Recently, a mate asked how many times I had been to Britain and/or Europe, and when I answered ’20’, he said I should write a book.
I’m not in the mood for that, and for those who follow this website, you will be aware that I regularly post stories from those travels.
But, having had time on my hands because of the ‘Chinese flu’ and its associated restrictions, I thought I would file a 20-part series on those trips, under sub-headings.
PURPOSE OF TRIP
Holiday in southern England, and then to explore Brittany in France, and the Mosel Valley in Germany.
England, France, Luxembourg, Germany.
FIRST THING OF NOTE
A visit to the Australian War Memorial in London, and then Bomber Command Memorial. An old gentleman was emotional as he was shown around the Bomber Command site. I reckon he was a survivor of the campaign.
Soaking up the atmosphere at the Celtic Festival at the port of Roscoff in Brittany, France. We walked the streets, listening to music and admiring people in their period costumes.
Teign Valley, Dartmoor, Devon. We undertook a beautiful ‘bush walk’ here, along the River Teign.
Mosel Valley, Germany near the twin towns of Traben and Trabarch
Iron age hill fort, Cissbury Ring, with remains of ancient flint mines, near Findon, West Sussex.
Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France. An amazing place, similar to Lourdes in terms of the commercial aspects, but still a moving experience, exploring the medieval monastery, on this ‘holy island’.
FIRST MEAL THAT I CAN RECALL
Corn beef sandwich, Iron Rail Restaurant, Selfridges, London.
Crepes, Roscoff. Brittany is the home of crepes. Marie had an artichoke crepe, while I tucked into tomato and onion, at Les Alizes Restaurant.
MOST MEMORABLE MEAL
Superb seafood at Applebee’s, after drinks at ‘The Market Porter’, Borough Market.
Six big, lovely juicy oysters from Brest, downed by a local beer, at a market in Roscoff, Brittany. The brewer was an ex-flower gardener who imported some of his hops from New Zealand. He described France as a small country between Brittany and Germany.
FIRST PUB/BAR STOP
Leinster Arms, London, near Hyde Park. Doom Bar (Cornish) ale for me, Italian Rose for Marie.
Chez Janie Bar/Brasserie, Roscoff, Brittany, France. Kronenbourg Original beer for me, Provence Rose for Marie.
MOST MEMORABLE BAR/PUB STOP
‘Fox Goes Free’ pub, Charlton, West Sussex, looking up towards Goodwood, where grandstands were being put into place for a classic cars event. Pheasant shooters populated the fields below Goodwood. An episode of ‘Dr Who’ was filmed at the pub. Spitfire ale for me, Gin and tonic, Marie.
Bar Tabac Carillon, in the lovely walled town of Dinan, Brittany. We befriended the proprietor.
ONE SPORTING EVENT
Wigan v Catalans Dragons rugby league match, ‘The Den’ Millwall, home of Millwall Football. Security wanted to know if we were supporting the home or away team. Wigan won 42-16, with former North Queensland Cowboys’ star, Matt Bowen the man of the match.
Arc de Triomphe, Longchamp. The 32 Euro admission charge (for two) was great value. What a wonderful day. Frankie Dettori rode the winner, Golden Horn, a UK trained three-year-old.
EVENT OTHER THAN SPORT
Live music at ‘The George’, Bridport, Dorset where ‘Custer’s Last Blues band’ provided excellent jazz. The lead singer was 80.
Autumn fare, Saarburg, Germany. Enjoy bratwurst, washed down with local wine.
MOST UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE
Running into former Queensland politician, Liz Cunningham and her husband, John at Snooty Fox Bar, Findon Manor, West Sussex. They were on their way to Cornwall.
Witnessing the return of the crucifix and banner, in the Eglise Notre Dame de Croaz-Batz, Roscoff, Brittany. They had been used in a parade, as part of the local Celtic festival. It was quite a moving experience.
1 Australian War Memorial, London
2 Bush walking on Dartmoor
3 Marie Ricketts at Cissbury Ring, Iron Age Fort
4 Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
5 Beer garden of ‘The Fox Goes Free’, West Sussex
6 Craft beer in Brittany, France
7 Wigan players acknowledge fans at ‘The Den’, Millwall. Coach, Shaun Wane is beside Matt Bowen ￼
8 Marie Ricketts at Longchamp
9 80-year-old lead singer of Custer’s Last Blues Band, at The George Hotel, Bridport, Dorset
10 Celtic Festival, Roscoff, France.