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August 28th 2009
Published: September 1st 2009
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Well here we are. Back where we started our trip in the Calais region. I am writing this from our camp somewhere on the Opal Coast. I’m not actually sure what the village is called but I do know that England isn’t too far away. We can see the White Cliffs of Dover standing out on the other side of the English Channel.

Our final four days have been spent doing a bit of van cleaning, shopping, beach walking. On our way up from Champagne we stopped in the town of Arras to visit the Carriere Wellington Memorial.

We weren’t expecting much from Arras but were quite surprised to find a bustling town with stunning buildings around market squares. The Wellington Memorial was a brilliant stop and definitely a place that should be on everyone’s O.E ‘to-do’ list. Arras played an important part in WWI when 24,000 Allied soldiers had to live in underground tunnels for 8 days before launching an attack on the Germans. The tunnel complexes under the town were largely made by 500 New Zealand coal miners who had been sent over to help with the war effort. The tunnels have names like ‘Nelson, Auckland, Wellington and New Plymouth. There’s even old graffiti showing the Kiwi sense of humour that was evident 96 years ago!

The underground tour was really fantastic and very, very moving. Yes, I cried and cried. Damn, it’s embarrassing but those war memorials really get to me. Our French guide was fantastic and was especially attentive to us Kiwis, pointing out all the NZ touches in the tunnels and talking about the recent visits from the Mayor of Wellington and the Mayor of Waihi! Arras is even twinned with Wellington now thanks to this old war connection.

After leaving Arras, we headed north to an Aire right by the beach in the very un-classy little village of Fort Mahon. Despite the tackiness of the place, it was good to feel soft sand beneath our feet again and have a run about on the beach. The wind was pretty fierce and the seas high. A British lady told Chris about her hellish ferry crossing that day. The waves made everyone sick. Glad we weren’t on that one!

After another beach walk, we set off to ‘Cite Europe’ to do what nearly every other visitor to Calais does. Buy wine.

While I checked out the home-ware stores (some things will never change) Chris spent some quality time down in the Tesco Wine supermarket.
Now I know we really should have being buying more French wines but Brian was already quite full of French Red wines (costing not much more than 2 euros - wonder what they are going to taste like) so we took advantage of the mad prices on.. believe it or not… quality New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for 2.60 euros and decent Australian Reds for about 2 euros each. Needless to say, Brain was pretty backed to the brim after visiting ‘Cite Europe’ Now who mentioned the word ‘tacky’?

Our last two days have been spent walking about the Opal coast a bit and giving Brain a bit of a clean out. After nearly two months, ten counties and 5500 miles - he deserves a bit of attention! Tomorrow morning we off on our ferry back to Dover. While it has been a great trip, we are both looking forward to our own shower and the chance to do some laundry in washing machine rather than a bucket!

Well, that’s all for us for a little while. Until the next travels..

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