My word, having had a very peaceful night's sleep we awoke to a very different Utah Beach area. It was grey and a bit wet and almost deserted. If only we could have been arriving there today.
We were quite keen to get on the road in reasonable time because we were making for Bayeux to visit the Tapestry Museum. First we needed to go to the supermarket there. The one I had highlighted was a E Leclerc biggie complete with a fuel station. This meant that after The Chef had popped in for the bits she needed we were able to fill the tank up with diesel at a reasonable price. That will be our final filling before the Calais area. I will refuel there as the expenses spreadsheet I share at the end of each trip is Calais back to Calais. I do this because I've often read travel articles by fellow motorhomers in the Motorhome Monthly Magazine (MMM) who give the breakdown of their trip, and so often their fuel costs are astronomical, then you realise that although they only crossed the Channel for a short tour of Brittany, they set out from Scotland and included their total fuel costs, which isn't very helpful. So Calais to Calais it is.
When The Chef returned and the bits were packed away I told her that I would quite like to pop down the road to visit the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) cemetery in Bayeux (N49.27412° W0.707928°). Even though I had it identified as a potential destination, it wasn't until this morning when I reminded myself of the campsites location on Google Maps that I spotted that it was just down the road from the supermarket. So off we went, just down the road, quite literally. There were no obvious parking spaces and so we did a right turn and parked in a lay-by right next to the cemetery.
As always the cemetery was in immaculate condition. I know I have said it before, but I'll say it again. I begrudge not one penny of the taxes I pay to fund this wonderful organisation who take such good care of our fallen heroes final resting places throughout the world.
As we walked among the headstones we were reminded just how young most of them were. What a terrible waste, and all to free a Europe which doesn't seem to show an ounce of gratitude for the sacrifice and suffering our nation, our people, and our allies made for them. It makes my blood boil, particularly regarding the French.
So after our visit to the cemetery, and for me a quick peek across the road at the outside of the Normandy Landings Museum, where they'd just had a ceremony of some kind, we decided to find the parking area close to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum and visit there before going on to the campsite. Sadly every car park was rammed full of cars, and not a motorhome in sight. I guess the bays weren't big enough to take them. So that was it. We'd make our way to the Municipal Campsite of Bayeux (N49.284006° W0.697402°) in the hope they could take us for a couple of nights.
Oh dear, the young lady in Reception, possibly an offspring of a Vichy Government aficionado, just couldn't be bothered to find out if she had any vacancies later in the day. No, for her the day was divided in to two distinct parts. The first, the Wakeyuppygotoworkie until 12:00 bit, by which time all those who were leaving the site should have left, followed by the Hadaliedownieandlunchie part from 14:00 when she and her colleagues would trouble themselves to look at the computer to see what spare pitches they had. Fortunately, as we were pretty desperate they let us come in to the campsite to dump and take on fresh water. We'd been 'wild camping' for five days. Luckily we had been able to dump at Mont St Michel, but no fresh water when leaving, otherwise we would have been in the pooh, quite literally.
So we parked in the side road outside the campsite, had lunch and then set of for town and the Tapestry Museum. I have to say Bayeux was a very nice place.
So a bit about Bayeux:
Bayeux is the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. It is also known as the first major town secured by the Allies during Operation Overlord.
The area around Bayeux is called the Bessin, which was the bailiwick of the province Normandy until the French Revolution. During the Second World War, Bayeux was the first city of the Battle of Normandy to be liberated, and on 16 June 1944 General Charles de Gaulle made the first of major speeches in Bayeux in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies. The buildings in Bayeux were virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, the German forces being fully involved in defending Caen from the Allies.
The Bayeux War Cemetery with its memorial includes the largest British cemetery dating from the Second World War in France. There are 4,648 graves, including 3,935 British and 466 Germans. Most of those buried there were killed in the invasion of Normandy.
Royal British Legion National, every 5 June at 1530 hrs, attends the 3rd Division Cean Memorial Service and beating retreat ceremony. On the 6th of June, it holds a remembrance service in Bayeux Cathedral starting at 1015 hrs, and later at 1200 hrs, the Royal British Legion National holds a service of remembrance at the Bayeux Cemetery. All services are open to the public.
