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Peter Genet

Gentleman Biker of Cricklade

Month

August 2015

Back from Belgium – no chocolates though!

Tired! Knackered!

Arrived home last night, rather this morning, around 2am. There were some “trespassers” causing problems to the Euro Tunnel which inevitably delayed the trains by approx. 2.5 hours. I do feel sympathy with people trying to make a better life for themselves, and if that means fleeing terrorizing conflict, then I would do the same.

I can’t but help wonder if the French feel insulted that the migrants don’t want to stay in their country?

Anyway, great trip. Sunday caught the 9.20am train to Calais. All running smoothly. Headed to Brugges for our first stop.

Brugges is an old medieval city built with canals at its heart. Very similar to Strasbourg though the population of Brugges is only approx. 100,000! Anyway, we wandered around looking at the old buildings and took a boat trip and we ate the obligatory waffle from a street vendor in the main cathedral square. The waffles were ok but I found quite doughy and sickly sweet. My two boys couldn’t finish theirs either.

From Brugge we left to head to Gent for our overnight stop. Gent is twice the size of Brugge. Our hotel was right in the heart of the city which is famous for its cathedrals and spires, plus the infamous Graffiti Street. That night we ate out right along the canal side.

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Next day we had another wander around and took breakfast at a local cafe where we also bought lunch.

On last year’s holiday, Richard spotted the Atomium in Brussels. This is an atomic structure built back in 1958 for the great exhibition. So, we went to Brussels directly to the Atomium. Arriving around mid-day we endured long queues to buy tickets and even longer to get to the top observatory so that we could see the “best” views of Brussels.

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After eating our lunch, we headed into downtown Brussels. Blimey it was busy! Brussels is not an easy city to make your war round in a car. Probably ok if you know the place, but I don’t. So we headed out of town, eventually to go to Ypres (now spelt Ieper on road signs). We thought we could buy some chocolates from here instead.

Sally read the guide book we have, and mentioned a place called Tyne Cot. Richard went there on his trip to Belgium war graves a couple of years back, so we headed to Tyne Cot instead. It is very close to Ypres so it was en-route.

Tyne Cot has almost 12,000 graves. These chaps died over a period of a year or so, many of them Australian and Canadian troops. There are also four German graves – they were also soldiers and so deserve respect too.

So many brave men died. This is a place for quiet contemplation.

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Heading back to Calais we heard our departure time was delayed. Ok, so no worries, we would head to Cite D’Europe as planned, buy some plonk and get in line at the Chunnel.

Queue, queue, queue, queue!!!

Anyway we got home, eventually, around 2am. All of us rather tired.

Trip was around 670 miles all told. Watch out for road works as sat nav will try and send you the wrong way! Also, one way roads have changed priorities in many places so make sure you do an update before you depart! Watch out also for cyclists in town centres as they are suicidal and have right of way! So be warned!

Lots of driving over a couple of days but it made a nice change. Link to the route is here, but it is easy to plan http://www.rac.co.uk/route-planner/l/ltk3

Check out the variety of place name spellings too. These vary from country to country and can cause problems!

Go East – How far?

Ok, so today we didn’t goto the coast as planned. Wives had other ideas for today such as fitting gates and the such like. So, we headed East! Right into the rising sun! And what a day it turned out to be. Very warm.

Down the A419 to Common Head, off up through Wanborough all the way to Wantage. Nice ride; done it before. Past Uffington White Horse and some very traditional Wiltshire villages such as Bishopstone, Idstone and Ashbury. Thanks to Mr White Van Man for clearing the way for us – I do mean that as these roads can be narrow, the white van helped push oncoming traffic over which made our ride a lot safer!

After Wantage, we headed towards Streatley and Goring. The cafe there was a little busy so went through Goring, across the Thames – this brought back a few happy memories for me as we used to live not far from here in Tilehurst, Reading. The Henley road is back via Caversham. I had forgotten the cut-through so had to take the long way round.

Caversham is a nice place. Lots of good places to eat and shops to wander around. Again, many many happy memories here.

From Caversham we followed some slow cars all the way along to Henley.

Henley – used to come here often and again many many happy memories of the place. Its changed a bit that’s for sure. Hard to park the bikes anywhere sensible. And where has the Henley Antique Centre gone? Its now a Laura Ashley – suppose it’s swapped one sort of antique for another 🙂

Anyway, got fed up here and headed out on the Oxford Road where we stopped at a biker’s cafe, “H”. Had a couple of coffees and spent some time admiring the other bikes.

Then onto Abingdon. Blimey that was busy but somehow we got through where we headed down past the Harley shop and onto the A420 to Faringdon. Turned right off the A420 and took the Lechlade/Fairford road home as per usual.

Spent some time at Richard’s trying to get rid of the petrol stain from KES’ windshield – I had a little accident earlier in the week and now know that petrol stains perspex! This could prove expensive as it looks rather scruffy.

Total mileage around 130 or so. Time in saddle – a few.

Run to the beach?

Recent view over Durdle Door
Recent view over Durdle Door

Proposed route for Saturday 8 August. See link http://www.rac.co.uk/route-planner/l/laiJ for route – finer detail can be adjusted as we go. Route home – see how we feel after a fish’n’chip lunch.

Did a similar route last weekend with family on a camping trip to Westfleet right by Weymouth. This is a scenic ride through some very chocolate-box villages adorned with traditional thatched cottages.

Heading south through Wiltshire, Hampshire and into Dorset do not expect a fast ride, but a ride that is pleasant in many other ways. Definitely a case of “cruising not bruising!”

Let me know if you want to join us.

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