La Rocco Tower Thursday, Jul 28 2016 

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La Rocco Tower

Last week I undertook a Jersey Heritage guide training for La Rocco Tower, having done Seymour Tower in 2013. The Tower was the 23rd and last and largest of the round towers to be built in Jersey and was started in 1796 and completed in 1801, it was named Gordon’s Tower after the then Lieutenant Governor Andrew Gordon. The name Rocco is derived from Rocque-hou meaning Rocky island. This is one of the islands more iconic buildings featuring on the islands twenty pound note and on the neck of proffessional rugby player Matt Banahan.

The tower under the management of Jersey Heritage offers basic accomodation and sleeps seven including the guide, access to stay is limited to tides under 2 metres at low water, under a metre swell, and force 5 (any direction) these safety limits are in place because of the possible need for emergency services needing to get a caualty off, and the lack of landing facilities at the tower. Which is disappointing as it must offer a spectacular view when a decent swell is running. Fishing is good around the tower with Bass, Mackerel, Wrasse, and Garfish (Snipe) giving good sport, another of the saftey issues is swimming which is not allowed from the tower, which I was disappointed to find out, as there was little or no tide around the steps whilst we were there and from half tide down it seemed very safe. There is a large rockpool which served me well for a dip on both days, given their is no rain water in the tower the wash in the sea was welcome.

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View from the top towards the beach

The views were a novelty having spent a large part of my life looking from the shore side, although views are limited at the base due to height of the wall, the top of the tower offers a 360 panorama, although there is no seating in place as yet. We were treated to a spectacular sunset to the west of Guernsey and one can clearly see the other islands of Sark, Herm,  and Jethou.

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German shell damage above the door

Whilst on the rocks below I noticed the marks pictured above, between the door and window, I thought at first it may have been a sun dial, I posted a picture of it on the facebook page of Unseen Jersey and the general opinion this was this damage caused by German fire, the account of the Tower being used by the Germans as a target has been contested by some, so I hope this picture adds some proof to the accounts. The window coins must have been modern repairs to the tower after it was purchased through the campaigning of the late Reverend Manton and public subscription. The repair work also included pumped concrete supplied by Ronez.

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Row of twenty paired unhewn granite stones, a possible megalithic structure?

There are a variety of points of interest to be seen around the tower and surrounding area: pictured above possible megalithic stones, at La Pulente clay deposits over 6,000 years old with horse hoof prints in most probably from horse drawn vraic carts (19th centur, y?), to the now obsolete vraic mark on Le Bunion de Haut (my appeal to the Privy Council to save this mark and others as part of the vraicking law failed with the Queen dismissing it). On our stay the wooden German defence posts were visible on the beach. I did not have much time to look for marine species but was pleased to come across a couple of Giant Gobies which may be the first recorded on the west coast of Jersey, and a protected species in the UK, I am pleased to say the Societe Jersiaise marine biology section are currently surveying the area, which follows on from the ongoing survey work they undertake around Seymour Tower which has resulted in one research paper being produced.

References and further reading:

Jersey Heritage – Conservation Statement: http://www.jerseyheritage.org/media/historic%20buildings/La%20Rocco%20Tower.pdf

Island wiki : http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/La_Rocco_Tower

Island wiki – damage: http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/How_was_La_Rocco_Tower_damaged%3F

Jersey Heritage site booking: http://www.jerseyheritage.org/holiday/la-rocco-tower

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Paris 2015 bridges Friday, Apr 22 2016 

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Pont Alexandre III

This is one of my favorite areas of Paris showing off its splendour and glory from the 19th century, the Pont Alexandre III was built with views in mind and to make as little as an impact on them as possible. Named after Tsar Alexandre III who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892, and the foundation stone was laid by his on Nicolas II.  Like other picturesque Paris bridges it looks as good from the water as it does when crossing it, the beauty of being down by the river is it is usually a bit less hectic and away from the tourists and traffic, the only down side is in the night time there are lots of rats running around, and probably not the safest place to stroll along on ones own. Below is a picture taken from on the bridge looking towards the Grand Palais, from here the road leads onto the main strip to the Champs Elysee.