Bayeux is also the home of a memorial to all of the journalists who have lost their lives while reporting. The memorial lists the names of 1,889 journalists killed between 1944 and 2007. The memorial was established in Bayeux because of its historic liberation on 7 June 1944.
We were pretty much following our noses. We knew it wasn't far from the Cathedral and so just homed in on its spire. As it happened we ended up looking around inside as we passed it. Quite a nice place. It had a crypt and I expected The Chef to want a wander around it. I don't go down in to such places. I think it's disrespectful. Imagine if you're the deceased, and you've been taken down to the crypt and laid in a stone coffin. So there you are, presumably for eternity, so you're lying there having a bit of a rootle around to get comfortable as you'll be there a long while, whilst at the same time wishing the mortician who prepared your body hadn't used wire wool to plug your bum to stop leakages, when suddenly FLASH! Photographs, selfies, tourist after tourist posing and peeking one after the other. Where's the peace in that?
As it was The Chef wasn't interested, and so we made our way down the road to the museum. Fortunately it was open. Despite the time of day all employees were still awake and functioning. The entrance fee was eleven Euros each which is pretty reasonable.
Visitors get issued with an audio guide which stayed next to our ears for the duration. So then we enter the long darkened room with the tapestry in it. Now I always imagined that it was a very tall piece of work. In my mind it was contained in a room and covered three sides of it. Well how wrong can you be.
We followed a line in a darkened room to observe the tapestry which was only about two feet
high. There had been a sign outside that said 'No Photography', but as you know, that's like a red rag to a bull to me. Before we went in to the building I checked that my camera's flash was turned off. It's the light from the flashgun that does the damage.
About halfway along the tapestry turned a corner and doubled back on itself in the other half of the darkened room. The biggest problem we found was that there was no 'Pause' button on the audio guide, so due to the number of people shuffling along things moved slowly, meaning the guide was giving you details of part of the tapestry which was about four or five feet further along which you'd yet to reach. I guess they pace it in such a way that the punters keep moving, so they can get some more in through the entrance. Anybody showing too much interest would cause chaos and a loss of income. But we were glad we'd seen it. The photographs I took have the colours diminished. I guess it is to protect the tapestry from those who would use flash guns, so I don't have a problem with that .
Basically the tapestry tells the story of King Harold and William the Conqueror climaxing at the Battle of Hastings, when one of Harold's guards said "Sire, there's an arrow coming towards us, keep an eye on it".
Next it was a walk around own before making our way back to the campsite, or rather the side road where we'd parked. While I opened up the vehicle The Chef joined a queue to see if they had a spare pitch we could have for the night. Eventually she returned victorious. It was to have been for two nights, with our looking around the museum tomorrow, but as they'd messed us about we'd already done the museum and so now only needed one night.
Searching for our pitch was problematic to say the least. When we eventually found it, an Italian with a Jeep on a trailer behind his Landrover was occupying it. Clearly something had gone wrong. While The Chef went back to Reception I waited with the vehicle until eventually the owner appeared. I told him he was in our pitch. Lots of apologies of course, very sorry he'd been rumbled, and so moved his Jeep etc on to his own large grass pitch next door.
I got talking to him later. He said that he was an enthusiast of the WWII period and had originally owned an Italian military vehicle, but as it only had one forward gear but six reverse gears, he was beginning to find it dangerous driving to events down motorways driving backwards at 70mph using only his wing mirrors for forward vision. Eventually he part exchanged it for the Jeep.
So here we are. We're using the inflatable pads to level ourselves as best we can. We're just glad to have a pitch. We're plugged in to mains electricity, so tonight we'll enjoy the pizzas the Chef bought days ago, but which we've not been able to eat because we need electricity to use the oven.
Tomorrow morning will be an absolute joy. Log hot showers, and my darling Chef gets to wash her hair properly and use her hair dryer. It's the little things in life that make a difference.
Once set up I did make contact with Nationwide Building Society again and finally managed to get the matter resolved, though I did tell them I would be formally complaining once we were home. So we now have our return ticket on Le Shuttle booked for Saturday afternoon.
Tomorrow we head down the road to Arromanches and beyond, where we expect to meet yet more Brit weekend soldiers and stuffed-full car parks.
Right now we have a guy practicing his trumpet on the piece of grass opposite our pitch. Why he can't go and annoy his own neighbours I don't know. I can tell you - Louse Armstrong he ain't.