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Sussex British Motorcycle Owners Club

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Roger and Grewies trip to the Pyrenees.

As some of you will know, Roger is the secretary to the local branch of the Triumph Owners Club, and in that illustrious position he receives, what amounts to adverts from folk trying to sell things and places.

 Well, having received an email advert from a Margaret and John Johnson extolling the delights of their accommodation called Lae de Haut in Aramits, which is right on the western end of the Pyrenees, he was reminded that I had been bending his ear about just such a trip . 

So off we went on a Monday morning boat from Portsmouth to Caen arriving early afternoon and then on to stay the night with our friend who is about 90 miles to the south. There they had a lovely surprise for me in the very nice shape of a friend who I had not seen for some 15 years. Then it was dinner time in a local Chinky.

 Next morning it was a 3 hour run down the Saumur and the` Musee des Blindes`  or Museum of Armoured Vehicles to you and me. This I had read about as being bigger and better that the Tank Museum at Bovington . Well I am not sure about that but it is a lot more diverse that Bovington.

The thing that tickled us was the UK`s four people carrier from 1957 which is named as `Harrier` made by Harrier Aircraft. This I have failed miserably to uncover on Google. However, if you look closely it is powered by what can only be a BSA A10 engine and gear box .This whole thing was designed to be folded up into its own box and be thrown out of an aircraft, hopefully on the end of a parachute. Not a thing that either of us had heard of before.

We then spent the night in one of the Campanile`s finest before bashing the 350 odd miles down to Aramits and the digs. 

We were greeted by John and Margaret who showed us around and very impressed we were too. Our room had a tremendous view if the hills/mountains which were the border with Spain and the day ended with a beautiful red sun set. Ah! Lovely.  However, the next day we were greeted with thick mist which was just enough to keep you wiping your visor but that was all. We crossed the hills and into the sun and had a grand day doing some of the Pass`s,  or Col`s as they call them including the Aubisque and the Tourmalet .  We could have ended the day a bit better if we had not tried to go through Lourdes at chuck out time for the Grotte.  Still we survived and by the time we got back to the digs all the mist had cleared and we had a lovely dinner waiting for us.

Second day was down into Spain for more of the same and to be dive bombed by a bunch of Vultures  all coming down to our eye level and crossing our path only feet in front as we trickled along this small country road . Wow! Wow! Wow!

As it was all working out so good we decided to stay an extra night and bash back in 2 days instead of the planed 3 .

Day three was more of the same and included a visit to the old railway station at Canfranc , which is on the French/Spanish border. It goes back to 1928 and was abandoned in 1970 . If you are a train buff then do look it up its worth the effort..

Next day was 350ish miles back to the Campanile in Saumur before the last leisurely 150 ish miles to the docks and the 4.30 ferry to good old Pompey and home by10.15.

Apart from the early morning mist on day one it was all in the dry and no problems at all. A very good time was had by all and we can thoroughly recommend the digs.

Total mileage for me was 1600.9 .

I have sent Malcolm some of the photos and also have a look at the digs web site which is below  

John Grew

                                                                     2016 TRIP TO FRANCE  


John and Roger alternative D Day trip

09.00 on the 6th of June saw us at Newhaven and by 10.00 we were on the high seas. Well fortunately not that high as I am a rubbish sailor.

14.00 hrs and we were working our way out of Dunkirk and heading for Mons in Belgium and the Ibis Hotel which I had booked in advance. The previous day I had looked at the weather forecast which said that there would be storms in Belgium and for once they were bang on. Honest to god, ¼ mile over the French border and a wall of water hit us which had lumps of ice in it. Visibility vanished and a hurricane sprang up. Ok, there was a tiny bit of good news, there was the motorway service station so in we went and just managed to squeeze in under cover with a lot of other like thinking motorcyclist.

