20th & 21st August: The end of our holiday via the Somme and Wissant

Today, we awoke to cloud and occasional rain, for the first time on our trip. We had planned to head for the coast but John suggested visiting the Somme instead as the weather was poor.

On the way we needed to buy breakfast, get petrol and empty our chemical toilet. We found a boulangerie easily but the next two tasks weren’t as straightforward! We forgot to get petrol while we were still on the minor roads and, at the first petrol station we found on the motorway, fuel was expensive and the only pump was on the wrong side of the van. John had to turn the van around and go against the traffic flow. Luckily it was quiet!

A bit later, John spotted a motorway aire with a motor home service area. He drove round it in circles but we couldn’t find where to dispose of our waste. After parking up and wandering around to try and find where it was, he couldn’t find anyone to ask because the aire was so busy. Suddenly, I spotted a sign in the distance that looked like the sign for the service area, at the far side of the lorry parking. We wiggled through the various parking areas, hoping we wouldn’t end up back on the motorway instead, and finally found it and managed to empty the waste tank and toilet. Yeh!

We then set off for the Somme, primarily to visit the cemetery where John’s great uncle Frank is buried, having been killed on 30th July 916, aged 20. We stopped at Peronne first and found a nice spot by a fishing lake for lunch, before visiting a museum on the war.

After getting a map from tourist information, we made our way to the cemetery at Guillemont. We used the book provided to find Frank’s plot, both reflecting that it was a beautiful peaceful spot to be buried, but extremely sad that so many people had died in the battles. There are war cemeteries and memorials everywhere in this region.

We also visited the memorial to 38th Welsh division at Mametz wood, with its impressive dragon, clutching barbed wire.

By now it was time to make our way to the aire at Wissant, 20 minutes from the Calais Eurotunnel terminus, where we planned to stay. It was very full but we managed to squeeze in because our van is relatively small. Then we had a lovely meal in the nearby restaurant, which we’ve been to before… A good way to finish our holiday.

Overnight it was very stormy, with heavy rain and strong winds, so we didn’t sleep well. At 6.30 (French time) we got up and, soon after, left to get our 8.20 train back to the UK. We’re now making our way back through England.

Although I didn’t want the holiday to end, I’m looking forward to getting home and seeing Millie. I’m not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow though! Oh well, Morocco in December!

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