Germany - France
June 2o24

Amiens - Arras   28 June 2024
110 km / 65 ml 

Last day of cycling.  I have biked to Arras, mostly along the front line of WW1, the Somme front, and have taken in the war cemetery at Longueval / High Wood where great uncle George Alfred Carruthers is buried.  By and large the ride was over rolling countryside with various ridges and woods which were of strategic important then and fiercely fought over.  Alf was killed at the Battle of Trones Wood, buried somewhere, then discovered almost 20 years later, and reburied in the cemetery where he now lies.  As I travelled along, I could see various hillocks and ridges, and thought how they must have been fought over, and yet now looked so peaceful and calm.  Punctuated by war graves.  I did come across one German war grave cemetery today.  The only one I have seen.  Very austere.  Iron crosses marking graves, and even a couple of Jewish headstones.  Only a little more than twenty years later, those same German Jewish soldiers would have found themselves rounded up and sent to the camps, if they had still been alive.  Ann Frank’s father, Otto, who had fought as a Lieutenant with the German Army in WW1, was not spared the camps. It’s been an interesting and sobering day, and made me think about governments and leaders who to this day send their young men to be killed.  I’m thinking especially about Putin and Russia and the tens of thousands of lives that have been squandered there for some idiotic paranoid nationalistic agenda.  The soldiers fighting for Putin’s malign purposes will not be from the nice cities of Moscow or St Petersburg, or the sons of the apparatchiks, oligarchs or the middle classes.  They will be kids from the far reaches of Russia who know nothing and have not a clue for what they are fighting. And, of course, the Ukrainians who die defending their land and freedom.  Come to the Western Front, to Verdun, and see the futility of it all.

I stopped in a small town along the way, it was market day, and had a lovely takeaway couscous from one of the stalls for my lunch.  I met an Aussie couple who were on their bikes, who have a canal boat nearby and spend six months of the year boating and cycling around Europe.  What bliss ! The thing that caught my attention was that the woman had a Bike Friday, of which I have one in my collection, and so I was able to talk knowledgeably about the quirky BFs.

Tonight, I’m in Arras, sitting in a lovely classical French square near my AirBandB, having steak tartare, frites and salad followed by mousse  au chocolat, and a couple of glasses of nice red.  Very French.  A hot air balloon floated by a little while ago.  Just like the Montgolfier brothers. The young and trendy French are out and about, drinking, smoking their Gauloises and looking very happy.  There’s a boules game going on in the centre of the square. They have the first round of elections here on Sunday, but I don’t see much evidence of people being consumed by it.  Let’s just hope they vote the right way and frustrate the ambitions of the far right, Le Pen and that ridiculously repressed Jordan Bardella something or other.  He's 27. What the heck does he know about politics, or even life ? He’s just being used as some pretty eye candy by Madame Le Pen.I hope the French don't give the far right a mandate, as I hope the Americans will reject that muppet Trump, and as I hope Rish!, UnCleverly, Posh Boy Cameron and Startled Qunt and the rest get thrown out on Thursday.

Tomorrow, I will hop the early train from Arras to Calais and then take the ferry back to England, and the train up to London, and then on to Birmingham, so that I am home by the evening.  It will be a long day of travelling.

Berlin-Lutherstadt  :   Lutherstadt - Bernberg. :   Bernberg - Blankenberg  :  Blankenberg - Einbeck  :  Einbeck - Kassel  : 

Kassel - Kirchheim  :  Kirchheim - Marburg  :  Kirchheim - Limberg/Diez  :  Limberg/Diez - Mainz  :  Mainz - Koblenz  :

Koblenz - Krov  :  Krov - Remich  :  Remich - Verdun  Verdun : Verdun - Reims  :  Reims - Amiens  :  Amiens - Arras




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