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Pont Alexandre III with the Grand Palais

I also enjoy walking around the surrounding area of Notre dame but as yet I have not been inside the building which I know mostly through Victor Hugo’s novel which mentions Olivier Le Dain the rather barber and evil assistant (henchman) to Louis XI, who according to family legend/fable the family fled to Jersey with their wealth after the Kings death, as it was he was hanged and there appears to be no record of him having family so there is no proof of any connection, although the story appears known to most if not all the branches in Jersey.

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Notre Dame and Pont au Double

Below is Pont des Arts with all the padlocks upon it glittering in the rain:

Not a bridge but a statue that I stumbled across; Marshal Ney at Avenue de la Observatoire it sits on a rather non descript street corner and I did not get a decent photo of the statue itself so I post a more interesting list of campaigns he served in, until he was executed in 1815 for his siding with Napoleon during the “Hundred Days Campaign”, the statue also gets a mention in Hemmingways “A Moveable Feast”. It is also has some acclaim amongst surrealists and was most notably photographed by Brassai in the fog.

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Just part of the campaigns Marshal Ney served in

Caen continued Tuesday, Jan 5 2016 

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The statue above in Place Saint-Martin is of Bertrand Du Guesclin a Breton Knight c.1320-1380, also known as the “Black Dog of Broceliande” Known to Jersey for his invasion in 1373 when he captured the island and lay siege to Mont Orgeuil, the Bretons continued hostilities in the island for 2 more years after, until a ransom was paid for du Guesclin to cease hostilities.

I visted the gallery in the grounds of the Chateau de Caen which was disappointing in that it had a large collection of paintings depicting biblical scenes which although fine paintings had little interest to me, there was also a display of modern art which was little more than  scribbles to me. I then went on to visit the museum which was rather non descript from the outside, with the amount of space and art in the area the museum setting appears to have been ignored, the museum  was a variety of models, displays, and films depicting the history of Normandy, the most interesting bit for me was the display of traditional crafts of the area especially the tin works, below is a map of the foundaries, forges, and tinsmiths in lower Normandy.

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I am interested because my ancestor Frederic Jouault 1811-1871 was a tinsmith living in Peter Street, St Helier, he was the son of a tailor, so I do not know how he came to take up the trade, but he must have been a skilled craftsman as he sent an engraved pistol to be displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The museum had a display of the sort of items that would be made by the smiths:

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I walked to the north west of the town and came across the Church of Saint Nicolas but found it closed, and the cemetry has to be one of the most neglected I have seen:

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I then went onto the nearby cemetery des Quatre-Nations which was only in slightly better condition to the previous cemetery but I had an interesting walk around it.

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Cimetiere des Quatre-Nations

Then onto the Cemetery of Saint-Gabriel which was more in custom to the pristine French cemetery I was accustomed to.

Nearby is the Jardin des Plantes a wooded park on the side of a hill with variety of labelled trees and shrubs:

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Jardin des Plantes

 

 

Caen Statues Sunday, Dec 6 2015 

My first visit to Caen. I stayed near the train station which is a 10 minute walk into the centre, I arrived on sunday morning and found a large market there that was worth looking around as the stalls were varied and numerous. I came across a variety of sculptures of interest and here are some of them:

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Louis XIV by Louis Petitot

Originally placed in 1828, the statue by Louis Petitot was smelted by the Germans and replaced in 1963.

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“La Parque” by Claude Quisse

“La Parque” by Claude Quisse is situated by the offices of the Conseil de Basse-Normandie, although situated in a pretty courtyard I think it would be better placed int he open as natural backlighting would highlight its form as you can see with the hair with the sky behind.

