Quatre Bras

no doubt you had all by now thought I had given up on the Dunkirk diary! You should be so luck!

So after finishing of another spectacular mouthful of charlotte's baps we packed up camp and settled the bill.

Charlotte gave us a final tour of her ammunition dump warning us not to bash any of the live, ones stacked haphazardly in a heap near the barn door, with a large hammer, and then she presented Adam with a 18pdr shell case as a souvenir.

It was with some reluctance that we left behind those beautiful baps, but at least we were about to travel back through time itself to 1815 via the Belgian town of Nivelles.

As we sat cruising along with me doing an impression of a nodding head dog trying to map read, we were generally discussing events and Adam came up with the first of our holiday tunes to liven us up. See if you can guess the tune....

"Me, my mom, my dad and godfather too, are off to Waterloo, Me, my mom, my dad and godfather too, are off to Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo,......"

Ah what a merry bunch we were. Why I swear I even saw the shadow of a smile pass over Annette's face. Not that she joined in the singing - too sober.

Anyway, as I had trawled the WWW. searching for Belgian hotels in Waterloo I found they were all horribly expensive and therefore not worthy of our presence. I checked out two small villages I found on the old Michelin map the one is already forgotten and in any case they never replied to my enquiries and the other was to become notorious as Hotel Nivelles!!!!

We were not sure where the damn place was, but I knew it was close to the main motorway and we were pretty confident it was locatable. In my defence I had always thought this Motel/Hotel was the best of a bad bunch, but it had two things in its favour: 1. within half hour of Waterloo and Quatre Bras 2. It had a swimming pool

I thought that after two days of war graves and trenches Annette and Adam might be a little tired of our agenda and so the swimming pool might have kept them occupied while me and Andrew went mad all over the battlefields.

Well we saw the damn Motel place and managed to work our way safely round some wierd Belgian ring road system and onto the car park. We had sent this place 3 faxes and several e-mails without reply and in the end Andrew phoned them up to confirm we had rooms. Anyway when we came to book in they spoke almost as much English as I did Madarin Chinese, but I gather they had got us down for 6 rooms!!!

Sorterd that out with much mutterings about bloody web sites claiming 'English spoken here' should not mean "Manchersterrrr Uniiited eh? David Beeeckummm, very good yes?" and off we went to the rooms. Our non-smoking room had recently had the ashtray removed and stunk like a cigar smokers convention room, but otherwise things did not look too bad. Andrew was pleased that there was a bar and Adam that there was a television.

Adam wanted some cornflakes for his breakfast and as luck would have it there was a shopping complex of sorts the other side of the busy ring road so we too k our life in our hands and ran for it. There were some bars there amongst the shops and Andrews face light up at the prospect of booze and food. There was also a supermarket with loads of belgian beers at cheapo prices that had me running around like a 5 year old in a toy warehouse.

"Wow! This ones 8%! No! Wait there's one here that's 10.5%! I don't believe it 12%!!" Get the picture? Anyway while Annette found Adam his Cornflakes I loaded up on the strongest beers I could find and got some weaker 6% beer called Passchendale for the ladies.

However, that was after the dash to Quatre Bras. We needed the full day for the Waterloo tour so we reconed we had just about enough time to belt off up to Quatre Bras before the sun set and then go off to Nivelles town for a meal. Well it was close, but we made it. We were not even fooled by the modern road system and found the original crossroads site with its memorial. It looked pretty much how it would have been in 1815, fields and old farmhouses. Basically it was the pits as night life went.... but we had not come for that.

So we wnet back in to the town centre for a meal and found a likely looking bar hidden amongst yet another crusty looking town fair. As luck would have it nobody in this bar spoke either Froglaise or Anglobelge so when it came to ordering we had to take pot luck on the menu. The only thing we thought we recognised was La Grande American which we gussed would be a huge hamburger. How wrong can you get? The other three meals were by and large edible and had chips but, this thing came as a huge mound of festering puss!!!

I can only assume it was a gigantic mass of pate of some sort, but it was cold and tasted crap even to a dedicated carnivore like myself. Funny thing was the waitress (Andrew's first Belgian love after Charlotte and her daughter) looked most upset because nobody wanted the gunge.

Then it was time for the hotel supermarket beer drinking and I have to say that beer was strong - I think the final mix was 6% 10.5% 12% and 12.5% Cannot exactly remember because Annette said she didn't like the 12% stuff and Andrew drank mostly girlie Passchendale and I got absolutely plastered.

In fact, because I ended up finishing Annette's 12% knicker remover I remember feeling distinctly unwell and decided I would lie quietly with my head over the bog until my stomach rejected the lethal cocktail I had consumed. Well I thought I was quiet but Annette said I was like a wailing groaning banshee and the bog bowl just served to echo my soft moans and groans, not to mention the actual stomach ripping vomiting.

It was a long night, but I eventually made it to bed.

What will the morning bring? Stay tuned.