Our Canadian comrades
The days seem to be taking the same pattern - sunny in the early morning, clouding over around lunchtime, blackness rolling in... then dumping rain easing off to a constant drizzle for the rest of the afternoon.
The temperature went into double digits!!!! It was a stunning 12o.
I have nicknamed the GPS Natasha (after Natasha Kinsky) as she has a nice calming voice even when I screw up completely. She doesn't mind too much if I stop and take a photo as long as I don't venture too far off her chosen path. If I'm feeling adventurous, I allow her to choose the "short route" instead of "optimised route" and she'll take me through farm tracks and back roads.
There's hardly any traffic on the roads around here and they are all very well behaved. The roads are good and not patch repaired like they are in Australia.
Vimy Ridge was a lovely 60+km drive north through more charming French villages. It is the site of the big Canadian battle of 1917 and with good planning and smart management, the Canadians were able to take back the ridge from the Germans.
The whole area around the battle lines has been preserved by the Canadians and the landscape is almost exactly the same as it was during the war: craters, mine holes, trenches, tunnels - everything has been maintained in pristine condition. They have an excellent information centre and volunteer guides. On the top of the ridge is their memorial to the fallen - a stunning edifice dominating the landscape.
We did the tunnel tour and wandered out into No Man's Land. The enemy trenches were so close they could practically lob a grenade in without much effort.
After Vimy we headed off to a large French cemetery which held 65,000 soldiers. We had a lovely lunch in the restaurant and then, predictably, the rain started.
I dropped Steve and Margaret back at Orchard Farm and headed off into Peronne to do some shopping. First stop was Peugeot to order a spare tyre. I got Kate to write down the French translation for "buy spare tyre" and after a minimal amount of charades, I got the guy to understand what I needed. He tried to tell me it would take 48 hours and I should pick it up on Wednesday. I then complicated matters further by trying to say I would come on Thursday because Wednesday was Anzac Day and I'd be somewhere else. Ok, I give up.... I really must learn the days of the week in French.
The grocery shopping was not so difficult. I'm actually getting the hang of this French way of doing things and only screwed up with one or two items. You have to weigh and price ticket your own fresh fruit and veg - otherwise the nice lady at the front has to attempt to explain that she has no weighing machine at the checkout. Note - this did not happen to me because I was observant enough to watch how the French did it ... it happened to a nice British couple who were so confused by the checkout chick that the Aussie had to step in and explain things!
Believe it or not, this shopping experience was actually quite enjoyable!
Anyone who knows me from Oz will be laughing their heads off at this point because they know how much I love shopping... not!