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SOUTH OF FRANCE (AND BEYOND) BY MOPED.

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Earlier this summer plans were drawn up to ride an old moped to the South of France in order to raise funds for a charitable cause (Click HERE for further details of the cause). The journey was undertaken during July (2003) and has now been completed. The following text is taken from e-mails that where transmitted back from 'the field' during the journey. Pictures have been added.

If after reading the journey logs you feel you would like to help contribute towards this vehicle appeal please make cheques payable to 'CASTEL FROMA'. If you require a receipt it would help us if you would include a SAE. Please post to ..

CASTEL FROMA (VEHICLE APPEAL),
93 LILLINGTON ROAD,
LEAMINGTON SPA,
WARWICKSHIRE,
CV32 6LL.

TELEPHONE ENQUIRES: 01926-427216

Thanking you for your support.

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DAY 1 OF A MADMANS DIARY (FRIDAY 11/07/03).



JUST IN CASE YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN I AM ATTEMPTING TO GET TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (AND BEYOND) ON A 1961 MOBYLETTE MOPED IN ORDER TO A) PRIMARILY TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE CASTEL FROMA MINI BUS APPEAL, AND B) HAVE SOME FUN IN THE PROCESS. MMMM.

SO DAY ONE CONSISTED OF A SEND OFF FROM CASTEL FROMA, LEAMINGTON AT 10AM AND ARRIVAL IN PORTSMOUTH AT 9PM AFTER A MAJOR STOP IN RATLEY FOR COFFEE AND THEN A FEW MORE IN BETWEEN JOURNEY LEGS. A TWISTY JOURNEY THROUGH THE LANES THANKS TO GPS (MORE LATER) MOPED CONTROL. GREAT, VERY FEW CARS. STRAIGHT TO BED READY FOR A 4.50AM START (GOT TO GET THE BOAT).

A BIENTOT

STATISTICS FOR TODAY

147 MILES TRAVELLED.
AVERAGE SPEED: 16 MPH.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 32.95 MPL, OR 149.6 MPG
IN SADDLE APPROX 9 HOURS, OUCH.
MEMERABLE MOMENT: CREEPING MONKEY BUTT!

Time to go.



The night before departure.



Two days before departure.



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DAY 2, SATURDAY 12/07/03.



AFTER A 3 HOUR CROSSING WE ARRIVE (THAT IS BIKE & I) AT CHERBOURG). MY FEARS WERE REALISED AS I SAW THE HILLS. SPENT AN AGE PUSHING THE BIKE UP THEM IN ORDER TO GET AWAY. AFTER THAT FEW HILLS THAT THE BIKE COULDN'T COPE WITH.

THE PLANNED DESTINATION FOR TODAY WAS FLERS AIRFIELD, NORMANDY. FORTUNATELY WHEN I ARRIVED A FEW CLUBS MEMBERS WERE THERE WITH FOOD & DRINK ON OFFER. NIGHT SPENT IN CARAVAN BUT WAS UP AT 3AM FEELING COLD. PERHAPS A RESULT OF THE SUPER STRENGTH APPLE JUICE THAT WAS ON OFFER. OR WAS IT THE LACK OF SLEEPING BAG? PERHAPS A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME.

A BIENTOT.

CURRENT LOCATION: FLERS, NORMANDY.

Driving along the coast you can't miss the various world war monuments.







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DAY 3, SUNDAY 13/07/03



UP EARLY (6AM). DAY STARTED BADLY AFTER FILLING TANK WITH OIL FIRST AND THEN PETROL FROM THE AIRCRAFT. NO PETROL AVAILABLE ON SUNDAY IN FLERS WITHOUT A SPECIAL CARD.

SPENT 10 MINUTES MIXING FUEL AFTER ENGINE STOPS. NEXT SNAG 2 MILES DOWN THE ROAD. TRANSMISSION FAILED. CAUSED BY WEAK CIRCLIP ON PEDAL SHAFT. A NEW ONE WAS PROMPTLY FITTED (FROM THE CARRIED SPARES) OUTSIDE THE HAIRDRESSERS. GETTING HOT NOW.

GPS IS WORKING A TREAT. TRAVELLING DOWN ALL THE LANES BUT PROGRESS IS NOT QUICK. SEEMS ABOUT 150 MILES A DAY IS THE LIMIT. THAT'S ABOUT 5 LITRES OF FUEL. FINDING AN OPEN GARAGE IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE. TOMORROW MAY BE CUT SHORT BECAUSE IT'S (JULY 14TH). I SUSPECT THAT EVEN WATER WILL HARD TO GET ON JULY 14TH IN FRANCE. I HOPE NOT AS TOMORROW IT'S GOING TO BE 32 DEGREES HERE. TODAY I COULD HAVE COOKED DINNER FOR FIVE ON THE ENGINE. ET DEMAIN, TOUTE DROIT SOUTH.

A BIENTOT

CURRENT LOCATION: SURMUR, LOIRE VALLEY.

The Loire River.



One of many chateaux.



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DAY 4, MONDAY 14/07/03



I FIND MYSELF WAKING UP IN A CAMP SITE AT SURMUR. FINALLY I'VE REACHED THE ZONE OF EVEN BETTER WEATHER (94 DEGREES TODAY). THE COUPLE IN THE CARAVAN NEXT DOOR KNOW'S SOMEONE WHO WORKS AT SOLIHULL FIRE STATION. PETITE MONDE! ALL TO BE REVEALED.

