Day 3– Friday
Location: Ronquieres, BE. Free aire, no services GPS n50,60636, e4,22249
Miles Driven: Brugges – Waterloo 80m, Waterloo- Ronquieres 16m. Total 96m
Weather: rain overnight and a shower this morning, otherwise sunny
Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up alongside the river in a quiet village aire called Ronquieres. She’s got some French and Belgium neighbours and we can hear the river running through the trees to our side. Today has been a great day, despite a less than ideal start. Yesterday’s day in Brugges was a corker, and after a nice dinner of fish cakes and potatoes we hit the sack around 9pm, sleeping for 11 hours straight.
This morning we were up bright and early ready for the off when Keith discovered we had a flat tyre on the rear drivers side. On closer inspection we noticed the culprit was a nasty nail wedged in, so out came the Jack, off came the wheel and on went the spare. Easy peasy we thought, until we realised that the spare wasn’t retaining the air we were pumping in from our portable 12v tyre inflator. We soon discovered why, the valve was split! How unlucky. We were faced with two options, ringing RAC and getting them to assist, which we assumed would only be a tow to a garage, or limp to a nearby garage ourselves (thank you google maps and Tesco mobile for letting K use his phone as normal over here!) we decided to take the second option given this garage was within 2 miles and our spare wasn’t flat as a pancake flat… yet.
A very careful, heart in my mouth, every limb possible crossed drive and we soon arrived on the forecourt of the amazing Puype Tyres, who were exptecting us. They really put us to shame, all being fluent in English, communication was a doddle. They soon set about repairing both tyres and within 30 mins later, only €30 lighter we were back on the road feeling extremely relieved and thankful.
Ready for the off after our €30 tyre fix
An hour and a half later we were 80 miles down the road and south of Brusells arriving at The Battle of Waterloo site, Memorial 1815. First impressions blew us both away, there is a large mound (200+ steps high) with a big cast iron lion on as the main memorial site marking the centre of the line of Wellington’s Allied forces. After a quick lunch (we’d missed breakfast!) we were climbing breathlessly the large mound, and taking in the panoramic view from the top overlooking the battle site. Keith enjoyed the live 5D glasses (€3) – I thought he looked a bit daft, but he said they were worth it as he could see the battle through the glasses. Clever stuff.
The battle of Waterloo site
Inside the visitors centre (€17/£14pp) there was a fascinating large panoramic painting covering the battle, a very wordy museum, an amazing 4D film of the battle, and the opportunity to take a shuttle bus to Houogourmont. Access to the top of the mound was included in this price too.We walked down to see La Hayesaint Farm House, which was held by the allied left flank. This isn’t owned by the visitors centre, in fact is privately owned, but there were some plaques on the side, but had to cross a busy road to get there.
La Hayesaint Farmhouse
We then took the short ride on the Shuttle bus to Hougourmont Farmhouse which was the most fascinating part as it is a real time capsule from the battle. We saw the gate which 6 British soldiers managed to keep closed during the attack and was a turning point within the battle as it protected the whole of the allied right flank.
Keith was in his element, as a massive history enthusiast, this has been on his bucket list for a long time. I had a chat with the man behind the counter (I was dog sitting Jazz for some of it where he couldn’t go in) and he said sadly tourism has been hugely affected here following the recent attacks. He said usually this time of year they have up to 50 coaches visit daily, now they get a handful. We’ve noticed on our travels so far it’s very very quiet, almost has a feeling of off peak. Sad times.
After a great visit we set off towards our free stop over the night, filling with diesel en route (€1.09/£0.92pl). We took a short walk along the river (5 mins) to see the sloping loch, a rare example of a working boat lift, and we were lucky enough to see one in action. It basically looked like the boat was climbing the hill in a large bath! Interesting to see nonetheless. Tonight we’ve eaten a tasty Spag Bol, tomorrow Holland is calling!
Until Next time
PS you can follow our journey using a real time location tracker by following this link: https://track.gs/LXADWw