4 July 2016

The Somme Commemorations - Day One

Even though we didn't have to be at the Shuttle terminal for our train to France until 1015 or so we still had to have an early start. I had to take Reggie off to his weekend away at Wyncot Kennels.

Once again he was excited as I turned into the drive and he positively ran off with the kennel lady, again without a backward glance to his Dad standing in the reception area.

Back at the house Claire was doing the last minute packing. The new Saddlemen FTB3600 bag was getting filled with our "duds" that we would need for the ceremony. 

The waterproof bags that I bought last year would have other stuff for two days and two evenings in Amiens.  They fit snugly in the panniers as long as they aren't overfilled. With rain looking highly likely I fitted the Saddlemen with its supplied waterproof cover. It's bright yellow to help other road users see us in the spray and gloom!

Saddlemen FTB
We were away via a petrol stop to top off the tank as Brexit last week meant that the "markets" (a phrase to describe speculator scum) have forced the pound sterling down against the dollar and euro, and so already expensive French benzine is now even more expensive for us.

On arrival at the terminal, the machine wouldn't accept our booking reference not the card I paid for it. Usually one or the other is good enough to get through. The human-manned check-ins were five or six cars deep and the automatics... empty... A human came to our rescue and did exactly the same as us and it of course worked.

From there we were going to meet two other regulars on the French trips, Ken Fulton and David Robinson. Both actually on Suzukis, the heritage of the Meldrews, born from that club that no one mentions its name. This group was known as Shuttle One.

Suitably attired for the wet weather
We were joined in the terminal by Ian Jenkinson and Paul Brewster aka Bear. 

The queues for coffee were far too long and so we didn't bother and then we were called through.  As usual there was a holdup, but this time only a ten minute delay, or "retimed", on the crossing.  There were quite a few bikes to be loaded and unusually, we were first on the train.

In France the idea was to head along the coast to the Todt Battery for Ian and Bear. The rest of us have been before and we would have lunch.

This is the last we saw of them until Amiens the next day.We had lunch and I texted Ian to say we were eating and then we heard bikes leaving and then after we had eaten we went out to get ready and bikes went past, Dutch riders leaving no bikes in the Todt car-park some 200 yards away. So we set off. With the weather turning to rain I aborted the scenic route for the A16 motorway and 100 minutes later we were pulling up at the hotel. Luckily the gate to the car park was open and so we could ride straight in.  Check-in was simple.

By the time we were showered and outside the hotel, some of the Ferry Crew had arrived but still no Ian and Bear, Shuttle One adjourned to the Irish pub around the corner as we have done for the last three years.

Beers drunk, some very strong and some very very strong and then we were joined by the Ferry Crew. It was therefore ten of us that went in search of food.

We were warned that there might be a delay, but it was gone 2330 when we got out after three courses of well cooked and presented food on the €19.50 "menu touristique".

Time for bed....

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