Days 16/17 – Final retreat

Final retreat went according to plan. We were not spotted and managed to remove ourselves from the country in good order. Final rendezvous at Calais was achieved and we were evacuated without incident.


Day 15 – Friday 25 July – initial retreat

Up early to give time to remove all traces of our presence at this base camp. This achieved we handed over to the locals and departed.

Made excellent progress, crossing the Millau viaduct without incident. Stopped to photograph the position and structure for use back in Blighty. Paid the toll – we don’t want the locals reporting us.

Millau Viaduct

Originally uploaded by tansy_whitebytts

Moved further north. The plan was to overnight at Montlucon. This proved a bad choice as the Tour de France got there first and had taken over the entire town and environs. Took a pincer movement decision and tried two other likely locations. Unfortunately the first of these was Cérilly – which was where the Tour was due to start the next morning and the 2nd Saint-Amand-Montrond was where it ended the next day!! So all forward positions had been taken by the ‘enemy’!

It appeared we were being driven out of France by Le Tour de France which did nothing for Major Dickie’s sang froid!

We finally ended up in an excellent hostelry – La Vigne at Saint Pierre Le Moutier. Good bunks and excellent fodder!

Day 14 – Thursday 24 July

Final full day of our campaign. A small sojourn to Maury in the morning followed by an afternoon of R & R back at base camp. Tomorrow we retreat. We leave the locals to fend for themselves and depart in good order. To ensure the retreat does not fail we need to leave this location tomorrow or we won’t reach Calais in time for our pre-arranged rendezvous.

Day 13 – 23 July – Market day

We spent the morning at Quillan market. A day long affair for the clothes section. Wonderful to find a stall selling nothing but socks! The Fruit & vegetables part was only open for business in the morning. We bought supplies.

The alleyways are thick with window-boxes. Really France is Geraniums, accordions and cats sitting in the road!

The Major’s perusal of the paper today elicited the amazing information that John Cleese would like to do away with the Royal Family (British) and put lemurs in their place! Further translation efforts by yours truly discovered this not to be the case! In fact Mr Cleese had turned down an honour (OBE). He is more interested in lemurs than honours. We can all rest easy – particularly Her Majesty!

It is reassuring that the warning sign for a train is still a train with smoke coming from its chimney. Long may it stay as such.

Days 11 & 12 – 21/22 July – Further reconnoitring of the area

Days of reconnoitring! Quillan is a pretty town. We managed to infiltrate without the enemy realising and took photos of several strategic positions through the back-streets and alleyways. We will return on Wednesday to meet the market stallholders head-on.

A study of the Gorges of the area has also been achieved both by car and on foot. A visit to the hermitage set deep in the Gorge de Galamus was inspirational. We are now truly gorged.

The Major is now carrying out the morning run for breakfast provender by bike on his own. This allows me, dear reader, more time to rise in a leisurely fashion. Vital for the preservation of bon hommie!

We believe Mark Cavendish (Tour de France) has quit due to preparations for the Olympics.

We visited a seller of wines in the afternoon and came away laden with enough liquid refreshment to keep body and soul together for several weeks!

We ventured out to eat this evening. A pleasant little auberge in Axat provided good provender but not perhaps as cheaply as it deserved. Though The Major waxed lyrical over his tarte aux abricots! The Major likes a good tart!

Day 10 – Sunday 20 July – Rest day for us but NOT for the Tour de France!

A day of peace and calm. Watched the Tour de France on the TV as they went through the Alps into Italy. Blimey these men are fit. If the top tennis players of the world were as fit as this lot then no-one would tire in the 5th set! Mark Cavendish seems to have given up. He did not participate today. We do not know why our man-in-the-midst has adopted a rear-guard action. The papers have not been helpful on this point.

We did our own petit tour a bicycle in the early evening.

Day 9 – Saturday 19 July – Set back!

The Major decided we needed to conquer Narbonne. We made excellent progress and arrived in time for coffee – always important where The Major is concerned. The reason for the trip was to investigate the wildlife – mainly bird life (feathered variety). The Major did spot a pair of Penduline tits making their way down to the beach. I have to say that when tits get that penduline they should not be allowed to be encased in a small bikini but should be controlled and pushed northwards. This particular pair were NOT pretty!

The bird life (feathered) was scarce! We did see a European Bee-Eater, A Winchat Shrike and lots of yellow-legged gulls. But that was about it. After several hours of abortive investigation of the nature reserves we made for the beach – our intention – a gentle swim. But horror of horrors the enemy had invaded and completely taken over the entire area. We had to withdraw. The retreat was not good for morale.

We returned on the motorway only to be faced with yet another ‘bouchon’. Finally reached our temporary HQ at 1900 hrs. Phoned Lord Moor Common to ensure main HQ was still functioning and Blighty was coping without us. All appears OK!