On 11th September most people think and talk about what happened eight years ago, 11th September 2001. For me and JTO, however, more important is what happened 10 years ago 11th September 1999. It was the warmest day of the year, far too hot to be dressed up in finery in order to get married but that’s what we did, especially as my suit was made from gabardine. A couple of large gin and tonics took the edge off my nervousness. I had forgotten the three pounds you have to pay on the day but fortunately my brother had it and everyone settled in the town hall in Reading before JTO entered in Jasper Conran to Bob Dylan looking gorgeous. With friends there were then readings and the ceremony before we headed out to Frank Sinatra. Photos and one incident where someone tried to join in when photos were being taken in the local park before the wedding breakfast in our favourite local Portuguese restaurant, Eduardos. The evening do was back in the town hall and is remembered because my father was the fight having taken umbrage with the music policy of the DJ’s, who were only playing what we’d asked them. We left to spend the night at an old inn nearby, not having stayed in hotels in Reading as I’d lived there all my life choosing one to stay in had been hit and miss although it was certainly a hit for our wedding night. We had a relaxed rise the next morning and had brunch reading the papers in a nearby hostelry before leaving for the airport and honeymoon in the Maldives. I’d chosen to travel in my wedding suit and it wasn’t really suitable for the weather in the Maldives either but it did feel good taking my boots off and walking through the sand to our cabin where we spent a wonderful time relaxing, swimming, reading and eating, as well as seeing some of the islands.
So that’s what happened ten years ago, but that’s a long ways off from the ‘le nord’. No, because to celebrate ten wonderful years we went to the Nord-pas-de-Calais, to be more precise Dunkerque. The reason for choosing the area was to get some of the atmosphere and see some of the sights of the biggest ever French film, ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis‘. (Film website here) Below is the beffroi for Dunkerque on the left with the church, eglise St Eloi, on the right, they were separated in the 18th Century. In the background is the town hall which also has a beffroi (belfry) and we were assured that Dunkerque is the only place with two World Heritage belfries. As you can go up the belfry to see how the clocher works and to get a great view of Dunkerque. The picture on the right shows me with JTO and the town hall then the sea of the English Channel behind us. We caught the train the short distance to the amazing walled town/village of Bergues, which is where the film was shot, and after a very nice lunch spent Saturday afternoon on a tour of the village looking at the places in the film and going up their bell tower. But that is for another post. I leave with a picture of a beach-hut and people playing football on the beach at the Ch’ti-side.