- 6 Sep 07, 01:01 PM
Amiens - As I scanned row upon row of crosses at one of the many British cemeteries that dot north east France like ice-white scars, it was sobering, and a little humbling, to think that my great granddad fought on these very fields.
It certainly managed to put my little sulk over our dwindling stocks of Foamburst and Shreddies into perspective.
My cousin has in her possession my great granddad’s mother-of-pearl bible, dented, family legend has it, by a German bullet. A cracking story, although given my record with mobile phones, he probably just sat on it after a few hot toddies.
What the old war hero, who would have associated France with little more than blood and death, would have made of the beady-eyed couples in their motor homes that wind their way past these long-silent battle grounds is anyone’s guess, but I’m starting to think they’re all a little bit odd.
Consider the envious, sideways glances as our Fiat Behemoth rolls into another campsite; the chink-chink of cutlery as another meal is taken in near silence in the rear of a dimly-lit vehicle; the mulletted Yorkshireman waxing lyrical, and loud, about the capacity of his chemical toilet at 7am this morning.
That said, when I peered into the gloom last night and noticed that our van had been out-nuttered by a couple from Scarborough, I felt a sudden urge to spring from my bunk and run a key down the side of it. It was only the thought that it probably had a force-field fitted as standard that kept me tucked up in bed.
I get the feeling it is, in the words of Cypress Hill, time to ‘cock the hammer’, put our technical frustrations behind us and steam into Nantes, where Wales begin their World Cup campaign against Canada on Sunday.
More gremlins, the specifics of which I won’t bore you with, mean I write this from a campsite near Amiens when we should be well past Paris by now.
For Tommy, who is lumbered with all the driving on this trip, that’s got to be a bit of a choker. Yesterday, I even felt a little tug of guilt and gladly posed for photos, blue Marigolds pulled up to my elbows, when he suggested I change the dunny.
I also felt a bit guilty last night when I realised the rustling of pen on pad coming from my bunk could easily have been mistaken for…ah, well, I’ve said too much.
Here’s to great granddad Dirs, to Wales, to the calm before the storm and to a successful Rugby World Cup. By the way, does anyone know of a decent barbers in Nantes? My hair goes from Phil Mitchell to Krusty the Clown in about two weeks and it’s just about to pass the David Hasselhoff stage.
ps. Why does the milk smell funny over here and what's the French for "Bubble perm"?
Ben Dirs is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Tom Fordyce. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.