Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cycle Touring Day 38

Today I spent another day sightseeing, this time in the town of Bayeux. First thing this morning I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to see, in person, the Bayeux Tapestry. I learned about it in school almost 30 years ago and the imagery from some of the scenes has been imprinted on my memory ever since. I wish I had the same interest in such things back then as I do now. Back then I could not put into context what we were learning about and why we had to learn it - it was just projects to fill the school day as far as I was concerned. But I'm glad that some of it has stuck.

There was another moment of amusement for me today. In the museum part of the tapestry tour, there is a touchscreen computer linked up to a ceiling mounted projector which projects and enhances the visual display onto the wall. You scroll through the tapestry on the touchscreen and can then see it 'big' on the wall in front of you. At one point later on, I noticed a woman was stood by the wall pressing the forward and backward buttons thinking that she was controlling the scrolling (which was actually being done by a couple sat at the touchscreen). She could not work out why the image was not moving when she pressed the scroll 'button' on the wall. She also didn't seem to grasp that every time she stood in front of it that her shadow blocked off the button on the wall (along with half of the tapestry) but she kept pressing where it had been in the hope of scrolling along. I watched for about a minute and left wondering how long she stayed there for.

After about two hours in the tapestry building which included a film about possibly origins and the history of the tapestry (I also did the audio guide twice to make sure I got my money's worth and spent as long as I could looking at the thing after waiting so many years), I wandered up to and around and through the Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux. After strolling some more through the town I worked my way up to the Bayeux Museum of the Battle of Normandy and spent at least a further two hours in there. As well as the tools and machines of battle on display, there are also hundreds of photographs and plenty of texts to read and imagery to absorb. All followed by a 25 minute film of the events after D-Day.

Just up the road from the museum is the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. Walking amongst the rows and rows of headstones in the perfectly maintained cemetery, I found myself in tears and uttering thanks for the freedom I now have to be undertaking this cycle tour of Europe. Who knows what history may subsequently have been had all these soldiers not given their lives to alter its course. I walked along the rows past as many as I could before the rain got too heavy. The ages of the graves I saw ranged from 19 to 23. The oldest one I saw was 36! How on earth are we ever supposed to thank each and everyone of the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for us - maybe by fully embracing the freedom they have afforded us by doing such a thing as cycle touring around this great continent?

I got back the the campsite just before a heavy rain shower and utilised the time adding a few more campsites to the route for the coming days. In the early evening, under a blue sky, I cycled back into Bayeux town with the intention of spending my last few hours here cycling around the streets but within 30 minutes a thunderstorm had arrived and just as I got back to camp the heavens opened. I took shelter in the internet/tv room for the rest of the evening chatting online with friends and to a New Zealand couple who came in to plan more of their tour. They are spending the next seven weeks driving pretty much what I will be cycling for the next year.

Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux.

Harold swears an oath to William, on Holy Relics, that he will not himself become King - he's lying!

Edward the Confessor dies.

Harold crowns himself King - see, I told ya!

The bit where Haley's Comet appears and the local think "Hello, something's not quite right here."

Harold gets hit in the eye with an arrow from the sky - the rotter.

A walkway with slabs engraved with the names of journalists and photographers who have died in all the world's conflicts.


  1. Just thinking about the graveyard moves me. Being there must actually be very moving. Such powerful imagery.

  2. We went to the Bayeux Tapestry last November when we went to John's place and like you I wished I had taken in more at school, so you're not alone on that score.

  3. I love your detailed description! It is going to be a epic journey!

  4. Laughing about the woman with the projection. I once spent 10 minutes watching a window cleaner try to clean an automatic door without turning it of first.

  5. I love that there is a huge amount of respect and that there are people who loving tend to the vast graveyard keeping it looking so stunningly beautiful and peaceful despite what it represents, simply humbling xx