Well, this run didn't go to plan!
Newcastle to Dover, to Calais, to Boulogne sur Mer (we'd sacked off the idea of getting to Rouen as it was getting late), that bit went swimmingly. Finding a campsite was a bit of a chore but we got somewhere eventually. But no bar!! Nothing open on site, pool, pizza hut, shop, nowt. Village was the same, Naff all open except a swanky retaurant overlooking the sea, however....... we eventually came across a tiny little cafe called Chez Rose. A tiny cafe that didn't appear to sell food, and was populated by pissed up fat sweaty frenchmen who seemed determined to wear our skin. Very freindly but jeez they were annoying. Plus I think it's the first time they'd seen humans. When we asked for 8 beers, they had to start dusting down ornaments to get enough glasses. Queer old place. Anyhoo, a couple of swift ones in there and the swanky restaurant was the way forward. Very nice it was too with a cracking view through the palm trees as the sun went down.
Map out over a coffee in the morning saw us heading in a vaguely westerly direction. We were making good time until...... hang on, where's Duncan gone. After much fretting as he'd just given his phone to G at the last stop he was eventually located and we all felt that 'bollocks' moment when everyone realised his Victory was buggered, and it didn't sound like a quick fix. After much deliberation and on the advice of a local custom shop, he decided to limp it to the nearest campsite and sort recovery. What he didn't realise then was, he was well on his way up shit creek. Convinced he had MoT'd the bike he hadn't checked (doh) and was now being told by his insurers that recovery wasn't going to happen.
Oh hell.... Well at least there's a bar on this site. Let the drinking and piss taking commence. We'll formulate a plan with the aid of beer.
So, there's a EuropeCar Hire place in Compeigne that does vans. Ideal! Nope. They can't be dropped off anywhere but France, so carrying on the trip and dropping off in Amsterdam is out. They also, despite having a forecourt full of em have no vans?? They have another branch 15 mins away but won't ring them to see if they've owt available either. Thanks for that, rotten twats. So no van, no recovery, no option but to herd Duncan slowly up the A1 to Calais to make sure he gets there safe. That was a long painfully slow ride... Anyhow he made it. Bikehaul UK were on their way to pick Dunc up in Dover and we were on our way to sunny Belgium at a reasonable speed. Woohoo! Again finding a campsite wasn't straight forward. We had an address for one in Oudenburg but when we got there it had vanished. Spooky that. Into Bruges centre and the campsite there didn't have enough space. Which was a shame cos the city looked great. so we were sent back the way we'd came to Jabbeke. Once we'd figured out how to book in, this site that at first looked a bit 'Carry on Camping' was actually pretty cool, with a late night bar, lush chinkies on site which we took full advantage of. Lush!
Here's away. Today's plan is to lash through the Ardennes to Luxembourg, no messing about. Nah... Big G's bike wouldn't start this morning so the search for jump leads was on. We found some too, just after G got back from buyng some lol. Anyhoo, an hour later than planned we were off. Much better. The endless subburbs that seem to constitute most of Belgium tail off and we're into the twisty bits. Cushty. Quick coffee and..... Oh dear Dave's bike's gone into limp mode FFS! Out with the tools and coffee time now consists of a YouTube diagnostic session lol. An hour or so of pulling things to bits and prodding and poking didn't fix it so Dave was now down to just the rear cylinder (yeah, the one that gets mad hot anyway) running at reduced power and damn near shaking the bike and him to bits. Credit where it's due though. Despite having a current MoT and a therefore a fully functioning recovery policy, he made the decision to press on. Which was just as well, or he'd have missed one of the highlights of the trip. The High Chapparal bikers bar and campsite in Heidersheidergrund. What a gaff. Stunning bar in an even more stunning location, with camping just over a little wooden arched bridge, right near the river. Awesome! and the welcome and ribs are second to none. Well recommended. Get yersels there!
To Be Continued