We were incredibly unlucky with the weather on our way to Greece. We caught up with a thunder storm which had passed over us the day we left Margate, which followed us all the way to Croatia. Every night we had to hide in our tiny two-man coffin style tent while the heavens opened and thunder made the ground shake. During the day we would overtake the weather front, only for it to catch us up over night. It was miserable! I was so happy we had brought an Overboard bag. Overboard bags are normally used for sailing, turns out they are great on long wet motorbike journeys too! Even though our motorbike gear was drenched and we were generally soggy, that bag meant we had somewhere dry to sleep.
We left Dunkirk heading towards Arras, we had decided after a brief spell on the motorway that maybe the scenic route would be better. The bike was restricted and couldn’t keep up with the traffic, plus we wouldn’t see the country. We passed through Béthune which has a beautiful square, where we sat on the cobbles and ate our packed up lunch: saucisson sec and brie. The buildings surrounding the square are quintessentially french. High pitched sloping roofs and art deco exteriors. It was lovely and sunny (the thunder overtaking us for now) but I do remember thinking how hot it felt especially with all the motorbike gear on. I felt an ounce of trepidation with the impeding temperatures of southern Europe.
From Béthune we biked to Hirson where Andi had stayed before on a cycling trip.To get to the campsite we had to bike down a muddy track for about a mile. The campsite was shut so we headed off back up the track. This is where we had our only crash of the trip.
Halfway up the track the bike got stuck in a gutter at the edge of the road. We lost control and came off. Andi was thrown away from the bike and I was wedged in between the bike and the road. Luckily for me the bag held the bike up just enough that I wasn’t trapped. The bike was revving, the wheel still turning as we both jumped up to lift the bike back up. It was so heavy, especially with the bag attached. I probably should’ve been upset but I just couldn’t stop laughing, probably shock! Andi kept apologising, he was really worried I was hurt. Luckily we were both fine our car boot motorbike gear did the job! The bike wasn’t quite so lucky, it had taken a knock resulting in a broken clutch handle. Andi had to use the tiny stump that was left the whole way to Greece.
We carried on our journey, a little shook up, to a campsite in the Ardennes. The Ardennes is a national park near Belgium. It’s very green, with big conifer trees and rolling hills. It’s a beautiful place even in a thunder storm. We had a classic dinner of two beers, a tin of ravioli and a bowl of porridge. We eventually fell asleep, after hours of deafening thunder.