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How to kill a periwinkle

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I had a week, a whole week for myself, the company has decided that overtime is no longer to be compensated with money, but with free time, looks like someone from the middle management saw his bonus in danger and needed to save the pennies.
So I had a week thrown at me to do with whatever I please, the only issue I had, was…:
What to do with it.
I decided that I needed sea, real sea, not the med, not a lake, not a pond, river or puddle, but sea, with wind, waves, salt, ships and sand.
My only problem is that the nearest „Sea, Sea“ is a thousand kilometers away and in France.
But to heck with it, time to kick the tires and light the fires.
The tent and the camping gear was packed and a thermos flask of tomato soup made. I don’t know why but on long trips I always have a thermos of tomato soup, just my thang I guess.
I also had my sleek new CPAP with me, and I was really looking forward to firing it up on a camping trip, its about the size of a beer can and just the right size for camping unlike the Breadbin sized one I got from the German health service.

Its a long ride through south Germany to the French border. Along the A98 to Memmingen, then on the A7 up to Ulm before I hit the A8 past Stuttgart to Karlsruhe. Then it is a few Kilometers after Karlsruhe on the A6 to the French border and on towards Metz. After Metz the landscape flattens out with low hills and sweeping visuals. But you are riding past the great western front battlefields of the first world war. This war still haunts the towns and villages, some of which were never rebuilt and stand gaunt and in ruin as they have stood for over a hundred years. I rode past Verdun, and past Dead man’s hill, and the site of the battle of Asine. You can’t stop gazing over the landscape and know that you are failing in your ability to imagine what it must have been like over a hundred years ago.
The next day I arrived in Calais. I really like the place and have been going there since I was a wee nipper having been dragged there by mum and dad.
Just a few kilometers west of Calais there is a small village called „Escalles“ Its a one baguette village with a few houses and two hotels, it also has a nice little two star campsite which was my goal.
Have a look on a map, it sits just to the west on the other side of Cap Griz Netz, and a few kilometers past Sangatte, the town where Bleriot made the first channel crossing by plane in 1909. It is a stretch of coast with high white cliffs and wide beaches, where, when the tide is out you can walk for hours in perfect sync with the crashing waves and keeping just to your own thoughts inside your own head.
I arrived at the camp site, checked in, got an extension for the electric, pitched the tent in a few minutes, had a shower and half an hour later I was watching the fiery red ball of the sunset sink into the incoming tide from the concrete top of an old German Bunker with a beer in my hand.


In the evening I decided to try the restaurant at the campsite. It is known for specializing in local caught fish and was I looking forward to a fishy heaven on earth. I ordered the mixed shellfish, got my book out and had a beer as I waited. The place was quite full with a mix of French, Germans and Dutch campers, across from me at the next table was a family from Birmingham, if I read the accent correctly, and they ordered the mixed fish and shellfish platter.
I watched them from over the top of my glass rather annoyed by their rather corse behavior. Big and as thick as two short planks, they were, with added oatmeal. Maggoty white legs covered in bruises poking out from faded shorts, they had not seem much sun by the looks of things, t shirts, neck tattoos and piercings. This was the whole Chav life on one table. I named them „The Hindenburgs“ Mummy Hindenburg, daddy Hindenburg and the Goodyear Blimp. However with my book at operating temperatures I was able to fade them out.
My plate came and I was in heaven. Shrimps, big ones, then the little grey snapping shrimps that you eat as they are, heads, shells, legs the lot, Whelks, Periwinkles. Goose neck barnacles. Smoked kippers and fresh bread and butter.
Then the Hindenburgs platter arrived and I watched with growing glee as their faces left the rails.
„Ere´ wotz dis supoz´d to be?“
„Not Eet´in dis.!
„Mumm, it izn´t froiiid“
Unable to make sense of the French menu they were expecting their food to have been drowned in batter, deep fried in hot oil and served with chips, just like you get it in Benidorm and other „forrin“ places. And I was cringing.
In Germany there is an expression called: „Fremdschämen“ it is when you are embarrassed on somebody else’s behalf, I was bright red as having the same passport as these creatures from the pit.
In the end they huffed and puffed, sent it back and ambled over to the food trailer a hundred meters or so down the road for some chips.
*sigh* Big *SIGH!*
The waiter came and cleared my empty plate and I just had to give the guy a nodding smile, I wanted to convey and show him that it was sooooo good, and that not all English are that intellectually low on the food chain, only to get the kind of look that an exasperated French waiter thinking that „all zeeeze Iiiigleesch perzons aare eeediots“ can give you.

