Tag Archives: France

A personal reflection on flags for #FriFotos

The theme for the photo sharing day on Twitter on Friday 18 November 2011 was Flags. If you look at my Twitter profile you will see that I tend to spend time between three locations. In this piece, I will include photos, including flags from each of these places.
Wales
Welsh flag at Llangollen
Starting with my birthplace. This photo was taken while looking for new angles to take photographs from. The castle on the skyline is Dinas Bran. It was built by the Welsh sometime in the 1260’s but fell to King Edward 1 of England.

Belgium
Belgian flag
Taken while at Fete de la Musique in place des Palais. This photo was used by the Belgian French language Radio and TV broadcaster to illustrate how far Belgium was from forming a government. Belgium went to the polls on 13 June 2010 and didn’t agree on a workable coalition until 11 October this year. The country now holds the world record for the time taken to form a democratically elected government. The article can be found here. You may need to use Google Translate. They did accredit me as the copyright holder but did not link to my Flickr page or give me a link back, but I was humbled to have it included.

France
French flag at Chamonix
Finally a photo of the French Flag from outside the Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM), Chamonix’s High Moutain Police. They operate a professional mountain rescue service. I end up at Chamonix at some time each winter, even if I don’t always spend the season there. I for one am glad that these brave policemen are there to rescue anyone in distress high in the Alps. The memorial plaque outside is sobering, as it records a the death of at least one policeman each year for nearly all the time it has been in existence.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Remembering the fallen

#FriFotos is the weekly photo sharing day on Twitter. On Friday November 11, the theme is “Fall”, but as is usual, it is open to interpretation. Fall is the term used for Autumn in North America. However, the eleventh of November is Armistice Day and a Public Holiday in much of Europe. It is a day when we remember the fallen. The fall that these soldiers made, is the one that will be foremost on my mind.
I intend to visit the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing, near the French / Belgian border not far from Messines. In the First World War, Winston Churchill spent some time in the trenches here after the failure of his Gallipoli campaign. Hitler also spent time nearby, at Messines, even painting the church in his spare time.Plougsteert Memorial
I will not be going there to remember Churchill or Hitler. I will be paying homage to my Great Uncle, the twin brother of my grandfather. My grandfather had volunteered for the British Army working with the horses. Uncle Ted was conscripted into the Royal Welch Fusiliers but was transferred into the South Wales Borderers as so many units had been decimated by the onslaught. The South Wales Borderers were the regiment famed for their defence of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa, immortalised in the film “Zulu”. It made finding out the location of his memorial difficult, as the family had been searching for him in the Royal Welsh Fulsiliers, until my brother’s research lead discovered the story of his last days and hours.
Plougsteert Lion
Uncle Ted was listed as missing presumed dead, on 11 April 1918. It was at the height of the Georgette Offensive in Flanders. German troops had overrun the Allied positions and were pouring through Northern France towards the Channel Ports. The situation was grave. This was the day Field Marshall Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary force gave his desperate order.

There is no other course open to us but to fight it out! Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall, and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our Homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.

Uncle Ted was last recorded by Estaires, in the Nord Department of France not far from Lille. They were under fire from mortars. After that date he was not heard from again. He was listed missing in action. His mother refusing to believe he was dead, left her front door unlocked each night in anticipation of his return until her dying day.Names on memorial
We don’t know if he lies in a Flanders Field, or is in a cemetery with a headstone marked with the words “Known unto God”. His name was carved on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing in Belgium. The French already had a surplus of War Memorials and so King Albert 1 of Belgium offered to host the memorial originally planned for Lille.
Headstone
Ploegsteert Memorial sits in The Royal Berkshire Cemetery Extension. British troops stationed at Ploegsteert, called it Plugstreet and this part of the line was known as Hyde Park Corner.
All I can do is pay my respects to my Great Uncle who fell in 1918, so that we can enjoy the freedom we take for granted today.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily Photo: Wissant, Northern France

Wissant, Northern France


Follow the Coast South West from Calais and you pass Cap Blanc-Nez and arrive at Wissant. The names comes from the Dutch “Wit zand” or white sand in English. Mostly ignored by the British as they head South, it is popular with Parisians, Belgians and the Dutch. The latter probably because it is the nearest resort with cliffs as well as a sandy beach. The Parisians because they can get to the TGV station at Frethun, near Calais with relative ease. This photo was taken on a walk from Wissant to Cap Blanc-Nez.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily photo: Lake Annecy, France

Lake Annecy, France

Lake Annecy, France
Lake Annecy is one of the cleanest lakes in France. It is favoured by fishermen, swimmers and many different types of water sports, ranging from hiring pedalos to wakeboarding. Enough said, I’ll stop writing and let start meditating.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily Photo: My favourite office, Chamonix Médiathèque

Office with a view
Chamonix Médiathèque is open in the afternoons, from Tuesday to Saturday. I joined when I lived there for a season in 2010. There was a deposit to pay and a 6 monthly membership fee, that was not exorbitant considering it included loan of books, CD’s and DVD’s. Another draw was the free WiFi. Yes, free, as you don’t have to be a member of the library to use it.
But working on my laptop there was great, as I didn’t have to take screen breaks. The mountains would draw my eyes away from my work naturally without having to think “Thirty minutes, time for screen break”.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Les 24 heures d’Hannut

Another video from the Eurapart Project, this time of the annual competition event held at Hannut in Belgium. The event usually takes place over 24 hours just like Le Mans. This year however, it was extended to 25 hours to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the games.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.