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This was one of collection of statues “One man, nine animals” 1999 by Huang Yong Ping again very good works not best situated in my view as they are tucked away behind the restaurant

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“Unconditional surrender” by Seward Johnson

Not one I particularly liked but an interesting history in that feminists are campaigning against this statue “Unconditional Surrender” by Seward Johnson on loan from New York, it represents a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, This is well sited being between the war museum and the hospital.

There is also a statue of Bertrand Du Guesclin but because of his actions against Jersey I think it best not to glorify this person! But perhaps on my next visit I shall inflict some national retribution upon the statue and plant a Jersey flag on top of it.

 

 

Cherbourg Tuesday, Nov 24 2015 

Having missed my annual visit to the Archaeology/History meeting with GRAC at Hague last year I was pleased arrange the visit this year at short notice and caught the ferry and stayed overnight in St Malo catching the train up the next day, sadly the ferries do not combine that well with the times of the trains, something my Grandfather with Lucien Dior and Emile Riotteau was trying to sort out over a 100 years ago (one vision being a ferry from Gorey to Granville and train onto Paris), sadly Jersey seem to be going backwards rather than forwards in the area.I stayed three nights in the Hotel Angleterre which is just  off the Place de la Republique  with some decent restaurants nearby.

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Memorial for those of the Resistance who lost their lives, with Alderney (slave labour camp) on one of the plaques alongside Auchwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau. When Alderrney was libertaed none of the occupying force were ever charged with any of the crimes that they had committed.

Armand De Bricqueville Cavalary Colonel under Napoleon

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Unknown piece of art just lying around

Details of the above work: http://www.wikimanche.fr/Band_Shell

I walked along the east out of town which in hindsight I should have caught a bus out as it took a while to get to the better bits of the coast, I came across the above work sitting in a works yard, across at the harbour area was the vessel “Goliath”a jacking platform used mainly for erecting offshore windfarms. I made my way past the small Port des Flamands with a little lagoon inland with what appears an old dry dock now concreted in. I made my way to Collignon beach with a few surfers eyeing up a small wave which was dropping with the tide. I made my way along the coast to Port du Becquet which and made my way along a little further before making my way back inland and back on a cycling route.

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“Alabama” and “Kearsarge” graves Cherbourg

 

I made my way up town later and ended up going to the cimitiere des Aiguillons to see what was of interest and came across the memorials for those lost with the action between the CSS “Alabama” and USS “Kearsarge” set aside in their own designated area. I previous did a post on the action: https://jouault.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/battle-of-cherbourg-1864/

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War graves Cherbourg

At the top of the cemetery there are the war graves from various actions from the first world war, 700 in all making it the largest militiary grave in a civil cemetery in France, including some allied burials on the east side. There is a monument for submarine tradegies: The “Ondine” lost at sea 1928, victims of the “Promethee” 1932, victims of the vessel “La Fidele” 1997.

Saint Malo view Wednesday, Dec 12 2012 

Beach front of Saint Malo

Beach front of Saint Malo

I had chosen to stay in Saint Malo for a couple of reasons, there was no boat in the week and the next one was Fraiday evening or Thursday morning, I had no wish to move hotel in Paris as moving would have taken up most of the day, so the idea was to base myself in St Malo for a couple of days and I could always travel by bus or train somewhere for the day if need be, as it happened I had plenty to do with the discovery of the archive and my stroll around the cemetery took up an afternoon. Last year I had stayed in Hotel de l’Europe right by the train station and I had no wish to stay there again and I was pleased I had chosen the Ibis as I think there was little or no difference in price and the room was twice the size and everything was clean and tidy within in it.

