June 15, 2012 GMT
The Longest Day

I was awake at a reasonable time and ready to go by 9am. Of course the clouds had disappeared to reveal the French Alps in all their glory. A better view from any campsite, I have not found.

I love waking up in France, when people say Bonjour to you, it is like they really mean it. It is a real welcoming of a new day. I wish I knew more French so I could discuss the joys of living with them.

The overiding desire was to get home, so no views or temptations to go see would shake that. I didn't have much of an Idea where I would end up but if I could chew off 500kms of France, I would be satisfied.

To do this I was going to be a heathen and use the toll motorway. Most of France would pass away unseen, but, sorry France, I have a garage full of bits of shelves that really need to go to the tip.

You do get what you pay for on French motorways. I scudded through France with Betty held open. At 2pm I had reached my 500km goal, and I was still feeling OK. So we go a little further, and so it continued.

Somewhere near Reimes, I came off the motorway (total cost, from Chamonix, 36 Euros - Good value to me). I was looking for a campsite. To be quite honest, I was shocked at how dilapidated the buildings were. It was like I was back in Bosnia, just without the shell holes!

So I carried on riding and looking, but nothing looked even remotely habitable. I had got so fed up with the region that I made my mind up to skip the country.

Belgium was far smarter and looked nice. I just couldn't find a campsite, or hotel. I guess I was so far away from anything I knew. So I looked at the map, the only thing close that I knew anything about was Ypres. There would be lots of hotels there for confused English people as that was where most people stayed who were visiting war graves.

Passendale was also on my list of things I wanted to see and it is just up the road.

Another desire to get back home is the fact that Betty is not at her best. Todays 850kms will not have helped. She has been going 130kph+ at 5000rpm+ for over 10 hours today. Her oil consumption is at addict level and there is a sickening scrating noise when the brake leve is pulled in, indicating the clutch cable is disintegrating.

Hopefully it will hold on till I get home. I hope Betty might appreciate me as much as I appreciate her. I have a terrible feeling that she may be nothing more than an antidave. Some inanimate object for my own character to strike back against.

I best stop talking like this, otherwise the loony van, possibily even propelled by electricity, will come calling.

So tomorrow will be looking around WW1 sites. Funny that I was there where it began in Sarjevo. Here it ended for so many, too many, a shameful many.

Posted by David Bailey at June 15, 2012 07:19 AM GMT

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