A Travellerspoint blog

Flanders Day Trip

April 30th 2006

There were six of us on the Flanders Day trip. We went across country to Poperinge (twinned with Hythe where I live) and then Ypres.

Nigel and Jane Jones, John Bentall and his wife Anne, and Claire and me.

This was the trip that got us interested in days and then weekends away on the bike as a small group, drawn from the IMTC and SOC locally.

The pics are from Talbot House in Poperinge and of the Menin Gate in Ypres. Talbot House was started during WW1 to give soldiers some respite from the war to the east around the Ypres Salient.

Poperinge is twinned with Hythe as Lord Wakefield, an oil baron of the time and the man that owned Wakefield Oil (Castrol), was a benefactor of Talbot House and TOC H along with Tubby Clayton.

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Of course after all that riding around we needed to have a late lunch and that was taken in the Grote Markt. There are so many restaurants to choose from to the side of the Cloth Hall.

Sadly we couldn't stay late and so we would miss the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. The ride back to the channel port was fairly brisk so that we didn't miss the crossing home.

Some extra reading on the places we visited on this trip and the personalities that enriched the lives of the men on the Salient and beyond.

Talbot House
Menin Gate

Poperinge

Lord Wakefield of Hythe
Tubby Clayton

TOC H

Posted by InvictaMoto 03:32 Archived in Belgium Tagged belgium ypres ieper menin_gate hythe talbot_house poperinge lord_wakefield Comments (0)

Vimy 97

April 9th 2014

Up early courtesy of the cat. Washed and out about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.

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Sunny but a little chilly around the legs. Good job I am wearing two jumpers! I was going to be half an hour ahead of the Ashford Triumph RAT Pack anyway so when I accepted an earlier crossing it put me an hour ahead. Leisurely breakfast then.

On arrival I pulled into the fuel stop for a coffee. "Desolé, machine en panne" said shrugging Gallic lady. I togged up and headed down the A26 to the Aire de Rely, where we have stopped before. Breakfast. And all ordered in French....

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I'll carry in to ND de Lorette and meet the others there.

Here follows a tale of up-cocks and the need to buy a map.

What could possibly go wrong? No satnav and no paper map? Nothing of course. Once I was on the A26, cruise set to 110kph, plain sailing. Junction 6 for Béthune is soon passed. I had expected 6.1 to be close by. It isn't. Doubt sets in.

Next is the A21 signed to Lens and Douai (pron doo-eye) and yes a D road as well.

Souchez is on the right of the A26. So track right on a new road. No signs of life, no signage... Not good. Arrive Barlin. New supermarket. No maps. Ask idiot-villageur for directions. Very interesting as he pointed generally in the southerly direction.

Follow them and find myself in Mont St Eloi where the abbey was shelled and the structure remains. A sort of bombed shell. No access though. Not today anyway. Head off towards Arras expecting to see a signpost. None. Enter Arras and buy a map at Auchun.

It seems that at Mont St Eloi I was about 4 miles away as I stood in the sun. By now the hour I was ahead is now about an hour the other way.

I fly up the old N17, now bypassed, to the Necropole Nationale at ND de Lorette.

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We have been before on a trip I led a few years back, so when I roll up I haven't missed much. The RAT Pack are either trying to get food or still looking around, so I take some pix and shoot off to the other sites I want to see.

I am interested in a large British cemetery at the southern end of Souchez called Cabaret Rouge.

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The cemetery is on the site of a restaurant/nightclub of that name. There are vast numbers of unknown soldiers, mostly with the Maple Leaf on their headstones.

When I came out I was accosted, in a nice way, by a lady with an iPad collecting information on visitors to the cemeteries in the area.

I togged up and set off for another cemetery that caught my eye when I was going the other way; the Czechoslovak Cemetery at La Targette. Across the road is the Polish Memorial.

Curiously, the CS cemetery has graves from both world wars. I didn't realise that Czechs had fought in this arena in WW1.

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I had just taken a picture of the bike outside when I saw a long line of headlamps approaching over the ridge to the north. The RAT Pack.

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Once again, I togged up and set off in pursuit, catching them just arriving in the car park by the visitor centre.

Introductions made and we set off for the monument itself for the Memorial Ceremony.

In the sunshine the monument is spectacular.

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We were ushered to the other side, a little way down the ridge.

This view is not actually the front. The front faces where the Canadians attacked from.

