My husband’s Gap Year at 60 ~ An Eventful Trip to Arras

I’m writing a series posts about my husband’s Gap Year at 60! He has struggled with the concept of retirement although he longed for it to happen. Moments of ‘What next?’ and ‘I feel I’m drifting with no direction’ has led to him declaring a Gap Year doing some of the things he’s always wanted to do. First stop ~ New York in February.


From this …

Our planned March trip was to drive his Jag, an old English white 1965 Mark 2, to Arras. He bought it when the banks went pear-shaped a few years ago, having always dreamed of driving one since childhood. We’d been on short trips in the UK but this was the first time he’d driven it abroad.

Taking two good friends with us we made a long weekend of it, stopping at the Travellodge near Canterbury on the Friday night after an afternoon at Herne Bay, on the Kent coast. It was there that hubby noticed that the temperature gauge was nearly off the scale and the fan was not working.

We had a stressful hour or so phoning the breakdown cover and awaiting their arrival, but

... to this

… to this

to be fair they were prompt, got the fan going again and we were able to pop into Syvia’s Cafe for supper – too tired to go into Canterbury.

Unfortunately all was not well the following morning and by the time we were queuing for the ferry, having checked in, steam was coming out. A kindly angel in the guise of a Triumph Herald driver stopped behind us and gave us a replacement cap for the radiator and a new fuse. The engine cooled down and so we drove on to the ferry.

Le Blockhaus ... Haunting from the past

Le Blockhaus … Haunting from the past

We had a break in our journey stopping at Le Blockhaus, an enormous bunker where V1 rockets were made in WW2. The visit was both poignant and spine chilling and images of Mordor came to mind. We dare not imagine what if the bombing raids had not deterred the Nazis from their goals. It was a chilling reminder, all the more memorable because it was a beautiful day.

On our way once more, our joy with the car lasted only a few miles and we were relieved that France has frequent service stations and picnic areas where the car could cool down. By the time we reached Arras we were desperate and only just stopped on Place de Le Heros before steam was pouring out from the bonnet once more.

Another nail biting call to the breakdown services who yet again came out quite quickly and managed to fix the fan, so we enjoyed our first French meal in a restaurant in the cave under the square before having a good nights sleep.

The next day we enjoyed a visit to the Arras classic car show, though we’d left the car in the

This one made it - we didn't

This one made it – we didn’t

underground car park. Next we went for a tour in the underground caves and up the bell tower to enjoy the views over Arras, before enjoying our second delightful meal of mussels and crepe.

Sadly we decided that a detour to the World War One graves on the following morning was out of the question, but stopped at Β  Β  Β  , a high tech museum and display taking us from the V1 to the Nazis plans to send V2’s to London – rocket propelled craftDSCN1881[1] which could have destroyed vast areas and cause no end of devastation.

Yes again the engine heated up so that by the time we had reached the ferry we had to pull over. Knowing a little more about the problem the men decided to tie a plastic strap around the fuse casing and voila – the fan worked again.

Tired, but following an event free drive, we arrived back home late Monday evening. We certainly plan to go back to visit my husband’s great uncle’s war graves one day but

All for the sake of a tiny fuse

All for the sake of a tiny fuse

whether we take the jag I have no idea. She was certainly happy to be home, I think. Once home my husband realised that all was needed to fix the problem was this tiny fuse. Lesson learnt – be more prepared in future!

The old English Mark 2 Jaguar features in my current novel, a murder mystery set in the heart of Bedfordshire, Murder, Now and Then, but in the story she doesn’t break down. I promise!


About Diana Jackson

Author of 'The Healing Paths of Fife', Historical Romantic fiction ~ The Riduna Series set in 19th and early 20th Century a murder mystery ~ 'Murder, Now and Then' and two memoir. What links my books ~ history! Riduna on Twitter and on Facebook too!
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4 Responses to My husband’s Gap Year at 60 ~ An Eventful Trip to Arras

  1. Pat says:

    Beautiful car, Diana. I can see why hubby would take to it so much. Sorry to hear of the worries and stress of your trip, though, but glad you had at least some good highlights in it and the problem was only minor from a fuse. Always feels good to be home. πŸ™‚

  2. Indeed Pat. Hope you are well. I will respond to your other request shortly my friend πŸ™‚

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