Monday, 5 June 2017


Where’s Bertie? He's at the Municipal Aire in Bergues. There are no services here beyond bins, but as we don't need any water or a waste point, that suits us just fine today.

I don't know where today has gone. How can time go so fast when one is doing so little?

The day started, unusually, with Mick getting up to make the tea, and me lounging around under the duvet. Then I got an attack of the guilts for having been exceptionally lazy for the last week and a half, so off I took myself for a run around Wissant.

Returning with news of a classic car meet in the square, I paused only for a cold shower*, breakfast and more tea (i.e. quite a long time) before accompanying Mick to see the cars. Not a single one remained (see footnote 2); Mick questioned whether I'd made them up as a ruse to get him out for a walk.

Back to Calais and our shopping requirements were met at the enormous Carrefour (a couple of two pin plugs, a particular type of tea bag not available in the UK and quick-cook rice being the main items) and after elevenses (started at quarter to one - as I said, I'm not sure where time went today) off we headed to my chosen destination for tonight.

Bergues was chosen soley because it has a big, well-reviewed free Aire that sits only a few stones' throws from our route to Belgium, where we have an appointment in the morning. It was a bonus, in taking a walk around the walled town late this afternoon, to find it to be quite an interesting place.

Having found a back entrance through the walls and into the town, we came upon this tower first. I'm a fan of ascending such landmarks and this one made a very reasonable charge of €2.80. However, it is a tall tower with a very tight spiral staircase and I'm not very good on such staircases (dizzy dizzy dizzy), so I reluctantly gave it a miss:

We hadn't gone much further before Mick continued his theme of looking small:

Next we came upon the remains of the 11th century Abbey which was, save for the two towers you see below, destroyed during the revolution of 1786.

A bit more aimless wandering around the streets and the town walls and Mick spotted a church, where some trilingual information signs inside told us that the remains of a tower we had seen outside was the result of a bomb hitting it on the night of 5 June 1940 - exactly 77 years ago tonight. After extensive damage, the church was rebuilt in 1957, which explained why the stained glass and organ loft, in particular, looked so modern.

Walking back through the town we contemplated the architecture. Many of the towns in these parts have Dutch sounding names, and if I had been abducted by aliens and plonked here I don't think I could have made a guess as to which country I was in with such a mix of styles, but it looks more Dutch/Flemish/Belgian than French.

Returning to the Aire we found it to be significantly emptier than when we had left it. Usually these places empty in the morning and start to fill up late afternoon. Today the place was almost full when we arrived but has been emptying ever since. I suppose that with it being a warm, sunny public holiday people who stayed last night, and who have to work tomorrow, have made the most of the long weekend by not leaving until they absolutely have to.

(Footnote 1: a cold shower obviously saves gas, but it also saves water because there’s no hanging around in water that cold! It's only something I'm prepared to do when it's particularly warm inside Bertie.
Footnote 2: arriving in Bergues, about 75km from Wissant, a handful of those cars were found sitting in the car park next to the Aire. Hopefully they convinced Mick that I hadn't made up this morning’s sizeable gathering in Wissant.)

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