Twenty minutes later it had eased off so off we went only to find that the motorway was flooded and slowing up all the traffic and getting in our way, and I will use that and the fact that my sat-nav started playing up, as an excuse for missing the split in the motorway which was created by a low concrete wall. By now the sat-nav was all over the place and we got to see an awful lot of Belgium which we had not planned on including some `orrible` slippery cobbled back streets.

It says in the blurb, which Ibis put out that it is near the railway station. Yes, I suppose that you could say. There’s the station and there is the Ibis, but it took a long time to find the right street and find the car park.

Anyway the beer / room / and food were good and they did not charge us for the car park.

Next morning we had a look around the old town which of course was where the first major action took place in World War 1 and by the amount of rubbish which was being collected in the streets they had had either another war on one hell of a street party over the weekend. It was the latter I think.

Time to move on to Bastogne which according to Google maps is 112 miles. What Google maps did not take into account was my sat-nav. Again we saw lots of unscheduled places and never did find various roundabouts, villages and junctions. In answer to you inevitable question, didn`t you have a map, well yes we did but the one that I had was a small scale one and we both thought that Rogers was the same. However it transpired that it wasn`t it was bigger scale and a lot better so it was pressed into service until we headed for Verdun which it did not cover. Having said that, at that point neither did my sat-nav as it had given up all together

On arriving in Bastogne the first job was to find accommodation for the next two nights. This again was a back street adventure. At one point we thought that we had cracked it only to find the sign for the hotel directing us the wrong way up a one way street.

Having booked in we went to explore the town on foot and sampled some on the local beer. All very good.

Next morning took us the 101st Airborne Museum which was just down the road from the hotel and was very interesting and well laid out. Having had a huge breakfast we gave lunch a miss, got on our bikes and headed to the other side of town to the best museum we have ever been to.

It is called `The Bastogne War Museum` and is of course dedicated to the Battle of the Bulge which took place from 16th of December 1944 until 25th of January 1945 . This does a wonderful and complete job of taking you through the whole battle bit by bit. Included in the entry fee is one of these plug it in the ears things and you then have four peoples tales of what happened as you go round. There are three, for want of a better term, cinemas but with moving objects, gun fire and changing backdrops and all the time this running commentary from your own four friends in your ears. Our advice is if you are ever in that area, go there.

Back at the hotel we were sort of run over by a coach load of yanks who were staying there as well. One old guy in particular stood out in more ways than one. He was BIG, oh! Ok fat, old and loud and naturally had just had to sell his Harley as he felt he was getting to old. This he loudly told the room was a `Fat Boy`. We thought ` Yes very apt`. So how old are you I asked. 70 was the reply, how old are you. When I told him 76 he seemed to lose interest and wandered off much to our relief.

Being a bit knackered we both thought that an early night might not go amiss but sleeping eleven hours straight off was a bit of a surprise and we only `just` made breakfast which closed at 10.00

So, brekie done, kit on and off to our next stop which was Verdun in France some 75 miles away. Roger had his reverse sat- nav with him. That is a thing which tells you where you have been not where you want to go. When he got home he downloaded it and it would seem that I made a bit of a pigs ear of that trip as well. Ho! Hum!

Verdun was yet again another find a hotel adventure and we ended up in the real back streets where we were told, at 11.00, to come back at 17.00 and book in. All a bit odd but it did the job. We then went and found the battle field museum and memorial. Well after the museum in Bastogne this one did not stand a chance but the memorial was a bit different as it housed the bones of the 130,000 who died in the battle. Very thought provoking

. Having not been very impressed with that lot we went into the town of Verdun and that was a lot better especially the bit down by the river. The pizza`s and van rouge weren’t bad either.

Following morning saw us away at 08.00 without any brekkie as the pizza`s were still with us and we had some 250 miles to go to do to get to the ferry . What could possible go wrong? Well nothing as it happened and we were at the docks 3 hours before sailing time. Still ,we meet some very nice follow motorcyclist and between us the world, the universe and beyond has never been so right.

Home by 22.00 job done. Good trip.

John Grew and Roger Baker


It makes you wonder what draws them to France every year ????????