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Home Travel StoriesD-Day And A Bit of Belgium

Ypres, Museums, Memorials And Muppetry

Day 3 Sunday 1 June.

By Bogger

In the morning, leaving James in his tent we walked Back into Ypres, had a look around and decided to go into the WW1 town centre museum, 12 euros. It was very interesting and full of exhibits and video displays etc. We spent a good two hours in there. We did come out mildly depressed as all the way through the music being played was very mournful. I did wonder if it was designed to have this effect on people to unglamorise war?

Inside the museum they had many images of the town during and at the war's end. Basically there was absolutely nothing left. You could make out the street plan but there wasn't a building left standing.  Since 1918 the whole town has been rebuilt again. Very odd, but impressive to see.

A large ornate church and cars parked in the town square at Ypres

Once outside we bought a few buns and made note of the time the booze shop opened for later on then headed back to camp for lunch. In the afternoon we hopped on the bikes to find the Tyne Cot Cemetery near Passchendaele and Ironsides' family grave.

As we neared Passchendaele all the roads were blocked off and the police sent us on a detour around the very small town. We could see no signs for the cemetery and ended up coming back into Passchendaele down a blocked off road, luckily with no police barring our way.
 
Just before the small town centre we had to stop again because of another police road block. They were very nice to us and let us park inside the barrier for the very short walk to the town centre. The place was absolutely bouncing as there was a carnival/fayre going on. There were singers, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, stalls, bars you name it, it was a real happy atmosphere. So we decided to go to another war museum to depress ourselves. The museum was set in a beautiful park.
 
A low ornate brick wall in front of a large pond and lush green trees at the pretty park in Passchendaele

The museum building looked nice but when we gazed inside it did not look very appealing. After a bit of umming and arring we decided to go in 7.50 Euros. It was worth every penny. You started the tour upstairs but ended in a vast underground WW1 bunker, with radio rooms, armoury etc, culminating in a trench system.

The large museum building is a modern take on the Belgium style

In the heat of the midday sun we made our way back to the bikes and onto the Tyne Cot Cemetery some 4 miles away. Once in the cemetery car park Ironsides pulls. No, not his ancient back, but a lady, well Granny really, who wants to cock her leg over the death trap, sit on it and feel the breeze. She might have had a chance if Ironsides could have selected a gear in under twenty minutes. He smiled so much his face nearly split. 

People milling around in the car park, we see a rider talking to an older lady

We managed to find Ironsides' relative on the rememberance wall and it did make me think if we were the first people to go and ‘find him’?

Back on the bikes in the sweltering heat and back into Ypres to the beer shop. Then back to camp for sausage, egg and chips. As always on these trips we take the piss mercilessly and laugh our heads off every night at someone's misfortune or such like. I did remark that the oil in the chip pan was markedly cooler than the oil in Andy's bike at the service station. Andy? Andy who?

One of the camping pans with boiling oil cooking chips on the camping stove

Nige also mentioned that if James had come any less prepared he would have been here without his bike. As we were cooking, eating and drinking Sooty found a sharp knife (he'd been drinking too much) and I found Pete's heavy duty frying pan and we both chased him around the campsite. He can move quick for a big bloke. 

The music in previous years wafting through the still air of the campsite has been OK. This year's choice needed rethinking. Bloody Dion Warwick, bloody Andy Williams. Next year I'm taking AC/DC, Airbourne, Iron Maiden and Krokus. That'll teach em. As we are due to leave for Normandy the next day we pack up most of our gear that night.
 
Total mileage for the day - 46 miles. Hardcore, not.


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To French France and Guines Perfect planning prevents pee poor performance. Someone should have told these chaps. Throw in some Alchemy and carnage and come up with gold, comedy gold.
Easily Into Belgium Not too much malarkey today, the lads manage to sidle their way into Belgium with minimum shenanigans. There's a moment for reflection betwixt the brews 'n' beers.
Ypres, Museums, Memorials And Muppetry Bogger and co are mixing a heady brew of malarkey and educational museum visits. Hasn't Ypres already suffered enough?
A Crash And Other Antics Bogger and pals have reached the age of maturity and yet maturity seems to have escaped them. More high jinks from those who ought to know better.
Gear Selections in Compi├Ęgne It's a lazy day in Northern France for Bogger and pals. Only a short exploratory ride, mostly spent in search of Ironside's elusive gears.
Rain, Misery, Laughter and Puppetry It's not the best start to Bogger and pals' day. And yet a bunch of middle aged men clearly demonstrate they haven't grown up at all.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Ay up Bogger.
Again nice write up.
We never got to Ypres but it looks an interesting location. Your description of the town being sealed and the ongoing festival reminds me of just about every French town we have tried (?!?) to ride through at a weekend. They seem to be quite good at putting up diversions that then end up in a French flea market. You can't trust the French (Ian will be along soon) you know.
We did get to Ploegsteert just south of Ypres to visit a Great Uncle who never came back, I think the write up was on this site somewhere, we also think it was the first time a family member had visited in over 100 years. It was the strangest feeling standing there (and other memorials too), overwhelming and emotional.
The lady who we were staying with at Martin Puich sat with us that night and enquired how the day had gone. But she knew by the look on my face and the look she had seen many times before that when this horror is personalised it has a deep impact on those involved. We sat outside and drank brandy together for a while.
Thanks Bogger and I'm pleased you're making good use of your extended fuel range!
Upt'North.
11/05/2020 09:36:42 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Did I hear my name mentioned?

Yes, the French are of course better at almost everything..... I really like their version of car boot sales (vide greniers) which roughly translated means empty your loft. You find all sorts of interesting junk. And generally we buy most of it....

I have to say I've never gone in for military / war type museums as I find them just so saddening. I have been in one or two - a very interesting one about the French resistance in Provence springs to mind - but always have left feeling dismal. But that's just me.

I also have never warmed to the Pas de Calais / Picardy region - possibly partly for the same reason as you're constantly passing reminders of that awful 14-18 conflict and the millions of wasted lives. The food's not very good in that area either.

But many thanks for continuing the excellent write up.
11/05/2020 10:17:01 UTC
Bogger said :-
Thanks chaps. The write up is in the Eds hands in full. As mentioned previously he's serialising it.
Ypres is a lovely little town. I took Mrs Bogger there in the Motorhome only last year. Initially she said that she didn't want to go as 'It's all about the first world war'.
I explained that it was, but also wasn't. It was just a really nice town for a weekend away.
Anyway she thoroughly enjoyed our three days there and not one Museum was visited.
We did go to the Menin Gate for the service though.
Myself and the crew do like a good museum and visiting the areas of interest from WW1 and WW2. Not a morbid fascination mind just interested to see the places for ourselves.
Anyway there's plenty more to come.

Bogger
11/05/2020 10:37:31 UTC

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