We fixed the bike on Tuesday afternoon after super service from the guys at RGM, Norton parts delivered by lunchtime on the Tuesday and bike fixed (in the rain) by 5PM. Funny story is that there was shelter at the rear of the hotel which the owner encouraged us to use, full of buckets some of which had food waste in, after being physically sick three times I pulled the bike out and worked in the rain, when it got heavier Fi & John held a tarp over my head so I could work.
We set off for an uneventful and quite boring trip to the Eiffel region to camp for the night. En route we met a Polish guy on a BMW similar to ours heading to Scotland for a holiday, his chain was slack and he didn't know how to adjust it so hoping for good Karma I gave him a lesson whilst adjusting it for him.
We got the tents up and then it started torrential rain, there was a wee hut next to us with a porch so we sheltered and cooked in there and spent the night looking at the rain and bizarrely a laser show from a one man rave tent at the far end of the field. We also met Jed from Essex who asked if I knew his landlord Mick who had a Norton, of course I do matter of fact we'll be drinking beer with him again this weekend in Belgium, small world this Norton world.
We set off in the sunshine the following day and tried to stick to the small roads, it was torture, traffic light after traffic light and small towns everywhere, my brothers Yamaha started to drag its clutch, turned out the clutch fluid had started to evaporate so we were back on the highway, around Liege and Brussels then towards Gent, another fuel stop and we met up with Tam Bradley again.
We stopped for the night in Ypres in a hotel and went to the Mennen gate to pay our respects to the war dead, a very moving last post brought a tear to my eye. It also started to make me angry, all those mostly young men dead so that society can move on yet we still have our ruling classes abusing power on all levels and worst of all our politicians and the people who benefit from there old pals power in government, not just the UK but worldwide, depressing thoughts.
We arrived at the Begonia on Friday to a warm welcome (and heavy rain) from Guy, Marc and Micke, tents up, we gave them a hand to set up the bar and then a weekend of drinking and talking nonsense with some good music and dancing thrown in. The run on Saturday was a battlefield tour with a local historian, once again as I stood in packed graveyards I felt depressed at how little we learnt from history.
A great weekend with great friends spanning several countries, great to see everybody again and great to feel the camaraderie amongst the group. We finished off with a nice dinner before we got the boat on Sunday with Geert Callens who guided us along some nice roads.
As always the loading on the ship was a joke, they split Fi & I up and tried to get me to park in a space which didn't exist! After a bit of arguing I got moved up a deck with the others. After a good experience on PO on the road out we had a crap experience on the way in!
The bike was running well today as we passed the Angel of the North and as we pulled clear of Newcastle I felt the bike go off and lose power, Fi said smoke was coming out of the silencers, game over, bike seized (I think) so after a wait I came home in a breakdown truck, I'm glad to say the others got home without incident, Fi's Norton ran faultlessly the whole trip so I guess its me that's the problem.....every journey is an adventure, especially on a Norton !
|Our home for 3 nights|
|The pretty but slightly boring town of Bockenhem|
|A memorial to German soldiers from this town lost in a war against the French in 1870-71|
|Interesting Overland truck|
|Taking the lunchtime sun|
|Beginning the rebuild just before the rain and sick started!|
|Bike maintenance lesson|
|Rainbow between showers|
|Hobo's in the rain|
|Mr Bradley in a good mood|
|Coffee stop on the Saturday run|
|Shocking waste of human life, over 10,000 graves|
|Another stop at the site of a former field hospital|
|12,000 graves here of the people who died in the hospital|
|Our little (wet) corner of Flanders for the weekend|
|Friends catching up|
|Mike and Karin all dreesed up for the night|
|Band were excellent|
|Pamela, Fi and Savi all Norton riding girls|
|Mike and Fi dancing on the tables!|
|Saying goodbye to Geert at Zeebrugge|
|And saying goodbye to my hope of riding home!|