My lunches were sandwiches that I made myself mostly from pickings from the Lidl store that was a little away from the archive, I walked some distance to the beachfront and sat on one of the numerous benches a bit further along the front away from the walled town looking out across the bay with the island of Cézembre I had discussed this with my outward travel companions John Clarke and Robert Waterhouse when we had entered St Malo and talked about the bombing (details at bottom of link) that had taken place that I had seen footage of, after the war goats were left to roam the island as it was so dangerous with numerous live shells still around, John also informed me that Napalm was used here for one of the first times. Jersey was so fortunate in that it did not suffer the devastion of the conflict that was inflicted on much of nearby France . My two evening meals were taken at Le Britannic which also does rooms which I may try out on a future visit, I had eaten here a couple of times last year and had really enjoyed the basic French fare at a reasonable price with a pleasant barmaid and waitress unfortunately they were not here, but the new staff were friendly enough, I had moules frites which I had last year,  they are good quality and size with a very decent portion that I even struggled with, this with a beer to start with, half bottle of house wine, sweet and coffee came to £26, the following night I had some beef, if you want fancy fine dining this is not the place, if you want good wholesome food in a working class environmnet with the local workforce and families coming and going for and drinks and food this is it.  I began chatting with a couple from England who were next to me and they must have liked the place as they returned the following night, they told me they were on a package break and they had looked at going to Jersey but thought the £800 price was not value for money and they could have gone somewhere with guaranteed sunshine for that price, they were staying at the Ibis on the beach and were happy although they wished they could have had a seaview but the windows had been damaged in a recent storm.

Saint Malo

Saint Malo

I left on Thursday morning checking in at 7:00 am for a 8:00 am departure which was fine until we were called and I was one of the rear that entered the waiting hall for the bus that transports you to the ferry, this hall was very fresh with no heating which is fine but why keep us waiting there for 10 minutes for the bus to arrive why not call us through when the bus is there and let people board the bus, or the bus makes two trips to take the stragglers not that we had any. I would not have minded walking to the boat to keep myself warm. Not sure why departure halls in St Malo and Jersey have been placed so far from where you actually board the boat, these facilities have evolved over many years so one wonders how these buildings are designed, built, and used in this day and age with very little thought as to the experience of the paying passenger. Interesting to note that for £10 more I could have gone on Brittany Ferries to Portsmouth. The passengers on the boat would appear to have been mostly French, Portuguese, and Polish going to Jersey to work or claim welfare and me returning to fruitlessly look for work, am I missing something?

Saint-Malo Monday, Dec 10 2012 

My final destination was Saint-Malo named after the Celtic Saint who was part of a group known as the Seven Saints of Brittany some of these have links with Jersey, all be it that the Island was more of an outpost rather than a area of any great importance.

Charles Rouxin

Charles Rouxin

I arrived off the Paris train mid morning and made my way to the budget Ibis just up past the fishing boat dock, I had booked a few days earlier from my hotel in Paris via the internet, I knew it was on the outskirsts but I had no wish to be near the walled town other than within walking distance. I was pleasantly surprised with the hotel although basic it had plenty of room and it was light and airy although I was facing a busy road. I had a walk up the road as I wanted to browse the cemetery, this was about 15 minutes walk past the train station the area has had a great deal of work done on it in the last couple of years, and more is planned with a large centre being built in the centre square. I found the cemetery that was like many not well signposted, not sure if it is taken for granted that people know where cemeteries are or that they are not thought to be of interest to visitors. The cemetery was very well kept and the graves had been well tended with numerous flowers to be seen, the paths were well maintained with a covering of beach sand including maerl this is a valuable habitat and the year before I had attended a conference here discussing the Parc marin and the importance of the biodiversity of the area and how maerl extraction had stopped (although a large pile was actually on the nearby commercial docks!) and that it deserved a high protection status, I informed the Jersey authorities on my return as they are regulary involved in discussions in this area with their French counterparts at great expense no doubt. I got the usual blank response and no acknowledgement of the matter, I do question why we pay these people and what they actual acheive as our marine life and habitats continues to decline.

