Sunday, September 14, 2014
Normandy Fahrt: Day 1
I've been away. And although I've been back for several days now, my days in Normandy are still very much with me - so much so that I feel a diarist's approach might be better than trying to encompass everything in one post. So here we are with Day1: the journey...
By the time the 2014 Fahrt (German for 'journey', natch, but capable of other interpretation) arrives on the Continent, it has already been on the road for 24 hours. (Collective noun in use, as well as 'road' standing also for 'sea'). Around 40 people have been gathered into a coach from Linlithgow lay-byes, Asda carparks and the like and driven to Hull - a city which, as Philip Larkin apparently observed, people only visit if they have business there. Our business was the P&O ferry to Zeebrugge, on which we had booked basic cabins (no porthole, bunk beds). Some of us chickened out of this and paid for upgrades ... The food and service were excellent; most of us have slept. I have not. I blame the decaff. I think it wasn't.
But onward. Onward south and west, into France and on to the Chateau du Molay, where we are staying in the accommodation usually used by school trips. We have visited our first war graves, in the War Graves Commission cemetery in Bayeux (above). There we have laid a wreath in memory of a Linlithgow soldier buried there, and have been moved by the sight of so many graves and the sound of the Last Post echoing through the birdsong of early evening. (Mr B had his iPod and Bose dock with him). I am forcibly struck by the dates of birth on so many of the stones - so many of these soldiers had been born in the years when my parents were born and I realise that we represent the children they never had.
We soon find, Mr B and I, that although we have to consign our luggage to the lift and will henceforth be scampering up 3 flights of stairs to reach our room, which is in the roof and has a Velux window, we are blessed with two single beds (some rooms have multiple bunks) and a kettle. I even seem to have a feather pillow. My cup is already full before I eat; the rest of me is soon full of an excellent dinner. The noise level in the dining room is startling. Mr B and I slip out as the Fahrters head for the bar. Outside, the moon is shining and it is silent apart from the residual hum in our ears. The chateau looks romantic and peaceful. It is going to be a good Fahrt.