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our Wrinkly run of 2004 we decided to give Europe the pleasure of our company.
Whether or not Europe was ready for us didn't really matter - we went anyway. Unlike the previous trips where we'd stayed in the UK, this one to the
Continent required a little more planning & organisation so we had to get
at least a little bit serious. There were hotels to book, ferries to
arrange and things like travel insurance and breakdown cover to organise. Not
least of all we had a route to plan, which we left inthe (capable?) hands of Wesley &
This was to be the first year we'd used GPS, which was predictably met with limited success....Wesley got pissed off with it after a few days and went to buy a map.
During the year since Scotland, Wesley had changed what turned out to be a very troublesome BMW R1150R for a Honda CB1300. I'd swapped my clanking old R1100R for a Yellow BMW R1100S, and Pete had kept the GSX1100 but it had now been sprayed blue & white & fitted with a small fairing ....Oh! And he'd had new tyres fitted to it as well - thank God. Another Baracuda episode and I think we'd have nailed the bugger's balls to a tree. Dez still had his ZRX1100 but it was now wearing a few "bling" chrome bits - he's always been a bit of a closet Harley fancier has our Dez. This was Jacks first year away with us and he'd traded in the Triumph he'd had previously for a shiny black BMW R1150R ....A lot happens in 12 months when you're a Wrinkly?
The Beemer all loaded up and ready to go "Do Europe"
Dez & Wes had come up with a route that would take us down as far as Chamonix in the
French Alps, but if I'm to be perfectly honset I never actually had a clue where the hell we
were! We did ride through some stunning scenery though and met a few nice
people who spoke in strange languages.
The only things we found necessary to communicate in French were. "Biere cinq sil vous plait?" & "Combien pour un quickie - Darlin' ?" We actually managed ok with the Froggy lingo but it has to be said that there's one request which is about as redundant as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest, and that's, "Bien cuit". The French never actually cook anything, so it matters not a jot how "Bien cuited" you ask for your steak or duck to be it'll fall upon deaf ears and will still arrive at the table either mooing or quacking, so you always end up having to beat it to death with a stick. I'm sure they have a gas shortage over there.
Pete had mis-heard "Stand there and smile Pete" for
"Go and rub your arse on the hotel statue mate"
We make allowances for him... his bottom's never
been quite right since the vacuum cleaner incident !!
was to be the first year we didn't meet up at Dez's place because we were heading
south rather than north as in the previous 2 years. One thing was the same
though, it was tanking down with rain when we left.
We headed off for the motorway to meet up with Jack at Clackett Lane services on the M25................ "Clackett Lane" now there's a name which conjures up thoughts of exotic far away places. There's actually a "Slag Lane" local to us. We're also fortunate enough to have a "Plank Lane" as well - but I digress. By the time we got there - Clackett Lane that is, the rain had stopped, in fact it had actually stopped by the time we'd done 10 miles down the M6.
While I think about it, Slag Lane runs onto Plank Lane. Which means some poor bugger must
have been having
a real pisser of a day at work when he named the streets around
there. Marginally better than "Gropecunt Lane" though, which used to actually exist
in London, somewhere near the Savoy I believe. It was eventually re-named "Grape Lane" which I
rather a shame, it would've made a great tourist attraction !
There'd been a little occurrence at Clackett Lane services when Pete realised that his keys had fallen out of the worn ignition lock on his bike. He couldn't get his panniers open now because the keys for them were with the bike keys, probably somewhere in the outside lane of the M25! Of course we all had a go at picking the lock but when Jack couldn't get it open with his new sooper dooper top of the range Swiss Army Knife with all the whistles and bells, we knew the situation was doomed and Pete was well and truly fooked. Wesley then turned up with a bit of bent keyring wire, pops it into the keyhole put his tongue out and gave a wee twist of the wrist and hey presto, the bloody lid sprung open. I'll tell you what, that boy has had one seriously mis-spent youth. The ease with which he opened the locks was really quite worrying....It's a very handy talent to have is that though.
Packing up to leave for the ferry to France
We'd now booked in at the Swingate Inn hotel about 3 miles outside of Dover for the night. That meant we could get up in the morning have breakfast and be at the ferry terminal within a few minutes. The hotel wasn't over posh but it was clean and the staff were very amicable. The food was ok too.... Jam roly poly & custard to die for. Good pint of bitter as well.
Waiting for the ferry at Dover
We arrived at the ferry terminal and within 2 minutes of arriving Pete had already got off to a bad start with the passport woman and Wesley had needed to step in to calm her down or we were going nowhere.
There had been some confusion over something she'd said and Pete hadn't heard her because he had his ear plugs in. As only Pete can, he got all indignant and she took exception to his attitude....but that's Pete he means no harm, but we do have to keep an eye on him when he's away from his ward at the asylum.
This the photo that started a "things growing out of heads" competition!!
Don't ask - ok?
Pavement cafe in De Panne, Belgium.
stop after leaving the Ferry was the little resort of De Panne on the Belgian
coast, a nice place with a few pavement cafe's scattered about and a long
promenade. By now the weather
was warm and sunny so it was quite pleasant to sit outside at one of the coffee
shops and watch the world go by.
We had intended to run over the border into Holland just to say we'd been, but they were having a festival of some description in Ostende and we got really snarled up in the traffic there. The weather was now turning quite hot and we were getting very uncomfortable in the gridlocked town. When it was apparent we were going nowhere, we finally decided to forget Holland and exit Ostende by the quickest route and run straight up to Brugge for our next nights stay.
We'd booked a couple of rooms at Andre's B&B in the Saint Michaels area of the city. Andre' and his Wife are two lovely people, when we finally arrived here they were at the house to greet us with some very welcome cold Leffe beers - only 1 euro each - an absolute bargain when you're a hot thirsty and "Strung out from the road". (Bob Segar!)
Pete, just before the towel dropped to the floor, courtesy of Dez. It's all on video. Why would anyone want to get showered with their bike boots on though?? ...Time to go to find beer!
We took a taxi from Andre's place and found an excellent restaurant in Brugge, called "T'putje". It's situated at the far end of the T'Zand near to the theatre. The staff there are superb and never once complained or took exception to 5 aging bikers getter pister and louder as the night went on. The food there is excellent, washed down of course with several - erm no, many many bottles of wine. We were only in Brugge for one night, so after eating we went for a walk around. I've been to Brugges before but never at night, it looks brilliant with the old square all lit up.
Jack's "See Food" diet (Photo Dez)
There was a juggler in the old square juggling fire sticks. A guy walked over to him, grabbed one of the
sticks and lit his fag... Try that in Liverpool on a Saturday night and you'll get a smack!
Tomorrow we head for Luxembourg, so it was a taxi back to the B&B and some well needed kip. After a long hard day it was time for all good Wrinklies to be in bed. This is Dez (below) after we'd shoved a cork up his arse, turned him over and tucked him in. We do this in the interests of safety, if a fart should inadvertently escape during the night the fallout is capable of maiming horses, killing trees and suffocating young children within a 5 mile radius.
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