4 September 2005

Kent Charity Pet Food Run - September 4th 2005

Pet Food Run 2005, originally uploaded by pauldevall.

The run this time was to the animal sanctuary at Marsh Farm near Pluck's Guter in Kent. As you have to cross the river Stour, the sanctuary is on the Isle of Thanet.

This run was in two parts, one section leaving the Oakdene and us more local types heading in from the Railway Cafe by Hythe light railway.

In the end we raised a good amount of money and a load of pet food was delivered.

1 September 2005

Week in Fitou - August 2005 - Aftermath - Part Two

Day 5 - Dali Day

Well, it was supposed to be Dali Day. We got up relatively early and breakfasted and then the battle of the GPS' started with both of us trying to make sure our GPS had the best route and could find the centre of Figueres!

I led (as usual!) and we opted for a motorway run down into Spain, have the usual coffee break and then go into the Dali Museum. Part 1 accomplished but part two... err never happened. So for the second time we saw the outside and didn't get in.
Last time back in 2001 it was closed for lunch, this time the queue to get in was about 300 yards and moving at about a yard every five minutes. It was over 90 degrees of Fahrenheit and the queue wasn't in the shade at all... Dali Museum & Theatre (N42.16096 E2.57587)

So after a drink outside a bar we buggered off on the next leg of the trip that would take us to Rosas/Roses for lunch and then the coast road back to France and then home. The GPS was set and off we went, managing to get out of Figueres was easier than getting in and finding a parking space...
It was just as hot at Roses and luckily we had plenty of empty luggage space to pack the jackets and lock the helmets on to the bike with a cable (as we always do on holiday!) and wander about in jeans - remember these mutha's are Draggin or Hood and VERY hot to wear - and bike boots.

Lunch was okay, not brilliant at a restaurant on the seafront overlooking the beach and then it was time to "walk it off"... Paddling and sitting in the sun.

From Roses we planned a coastal trip back to France via Portbou, fill up with vastly cheaper Spanish petrol before the border crossing into France.

All went well until Colera (sounds pretty disgusting) where I took a right as Doris said and we went into some small town, I kept following her instructions and lost S&B. Their tom-tom or tom for short, had sent them 2nd right onto the main road that from a distance looked like road works (!), and so they were ahead of us. Doris bravely soldiered on and "off route recalculating" took us deeper and deeper into the hills behind the village until in a repeat of the previous days trip we arrived at a dirt track heading into the mountains, Doris still claiming that in 1.2 ms (or whatever) we should turn "second right"... In UK all turns are variations of left, and in Europe she changes to variations of right! Sixth right is quite off putting.

We re-traced out steps after I re-programmed Doris to take us to Portbou again and in the end we made the right or correct right turn and were off along the coast. We passed S&B re-fuelling in Portbou and we headed for the petrol station a few yards from the French border high above the town. Luckily it was open and there wasn't much of a queue!

From then on much of the coast road to Port Vendres is mainly downhill and very twisty. I opted for the (ill advised?) tactic of picking the cars off one at a time to get down a little quicker. All went well and I forgot that S&B were behind us. We had one "moment" when I looked ahead and the road was empty coming towards us for may be 300 yards, I tipped it ion on the outside of an arsehole in a mini-motor home who looked at me alongside him and who then drifted out to push we wider. If I had stopped him at the next pull off for one of the vineyards I'd have punched his lights out. It was deliberate, no two ways about it. The look on his face was etched into my head for hours afterwards, the smirk. Luckily I was able to get back in and ahead of him before the next bend. Okay I might have surprised the **** but he had no need to try and kill us.

At Banyuls the traffic was held up and I didn't do so much overtaking, as there was a gendarmerie car in the line. S&B didn't catch us as I crawled to the junction for Collioure and they still hadn't come into view.

I took it. And we had a calming session over a menthe a l'eau and milkshake in Collioure and I texted Steve to tell him where we were.

From Collioure we set off for the apartment via Perpignan. And this is were I learned another lesson about Doris and "Vias". If you plan a route from A to B and include some place en-route or "vias" then she'll plot a wonderful route for you. I was still on shortest rather than quickest calculation of routes, and Perpignan as a "via" seemed a good idea. What's that noise they used on "Family Fortunes" when some berk couldn't guess the answer the 100 idiots they asked a question has come up with - well that should be part of Doris' repertoire!

Everything was fine until we hit Perpignan, we stopped and got some bread and cakes at a local bakery, then she took us through some of the smallest back streets in the Arab quarter you could wish never to go. Doris doggedly tried to get us to go to wherever the waypoint is for Perpignan! In the end after about ten minutes of little alleys we found a signpost to the centre and were saved from the perpetual Groundhog Day circulation of the same streets. Hallelujah.