The ceremony was attended by the Canadian Ambassador to France, plus dignitaries from the local communities, ex-servicemen and serving servicemen from Canada and France, plus members of the public including us RATs.

Unfortunately, the sun was in our faces so photos have come out a little dark as the camera compensated for the brightness.

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Once the ceremony and wreath laying were over we were able to return to the visitor centre to visit the preserved trenches.

Vimy RAT Day

Vimy RAT Day

Vimy RAT Day

Vimy RAT Day

Vimy RAT Day

Vimy RAT Day

The ceremony had gone on much longer than we expected and so there was probably no one in the Pack that wouldn't overstay their Shuttle ticket.
Some hell for leather and me at a cruise-controlled 80mph.

After a couple of group photos, we togged up and set off for the port.

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Posted by InvictaMoto 07:41 Archived in Belgium Tagged vimy Comments (0)

Vimy 104

April 9th 2021

The Canadian Monument at Vimy Ridge sees the commemoration on the 9th of April every year. No matter what the date. it happens every year without fail until Covid-19 came and the 2020 ceremony was cancelled.

So I am looking forward to the 104th Anniversary ceremony to be held on the 9th April 2021.

Fingers crossed that Covid has been defeated by then.

Posted by InvictaMoto 07:32 Archived in Belgium Tagged vimy vimy_104 Comments (0)

Sinterklaastreffen 2019

Oostende

overcast 3 °C

I was up at 6.50am and out before 7 30am.

Red Pepé needed the dbPower unit to start as I had expected. I had had it on charge to make sure it was at 100%. Why? I expected to use it a few times in the day.

The first obstacle was J11 was closed other than northbound on the M20. A truck had overturned and the carriageway was damaged. A little self made detour (turning around the end of the centre verge (median), and I continued onto the A20 to the Shuttle.

Both UK and French passports were taking time to get through. A terrorist attack in London the day before was probably a contributor. At UK I had to take my helmet off. I had chosen the Shoei over the LS2 flip-up.

It looked like I was going to miss the booked shuttle as I waited for the queues to move. In the end it was gone 8.30am before the barrier lifted and I was off to be squeezed into the last carriage. Or so it seemed. I was told to park, as usual front wheel into the kerb. The cars shuffled forward.

On the Shuttle

On the Shuttle

And I was on my lonesome.

The crossing went off okay and I had the dbPower unit ready but it wasn't needed.

By the time I got into Belgium my fingertips were frozen. I stopped for a pee and coffee break at the Manneken services. I started off wearing my Belstaff Hypora gloves and changed into the Dainese Scout with Goretex.

The problem with wearing bike trousers with a gusset front and long-johns is visiting the loo. I don't need to draw you a picture or say anything more!! Let's just say there are complications....

I finally arrived at the Velodroom at about 12.20pm. The friend I was meeting, Tony, was already there with his Boom trike. It has some rather interesting embellishments and a Ford 1600 engine. The skull sidelights are rather odd....

Tony's Trike

Tony's Trike

We had a coffee and a catch up chat in the marquee and then had a walk to buy some Christmas stuff, chocolates and biscuits etc. On the way back I packed what I could away in the panniers and prepared for the run.

I bought some Brugge Tripel as well. It's billed as "spicy bier". See how that is when I get home.

Finally the run set off for the short convoy ride to the square by the fisherman's quay. Tony and I had a spot of lunch at the nearest Frituur. Chips with mayo and a meatball. Very nice but hard to eat balancing them all on the wall near the Aquarium.

St Nick arrived at the quay nearer the Aquarium and we walked up there. There were loads of people there and many with kids and dogs. Nick was kind enough to pose for a photo. His "Piets" throwing handfuls of sweets to the kids and we got some too.

I took some pics of some of the assembled bikes in the parking lot and in the square.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

The Man Himself.

The Man Himself.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

My Rocket - Red Pepé

My Rocket - Red Pepé

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.

Sinterklaastreffen 2019 - the last one.


Once they had all gone we set off with my TomTom taking us a rather long way around via the A10 and in the direction of Brugge. It must have thought it was quicker as that's the way it brought me in as well!

It was just as cold.

First stop was the Manneken services on the westbound side. Pee and coffee for both of us and fuel for Tony.

When we set off from Ostend Pepé's "miles to zero" gauge (MtZ) showed 74. It went up whilst cruising on the motorway to 85. Once out of the walking pace traffic it could recalculate.