"Protected maerl beds"

“Protected maerl beds”

Fuentes & Samson family grave

Fuentes & Samson family grave

There were a number of surnames that I was interested in to be seen including Gautier, Lemaitre, and Samson, but many of the graves had just the family name and not a great deal of detail, as I was coming to the end I did stumble upon a Jouault grave which was a pleasant surprise the only clue was the person had a link to Railways as there was a plaque from former colleagues (Cheminot) on the grave, I scrawled a note on a piece of paper and placed it underneath on of the flower pots in the hope that it might be picked up and that I may contact someone with an interest in Jouault’s, as we are not that far away from where my family originated from at Mesnil le Thebault which is only just across the Breton border in Normandy.

Jouault & Fresne Grave

Jouault & Fresne Grave

On my travels not far from the cemetery I came across the Saint-Malo archives which I was totally unaware of so the following day I headed there and spent the day recording Samson records from the resources which were a combination of original and modern typed indexes, because I did not have my Samson details I was not entirely sure what and whom I was looking for, and as it happens I do not appear to have linked into these records yet, the archive also has a good selection of books and research papers on matters pertaining to the area and Brittany, I found some interesting bits of work which linked into some research we are doing in Jersey, most notable the sea level rises over the last 10,000 years and storm surges, this outlined how the area had evolved from an island that had been connected by reclaimation.

Paris by night Sunday, Dec 9 2012 

Palais Garnier

My last night in Paris and I had thought of getting the metro to eat away from the hotel area, but my searches for somewhere to eat had not been that good this trip, no out and out failures but nothing to shout about either, so I decided to plump for the nearest place to my hotel in Place d’Italie and this was near the metro entrance, well it turned out to be a pleasant surprise the waiter spoke English and showed me the plat du jour of pork on the way to another table, this looked good to me and it was fine, and I would have no problems eating there again considering how close it was to the hotel also. My weary legs had been rested and I had the option of a few trains in the morning I decided to have a wonder around the touris centre so I took the Pink line 7 metro up towards the Pyramides, I decided to get off before the Opera as I had no great wish to see it, getting off the metro I was greeted by a Cornish fellow who I had seen around on my travels and he approached a religious person out of their working gear, I knew this as I had also seen him on my travels. Whilst I got my bearings and the dialogue between the two ended the Cornishman approached me and we talked about Cornwall and where I had visited as a fisherman, when he got to find out I was from Jersey off he went saying I was from a wealthy island and could afford him some money for a drink etc, I got away in a friendly parting but did not want to spend the evening arguing the toss with him again so took a detour and after some walking and losing my bearings I ended up at the Opera the Palais Garnier !  this was a pleaing site lit up and with only a gentle flow of people, I decided to get back on the metro and get back to the Louvre area where I really wanted to be, on arrial  it was very quiet and I had a pleasant time wondering around the square and through the buildings.

Louvre

I then thought about going off to the Eiffel Tower to see the lights but decided a stroll by the Seine was a better option. I walked a short way along the river edge and then went up to the road and headed towards the Gare d’Austerlitz which is currently undergoing some major improvements and I decided to get the metro and off to the hotel.

Seine

In the morning I got up around seven, I could have stayed in Paris for the day and arrived in St Malo late evening but I was not keen on the idea, so opted for a morning train, there was one very early but I strolled along to the station around nine as the metro was not to mad and I squeezed on with my bags with the odd frowns from commuters trying to exit on later stops, there appears to be no sort of protocol at stops people try and get on and off at the same time, one would think a few seconds to allow those to get off the right of way, but no a little melee and side stepping dance ensues. As it happened I got to Mont Parnasse station with a train leaving in a few minutes, as it happened I might have caught it but booked a ticket for the next one in an hour at 10 which went directly with little difference in price, I played around with the machine looking at a possible trip to the Verdun area to look up my Wimbée routes, with Nicolas Wimbée  b ?- died 1813 Jersey, it would appear fleeing the Revolution and arriving in Jersey and starting a family there.

