Month: April 2009

Europe 2009: Mile 584

11th April 2009

Bad night. The camping site we had chosen (I would blame Isabel but that would be painful for me – she has a very powerful left hook!) was within hearing range of a very loud, all night open air disco. I’m sure there are a couple of hundred new deaf youngsters today in Chimay!

Packed up and left before 11 which admittedly is late but I’m sure we’ll get better. Tried to pay but the office remained closed and the owners were apparently on holiday! But we did want to pay, honest!

All in all our experiences at this campsite mean we can only give it

Two sarges

Two sarges

Filled up with petrol in Chimay and headed towards Neufchateau. A very nice run especially since we were in the Ardennes! Even if it did rain at one stage. Once again forgot to eat anything until late, this we have to correct! Eventually stopped in a town where the Boulangerie was open. Got some bread and cakes and had them with the remainder of the cheese we purchased on the first day sitting on a bench looking at some fine buildings and watching the world go by. The town was called Montmedy and had a magnificant (and big) abbey or other such structure high on a hill overlooking it. We then went to a shop to get some meat and veggies to cook this evening. Not sure what we have purchased – hopefully it will be OK. Very warm weather today – glad we have the Camelbaks with us. After having eaten we pushed on to Verdun and the camp site "Camping Les Brieuls" where we had booked for a couple of nights.

Reached it about 5pm. Booked in, put up the tent (still damp from this morning) and tarp for first time. Found out we don’t have enough guy ropes. Luckily the strap from BMW can double for them! Had some coffee and biscuits using the water we heated up this morning. Then to the bar for a well deserved beer even though Mr Teddy was very tired. He did perk up when the word “beer” was mentioned though and he decided to come along just to keep us out of trouble which, for me is like the pot calling the kettle black but I didn’t like to mention that!

Mr Teddy relaxing after a hard day

Mr Teddy relaxing after a hard day

Just trying to update the Blog for first time. Will see how that goes. Then we shall have supper and an early night I think.

Navigation was easier today.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Get food for lunch as early as possible and wherever possible
  • Learn to stop more
  • Start early
  • The straps we got from BMW (for free) are really, really useful

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.

Europe 2009: Mile 456

10th April 2009

After a very good breakfast at Varlet farm (including making a packed lunch from the remains of brekkie on the say so of Charlotte) we set off to Chimay. What a nightmare! Navigation almost impossible. Must find a better way of finding our way with the GPS.

Took a break in a parking area on the N43 and had lunch. Around 4:30 rode into Chimay. Found a campsite in town. Office closed so (on the advice of someone already there) we pitched the tent.

Setting up tent at Chimay Campsite

Setting up tent at Chimay Campsite

Soon afterwards 5 other bikes turned up and then 3 more. Nice. After some coffee and apple tartlets (well one does have to treat oneself now and again) we packed everything away and walked into town.

Had Chimay beer in Chimay – cool! – (Isabel Red – OK Rouge, Adrian Blue – bleu) and nice food (Isabel: Veal Milano, Adrian: Rabbit in mustard sauce – all very nice) and then walked back to the camp site. When we got there an elderly gentleman had a go at us about the tents being in the caravan area. At least I think he did as it was in Flemish! I think he was annoyed because it turns out he had a caravan he wanted to park (this was 9:20pm!). There were at least 3 empty pitches so I don’t know why he was annoyed. I tried to explain that a) everyone told us to pitch there, b) the office was closed and there were no instructions and c) maybe he should have got there earlier (OK I didn’t say the last one but I did think it!) Of course as as we got in the tent it started raining. Hope it clears up tomorrow.
Lessons Learnt:

  • Use much more detailed maps
  • Make sure you put the correct town in the GPS (I mean how was I supposed to know there are 2 Chimays?). I did wonder why it kept taking us in the wrong direction

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

Veal Milano

Veal Milano


Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.

Europe 2009: Mile 299

9th April 2009

Woke up to a damp grey day with the inevitable thought "Are we back in England?" Had breakfast of coffee, pain au chocolat and ham and bread purchased from the supermarket yesterday. After a quick visit to the ablution blocks we packed away. I’m sure we will evolve a system for this but until then we will use the tried and trusted method of total chaos. Eventually everything was packed away more or less as it should have been and we were off. I must find a more elegant way of getting on the bike rather than the current method of just launching myself at the thing and hoping.