I needed the dbPower again to start and MtZ had suddenly dropped to 35 whilst stopped!

We pulled off again at Adinkerke to stop at what must be a mecca for tobacco addicts. The volume of cars must have matched the volume of tobacco smoke in the air!

Attached is a Leonidas chocolate shop. I bought twee/two/deux 375g boxes!

Leonidas Chocolates

Leonidas Chocolates


And then we were off with Tony leading and setting the pace. We stuck to around 60-65mph unless overtaking one of the many trucks.

Over the 40 or so miles to the Shuttle the MtZ hardly changed. I took the lead just before the ferry turnoff junction and MtZ was now down to 21 when I got to the ticket barrier.

Both of us opted for the 6.20pm train rather than our booked 6.50pm. MtZ had now dropped 0 whilst on tick over doing the ticket operations on the screens! I had my Eurotunnel clothes peg for the ticket hanger!

Once through both countries passports and customs we split up. The trike through the car lanes and me on the bike through the higher vehicle lanes. I had no time to queue and luckily Pepé started without assistance and I loaded onto the 5.50pm train.

I was in the second to last carriage. Once again on my own. I saw the one in front was empty too!!

On the Shuttle Home

On the Shuttle Home

Tony had got on the same train and was the last 3/4 wheeler on the lower deck. I found this out when he came back to see me. The conductor told him I was on. It turned out the were three empty carriages between me and him as the last in his carriage!

Very lonely on this train

Very lonely on this train

As we came out of the tunnel at Folkestone end I had the dbPower setup and fired Pepé up. By now I wasn't going to waste time trying and then setting it all up. Pepe fired up okay.

With MtZ still showing 0 I decided to go to Tesco and fill up. I went slowly down the A20 to Cheriton to fill-up.

It took 17.66 litres to fill the tank. The specs show that the R3 has a 24 litre tank. Miles to empty at 0 seems a little inaccurate.Even quick maths show that there ought to have been 6 litres or so in the tank.

Pepé fired up without dbPower assistance at Tesco. It was still very cold and I was back in the Belstaff gloves.

I was back home not long after and an hour earlier than planned.

Another enjoyable day out despite the cold and battery problems with Pepé.

Great to meet up with Tony after many years. Also good to revisit the St Nick's together 34 years after our first visit, back in those days when we were both younger, slimmer and with fewer ailments!

NB. My Rocket III Roadster is called Red Pepé as it has two red stripes from front to back. The matt black and white striped one is called "Pepé" after the cartoon skunk.

Posted by InvictaMoto 06:36 Archived in Belgium Tagged motorcycling oostende sinterklaastreffen Comments (0)

Palingbeek

Part 1

I was up bright and early. Or rather early. My shoulder was feeling fine and the best it has been for a week or so.

Unfortunately Eurotunnel weren't as bright. On checking in I was informed that the 0850 was "retimed" to 0858. At 0922 we pulled out of Folkestone for the 35 minute crossing to France.

Pepé had required the dbPower unit boost to start first thing and again once we were given the go ahead to board the train. Playing catch up I was last on.

Thankfully at the French end although prepared, seat off etc, Pepé started okay.

From there tbe ride was uneventful along the A16 to the A25. I know that many riders poo-poo using motorways but if you want to get somewhere using the newly reduced limit N roads then you need days rather than hours.

Arriving at the old Franco-Belgian border I stopped to take a pic for the 50/50 Challenge. The old border and customs buildings are slowly rotting away. Testament to Shengen?

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20180915_111218

From here I followed TomTom instructions to Vlamertinge for my lunch stop. Except despite checking online the friterie was closed.

So. Carry on to Ypres.

I parked opposite the Cloth Hall and then went in search of a bank and then lunch. Both satisfied my next quest was to find one of the Last Post Association pins.

On cafe wall

On cafe wall

A slog around all the published stockists revealed they were sold out.

Back to the bike for the short run to Palingbeek.

Part 2

The ride to Palingbeek was fairly short and when I arrived the car park was pretty full.

At the entrance is a café and the CWXRM* have an information point and a statue.

A robot?

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

From here it us about 150 yards to the decision point. Left to the Bluff and the two water filled mine craters and then to the viewpoint overlooking the Egg. Or right at the info point to the sculpture and then the egg.

I went right.

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

Palingbeek

The sculpture. Gradually the egg will be filled with the dog tags of the 600000 dead.

