Thursday, September 16, 2010
Travelling to Arnhem
My Dad turns 81 next month. He was nine when the Second World War broke out. For him, the war defined his who life. He was 15 when it ended. To this day he devours every programme he can watch about it. My parents' TV is permanently tuned to the History Channel or the Discovery Channel, much to my mother's chagrin.
Back in 1994 I took my father to visit the Normandy Beaches, a couple of weeks before the 50th anniversary of D Day. My friend Daniel from Washington joined us with his father, together with a couple of family friends. We rented a cottage about twenty miles inland. It was one of the best holidays of my life - full of emotion, some great banter with the French who seemed to want to thank us personally for what our countrymen had done to liberate them in 1944 and it was great to spend 5 days with my Dad, a man who normally hates holidays and hasn't got a lot of time for 'abroad'. If you'd like to see what we did, there's a set of pictures HERE on my Flickr pages.
A few months ago my mother rang to say that my Dad had got it into his head that he wanted to go on a battlefields tour to Arnhem, and would I go with him. He's got quite deaf and she didn't trust him on his own! So to cut a long story short, in half an hour's time we leave for Dover to meet up with a coach full of people from all over the country. Tonight we're staying in Eindhoven and then we have three nights in Arnhem, where we'll be visiting various sites associated with Operation Market Garden, which took place 66 years ago this week, including the famous Bridge at Arnhem. We're also travelling over the German border to visit a cemetary of German war dead - something I never thought I'd ever see my father do. He still refers to them as 'Jerries'!
Meanwhile, wish me luck on the channel ferry. I get terribly seasick. The first time I went across the channel was in 1977 when I was on a schol trip to Germany and we travelled from Harwich to the Hook of Holland in a force 9 gale. Everyone, literally everyone on the ferry was puking their guts up. I remember deciding to lie on the floor underneath two seats. My next memory was someone puking up right next to my head. Luckily I only suffered a bit of splashback. And since then, I just have to look at a ferry and I get that queasy feeling in my stomach. The only way to avoid it is to blindfold myself. I kid you not. If I can't see, somehow it seems to keep my stomach settled. So if you're on the 13.55 ferry to Calais and see someone with a blindfold, it's me.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that blogging will inevitably light over the next few days. I'll try to post when I can, and may tell you a bit about any memorable parts of the trip if you'll indulge me. I'm back on Monday.