Monday, 18 July 2016

France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and home

So as I said previously the plan was to make steady progress home, the problem with that is as soon as you leave the South of France it gets colder, I don't like cold!
We also to begin with decided to stay in bigger cities in case my Guzzi needed to go to the Doctors. The temporary repair was holding up well and we made it to Dijon, nice municipal campsite near the town centre (walking distance in fact) The old town is nice but really just a collection of shops selling crap you don't need on a motorbike or in a tent. A meal in a city centre café was a bit more expensive than the Italian / Croatian side the petrol as well was as much as 1.56 Euro on the highways. We had a beer stop at a café obviously used by the locals, fun pub full of mainly men and all seemed half pissed, a collection of characters, no different from a Scottish pub really apart from the better suntans and they were speaking French!

Another day another service station
Dijon, another church
Nice square
Another photo to add to my exotic telephone exchanges collection
Very old methinks
We eat in a café that used to be a printers, so for all you printers out there an old Heidelberg
Don't know why?
No campfire just TUC biscuits and whisky in a tin cup
There was a weather front moving in so we played it safe and had an early night. The following day was cloudy, very cloudy, we headed up the road and then the rain started, some of the heaviest rain I've ridden in, we were down to 40mph terrified we'd get shunted as visibility was almost nil. At one point the Gendarmerie were behind us with their blue lights flashing, they followed us for miles but I wasn't stopping in that weather, they eventually passed us which is when I realised they weren't tailing us but escorting a military truck, the shame, overtaken by a wide load. We stopped to get our bearings, my Interphone F5 which we use to speak to each other on the move was doing strange things and turned out to be completely beyond repair due to the rain, bugger, more stress then as we set off my oil light came on, remember I had a split breather pipe earlier in the trip, I thought "bugger that'll be the engine knackered then!" but a stop and check it seemed to be circulating oil and the level was ok so I did what any Guzzi rider would do, I pulled the wire of the switch as I was too nervous riding with a big red oil warning in front of me. We stopped that evening in a hotel to take stock and try and fix things. The Interphone was not fixable, the oil switch I only replaced 3 months ago seemed to be faulty but I was at least confident the bike was fine. We taped up Fi's waterproofs which had melted on my exhaust earlier when her hands turned white with the wet and the cold and she was trying to use the heat of the Guzzi cylinder heads to restore feeling. Not the best day we'd had and challenging for many reasons but hey ho, that's life on the road, you can take the odd bad day as long as there's no one hurt and the sun eventually returns.
We pressed on through Luxembourg (Shite drivers) and camped in Belgium for a couple of nights at a nice campsite not far from Namur. The site had a high proportion of residential vans and was obviously an escape for people from Brussels. A day off on the Friday and we were horrified to see the news about the lunatic in Nice the previous night, we've been there often, it's such a nice place and not one you'd expect to be associated with this level of violence.
Saturday we awoke to find out about the Coup in Turkey, we were thinking the world is going mad.

Unloading the bike while I relax in the tent
Dinner Al Fresco
Clear sky it was going to be cold
Fi has been in Italy too long, speaking to our neighbour with full hand gestures
We headed to a small seaside village near Ijmuiden for the Saturday night, problem was the tunnel is closed and our Dutch is non existent so at one point we were 5 miles away from our destination but after several u turns, much swearing, a couple of laps of the town, a few rides up and down the A22 we finally made it haven done over 20 miles going round in circles, Mr Garmin can be such an arse at times!
Sunday we reluctantly took the DFDS ferry back to the UK, the usual shoddy treatment by DFDS, they are masters at pissing me off, they use cheap Filipino labour (unlike the ferries in Croatia and Italy which appear to be staffed with friendly and helpful locals) and you get the feeling the dour faced European staff don't really want to be there and probably spend their time off having meetings about how to make it more difficult for motorcyclists! I think in future we'll use the Chunnel more. We arrived home after a dry final leg, bikes away, washing machine filled up and a decent cup of tea. 4000 miles, 3 minor (but worrying) mishaps with the Guzzi, the Kawasaki as always never missed a beat although I did adjust the chain once, it also passed the 60,000 milestone so only another 40K before Fi retires it and buys a new one. Fantastic trip, nice people, nice food and I proved to myself you can easily tour on what many think is an impractical touring bike, just got to get my physio sorted and I'll be ready to do it again.

What do you mean we're lost again?
Just hanging around
Watching stuff
BMW Wasp outfit, Germans on tour of Scotland, now with a better route planned, an ignorant cyclist knocked a bit off his handguard as he cycled up his inside to get on the boat, I was too slow to boot him off, never stopped, never saw him on the ferry, I hope he suffers terrible saddle sores!
Waiting for another crap DFDS experience

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