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Balkans Trip - Day 31 - France


Blogging at 21:00 on Thursday 22nd August from N 50.93495°, E 02.26085° / http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:50.93495%2C02.26085

A long drive was necessary today in order to get us back to within striking distance of Calais for tomorrow's (now booked) ferry. Most of the day was spent trudging through Belgium, but if any country supports trudging it is, indeed, Belgium.

We've driven through Belgium quite often and once even tried to fully embraced the zeitgeist by buying some lunchtime chips from a street kiosk on a grey and rainy day here. We've also even previously looked at - and for - points of interest: but trudging is kind of all we end up doing. Today's trudge was broken to some small degree by lunch at the Cimetière de Gaurain-Ramecroix - a point of interest genuinely labelled as an 'attraction' on the Garmin's database. 

Long-time blog readers will know we casually visit cemeteries quite a lot. It's not that we're morbid or have any mascara-reliant Goth tendencies or anything; more that we find they tend to offer something of a reliable window into different cultures. They speak to history and are often a reliable indicator of the underlying values of a population.

Today's cemetery was devoid of greenspace, stark, sombre, grey, in parts slightly tired and unkempt, a bit down at heel, rather uncelebrated, functional, a bit sterile; dull, even. In summary, arguably a bit, well... trudgey.

Crossing the border back into France brought some comforting familiarity and welcome joi de vivre. The last hour of the drive was spent burbling through villages and countryside we've come to know well. Fair to say, we always and almost instantly imbibe the je ne sais quoi. The population seems to have quietly and without fanfare managed more than most others to have mastered the simple things that matter, hence: French Children Don't Throw Food (available at Amazon if you wish to help us continue to fill the tanks with Luxembourg's cheap diesel).

And so, we're back where we started a month or so ago (coordinates), where we've run and biked, watched the bargees, generally kicked back, and reflected on the trip.

It seems unfeasible that it's only one month (or so) ago that we were in this very spot coming down from having the exhaust fall off. As always when travelling like we do, we seem to have been alive at least six months since then. 

Travelling makes your life last longer...

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