15. Apr, 2016

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MONDAY 15-6-15

I had a bit of a lie-in this morning. I didn't intend to, it just worked out that way, which meant that after showering and having breakfast we had to crack on with the day’s jobs.

Firstly it was the British Cemetery and Monument on the edge of town. We were hoping to catch the freebie minibus that circles the town but couldn't find a bus stop for it. Instead I had to lug the cameras and Mac's (it was a bit cool and cloudy with spits in the air) all the way there in my backpack. Once we arrived we set about taking some photographs and video shots. The biggest disappointment was the difficulty in reading the names higher up on the wall of the Monument.

Basically it started off as a cemetery which the Brits began filling with British and Allied bodies as soon as they took over the administration of Arras. At the end of the war the French bodies which were there were removed for reburial in their own cemeteries, and where they had laid, the Monument element of the site was created. There is one to the fliers of the war, lost in battle, and walls constructed on which the names of something like 35,000 names are engraved. These are the names of those with no known grave, which includes my distant relative.

In the light we had to work with, if we stood close to the wall and looked up we couldn't read most of the names up high. If we walked backwards far enough we could see the names, but from that distance they couldn't possibly be read. In the end we came up with a cunning plan. Rosina was the spotter. Once we had identified where his name was using sharp eyes and the zoom lens on the camera, we marked the spot with the end of the video camera's monopod and then took the pictures.

That done we were going to look at the Citadel next door but today was its first day of closure for maintenance work. They're probably tidying it up as the 'Tour de France' passes right by both the Citadel and Cemetery on 8th July. Back in to town then for a spot of lunch. Today it was to be a toasted ham sandwich with some rabbit food on the plate. We also ordered one portion of fries to share between us (being a tourist is not only expensive but also hard work). The fries never arrived and my lettuce was covered in some ghastly dressing. The Yanks are just as bad, they can't leave food alone, the number of amazed looks we got in America when we told waiters we didn't want dressings. To them it was simply unheard of not to have perfectly good food disguised with blue cheese dressing etc etc. When Rosina went to pay the bill the fries were included, so she put them right and we didn't leave a tip.

After lunchiepoo's I wanted to go up the Bell Tower at the Town Hall for a few video shots from up high. The Chef isn't a big fan of heights, and besides which she had forgotten to get the chicken pieces out of the freezer for tonight's chicken curry. So she made her way back home.

I then went in to purchase a ticket for €3 and my own personal humiliation. Having bought the ticket I went down the stairs to catch the lift to the top, well the top barring a further 40-odd winding steps that is. So there I was having found a wrought iron gate filled in with clear Perspex for security I suppose. I could see a turnstile through the door and the entrance to the lift. I stood there for ages assuming that the lift must have an attendant who would bring it down with a group and then take me up. There was an intercom on the wall and I wondered if perhaps I should press it to tell them I was there and waiting for a lift, then thought better of it. After further waiting I tried pushing the door - nothing, so back upstairs to the Tourist Office reception desk I went where a very pleasant young lady explained the problem to me, and seeing the disbelief on my face came downstairs with me. Then all she did was hold the handle on the door and PULLED it open! A point to remember then, if a door doesn't open when you push it, try pulling it.

I had the lift all to myself and up I went. It was a bit breezy at the top; in fact the closer we've got to the UK the more the weather has seemed like a typical English summer. I did my video shots and then made my way back down and home.

On my return I filled the fresh water tank back up to about half full, enough for our showering needs etc for tonight and the morning. We will then be securing everything and making our way to Calais. It's a good thing we checked the ticket this evening as I was certain that I'd booked another very late crossing, but for some reason I booked it for 17:55, so it looks as if we'll be arriving back home tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow will be a long day, but before leaving this area I want to pop back down to Wellington Quarry and buy a book, and then drive to the village area about five miles away where the relative most likely fell, and still remains out there. On checking a map at the Tourist Office I spotted that 'Wancour' does in fact have a 't' on the end of it, so I'm wondering if the Manager at the Quarry was having a laugh at my expense when he photocopied his diagram for me. Tomorrow we will find out for sure.

This evening was spent watching the film 'Jersey Boys' based on the life of Frankie Valli whose music I very much like. Rather disappointing, and nothing like as good as the stage show. It was directed by Clint Eastwood who perhaps should have stayed as Rowdy Yates in 'Rawhide' or Dirty Harry.