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
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!
- 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
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