04 October 2008

Visiting Uncle Dugald

Hi there readers! Here we are back at Hong Kong Airport, at Gate 36, waiting for our connecting flight to Sydney. Our holiday is over :o( In the past 24 hours we have been in Belgium, France, England & China! Needless to say, I am feeling a little disorientated, despite six hours of sleep in the last leg, despite an emphysemic, dandruffed fellow passenger, coughing & wheezing like an old, worn-out accordion.
Enough about that - this morning (?) we all travelled to Poperinge & to Nine Elms British Cemetery, which was used by the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station after the battle of Paschendaele in October 1914. There we found Uncle Dugald's grave, looking beautifully tended. In fact, the entire cemetery was extremely peaceful & tranquil. Mum & I dutifully planted the Hebe bush we bought in Dikkebus, though due to limited shrubbery space, it had to be placed between him & the next young man, also a Kiwi, so he will benefit from it too. Apparently an All Black, John Gallaher, is also buried in this cemetery. As you can imagine, the entire experience was very moving, not just because it was someone I share DNA with, but just the fact that all these heroic young men died so tragically. What a terrible waste.... The day before, during our tour, the guide had explained the reason why some Jewish servicemen's graves had little pebbles placed on top of the headstones (Hebrew tradition that someone is remembering you) so, when I saw some of these with no pebbles, I felt duty-bound to administer said pebbles.

Here is Dugald McPherson Wighton's grave (age 26) and you can see the purple Hebe bush over to the right. I don't know how a NZ native shrub ended up here but I'm glad it did - and apparently it can tolerate the cold winters. Mum & Hugh bought these little crosses that you can write a message on & push into the ground.
Here are Steve, mum & Hugh in the main square of Ypres. It was absolutely freezing: eight degrees & rainy but quickly remedied with hot soup & a Belgian beer! After Hugh & mum dropped us in Lille to catch the Eurostar back to St Pancras, the best thing ever happened! I finally got my precious upgrade! We were upgraded to FIRST CLASS on the train, which we became fully aware of when they came around with lunch & a glass of wine. I quickly stuffed my baguette & bottle of water back into my bag, dusted of my crumbs & sat back to enjoy the Luxury as the French countryside flashed by. All those pebbles paid off, didn't they?
So... now my blog will be back to its boring self because I will no longer be on holidays & all I will be writing about it the mundane of daily life - ho hum. Still, I think too much holidaying & travelling would be exhausuting. It was absolutely packed on the Tube to Heathrow & then at Heathrow, the terminal was jammed with holiday makers travellers taking up every seat.
THE BEST: I'm afraid I have to say that travelling Premium Economy has been just that much more comfortable. We have both been able to sleep & that has made a big difference....
The French countryside is extremely pretty & riding bicycles through the villages, with the sun on our faces & bugs in our teeth, has been the very best way to enjoy it. Then, the get to the villages & towns & find the boulangeries & patisseries & see all those gorgeous cakes in the windows! And the cheeses..... well, what can I say though I DO have to say folks, that by the end of this holiday, I was starting to be a tiny bit "over" les fromages. I know you can't believe what you are reading (I can hardly believe it myself). Staying in the Chateau was truly an amazing experience.
THE WORST: I'm afraid there are a couple of things on this list - but only a couple: the coffee is crap, the toilets are mostly hideous..., the train ticket office is very slow. I think that's it! And it's EXTREMELY expensive here :o(
Oh! I have to go. We're boarding. I will publish this but it may need tweaking when I get back to Australia. I think I have more good things to add!
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well! I can't speak for everybody else BUT I am completely EXHAUSTED by all you've done & seen & I was just sat here on my fat botty! Almost feel like I've been there myself so THANK YOU Jen-I've had a great holiday! Time for a rest now....WELCOME HOME!!Luv Kell XX