Went back to the supermarket for petrol and then off we went to Dunkirk. Well that was the plan. As usual things did not turn out that way. We ended up going the wrong way and that was with a GPS! Eventually we did get to Dunkirk via Boulogne (don’t ask!). For me it wasn’t even really worth it and we quickly headed out on the A16 north into Belgium which we turned off onto a side road towards Ypres. It was nice gentle riding followed by what we had planned to be a light lunch in a small town along the way. However in Belgium they don’t really understand the concept of small portions – no wonder I love this place! I had soup (my excuse is it was cold) followed by a very nice pate and Isabel had cheese croquets. All very nice.

After this we were off to Varlet Farm following the GPS. Another mistake! But after ending up in the wrong driveway (twice!) and driving the back roads we arrived. What a place – so good it easily rates a sarge5
I don’t think I have been in a nicer bed and breakfast anywhere. The owner, Charlotte, cannot do enough for you. She even made an international call to a campsite in France to move a booking we had made.

After unpacking everything from the bikes we rode into Ypres using Charlottes excellent instructions and parked up at the Grote Markt in the city centre. After a coffee at one of the cafes there we walked to the Menin Gate, a site I had wanted to visit for a long time. I was surprised by how affect I was by it. Once you think you have read all the names on the monument you find more and then more until it feels that they will never end. It is a very moving place. We also stayed for the daily Last Post ceremony. There were hundreds of people there and as the four Belgian buglers marched out a stillness came over the crowd which lasted beyond the last note. I had tears in my eyes. A very, very moving ceremony and a very, very fitting one for our almost forgotten fallen heroes of all sides.

After that we wondered into the town looking for something to eat ending up at t’Ganzeke (another recommendation from Charlotte) for a bite to eat (and for Mr Teddy to try some Belgian beer and then some more and just a little bit more just for the hell of it). Once we tore him away from there it was back to the B&B in the dark. That was when I realised that I hadn’t checked my lights after fitting a Light Guard. Duh! I now had a perfectly illuminated front tyre but, unfortunately, nothing else! Luckily Isabels light was better but she couldn’t remember where the high beam switch on the Transalp was. What a team we make! It was almost a case of the blind leading the blind but at least she could see most of the road.Eventually and extremely slowly we managed to get back to the B&B and parked up in the small museum it has (which is where the bikes are parked – out of site – great!). And then to bed!
Lessons Learnt:

  • Check lights before setting off
  • Know where all your switches are so you don’t have to think about them when you need to use them

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.

Europe 2009: Mile 149

8th April 2009

They said the weather today was rain. They were wrong! A bit cloudy at times yes but otherwise clear and blue. Woke after another late night of work. Tired, miserable and scared. Scared of the unknown that lay ahead. It felt like Isabel had done all the preparations and I had done none. Oh well too late to dwell on that now. Rode down into Pangbourne to fill the bikes with petrol before we loaded them up. Before we even set off we had problems with the communications that we needed to sort out. We also had problems deciding where to put Mr teddy – he wanted to ride in style and we just wanted to get on the road. Anyway eventually we did set off, albeit a bit late which added to the stress/worry/nausea levels. However as soon as we set off all worries were quickly forgotten. Down the M4 (the traffic was not too bad) onto the M25 (who ever thought that road was a good idea? – the traffic was horrendous) then the M26 (what a nice little road according to Isabel – me I just nod for the sakes of marital bliss) and finally on to the M20 counting down the miles to the Channel Tunnel – 50, 46, 37, 32, 10 and then into the maze that is the Eurotunnel terminal for the first time. I have to be honest but it didn’t make sense to me at all. Oh well we go onto the train on time in the end and 35 minutes later we were in Calais. Amazing!
Then we were out of the station and onto the A16 heading North remembering to drive on the right (i.e. wrong) side of the road. Navigated through some delightful small towns on the way to the Camping Pommiers Des Trois Payes in Licques. A very nice small campsite with very friendly hosts. The journey there also included the first set of hairpin bends I have ever negotiated. I apologise to all the experienced bikers out there but I went through them extremely slowly with extremely clenched buttocks. The campsite itself is mainly for caravans with some empty pitches for tents with well provisioned facilities and a small restaurant. Using our own totally arbitrary and highly open to bribes grading system (otherwise known as ‘The Sarges’) it gets a well deserved:

