As we both sit contemplating our last weekend, writing our last post, it seemed only fitting that our last stop before our ferry home on Tuesday was in Ypres, where the Last Post has a much deeper meaningful reason. Nothing can quite prepare you for that sound each evening. I would defy anyone not to have tears in their eyes during this very moving nightly ceremony.
But for us Greygappers we have had tears in our eyes for most of the week, as our journey ends and a new chapter begins.
There were big financial tears on Tuesday when we were charged a huge amount checking out at Camping Nommerlayen. The weather In Luxembourg had been really hot for the Sunday and Monday, with temperatures at mid-thirties and we had decided to have a swimming pool stop for those days. If we had known that on top of the non-ASCI fee that the electricity was an additional charge and that there was also tourist tax per person, per night, than we would have swallowed a lot more of the water in the 50 metre pool to make sure we got value for money!
So our thoughts on Luxembourg although a short visit? 'Mas o menos' as the Spanish say.
The rest of the week has been spent on an historical tour in Belgium with David’s head very firmly stuck in the past, with the many war sites and memorials there are here. A truly wonderful museum in the town of Bastogne for the Battle of the Bulge, a visit to the Ardennes American military cemetery, near Liege, both being outstanding and again very high on the emotional scale.
Ardennes American war cemetery. One of the so many graves in this country and each one so moving. Brave, brave young men.
We then stepped further back in time to the Battle of Waterloo at the eponymous town just south of Brussels, again, very high on David’s list. For me I didn’t really need to see another museum on history, especially as any love of history I might have had was firmly killed by a very, very poor history teacher at secondary school! So whilst David took in the 4D interactive museum, I walked the actual battlefield of Napoléon and Wellington, now very lush farmland - so time well spent for both of us.
Battle of Waterloo Museum - an excellent museum with 4D images
With the 1st June hitting us hard, we made for the Ghent with high expectations. Lonely Planet calling it a smaller, grittier version of Bruges - where we have been a few times and have loved.
Thankfully the weather, although cooler than the start of the week, has stayed with us and we managed a couple of lovely days wandering, meandering the photogenic canals and medieval towers. We also took in the amazing Van Eyck's masterpiece – The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in the St Baafs cathedral – truly a masterpiece. David has also - in the call of duty - sampled a few Belgian beers, but preferred to stay on the lower alcohol level side. Up until this moment neither of us have sampled any Belgian chocolate, although we have decided a box will be coming back with us from here.
A €7 boat trip which was worth the money for 50 minutes. No G&T included on the ticket though!
Chips are one of the national dishes of Belgium and we have sampled them twice - but I can’t say there is anything outstanding about them. If anything almost a little bland, but maybe you need a bigger field sample and unfortunately with no R in the month it’s not mussel season to go with the chips!
Ghent was also a treat for us, as for the first time this year we were fortunate enough to meet up with family - on this occasion David’s nephew and his girlfriend. Our path home did not take us through the Netherlands, but Kevin and Eveline made the journey from there to have dinner with us on the Friday. It was a lovely evening and great to catch up with them and our restaurant of choice was an all you can eat rib shack. Now let’s think here - David, all you can eat, ribs. Four portions later on, David gave in with a sigh of relief coming from the restaurateurs!
Ghent and a young, fit Nolan with his Uncle Buck
We left the free car park there on Saturday morning after a lovely chat with two young motorhomers starting out on their year long adventure. As we are now almost motorhome veterans we were able to pass on some advice to them before we hit the road to Ypres.
Me and NiKI sharing a near-last drink. Well done that Elddis Encore 254, 17 months on the road together and never a cross word (not with the van anyway!!)
Ypres and the Menin Gate where the Last post is played every evening at 8pm to honour those who fought and died in the Great War.
We stopped at a lovely little site not far from the Menin gate, so we have been able to take advantage of seeing the ceremony each night and also to do some of our last cycles around the various memorials and poignant graves. Again, it’s hard not to be moved by the huge loss of lives in this area by these brave courageous men. So, leave the past to the past? NO, the past is the future and we should always remember!
Tyne Cot cemetery. 11,000 young men are buried here and many more commemorated, whose bodies were never found. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. Many buried but Known only unto God...
THE LAST POST – for Ypres never the Last Post, for us, yes, the Last Post of our epic wonderful journey.
Thankfully we have NiKi for another few weeks and we will continue to live in her while we do some work on our ‘brick’ home in our wonderful home city of London ... so those tears of parting with our home-on-wheels are yet to be shared with you, as we continue shorter updates with our ‘OMG we’re back’ blog!
The tears on Tuesday will be double-edged - tears of sadness at the end of the trip and also tears of joy, as we make our way to see family and friends and start a new chapter. Living the dream...
Our Route For Our Last Week!