Yesterday saw the predictable quick day trip to France & Belgium which gave some relief to the never ending tales of woe that materialise in England via the press daily. The sun shone, well mostly but it was a bit windy and so when sittiing outsine in the sun it was important to get the right position or end up with a sore neck.
P&O deserve a mention as we went over from Dover on "The Pride of Dover" and enjoyed breakfast in Langhams restaurant onboard, which whilst still not packed due to the recession seems to be seeing a recovery in trade. Porridge, Toast and a cooked breakfast meant I walked on the boat and waddled off at least 2 stone heavier. It was then agreed that perhaps lunch could be postponed until another day and the next meal of the day wopuld be an early supper. I thought just as well.
On arrival to Calais we headed for Adres, just outside Calais 10mins, first of all where a friend has a wine shop called "The Wine Collection". Guy "Twitters" very occassionaly under the name "Boursots_Wine" and to see his website and offers visit this address http://www.boursot.co.uk/offers.html, if in the Calais region always worth a pop in to see whats new. I sampled a lovely Minervois yesterday at the bargain price of £1.90 a bottle.
All too quickly our visit came to an end and laden with wine and sober, I'm sure you understand we set off to Adinkerke in Belgium and Tobacco Alley the cheapest place to buy Cigarettes around. As a non-smoker in a car full of smokers I felt distinctly out of place but was able to grab a couple of pints of Stella to make up for this as the others were buying cigarettes.
The prices in Tobacco road seem to be exactly the same so not much shopping around to do.
Find a place go there and use it again if you feel comfortable. When there recently we have gone to The Pub between the garage and the roundabout , they give tokens for a free coffee or beer with every purchase. I keep meaning to try the breakfast there as well.
Time to move on and a visit to Ypres was in store, as one of the occupants of the car had not seen the Menin gate it was decided to make a detour round Ypres to enter the town through the gate. The Menin gate is alwaysa moving experience as it lists tens of thousands of 1st world war soldiers whose last resting place has never been found. Each night at 8pm a ceremony takes place to commemerate the fallen with the "Last Post" being played, not a dry eye in the house and very atmospheric.
The whole town goes into hyperdrive around armistice day November 11th each year and the hotels are booked several years in advance around this date.
In february when we last visited the area all was very depressed but people are out spending money in the sunshine again and the local economy is recovering still far too expensive for me personally. The upside however is that people are daytripping to Kent from the region as we are so cheap in comparison, whether this will continue as the pound recovers against the Euro its difficult to say! Petrol is much more expensive but diesal looks to be cheaper so be aware of this if going over and intending to fill the tank.
Whilst sitting in the Vivaldi restaurant http://www.restaurant-vivaldi.be/uk/main.htm in the main square in Ypres I spied someone who looked familiar and was suprised to see Richard and Carol who I know, sitting just four tables away, a long way to go to bump into someone you know but it is a small world. They'd spent the last four days in Ypres after a car rally and had one day to go before coming home.
You always know when you've started to outstay your welcome in a Restaurant because a Reserved sign goes onto the table and the Bill turns up. After a while we made our way back to Calais by way of a diversion for roadworks which left us tight on time to catch our ferry, however just making it we headed for club class (extra £12 a head each) and home.
As my fellow travellers were both driving and had to refuse their champagne it was only right that I assisted them with its disposal (Hic) and so to bed!