I quickly tickled Doris' buttons and she led us from that misery back to Fitou. Still, we saw some places the tourists never go!

Day 6 - Do Nothing Much Day

Spent the day hanging about locally with a visit to Narbonne to do some shopping and then a visit to Port La Nouvelle. Not the most exciting of starts with a rather horrible port area leading to a very nice but windy seafront. Time for an ice cream.

Day 7 - Towards Canigou

The idea was to see if we could get up Canigou. The start was across country towards Estagel once again, and again we stopped in the same petrol station before a bank stop to get some cash.

In the end we decided to stop for a bite of lunch. But, this was before my newly acquired interest in fords! Estagel has a quite magnificent "Irish bridge" type ford. We crossed it in both directions, and in summer there is hardly any water in the river. Sadly, I didn't take a pic of it to share with

Lunch was taken at the Le Commerce bar and restaurant. And it is more than that; it's the local betting shop as well.

We were joined by an unusual diner as we started the coffee course. A young magpie flew down to an adjoining table to do battle with a piece of a cornetto wrapper! No doubt it was attracted to the shiny paper. I gave it a small pack of sugar cubes and it set about ripping the paper off to get to the sugar. Then a noisy little kid from another table came and frightened it off... if anyone needed a slap across the legs!!

In the end we never got to the top of Canigou on the route I had planned. Partly as it was off-road and even more importantly that the road was closed to motors.

So in surrender we returned to the apartment and got our swim gear and went to the beach for a last swim in the Med for the year.

Day 8 - Homeward bound?

The next day was home time for the four of us. Although we had planned in the various GPS' a route to take us the the hotel in Saint Nectaire in the Auvergne, we of course were separated within a few miles and Steve did his own thing. S&B eventually arrived about 25 minutes after we did after going a totally different route.

We got to ride over the famous Millau bridge, but as we were suffering the first rain since the Carcassonne day, it was almost impossible to see.

Once the rain relented we did stop and have a look at this marvel - the Gustave Eifel designed Viaduc du Garabit -(http://www.garabit.com/). We had a drink and a tidy up and managed to get the waterproof overtrousers off. Claire's new ones had leaked badly and her Darggin' Jeans were soaked. My new nes had fared better and I wasn't as wet although I have had a trickle doen the back of my neck that had wet my sirt and jumper underneath.

As it was clearing up we made our way to the Hotel de la Paix (http://www.hotel-delapaix.net/). The hotel is excellent for bikers and the hosts, a Dutch couple and their family make motorcyclists very welcome.

The restaurant is very good and the food on the night we ate in was excellent.

The hotel is situated in Haut St Nectaire, although it is a very short walk to the lower part of town where there are some fine hotels and spa hotels.

St Nectaire is also well placed for anyone wanting a base in the Auvergne to visit the volcanoes and the lakes that abound in the area.

We have earmarked it for another trip and we'll stop at the same hotel as we enjoyed it so much.

It was quite cold at night though, this must have been due to the difference between the Med and Massif Central.

Day 9 - To Paris

After breakfast we packed up and set the GPS systems for Paris. It was inevitable that we would take different routes and I had got used to not looking in the mirrors to see where Steve had got to.
We had a non-motorway ride across country to meet the A75 to the north of Clermont Ferand joining it just afterwards in fact. The ride to Paris was uneventful and relatively traffic free for the most part. The GPS location that Steve had got was pretty accurate to a few feet.

Sadly, the narrow streets and tall buildings meant that Doris kept losing the satellites and we seemed to go around in circles, crossing the same junctions time and time agaon, but like a slap stick film from different directions! Finally we arrived at the Kyriad Paris IX Montmartre (kyriadmontmartre09@wanadoo.fr). Not badly sighted; right in the centre of the porn zone and less than a quarter of a mile from the Moulin Rouge.

By the time I had worked out how to get around the block to the parking garage at the lower end of the street and walked back, S&B had arrived at the hotel and were just unloading. I did a "backy" and Steve parked up as well. It's not that I don't trust the darling Frenchies, but the pavements around the area looked seedy and filthy... God alone knows what with.

Whilst we were having a shower and get changed, S&B set off and although they went toa local bar, we didn't see them. Over the next few hours we wandered about up to the Sacre Coeur and back along the Pigalle and had dinner at a pub with 100's of different beers.

Working in London as I do means I have often walked through Soho and have seen the sex shops and the genre, but it never really bothered me. In fact, some of the shops along the Blvd de Clichy were a bit of a bore, seen one 12" long black dildo, seen 'em all. Old hat even in 1970 when in Amsterdam on a footie tour!!

Day 10 - The last day

We were still in bed when we heard Steve's bike outside and by the time I had got some clothes on and the window open they were zooming off up the road. With an extra night away they were off coastwards.

We had all day to make the 190 mile run back to the Shuttle.

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