Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Back To France And a Lesson From History.

Last Wednesday we returned to France after discovering that this day was the start of a public holiday weekend in Germany which resulted in every campsite we enquired about being booked up.

We already had a reservation at Chateau Grandspette which is located in Eperlecques, France. All we had to do was email the site manager to extend our stay by 4 days, after which we will make our way to the Port of Calais and our passage back to the UK.

We made an early start of it, departing at 6.30am after confirming this would be OK with the German site manager. Our journey took 6 hours through Germany, Belgium and France.

Once settled we had a rest day the day after, just to explore this beautiful site, and the day after that, a drive out in a circular tour which took in Calais and Boulogne, stopping a while at the beautiful coastal town of Gravelines.

Chateau Grandspette - our beautiful site just 30 minutes from Calais

Where the ancient (and locked) canal enters the sea at Gravelines
The lighthouse at Gravelines
Beach huts at Gravelines
The road from Calais to Boulogne
Today we have explored the site next door - a museum now, but back in 1942 was a secure bunker which was constructed to manufacture the fuel for the V2 rockets, as well as launching pads for these and the earlier V1 flying bombs that devastated London during WW2.

The museum site is now

The history of it is here

The trucks that brought in the slave labour to build and maintain the site
A thick concrete sentry box
This is the surviving bunker. 2/3 is below ground.
Only outer buildings were damaged during allied bombing raids.
The entrance to the underground V2 Rocket launch pads
A V2 Rocket ready for launch
A V1 flying bomb and launch ramp

A V1 flying bomb 

Hitler ordered the site to be built here near Watten in 1942 using slave labour. The locals were told it was to be a power station. The allies didn't know exactly what was going on at the beginning until in 1943 they decided it was of special interest, and the US bombed it with over 300 bombs which made no difference at all to the 16 foot thick structure.

It was Britain's 617 Squadron of the RAF that scored a near miss on 19th June 1944, using a Barnes Wallis Tallboy bomb - 5 tonnes and 21 feet long. This is the crater it left, just next to the V1 launch pad. No damage at all to the main structure.

Tallboy bomb crater, now a duck pond!

On the 27th July 1944 617 Squadron RAF made one direct hit on the bunker again using a 5 tonne Tallboy, but that too did not penetrate. However, the bombs, also known as earthquake bombs, did cause the Nazis to think about the delicate equipment inside the bunker that was used to manufacture the liquid oxygen that was used to make the V2 rocket fuel, and they abandoned the site shortly afterwards.

Our location is here.....

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A Day Cruise On The Mosel To Cochem.

Today we took the opportunity of a slightly cooler weather forecast than the previous week to take our river cruise to Cochem. The company we used - <KOLB> appear to be the same one that runs the cross river ferry here at Poltesdorf as well. We bought our usual ferry fare across the river at €1.50 each, and then our 1 hour cruise from midday was €16 each return.

The boat is luxuriously fitted out, with interior dining tables and a bar, but we were able to enjoy the open top deck today to give us the best river lock passage experience, and this deck is also serviced by a bar, so no loss. We followed a medium sized commercial barge called Flint in to the lock, which was sufficiently long to share. These things are meticulously kept by their owners and usually have a stern crane to lift their one or two cars on and off, with sometimes a speedboat too.

The lock is just around the bend from the ferry and our pitch, and once through we had a scenic cruise into the medieval and sometimes Gothic town of Cochem, which these days is a major tourist attraction and a popular calling point for the longer Amsterdam - Basel river cruises that take in the Mosel as well as the Rhine.

We had a lovely wander around town, calling in a street cafe that was located in the Market Square before wandering back to the cruise kiosk to take the final boat of the day back to Beilstein at 4.15 pm.

Toad in the hole, (sausages in crepe batter), cooked in the Remoska once back in the camper finished off another fabulous day. It will soon be time to cosy up with another DVD movie from our vast collection, which is far easier than trying to understand the local TV.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Beilstein Castle.

We are experiencing day after day of hot sunny weather here in Germany at present, so this morning we decided to cross the Poltesdorf Mosel ferry again to Beilstein with the specific intention to climb to the castle, which is in the most strategic point possible, as we discovered when we reached the top of the tower after climbing......and climbing narrow spiral staircases of both newer steel and old original stone.

A panorama of the Mosel River taken from the castle watch tower.
It is thought there has been a defensive structure on this site since around 1120, but in 1268 there is documentation to show that the aristocrats von Braunshorn were owners of the castle as tenants of the Cologne archbishopric. The castle then passed to the family of Kuno von Winnenberg via his wife Lisa. In 1371 it came under the sovereignty of the Electorate of the Palatinate, and in 1637 the von Metternichs became owners.

The castle was destroyed by the French in 1689, and the last holder of the title was the famous Austrian chancellor Metternich. There are streets, bars and restaurants currently named after Metternich, and the castle is now either known by its original title or the later one - Metternich Castle.

The castle has a 25 metre high 12th century keep. The inner ward is surrounded by buildings and walls, and the portal complex has 14th century round towers. From the round tower a wall with battlements runs to the watchtower, (which we climbed today), and from there is a fortified wall in the direction of the valley. Only cellars remain of the West section, and the south wall and fireplace of the East section. A rounded arch with portcullis are on the main path. Stables are linked by a fortified wall.

Tomorrow, with the possibility of cooler weather, we may well take the 1 hour river cruise into the medieval town of Cochem.

Here are some images from this morning's outing......