Getting used to France

Published by Jac Sprat in the blog jackie and martin's gap year. Views: 252

Driving on the lovely wide empty roads were a treat after the M25. It was the perfect way to acclimatise to right hand driving. Once you get the white lines in view on each mirror then it all falls into place.
.We marvelled at how little traffic there was. And this in Easter week too!
There were so many wind turbines that looked eerily graceful on the green hills.
Aire after aire passed and finally we pulled into one for lunch. As usual it was great to be able to eat food we'd bought fresh that morning instead of having to buy fast food on the hoof. Having a cuppa in your own home on the road always feels such a treat.
Filling up with diesel was no problem but we couldn't find LPG (liquid propane gas) to fill on the right which is where our cylinders are. We considered backing in between pumps but decided that wasn't a good idea on our first day
An hour or two further we encountered our first roundabout which of course you turn right onto; I'd been told some you have right of way and some you don't so I was a bit worried but there didn't seem to be a vehicle around for miles.
We found our first campsite outside a small village called Seraucourt-le-Grand.
(We never saw le petit) The motor home hard standing spot was a beautiful stretch between a lake and a river. This was our view: image.jpg
The campsite was mainly fixed mobile caravans with awnings all made beautiful with flowers planted outside and patio type furniture and fixings. I wondered why more British people didn't take advantage of the proximity of beautiful camping on water so close by (3 hours from Calais) image.jpg
The next few days as school Easter holidays started families arrived and the children had a lot of fun. Fishing was the main attraction but biking walking and canoeing were all there too.
The first day we walked to the local village to explore and to find food and wine. I love going in the boulangeries with all the different size baguettes with different names - baton, batard etc. They had a pain au chocolate the size of a loaf! As this is my favourite bakery treat in England I thought we should sample different things so we got two massive slices of 'flan' which I have always loved in France. You need to be a serious custard lover for this as is solid custard on pastry about 5 inches high and 4 inches wide! (After 3 weeks here I still haven't found anything I like more)
We got some really spicy sausage to chop up in our uncle Ben's Mediterranean rice we had bought with us and had it with chopped tomato olives onion and garlic feeling very French. We're working our way through all the local wines of which there is a huge variety in even tiny 'alimentation' shops.
There was a bread van that would tour the site precisely at 9 and tinkle a bell that would galvanize me out of bed. Its the sort of experience you can't miss even if it's raining. This also felt like a special treat and I couldn't resist a jar of 65% framboise jam to go with it. image.jpg

The next day the ground around us filled up with vans - French and German with loads of bikes on the back and pots of aromatic potage bubbling on the cooker outside. We rented a second bike for Martin and set off along the St Quentin canal that used to have a lot of industrial traffic on it but now is just the home of very healthy large ducks and moorhens (my favourite bird) image.jpg

Along side this was the river Somme which was famously the site of the atrocious battle in July 1916 that claimed 20,000 British soldiers in one night and 600,000 on both sides in the course of a few weeks. You cannot be in that area and not be aware of this history which is commemorated on every turn in the village.

The British war grave cemetery was just up the hill so we felt we had to visit.
The only time i have seen graves in rows like this was in The House of Cards Netflix series and this was exactly the same. Some with names and some 'known only to god'.

The setting is as lovely as you could hope for though. If you have to have such an awful end for a loved one, let the final resting place be at the top of a hill with only green fields rolling away and a spectacular panoramic view on all sides. image.jpg

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