Greetings from Amsterdam! We’re already choc full of photos showcasing this next little part of our trip… But before we get to Belgian beer and Dutch windmills, allow me to recap what we’ve been up to of late. Oh and apologies for the gap between posts – Siobhan’s been at me about it for days!
Mowing, weeding and pottery to boot!
After stopping off in Orleans, we arrived in Saint-Georges to start our second workaway with Nik and Donna. Since 2007 these two have been restoring their home – a classic French farmhouse – to its former glory with their own bare hands. Nik is a qualified builder so he’s been doing most of the heavy work himself, with help from Donna who also dabbles in the garden. It’s an all-encompassing task and unfortunately they haven’t been able to keep up with the garden. Which is where we come in…
Thanks to some quality time with the lawnmower and whipper snipper, relentless weeding in and around the garden beds and a trailer load of new gravel, their lovely little country garden has once again emerged!!!
Aside from working in the garden, we visited several local brocantes (whole town garage sales) and had a bonfire dinner with our hosts’ friends Gary and Annette. A couple of times we biked into Hesdin – the closest major town – for cheap beer and coffee, and Siobhan also had a crack at some pottery too…
Remembering the fallen at Villers-Bretonneux
Our visit to the ANZAC Day dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux was one of the highlights of our first visit to northern France. The Australian War Memorial is only around 100km from Saint-Georges and although we came prepared (I had five layers on), the four of us shivered through the ceremony, which ran a tick over an hour. A couple of coffees afterward went down very nicely while our hosts went a step further with a couple of breakfast cognacs.
As luck would have it, one of Siobhan’s old school friends (another Siobhan) was also at Villers-Bretonneux for the service… Talk about perfect timing! So for the rest of the day we hung out with Siobhan, her husband Daniel, as well as her Dad and uncle. It was tricky at times with six people and only five car seats but we had a great time with them nonetheless. Our thanks again to Dan for being such a stoic driver!
The next day we said goodbye to Nik and Donna (and France too for a while) and boarded a train for Belgium – the first stop in our three-week mini break. In keeping with the war theme, we visited the tiny town of Ypres, which was reduced to rubble during World War One.
The In Flanders Field Museum underlines the needless loss of life and bloody-minded chaos of war. The people of Ypres haven’t forgotten and every night at 8pm they remember the soldiers who didn’t come home by sounding the Last Post beneath the Menin Gate – the resting place for some 100,000 Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave.
So where to next?
At the moment we’re taking a break from workaways and travelling through Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland so we’ll have more photos coming your way shortly. Oh and don’t forget to leave us a comment – we love reading them!