Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Normal service has been resumed

Idiots abroad? I remember saying that but 2 other blokes were passing by at the time
Getting ready to trade at SALUTE was a military operation and occupied pretty much all of my limited spare time in the prior three weeks. From a business perspective I am pleased to report Warfare Miniatures finished comfortably on the right side of the ledger despite not being able to put on a game (again).
The was no time to catch our breath after the show. As soon as the goods were loaded in the van Toggy Bob (now officially known as Truckwit), Gerry and I drove down to Dover where we had an eventful evening in a lovely bistro whilst watching an unfortunate chap receive CPR for a full 15 minutes outside the restaurant from a saintly firemen and paramedics. We were all rooting for the poor fellow and very much hope he made it. 
A target for French skirmishers at Hougoumont
Next morning 0800 boat to Dunkirk and we were in Ieper for 1300. Menin Gate, Crocque Madame pit stop and on to Tyne Cot where we all sunk pretty low with the enormity of it. Ghent by 1900 for a slow emotional recovery and the start of the Waterloo dry run.

My objective was to road test the itinerary for the forthcoming Geek Nation Waterloo 200 tour for which I am the Battlefield Mouth. Bob and Gerry were only too happy to support my yomping around with stop watch in one hand and pink parasol in the other. 
The sign says: Trespassers with be shot by the 27th Dutch Jager
I think Gerry plans at some point to do a little guest blogging about the trip so I'll confine myself to the very barest outline. Monday: Oudenaarde and a drive across the French lines(of a century before) then on to Quatre Bras where we spent a very enjoyable 2.5 hours walking the British line then on down to Gemioncourt then back up to the crossroads.

We passed up the N5 to Le Caillou only to find the museum under repair (if it is ready in 6 weeks I will eat my not unsubstantial bonnet de police). We charged past La Haye Sainte and parked up for a 2.5 hour walk down the British right, on to Hougoumont and into the first 'legal' metal detection activity ever undertaken on the field. We walked around the perimeter of the garden wall, Gerry and Bob nipped into the chateau courtyard and then we climbed back up the hill to Mercer's final battery position. Back to Ghent for beer and ribs.
Eh? Jack Hawkin's Division really stood here? Amazing!
Next day we were back again at Waterloo for a massive walk from the crossroads round pretty much the entire circumference of the field. It took us about 7.5 hours with only the odd stop to water the horses. That night back in Ghent we ate for an army in the local Chinese. 
I can see your house from here
On Wednesday we drove to Ligny, were too early for the Gerard Museum, couldn't find the Bussy Windmill site but got a good view of the Prussian positions north of Ligny. We drove to Wavre and crossed the Dyle - not the prettiest town in Belgium. We drove the route of Bulow's IV Corps through the bois de Paris and came out exactly where he did - a magic moment (via a private housing development). We spent the rest of that day walking the British positions again, doing the museum, the Butte, La Haye Sainte, the final attack route of the Garde Imperiale and the monuments around La Belle Alliance. More lovely food and beer in Ghent.
Vorwarts! Plancenoit!... und die toiletten
Thursday, back to Dunkirk, boat, Ashford International for the boys and the M20, M25, M40, M42, M6 for me. Supper in Knutsford 2000 hrs, back in Blighty.... aah.

The curious affair in Plancenoit 1500 hrs 29th April.
The three Amigos had just recce'd the advanced positions of the Young Guard and were heading back to the central 'green' area of the village. Walking in the opposite direction down the otherwise deserted and fastidiously tidy street were a man and woman.  "Hello Nick!"  says Barry. "Sorry, I don't know you" says the slightly flummoxed chap. "Oh but you do"  replies Hilton removing his extremely expensive SpecSavers free sunglasses.
As I live and breathe, Nick Buxey aka the 'Mole'(I have never understood that) and his charming wife! Surveying battlefield buildings no less.. would you Adam and Eve it? Us wargamers get everywhere. The Handshake took place not at La Belle Alliance but on the church steps of Plancenoit where the Allied Generals back slapped each other and discussed the long odds of such a meeting on foreign soil. I have added this one to my already uncanny list of chance meetings with acquaintances on distant shores. In the 17th century I would have been burned at the stake. Some people have that fate in mind for me today too.
Entente cordiale! Truckwit, a Witch, The Mole, Gerry 


Life is good.

5 comments:

  1. Nice photo of Gemioncourt. You kind of understand how/why it was not too defensible. Not many outward facing windows.

    Thanks for posting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I believe that those fellows in the picture labled "A target for French skirmishers at Hougoumont"
    are the only guys who are smiling in the face of the firing squad:-))

    Nice read!

    Thanks!

    Gรผnter

    ReplyDelete
  3. They did a lot of smiling on this trip. Perhaps it was the beer or maybe the food, or maybe my driving... it was certainly not French Tirailleurs

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Truckwit"?! Love it! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

    ReplyDelete
  5. He shows an unhealthy interest in commercial vehicles to the extent that he has a spotter's book for number plates and takes pictures of logos. The Dunkirk area was like a sweetshop for him!

    ReplyDelete

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