So, how then do you kill and eat a periwinkle?
With the thin skewer provided with the dish you remove the lid and stab the periwinkle at the partial wall and gently roll the shell of the periwinkle, don’t try to leaver the periwinkle out of the shell, it will just tear and you get half a periwinkle. My way is easy and if you do it correctly you get the fine whorl at the tip, dip it in condiment and there you go.

I have been coming here every decade or so for the last sixty years, mostly when using the car ferry to drive to England when visiting my mother and I have always stood in awe at the great bunkers that the Germans built during the war. And they are some behemoths indeed.
Built as part of the Atlantic wall they were designed to stop any invasion along the coast.
We know how well that worked out for them.
The nearby Batterie Todt where four 40cm were stationed is now a museum, Batterie Lindemann is now at the bottom of an artificial lake left over from building the channel tunnel, and there are also myriads of smaller bunkers and artillery positions all along the coast and it is well worth the time to follow the trail until you get to the landing beaches of Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno.
Over the years I have been along almost the entire Atlantic wall from Norway to Spain, but this time I wanted to visit the Launch sites of the V2 and V3 rockets. They are both chilling and amazing at the same time and as a testament to folly they must be pretty unique.

I love the beaches here with the fine grain sandy colored sand, it is sandcastle sand, sand that gets in every nook and cranny, it is sand dotted with white rocks and tidal pools, but best of all the water was still warm and swimmable. I love trying to stand in the surf and enjoy being buffeted by the waves. I also like to ride riptides, where you let yourself be swept out to see and return in the whorl, with a few swimming strokes you can spend ages being swept out and returned. But I am a strong swimmer and although I respect the sea I am not afraid of it.
I mention this not as a flex but to emphasize this next chapter.
If you haven’t been living under a rock you will know that this area is a collecting point for refugees trying and mostly failing to get across the channel to England. The so-called „Junglecamp“ in Sangatte is probably the best known example. The French government dispersed the camp a few years back, but all that did was to disperse the refugees and they now live in the abandoned bunkers up and down the coast. However there is another Junglecamp forming just a few kilometers north of Calais.
I had noticed a guy sleeping rough on the beach just under the cliff, sleeping and eating and washing and drinking from a small waterfall coming out of the limestone cliff, he was there a few days until a group of French soldiers came and shooed him on.
But this day he was going for it. From somewhere he had organized a Children’s paddle boat and a small electric trawler motor used by fishermen on lakes and ponds.
It was surreal, he was pumping the boat up with a foot pump with a few dozen beach goers watching on. Nobody believed he was going fishing and everybody knew what he was doing. For most part he was ignored but a few younger persons did address him and I suppose they were trying to talk some sense into his thick skull. But he was oblivious to reason and was starting to get aggressive, so in the end everybody just watched him. He dragged his tiny craft to the surf of the receding tide and tried to launch. Only to be spat out, and again and again and again. By the way he was struggling to keep sure footed in the surf I think that he was not able to swim and I believe that had he managed to breach the surf he would have become another statistic in the list of bodies dragged from the sea. That, however did not worry me as under no circumstance would he have managed to leave shore.
At some point he must have realized the futility of his crossing attempt and simply gave up. But for a few hours it was fun to watch.
Relaxing in the warm sand sporting a cold beer and listening to somebody’s radio telling of Russia´s partial mobilization for yet another war in Europe while being entertained by a man who had turned his desperation into a spectator sport. It had me thinking about what kind of dystopian 21st century are we building?

For my last day I had promised myself a day trip over to Dover on the ferry, it is only 21 Euros and I thought that closing this holiday with fish and chips and mushy peas would be just the thing. I left camp at six in the morning and rode past Sangatte on the way to the harbor. Just past the village „refugees“ had set tires and boxes alight and were trying to stop cars and trucks heading to the port, already they were having pitched battles with the police and fire brigade. I opened the taps and shot past.
Frankly I would have no idea what to do with them or how to find a solution, so I did what everybody else does and ignored them.

It was a short sea journey to the UK and it took almost as long to pass customs as it did to cross the channel, I wanted to visit the famous Dover castle but to my dismay it cost a whopping 38 quid to get in so I declined.
Later that evening I returned to the campsite only to find that some bugger had nicked the extension. So it was a night without a CPAP, how could it get worse...?
"PSSSSSSHT" a puncture in the airbed at 3 in the morning, that´s how it got worse.

After a rough night it was time to break camp and do the long haul back to Bavaria and a day later I arrived back home, cold and wet but quite happy but what a trip.

For pictures you will have to make do with the ones on my facebook site.hippy.gif

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