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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Lorraine Trip - Vroenhoven Bridge

On my recent trip to Liege and Lorraine, this was our first stop, the bridge at Vroenhoven.

One of three bridges across the Albert Canal and covered by the artillery of Fort Eben Emael.

I copied this map from Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's excellent book "Dunkirk". Vroenhoven is No. 3 and it and the bridge at Veldvezelte (no. 2) were captured intact by German glider troops on 10th May 1940, along with Fort Eben Emael. The third bridge at Kanne was destroyed by the Belgians.

The Vroenhaven bridge in the 1930s.

The bridge with the blockhouse after German capture

The new bridge, still with the blockhouse

The new bridge, a lovely photo from Ney & Partners Structures

Memorial to the Belgian defenders

During construction of the new bridge.

Also nearby is a memorial to a flight RAF Fairey Battles who attacked the bridges on 12th May 1940.

Monday, 29 June 2015

"Mr Holmes"

Yesterday we went to Cityscreen cinema in York to see "Mr Holmes".

Ian McKellan plays Sherlock Holmes in 1947. He was living on the South Coast of England which allows views of lovely countryside. He was 92 years old and was struggling to remember and to write an account of his final case, 35 years earlier.

Good acting, particularly from McKellan, lovely scenery and photography; however the film took a long time to get going, the first half was rather slow and dull but once it picked up the pace and the different strands of the plot started coming together, we liked it it was a good story.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Lorraine Trip

I'm back after a very good trip to Belgium and Lorraine to see the Maginot line, well not all of it, just six forts. A good mix of sites to visit, interesting people on the coach, good weather, good hotels, a good guide, all go to make a good trip.

I have 200 photographs to sort through. I will post some of these but in the meantime, here is my haul of goodies to add to my library.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Easingwold and "Jurassic World"

A bit of a bad blow to us this week.

In English property law, verbal arrangements count for nothing. We rented our current house for a year from August 2014. Two weeks ago we agreed with the owner to take the house for at least another year. He agreed. This week he has come back and said he is selling the house to a family and so , with nothing in writing, we are out, as from 20th August.

The search is on for another house. Yesterday we drove out to view a property in Easingwold, a lovely, small market town, close to the North Yorkshire Moors.

Good lunch spot

Easingwold could be an excellent choice for me, a nice house, good surroundings good walking, but not so good for B as it is some 20 miles from the University campus where she works and a little awkward for the stables. We shall see.

After lunch we went back to York Cityscreen to see the new Jurassic Park film, in 3D. Not a great work of cinematic art but very enjoyable.

Tomorrow I am going on the trip to the Maginot Line in Northern France, 05.30 start from York railway station. Back Friday.

Friday, 12 June 2015


I watched the film "Kajaki" yesterday. Very good, it felt very real.

This is a film about contemporary warfare and the experiences of the UK Armed Forces. Based on a true story, in 2006, a squad from 3 Para was guarding the Kajaki dam in Helmand Provence, Afghanistan. This was a quiet duty, rather dull, with very occasional contact with Taliban forces. Three paras leave the base for a recce patrol and walk into a minefield. The other paras have to extract them.

The first third of the film has a lot of British squadie humour/banter and a very funny exchange with a Dutch fighter pilot. The second half was very engrossing, very well acted by its cast of young actors. It has a very contemporary feel, the language, the banter, is very real, I could feel the young men's boredom and then how quickly events turn around, the fear of being caught in a minefield, terrifying.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Remembering Christopher Lee

I have just seen on the BBC website that Christopher Lee had died.

Christopher Lee was one of the greatest screen actors of the post-war generation. He was also one of the busiest, I have just checked his entry on  IMDB, he has 283 entries. Dracula - Lord Summerisle - Scaramanga - Saruman - Count Dookoo.

I am very sad at this loss.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

"American Sniper"

Another week has flown by. England lost the second test match, so we had a drawn series, England 1 New Zealand 1. The two matches were very good, high scoring, with ups and downs for both teams and played in a really good spirit. I feel it is a pity there were only two matches in the series.

I watched "American Sniper" on DVD. I missed this at the cinema so I placed an order with Amazon. My verdict - this is a very good film, very well acted by the lead pair of actors with a good story to tell, I enjoyed it but I felt it was a little too long. I've decided not to keep it so it's on EBay.

I learnt one thing from the film - the role of the sniper in counter insurgency soldiering.

As I said - a very good film and I recommend it.

Chris Kyle, the American Sniper

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Fort Beauséjour

As an England fan, the cricket (England v New Zealand second test match) is going really badly, so I am noodling around t'internet and I have found two things to share.

First, Youtube has a preview of the new "Man From Uncle" film, due out in August. I was following up my recent blog about Napoleon Solo. Check it out.

Second, Fort Beauséjour. I see many artillery structures with the tag "star fort", many of them are not but this fort certainly is a star fort. It is a beauty.

The fort was built by the French on the route between Louisbourg and Quebec in the Spring of 1751. At first, building proceeded rapidly but slowed and so was not completed before a force of British regulars and New England militia attacked on 4th June 1755 and took control on 16th June. The fort remained in British hands although it was attacked unsuccessfully by a force of Americans in 1776. I think it is now under the jurisdiction of the Canadian National Parks Service.