4 sarges out of 5

4 sarges out of 5


First camp in Europe

First camp in Europe


After putting the tent up we got back on the bikes and went looking for a local supermarket for some food. Bit of a mistake – quite expensive but everything seemed of good quality. They even had horse sausage we think but since neither of us can speak let alone read French we could be wrong. Got some bread, cheeses and cold meat for breakfast. All for 18 Euro – Ouch!.
I made some tea and coffee when we got back and Isabel sorted the tent out – Much better that way because if I had done it it would have been chaos! Had tea/coffee, bread and some cheese in front of the tent under a beautiful warm sky – heaven, this is what we went touring for. Even Mr Teddy had cheered up when we had offered him some tea.
A contented Mr Teddy

A contented Mr Teddy


After we had sorted everything out we went for a meal in the campsite restaurant. Isabel had a very nice Mushroom Omelette and I had a local meat terrine (for those interested it contained rabbit, chicken and pork and was delicious!) and the biggest plate of French Fries (naturally :)) I have seen in a long time! Excellent especially considering this is a campsite and not a hotel.
After the meal it was back to the tent and bed. A long day but a good one.

Lessons Learnt:

    Fill up with petrol the day before the off

  • Make sure you know where everything is to go before the off

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.

Europe 2009: Mile 0 Photos

As promised some images to accompany the previous post – I haven’t put much text to them because a) they are to accompany the previous post and b) I’m enjoying myself too much in Verdun at the moment and can’t be asked 🙂

Isabels bike ready to go

Isabels bike ready to go


Adrians bike ready to go

Adrians bike ready to go


The intrepid explorers almost ready to go

The intrepid explorers almost ready to go


Mr Teddy definitely ready to go

Mr Teddy definitely ready to go

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.

Europe 2009: Mile 0

8th April 2009

Well today is most definitely the day! Yes we are all off for our “Grand Tour” of Europe. Personally I feel sorry for the citizens of the countries we will be passing through (and especially their teddy bears if Mr Teddy ever gets loose!).
The plan is to leave from home about 10-10:30 this morning and pootle along the M4/M25/M20 to the Eurotunnel terminal and get the train under the channel. I stress that that is only a plan because we still have so much to do it is almost unreal. Now that we have come to crunch time I really think that maybe we should have planned better – Oh well – the leader of the expedition (i.e. Isabel) tells me that is all part of the fun!
At present I am trying to recover from working some late nights so don’t have any photos to show you but we will take some of the “off” (if we ever get there) and post them. We will also try and do some regular updates on the trip so you can see all the things we do wrong. Nervous? No petrified is more like it. Wish us luck!

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.

Your Hosts for the Journey

So now having written about what we are trying to achieve I suppose it is time to introduce ourselves properly. All I hope is that you are all ready for the shock!

post2-image-31

The Fatman Himself!

Well I suppose I should go first. I’m Adrian, the “Fatman” of the title. I am a 48 year old child who was born with a mid-life crisis. I could put my cuddly stature down to genetics but I personally think its because I eat too much! Anyway I ride a BMW F800GS and as you can see I have no fashion sense. I am allowed to be in charge of navigation (which means we will be permanently lost), cooking (permanently poisoned) and helmet Karaoke (permanent hearing loss).

post2-image-2

The Lovely Isabel!

And on to the long-suffering Isabel who rides a Honda Transalp. Isabel will be in charge of Packing (because men can’t pack apparently), money (never trust me with any money – I’ll just spend it), general planning and ordering me around. She will bring some much needed stability to the party and will be the best looking person in it.  She, like me, has no experience of touring but that is part of the fun, so she keeps telling me.

 

Mr. Teddy and Helmet - No Comment!

Mr. Teddy and Helmet – No Comment!

The most important member of the team – well at least that is what he keeps telling us – is Mr Teddy. He rides – well anything he can find but lets not go into that because it is vaguely pornographic. He is in charge of everything and will be luxuriating on the back of Isabel’s bike on the tour. He said he got the idea for a helmet from Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider who, so Mr Teddy tells us, is also a cool dude and babe magnet just like him.

Because we will be visiting dangerous locations (well have you been to Reading?) and to protect all those who we meet on the route we have decided to take along some extra help in the security area. Meet Sarge our trusty guard dog. At present he rides without a helmet but, as everyone knows that is dangerous and he will apparently be sporting a helmet similar to Mr Teddys, but it will be more security orientated so he tells us. With him on board we are sure that the good people of Europe will be safe in their beds (well they will be as long as we can keep Mr Teddy captive on the bike). In a future post we will talk about our bikes and the mountain of equipment we are expecting them to carry. Hope you enjoy it.

Sarge on Guard!

Sarge on Guard!

 

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

© 2009 – 2016, fatman-overland. All rights reserved.