Nine years have passed and now I can finally say the completion of my version of the Bayeux Tapestry is imminent.
It is sheer delight to be able to share my experiences with others. Its been a long journey, one filled with excitement, sometimes disappointment and wonder but always with enthusiasm.
My life from now until its completion will be tied to the project.
Today, I've been reviewing the details in my book and this is a short introduction from my diary on my first visit to Bayeux.
The Bayeux Tapestry
It has taken me three days to be able to write this. I’ve had the time, but somehow the feelings were not right.
As I write, I’m crossing the very strait of water that 1000’s of Williams soldiers valiantly rowed. The largest of the boats was 50 ft. They carried their provisions, their armory and 100’s of horses. It was an amazing feat.
Both crossings that I have encountered have been like a millpond, but their fleet encountered terrible storms and it took them many days. In contrast, its taking me 6 hours on the Ferry.
When I got off the Ferry on Monday, It was a warm sunny day. I ignored my GPS and followed the signs to Bayeux which I believed was about 30 kms from the Ferry Port.
It was just like driving in a picture postcard. The sun was low on the fields and everything was golden The sunflowers were abundant and the narrow roads wound through green fields and small villages.
Sheep, cows and horses studded the fields. The houses were wonderful. Rustic, ancient by our standards and welcoming with garlands of flowerboxes, sometimes the shutters were blue, at other times they were white, but always framing lace curtains. The roads were unnervingly narrow and considering that I had to drive a right handed car on the right side of the road, which is really the wrong side for us I think I did pretty well.
However, I did get lost and after going round and round for an hour or so, I put on the GPS which directed me to an ugly freeway and cars whizzed past me at an alarming speed.
Finally I arrived in Bayeux, but I couldn’t find the hotel, so after going down a one way street and having the locals wave and gesticulate wildly I parked the car, causing a little dispute with an angry English Tourist.
I decided I was safer to walk and after an hour or so and a little detective work, I finally found my elusive lodgings. I booked in and was shown to my room. It was not quite what I’m used to I must say, but it was clean, very sparse but comfortable and quiet.
Shrugging my shoulders, I walked off to find my car and finally was ensconced in the hotel. I had one heck of a headache and decided the need for coffee. There is no food allowed in the room, so I had to go to a Brassier and have a meal. I don’t speak French, but I managed to order a traditional meal, and the coffee was to die for.
I slept like a log. No noise, the computer playing classical music quietly, and no TV. (I couldn’t stomach Days of our lives in French.) However I was frustrated that I couldn’t get on to the Internet that’s like cutting off my right arm.
Next morning. I found the Museum Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde I was nervous to go in and it reminded me of the time I first saw the original 1776 quilt in Germany. 8 Euros and I was in, there is a long introduction to the history of the quilt and I walked and read, but I have been studying this for over a year now and will write a book of my own so I continued on to the movie which told the story in detail of William the Conqueror and his friend and enemy Harold and the Battle of Hastings in October 1066.
After the movie you are ushered into the Tapestry
It’s in a long tunnel that is darkened with the exception of lighting over the Tapestry itself. 238 feet in length. I joined the throng. They pushed past so fast so I hung on to the rail and refused to budge 100’s of people passed. Everyone had their own commentary, most were too loud and caused a mixture of sound. I didn’t use mine and just took in every inch of the Tapestry, moving very slowly and at times I was alone and in silence which I relished. I think the allotted time to view is about an hour, I took 4 and I went back to the beginning several times….
This is what I came to see. I was overawed. Believe me it’s very big. I shake my head.
I needed to reflect so I hopped in the car and drove 6 miles to the coast. It was just beautiful in the sunset, rugged and windswept. This is part of the Norman Landing where the British troops gave so valiantly to save the country. I walked the beach and found huge piles of scallop shells that had been twisted into patterns by the incoming tides. On returning to Bayeux, I was feeling very proud of myself and purchased some dinner which I illegally took to my room. Then I found the Internet shop and valiantly tried to send a few emails. Those who received them must have thought I’ve lost my marbles, the letters are in different places compared to our keyboard. I also found the quilt shop, it had about 20 bolts of fabric at about $32 per metre and they also sold intimate black lingerie I don’t think that would go too well in our shops.
It takes considerable time to process my photos for the day and I must admit, I was exhausted . and fell into t a deep sleep.
Wednesday is Market day in Bautzen, so after breakfast I walked down to take photos, it was grey and foggy but I thought the mist would lift and I looked ever upward to the sky for a hint of blue. Unfortunately it was to stay foggy for the next two days. I’ve never seen anything like it, but I do remember seeing photos of trees in the mist in france, so it’s obviously not unusual.
Monte St Michael was my destination today. Steeped in history of Wiliam the Conqueror and Harold, King of England. Once again, I took off reading the road signs and realized it was just too difficult. So on with the GPS, and it took me 40 kms to find the freeway and then 120 kms to the coast. I began to get nervous about the petrol situation. Unrealistic of me I know, but I just hadn’t seen any. Finally I saw a sign and I was introduced to the intracies of a French Petrol station very different to ours, but I managed and took off again to my final destination I was some 20 kms away and driving in fog when I viewed the majestic castle sitting on a small island in the ocean. It looked forever like a Castle from a story book floating in the grey mist. I passed through flat fields of corn, and waited for the sheep to cross the road. Their black faces and shapes very different to the sheep in our paddocks. The smell of cider was very strong and I came upon several small factories and stalls stacked with bottles of the amber fluid.
You drive out on a long Isthmus surrounded by water and I parked the car for a considerable amount of money, (well where else can you put the thing….) and I walked to the entrance of the castle. It is huge, it rises some 800 feet. It’s surrounded by a small village where the streets wind as if built by a child at play.
I decided to have a French seafood lunch and it was delicious. I wasn’t influenced by the stream of American Tourists who had to have French fries and burgers. But sharing the restaurant with dogs is an interesting experience specially when one dog took a fancy to another….!!!!!
I climbed hundreds of steps and my legs sure told me so, I wandered the corridors and dungeons it is an amazing place. I’m just sorry that the weather was so glum.
I wended my way home and took a shortcut that gave the gal in the GPS a heart attack. . “When safe, perform a legal U turn” she went on for ages, but finally I won and she put me on track and used the short cut. I saved the extra 40 kms she took me on this morning.
Once more I illegally took a meal to my room and left the evidence too as I was leaving this morning.
I drove to Caen this morning and spent the day at the Castle and Museum it was wonderful. It just took me ages to find my way out of the car park. I kept going down instead of up I’m a bit slow. Now here I am on the Ferry so I can drive on the left side of the road in the right side of the car which is the right side for me .!! whoopee. What will tomorrow bring.?