Grottes and other adventures

Yesterday started with a railway trip to the Grottes de Han. These are limestone caves formed over the last few million years as water dissolves the rocks and produces some fantastic sculptures from Stalagmites and Stalactites.

We were keen and caught the first tram out of town

Our guide, Etienne, was fantastic. He is an 8th generation guide in the caves. The 9th generation is also a guide. As to the 10th generation, she is only 5!

The cave system is the largest in Belgium at 17km, luckily our tour was only 2km! There is evidence that tourists were visiting the caves since the 18th century. This photo was taken in the cave discovered by Etienne’s grandfather.

We left Han with the aim of visiting Talbot House in Poperinge on our way to Ieper. We did 180 miles and 3 hours without stopping. We were determined and arrived at 3:30.

Talbot House opened in 1915 as a place where soldiers, regardless of rank, could spend a few days to relax before returning to the front. It was run as Everyman’s Club and the philosophy was that rank was left at the door and that you helped others less able.

The house felt very peaceful and the visit comes with a complimentary cuppa – hospitality was, and still is, paramount here.

The garden, described as the most important room in the house, continued the calm and peaceful theme. Neville Talbot and Tubby Clayton were truly remarkable men. Interesting fact: Tubby Clayton was chaplain to the Bedfordshire Regiment.

The evening ended with The Last Post at the Menin Gate