there is a sea of a different kind, that of thousands upon thousands of white stone crosses. Take up any point within this place and you will look along line upon line of crosses. Straight in front of you, at right angles, diagonally. Nobody but nobody could fail to be moved by this sight. Walking away from the main memorial, you come to another building, beyond which, stretch more and more crosses. There are, I believe, just short of 9,400 crosses, though it looks more when you are on the ground amongst them.
The American Cemetery, Omaha Beach
Having taken our photos, it was time to find some lunch. Grizzly had spotted a small supermarket a couple of kilometres back down the road. We rode back and bought ourselves a sarnie and drink, which we sat outside and ate.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Day 16 - Saint Mars d'Outille to Bayeux

"Are we alright Woody", went my alarm. Despite us having an enforced late brekkie, Tina and Mark aren't early risers, I only got an extra 10 minutes! Single rooms on the next tour Grizzly!
Les Cheres Meres is idyllic, so much so, that Grizzly said he could stay there and Mark could have his bike to continue the tour!

Having got ready, we sat on the sun kissed patio for our brekkie, with a family of four from Essex. They were on their way down to near Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast for a camping holiday.
Fuelled up, our goodbyes said, we were out on the country lanes again. The rain from the previous evening had totally dried up and we were looking at another warm day. Our next stop would be the Montormel memorial site.

Today we rode the Corridor of Death. Not some dodgy french motorway but the corridor of land that the German 7th Army and 5th Panzer Division were squeezed into in August 1944, as they strived to retreat towards Paris. The Allies encircled them, eventually, killing 10,000 and capturing 40,000. 50,000 more escaped before the  pincer movement was complete and the 'pocket' closed. This we learnt at the Montormel Memorial Site, known as Hill 262 in the conflict. There is a very good film and explanation of how the battle came about, followed by a guided talk, as you look out over the valley below. The guide points out the various towns and places of importance during the battle and even recounts a personal experience his grandmother had in a field with a young German officer. There's another film and a good static exhibition too. It is a quite remarkable place, remarkable story and well worth a visit if your are in this part of the world.

Peaceful now but once a bloody battlefield
They were laying new concrete paths at the site and someone, who shall remain nameless, managed to step in the fresh concrete whilst taking a picture of a memorial stone. I don't think they noticed though, so my print (oops!) may remain as a constant reminder of my visit.
A short 20 mile blast through the Corridor of Death, took us to our next fuel stop and from there it was an hour or so to our Premiere Classe hotel, on the outskirts of Bayeux. When we arrived, there was nobody in reception, as it didn't open till 17:00 but cleverly, they have an automated check-in machine. Put the credit card you booked the room with in and it produces a key card, as it tells you your room number. Then all you do is swipe it at the outer door, to gain access to the building. Simples! There were some people sitting in the car park, waiting for the receptionist to arrive. Not sure why, you didn't already have to have had a reservation to check in. The room wasn't bad, no worse than the Ibis in Munich, though in this one, there was the double/single combo, which meant I had to climb up to the single bunk. Not a problem, aside from the metal stepladder which kills the feet getting in or out. Cheap does as cheap is, so no complaints.
Freshened up, we set about walking into town. It wasn't actually that far and we were soon by the Cathedral. Grizzly made his usual beeline for the souvenir shops, where he could practise his language skills. "Do you have any stickers?", seems to be an internationally recognised phrase ;-), least it should be, as far as Grizzly is concerned. Maybe learn the phrase in the local language next time G? To be fair, in Bayeux, they understand English or even Irish, so he got what he was looking for.
We made a quick visit to the Cathedral, where there was a service in progress, so I wandered off to take some photos, whilst Grizzly said a few prayers and lit a couple of for Dudley, of course. Then we took a quick walk around the town, before settling down for dinner and beer.

Bayeux Cathedral
Whilst sitting in the street for dinner, I witnessed this young woman from one of the shops along the way, let her little puppy out to do his business. One of the other diners was saying how cute the dog was until it squatted and deposited on the pavement. Jobbie done, he was ushered back in the shop and the door closed. No pooping scooping going on there. Ugh!
As we walked back to the hotel, I checked out one of the road signs near the hotel, which confirmed what I suspected, we were a short distance from the Bayeux British (Commonwealth) Cemetery. It was decided we would add that to our itinerary for the next morning. Tomorrow will be a busy day, as we plan on doing a lot of the D-Day related stuff, now including the cemetery up the road.
Grizzly is already in the land of the leprechauns and snoring soundly, so I'd best get some kip myself. Weather forecast looks OK over here for tomorrow, though we may just catch the edge of the showers when we head out east to Pont L'Eveque, our overnighter tomorrow.