My train trip was an uneventful one with a fair amount of fog and I eventually nodded off only to be awoken by the guard wanting my ticket. I had thought of a night stay in Rennes but as it happened things worked out okay in St Malo.

Montmartre Saturday, Dec 8 2012 

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baff

I had passed Montmartre cemetery last year and because of the over official gate I had decided not to visit it. That had been a strange day as I had heard warnings regarding the area and mounted the steps up to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur to see a number of gypsies looking like they had been caught or were up to no good and some police interviewing some of them and some tourists that I presume had got caught out in some way, after making my way through the tourist touts in the square with a few swear words aimed at me in the process because I was not going along with their scams, I visited the Dali museum which is only a small building but I did enjoy it, but then I am a great fan of his work and it was interesting to see some aspects I had not previousy seen. On exiting I did not hang around the area because of the stench of sewage which I presume must have leaked or was leaking from somewhere, another reason why I probably skipped the cemetery.

This year I had a reason as a few weeks previously I had come across a grave in Almorah cemetery in Jersey here were buried the families of Allain, Wimbée, and Garnier, the information on the grave gave me some new information that I followed up with research in the Jersey Archive and I cam across one of the burials and it mentioned that after three days the body had been removed from Almorah to Montmarte, it appears I did not note this done and my trip to Paris was not entirely planned so I wrote down the details of what I thought might be the lady in question and the time period I thought, I approached the desk at the cemetery and the staff who spoke no English endeavoured to find my Jersey connection,  as it must have been a wealthy family (The Allain’s had made a fortune in the wine trade in Jersey), I had thought it was Simone de la Poix De Freminville who had married William Wimbée Garnier, then re-married a Comte De Bousignac, for some reason I had the 1920’s as date of death when actually she died in 1956, a thorough search by the lady of the 1920’s period did not turn anything up, I had said that I would send the correct details when I was back in Jersey, but I can not find a note as I think I may have thought this is going to be easy to find, and retracing my previous searches has been fruitless in finding the original record which must have been from one of the funeral company ledgers. I just thought it bizarre that someone should be buried then removed to Paris. I can send what details I have to Montmartre but I would have liked to get the original details first as I now have doubts on who it exactly is, even though searching the individuals records has not shown anything other than one I can not find mention of!

So I ventured along the grey and drab routes through the cemetery in the vain hope I may find the person or family concerned, but needles in haystacks would be easier to find. My first encounter with a familiar surname was by the entrance and picture no. 6 of the grave of Jean Herve Ozouf  buried in 1836. The cemetery did have a sombre beauty, but I much prefer Mont Parnasse. Perhpas it has something to do with the site Montmatre is rather odd that it has different levels and slopes and the main entrance is a level below a road on one side and one enters from the depths of the underworld. With coming across an excavation and bones of a resident pictured above also added to the feeling. I left the cemetery in search of a chemist for some pills for a headache, which I did find at a cost of 7 euro, this was my own fault for not having a supply with me. I walked around Place de Clichy which was busy thoroughfare for cars so not the best place in my condition, there were several seafood stalls and restaurants which had some very samll Canadian lobsters (American) on sale instead of our European lobsters,  which was disappointing to see in a Country that one thinks prides itself of the provenance of what ends up on the plate. The prices were certainly very high although the moules looked reasonably priced enough, but I am not sure if I would risk eating shellfish in Paris unless I was entirely sure of its freshness.

Mont Parnasse continued Thursday, Dec 6 2012 

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An interesting view on cemeteries by the BBC’s Hugh Schofield :

“It is funny how we love a graveyard. You would think we would find contemplation of all that decomposition and mortality to be off-putting, but we do not. Or at least I do not.”

The following site has a lengthy video link on the numerous graves and a link to a helpful map for anyone visiting which is worth having if you are going to visit specific graves, I overlooked many through a combination of ignorance, not that it detracted a great deal from my ambling around, browsing and reading the graves;

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