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Day Trip to Belgium - May 2001


We were all getting a bit confused (not hard really), what with rally dates being posted, dates being changed and then finally rallies having to be cancelled. 

Due to the foot & mouth we had decided not to book any crossings until last minute, Tony Leenes's rally was posted and this sounded like it could be fun, instead a phone call from a Northern scoundrel letting us know it had been cancelled but that a get-together was being arranged at the Blekken Pot in Belgium as some had already booked ferry crossings and couldn’t cancel. 

Should we go, shouldn’t we go?  Should we take bikes, should we take the bikes in the van?  So many decisions.  Finally, lack of Jack Daniels and cigarettes clinched the deal and we decided to shove the Indian and Pete’s scooter in the van and take a long day trip, grab the action of the main day, have a chat and a drink with friends then leave for a late crossing stocking up on essential supplies on the way back.  Peeeerfect!

5.00am wake up call, (bikes already loaded in the van) on the road by 5.45am.  A personal best really, we don’t normally talk to anyone before 2 cups of caffeine.  Booked in at the Tunnel by 6.15am and on the train and away by 7.20am.  Just to let you know they are very considerate at the tunnel and offer a free wheel washing facility for vans and even bikes inside the van!

We arrived in France and were heading off to Belgium by 9.00am local time, arriving at the Blekken Pot just before 10.  It was all unusually quite and tranquil, we pulled up at the gates we peered into the yard to find no activity whatsoever.  There were several prone forms who had obviously just fallen outside their tent doors and collapsed in the sunshine.  Even the two dogs thought it weird that people were moving around as they came rushing over to us when we walked in the gate, with warning barks.  NOT AN INDIAN IN SIGHT.

After the usual discussion (IT WASN’T AN ARGUMENT) about the right dates etc, we went into the bar/restaurant to enquire whether anyone had seen Claude, Roly, Marcel, anybody English, anybody riding an Indian – all met with blank stares.  Time to reflect - 10am, glorious sunshine, bikes in the van and a whole day to kill. 

Plan B - see if we had anybody’s telephone number on us – Claude & Roly’s that’ll do.  English speaking lady answers (Oh, hell - wrong number), no it happened to be Lorraine Herbert one of the only few in the house awake after a very late, very drunken night before.  After a brief discussion we unloaded the bikes, locked the van up and set off for Ostende airport, another phone call to Claude and the cavalry arrived to guide us the last few 100 yards to Claude & Roly’s house.  Sun is really warm now and the garden was set with a large table crowded with the remains of breakfast for about 12, the Indians reclining beside them in the garden.  Everybody had gathered here on the Friday night and stayed over, Roly was just finishing her eggs, Eddy was putting on his socks and Roly’s two boys were sent to put more coffee on.

About midday we gathered all the Indians together and set off for the Blekken Pot again.  There were about 10 bikes and riders, a nice informal number allowing you to travel a little faster without loosing anybody.  Roly and Lorraine decided to take advantage of the shops and set off in the car with everybody’s tents/luggage and would meet us later at the Blekken Pot.   

We arrived at the Blekken Pot to make sure no other riders had turned up.  After parking up, having a drink a chat and a constitutional we all set off again – following Claude (COS HE KNOWS WHERE HE’S GOING!!!).  We stopped off several times during the day, to turn round and go the other way – The Big Belgian was either lost or having some fun with us.  Driving on the right meant these tended to be left hand turns, not one of my most favourite as my knee is about an inch away from the handlebars. 

One stop we made for lunch happened to be at a small military show with Jeeps, Machine Guns and Germans.  They knew the Indians had arrived; it was all quiet for about an hour whilst we stuffed our faces, then we all left in a mighty roar with a large audience.  More quiet country roads and a visit to the very pretty town of Ypres and the Mennon Gates (I hope this is spelt right and I apologise for my ignorance if its not).  By this time we were all getting quite hot in our lids and leathers and ice cream was called for – a speciality of this town, which we can all vouch for.  We all set off again for the homeward trip with a brief pit stop to Marcel’s bike shop, which was on route.  We had a bit of trouble with the bike at this point as she conked out on me and wouldn’t start again after many kicks – TURN THE PETROL ON YOU DIZZY COW! – Thanks Pete.  We managed to catch up with everybody as a bit of bike swapping was going on a bit further up the road.

We arrived back at the Blekken Pot late afternoon to a car park full of bikes and a surprisingly more active human presence than first thing that morning.  This was chill-out time, compare and admire bikes, discuss their many faults and break out the beers.  A couple of friends who were coming with us in the van joined us at the site – they were on a diesel run and turned up with a tractor unit which set the dogs off again.    By early evening, the bikes were loaded back into the van and we were all sitting outside around two tables, cooling down in the gentle sunshine after a really hot day, dinner was the famous spaghetti Bolognese followed by Belgium beer.  We were just getting comfortable and I could have stayed much longer, there was a band just getting set up for the evening entertainment but at 9.00pm me, Pete and our two friends had to leave, we had a date in the tobacco village and a train to catch before 12 midnight.  We left in two vehicles, creating a much-needed space outside the Blekken Pot, there are two good points to bringing the bikes in the van.  One is a hip flask of JD and the other is a CD player, the party continued for me at least on the journey home and we finally got home around 12.30, left the bikes in the van and went straight to bed.


Boudicca & TAG


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