And then to the main egg.

The first glimpse of it over the hedge.

Fantastic.

The return is via the Bluff. Along the way are "speakers". When entered it triggers the sound system. Poems from the war poets. Sadly none in English.

%5BUNSET%5D

Once back at the bike I attempted to cut a couple of the waypoints off the route. But I was defeated.

So off to St Elo

Part 3

Why is this in three parts? I started to create the posts on my phone.

The first part was started in Belgium and then the second added after I had returned, and this the final countdown. The day after.

From Palingbeek the plan was to visit the two mine craters at St Eloi. I had got the gate code from the tourist office whilst in search of the elusive Last Post Association pins.

I almost missed it and there is little parking. Rather than the big hole I expected, it is a garden between two houses.

St Eloi Mine Crater.  Had expected a huge hole but its a nice garden oasis of quiet.

St Eloi Mine Crater. Had expected a huge hole but its a nice garden oasis of quiet.

St Eloi Mine Crater.  Had expected a huge hole but its a nice garden oasis of quiet.

St Eloi Mine Crater. Had expected a huge hole but its a nice garden oasis of quiet.

Whilst I was there an English couple came up and I shared the gate code with them. As I prepared to move to the next waypoint, I heard the sound of Harley's. Anyone that has heard a hardly with a loud exhaust will know the sound.

A group sped past. Even though I was in bike gear, holding a bike helmet in my hand with Pepe parked up, not a single HD rider even nodded to me as I gave them the biker wave.

I gave up counting at 40 and then the non-HD''s happened along. Most waved or nodded..... WTF?

I togged up and headed to the next waypoint after that. It was supposed to be the Pool of Peace and I never found it. What with roads closed and TomTom having a bit of a fit we arrived at the Island of Ireland Peace Park instead. TomTom seemingly forgotten the Messines waypoint.

I was getting a little strapped for time anyway.

The Island of Ireland Peace Park is built between Messines and Ploegsteert. The tower is a replica of one in Ireland.

Island of Ireland Peace Park

Island of Ireland Peace Park

Island of Ireland Peace Park

Island of Ireland Peace Park

From there I headed to my last stop at Ploegsteert and the Memorial to the Missing.

What started off as a small cemetery, called Hyde Park Corner, to the dead from the Berkshire Regiment was extended across the road and the large monument was erected. The walls inside lined with the regiments and names of the casualties - The Missing.

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By now it was getting on for 4.15pm and I had to be back in Calais for the train home. My check-in was 5.50pm at the latest.

Crossing back into France was unnoticeable. On the way out I had stopped by a large and decaying border post near Watou and a Belgium signpost. I only knew I was in France as the cars parked on drives had French and not Belgian licence plates.

I was soon on the A25. My "miles to empty" gauge was showing less than the distance to travel and so I decided to splash and dash at at a services. But once there, at Aire de St-Laurent, I filled right up. As is the case in England. Motorway services charge significantly higher than local stations. Oh well! One smile came when I finished paying and got on, surrounded by UK bikers, Pepe decided to sluggishly fire over. A second stab of the button needed to get him going..... The nod and smiles from a few of them realising that they didn't have to give me a push was priceless.

Fuelly calculated that tank at 43.6 mpg. Need to ride a lot slower to see if I can top 50!

I arrived at Calais and checked in at 5.07pm. I was offered my booked crossing of 6.20pm. No mention of the disaster to happen. Delayed.

Where have we heard that before. Finally after being shunted from the parking by the terminal to the waiting area nearer the trains we got on a train that left at 9.02pm local time.

I don't have a problem with breakdowns, but I do have a problem with lack of information. And Eurotunnel did nothing to keep anyone appraised of the problems of the day. I learned from Claire on the phone that a train had broken down in the tunnel on the way to France at around 5.30pm.

In the end with the hour time difference removed and the short ride home, I was actually in the house at 8.54pm.

Despite that. Being Billy No-Mates again I had a really good time visiting all these sights that I had never done before.

I met some nice people, also on bikes, as we waited in both directions for what was over three and a quarter hours of delayed services.

Someone joked it was kind of Eurotunnel not to charge us extra for the two hours and 42 minutes more time we had in France.

Gallows humour. The Tommies in the trenches would have approved.

Posted by InvictaMoto 08:39 Archived in Belgium Tagged belgium motorcycling palingbeek Comments (0)

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