Classic Car Show, St.Omer, Nord pas de Calais, 2 June 2024

Next Sunday I’m driving my MX-5 over to St.Omer in Northern France to the large old vehicle event on Sunday. There will also be a couple of Commonwealth War Graves I shall visit which are nearby. With four nights B&B at the nearby Ibis Budget hotel, I’m looking forward to driving around quiet uncluttered country roads too.

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Well how did it go, you ask? Well you didn’t but I’ll tell you anyway.

Ten minutes after leaving home, I pulled up at some temporary traffic lights on the A20 at Harrietsham. Suddenly a skip lorry rammed the back of the car. Boot lid bashed in, rear lights a bit battered. After exchanging details, I drove home and got my duct tape out to re-attach the rear light clutters. Whilst they looked a bit of a state, only one brake light was ‘out’. I caught a later ferry - Irish Ferries - and set off for Calais. On the other side I drove down to St.Omer on minor roads avoiding the tolls and found the Ibis on the edge of town. I then headed off to locate two WW1 cemeteries at Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gouy and the Noreuil Australian Cemetery which two ancestors of mine lay, the only Narramores to be killed in the Great War.

A twenty minute walk away from the Ibis I found a small estate with McDonalds, Buffalo Grill and other eateries. I like Buffalo Grill but my negligable French and the waitresses negligable English, “Yes it eez Fillet steak” resulted in Steak Hache ie glorified beefburger. Dear me.

Next day it was drizzling so a slow walk around a wet, drab city before popping into the Queen Victoria pub to find 13 beer taps serving ‘my types’ of French/Flemish beers, mostly around the 9% mark. Deep joy.
Next day I drove west to Le Touquet and searched almost in vain for a vacant parking spot. Once found I then failed to master the ticket machine so surrendered and drove on to Boulogne-sur-Mer and a lunch of fish soupe followed by Moules Marinaire. After many years of visits to this town, I had somehow always avoided the large aquarium, the Nausicaa so 28 euros later I entered the terrific and popular building on the seafront. Then it was back to St.Omer and the hotel.

On the Sunday I drove about 1/4 mile up the road to the local park and the classic car event - some 450 cars. An amazing day with tented bars and two stages with bands, and more 2CVs (I once owned 5) and Renault 4s (plus a couple of those) and lots of beautiful French DSs, Panhards, Facel Vegas and more. There were two MX-5s plus my own and no Brit cars whatsoever. Back in St.Omer that evening at a local bar I made another culinary error, Steak Carpaccio. Jeez, what a choice!

Next day it was back on the minor roads back to the Calais Ferry Port and it’s intermidable delays. Massively long queues of vehicles and three passport checks then onto the Irish Ferry and over to Dover. Half an hour later and I was at last home.