Monday, 23 February 2015

Battlefield Trip to Ypres: Day One

Hello Bloggers! 

As you may know I went to Ypres at the end of last week and came home on Saturday. I have written a blog for my University and I thought I'd share my trip with you all! I've split it into separate posts for each day as some are quite long! 

Hope you enjoy!

Ypres: Day One

Thursday 19th February 2015

6 am
We were sat on the coach far too excited for our impending adventure. I was so tired (my alarm had gone off at 4.30am), however we had it lucky compared to the Cumbria students who had been on the road since 3 am. I sat next to my fellow Disney lover Jess whilst Carmen sat at the back with Danny. As always I hadn't thought ahead about what to do to keep me occupied for the 6 hour drive to Dover. I plumped for falling in an out of sleep (bad choice as I developed terrible neck ache).

1 pm
Fast forward and we're sat on the ferry which I'm NOT used to, and cannot decide if I like it or not. Carmen, Jess, Danny and Me headed straight for the canteen and grabbed food. Ferry food is SO expensive! I paid £5 for children's fish and chips, but I was hungry so I didn't have a choice. After we'd finished our grub we headed up to the top deck to look outside. Cold, wet and windy! We didn't stay out long! Was nice to see some sun after a lot of bad weather. For the rest of the ferry ride we collapsed on some sofas and chilled out.

Carmen, Dan, Jess and Me on the Ferry.
3 pm (ish)
We set out to find our hotel. Now I'll be honest here I really don't remember the drive from Calais to Ypres as I was in and out of sleep. When we did leave Calais the weather was beautiful, although I did know it wasn't supposed to last. Rain had been forecast unfortunately. I couldn't wait to get to our hotel and check in. We'd travelled nearly all day and I was so tired...I honestly just needed my bed!

5 pm (ish)
We finally arrived at the Novotel. I had stayed here before with my family. It was lovely when I'd last stayed so I was looking forward to staying here again. Our room was huge and we had 2 singles and a double. After allocating beds between me, Jess and Carmen we got ready to head out for dinner and then to the Menin Gate. 

6 pm
We headed out as a group, the square looked rather beautiful at night. I was really looking forward to sharing this experience with my friends, even though I had visited before. We had dinner at Den Anker and although we didn't get to choose what we had for dinner I was determined to try something. We were served Flemish Stew (which is beef in an ale gravy) with chips and salad. Bottles of water and cola were also provided on our tables and for pudding we were given choc ices. Steve informed us that if children were on this trip they would be given and it was important we experienced so it was important of what kind of food they would get. Personally it was not something I enjoyed, however I am glad I tried it.

8 pm
Our next stop was the Menin Gate Memorial for the missing. This was something I attended last time I was in Ypres, however the weather was a lot warmer. For those of you who are thinking of visiting Ypres, going to this ceremony held every evening at 8pm should be top of your list. It's quite overwhelming how many people turn up each evening to pay their respects. It's definitely moving, even though I didn't see as much this time because of my height, but the message is still there and the emotion. A speaker shared a story about one of the soldiers who had lost his life during the war and his name was now on the walls of the gate. The Last Post is held and a moments silence to remember all those who gave their lives. Three of our students lay wreaths and then we assembled for group photos afterwards. Steve pointed out a few names he had researched, highlighting the importance of sharing personal stories.

Jess's photo of the beautiful ceiling of the Menin Gate

Thanks to Jess for this photo of Carmen and I

Menin Gate
9 pm
We had had such a busy day so we headed for the shop for snacks and then back to our hotel room. We got in our pjs and snuggled on the bed to watch Mean Girls. We also downloaded a new game called 'Heads Up' which I recommend you download. It's only 79p from the App Store. It's a great game to play with friends and made us all laugh. Jess, Carmen and I didn't know each other that well prior to this trip so playing games like this helped us get to know each other and feel more comfortable around one another.

Unlike many of the students we called it an early night because we had a really busy day planned on Friday.

Stay tuned for Day 2

"The rest is still unwritten"


Thank you to Jess and Carmen Sharman for letting me use your fabulous photos! So glad that through this trip we became closer as friends. Definitely a memorable and wonderful experience.

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