Stage 1 Comes to An End
We left our lovely site in Ambonnay and headed first to Epernay for Juno to be seen by a French vet so that she is allowed back into the UK. Juno was very good and the vet was very nice, just giving Juno the medicine in tablet form, shaped like a bone! €66 later and we are back on the road, stopping nearby to give Juno a good run out by the canal.
We first headed to Hautevillers, a famous Grand Cru Champagne village, which also boasts the grave of Dom Pèrignon. Dom Pèrignon was a 15th / 16th century monk who has been widely credited with the creation of champagne, although this is legend rather than fact. He did, however, improve the quality of champagne by changing the blend and introduced the use of corks during his time as cellar master at the abbey in Hautevillers, where he was subsequently buried.
Hautevillers is a beautiful village, surrounded by vineyards with tombstones marking the vineyards owner.
We enjoyed our wonder through the village before heading back to Knigel who had been joined and overshadowed by a beast of a motorhome!
We then headed north east towards the First World War battlefields, stopping first at Verzy to hike and see twisted trees (very overrated but Juno loved it).
We spent the night at a France Passion site in Wagermoulin-Hurlus. The site was a working farm set in rolling hills. It was a lovely peaceful site but unfortunately we couldn’t find the farm shop to buy something as is the done thing with France Passion sites, so we are sorry!!
The next morning we got up early and visited a French First World War cemetery nearby. It was immaculately kept and very sobering. Most of the graves held boys of under 25 years old and many were unknown. Greg and I reflected on our luck of being born in Britain at the time we were. How these boys and their families coped I cannot comprehend.
We then moved onto the trenches at La Main de Massiges. These tranches were originally built by French soldiers, then captured by the German soldiers. The site is completely open and has been left more or less as it was at the end of the war. It was scary, claustrophobic and cramped. How the soldiers endured such close combat and “going over the top” God only knows. I am not surprised so many soldiers lost their minds. A reflective and sad moment as we walked away.
That night we stayed in an aire in Estaires, around an hour from Calais, which had electricity and was in a quiet area, except for the local cock-a-doodle-dooing that we heard from around 2am. I thought they were only meant to crow at daybreak??
The next day we sadly moved onto Calais, all went smoothly with Juno’s passport check – another couple had to go back to the vet due to it not being filled out properly, so beware! Eurotunnel went very smoothly and soon we were back in Blighty.
We had an enjoyable time back in the UK, quickly catching up with family and a few friends. Greg also had a speed awareness course to go on!! I was struck how busy England is compared to the continent, everywhere is built up with cars and people everywhere. I found it difficult to adapt strangely enough.
We ended our time at home with Greg’s parents, where Juno will be living with her sister, Nora whilst we are in South America. Too upset about it to write more……