As well as simply digging up relics, we're also very well rehearsed at tracking them down interesting items in antiques halls, flea markets, militaria shops all around the globe. This weekend was going to see us travel all the way up to Yorkshire for an auction at Ryedale auctions. They had a huge consignment of relics munitions, guns, bayonets, grenades, despite their estimated values being ludicrously low. So low it was clear that they were just trying a typical stunt to draw people in. The lots alone were already getting attention from lots of relic hunters. So Jay and I hatched a plan to drive there on Saturday morning, view the lots and then the next day win lots of items... So on Friday, my lovely wife Sarah dropped me off at Jays house. Shortly after doing so, Alan let us know that the whole auction had been cancelled as some wanker had reported the lots to the Police. RLC had been a viewed them all, declared them safe, however the police being the useless twats that they are confiscated everything regardless. Results - auction cancelled! Typical!!!
So we sat deciding what to do and the suggestion on France/Belgium came up and out came the laptops to start Googling different things that maybe on. The big things we were hoping was a large outdoor collectors fair at Waterloo. We had been once before and had sourced many a great find. As Jay found out, it was on the Sunday. But, what to do Saturday? Jay had found a French car-boot sale that was listed as having around 300 stalls. That sounded promising. We booked a ferry for first thing 6am Saturday morning. We had to drive to mine to pick up my passport as I wasn't taking that to Yorkshire, we grabbed a few hours sleep and then drove to Dover. Ferry was the usual non-eventful crossing, although we may have accidentally sleep in the upgraded lounges by mistake. Upon docking we drove the short trip to the car-boot. Well, my god, this place look like Afghanistan! A war zone, although technically it has been a war zone twice, just over the last 100 years. The stalls were there OK, just they had nothing that we wanted... nothing... bad start to the weekend. We saw notifications to Zonnebeke and the museum there, Jay had been before and said it was pretty good. He also had tried to book us in to see an original underground trench system, known as a dug-out. However, it was all booked out. We thought we would go and ask regardless. Upon pulling into the car park, who was walking towards me, Mark Smith! The chap who presented the 'forgotten army' story on the BBC's InsideOut show for us. Once we were in side we asked if there was any more spaces and explained we had tried to book online, the reply we got was "Yes, it will say booked out online, so the foreigners cannot book!". WTF? Puzzling, but we booked into a slot at 13:20.
The museum itself was a superb place, with many decent objects that would look fantastic in both our collections. Sadly that doesn't work with museums. Although there excellent reproduction of the underground trench system gave me some interesting ideas on what to do with my cellar at home. However the highlight was still to come, we walked over to the original dug-out area and waited in the queue. Eventually a large party formed behind us and then arrived the guide who explained all about why the dug-out was here, that it was never used or finished. The whole thing had been completely filled with water preserving the woodwork incredibly. This was first found when some archaeologists were looking for evidence of the original Abby that once stood there. What they found was lots of wooden beams in the way. The layout was then marked on the surface, the paving slabs were redone in such a way as to mark the layout. It was sealed up until it was drained of water and a 3D model of the dug-out was created, at this point it was suggested that the public be allowed down to view it. However, in the world that we live in now, you can't just let people do things like that without certificates, insurances, risk assessments... and no body was really keen to insure against a 100 year old wooden roof that has been left to rot in the ground with no maintenance. Eventually, after lots and lots of work the site opened and will be open for just over a 100 days, after which it will be closed up again... possibly for good! A terrible thought. Lets hope that it doesn't!
We started to descend do the 100 year old steps into the dugout, immediately struck by the size of these steps. Huge wide solid wooden beams, sitting in position for a 100 years, finally being used to some of there potential. Luckily for us we were pretty much at the front of the queue and when we go to the bottom the few in front of us had vanished. When we go to the bottom, a typical gas cape had been rolled and fastened up, we turned a corner and froze. The sight was truly incredible. Row after row of vertical wooden wall planks, beams from floor to ceiling, solid wooden railway sleep style beams made up the solid flooring.
will finish this eventually!