BIG SURPRISE, JULY 14TH AND A SUPERMARKET IS OPEN! A STOP FOR FUEL AND FOOD THAT WOULD PUT MR TESCO'S CAFE TO SHAME.

Plenty of choice in supermarket cafe.



WHILST AT THE SUPERMARKET THE MACHINE ATTRACTED SERIOUS MOPED COLLECTORS. I'VE BEEN INVITED ROUND TO VIEW A COLLECTION OF MOBYLETTES. NOW THERE'S AN OFFER. UNFORTUNATELY IT'S 20KM IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, BUT MAYBE ON THE WAY BACK IF TIME PERMITS.

Part of the collection at the supermarket.



AFTER DINNER IT'S OFF ON THE HARD SLOG SOUTH. C & D ROADS ONLY. IN A HUNDRED MILES AFTER SURMUR I CAME ACROSS 31 (OR WAS IT 32) CARS (MOVING). AND A TRUCK. WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYONE?

HOURS AND MILES PASS AND TODAY MORE STOPS THAN TO DATE AS THE 25MPH WIND IN THE FACE FELT AS IF IT WERE COMING FROM A HAIR DRIER. SHIRT (BUT NO TIE) TO KEEP THE SUN OFF AS THE ARMS AND NECK WHERE STARTING TO CATCH THE SUN.

ALL THIS HEAT BUT THE MOBYLETTE TIRELESSLY CONTINUES ONWARD.

TOMORROW MORNING I SHOULD REACH THE FIRST 'RELAXATION' POINT IN THE CHARENTE AREA OF FRANCE. PLAN WAS TO MEET TONY, A MICROLIGHT PILOT OF OLD FROM THE ONE AND ONLY ;AVON MICROLIGHT CLUB. UNFORTUNATELY THOUGH TONY WASN'T GOING TO BE AROUND. HOWEVER, EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING AND I PLAN TO STAY WITH MARK & JANE WHO LIVE JUST DOWN THE WAY. PERHAPS A DAYS REST ( I FEEL I NEED IT) BEFORE ASSESSING THE REMAINING JOURNEY SOUTH.

TODAY ENDS WITH A FREE DINNER & FIREWORKS AT THE SANXAY CAMPSITE TO CELEBRATE JULY 14TH. TRES BON.

A BIENTOT

CURRENT LOCATION: SANXAY, 20 NE OF NIORT.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: WHILST ESCAPING THE SUN FOR A MOMENT IN QUITE COUNTRY AN AV89 (POSTMAN'S CONVERSION) CAME OUT OF THE SUN COMPLETE WITH IT'S FULL HISTORY. THEY SEEM TO BE EVERYWHERE.

The village of Sanxay.



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DAY 5, TUESDAY 15/07/03



DAY STARTS WITH SPOTS OF RAIN ON TENT. BUT THIS SOON STOPS AND THE HEATER IS TURNED ON AGAIN.

THE PLAN TODAY IS TO RENDEZVOUS WITH MARK & JANE IN THE CHARENTE REGION. I FINALLY ARRIVE AFTER SEVERE CONFUSION (I THOUGH LA COUTURE WAS THE HOUSE NAME, THE ADDRESS WAS NOT CLEAR TO ME). I WAS ABOUT FIVE-MILES OUT. IN FACT SO CONFUSED WAS THE HI-TEC MOPED THAT A GUIDANCE VEHICLE WAS OFFERED AND DULY ACCEPTED. MARK & JANE HAVE ME ROUND FOR DINNER. THIS IS APPRECIATED (JUST LIKE MAMMA USED TO MAKE).

WONDERFUL STORMS DEVELOP DURING DINNER AND AT 1AM IT'S SAFE TO MOBYLETTE BACK TO CHEZ TONY FOR SLEEP.

TOMORROW THE PLAN IS … RECOVERY, SIGHT SEEING, MOPED MAINTENANCE (IF ANY IS NEEDED) AND THE PLANNING OF THE NEXT LEG. WHO KNOWS SPAIN JUST MIGHT BE A POSSIBILITY. WE SHALL SEE.

A BIENTOT

CURRENT LOCATION: A FEW MILES SOUTH OF RUFFEC (THE CHARENTE REGION).

Messing around with St George before dinner.



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DAY 6, WEDNESDAY 16/07/03



AN EASY DAY, WASHING ITEMS OF CLOTHING, MOPED NUT AND BOLT CHECKS, A TRIP TO RUFFEC FOR FOOD AND SIGHT SEEING, ETC. A STOP AT CHEZ TONY WAS WELL TIMED AS THE WEATHER HAS TAKEN A TURN FOR THE WORST, HEAVY SHOWERS AFTER STORMS. ONE SHOWER DAMPENING THE FRENCH STICK ON THE BIKE MORE THAN I WOULD HAVE LIKED.

PANNIER BAG HAS TAKEN TO MUCH WEIGHT AND HAS STARTED TO RIP AROUND ALL THE SEAMS. FIVE YARDS (OR SHOULD I SAY METRES) OF DENTAL FLOSS USED TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE, LET'S HOPE IT HOLDS.

AN EARLY NIGHT AFTER DINNER AT CHEZ MARK & JANE'S IS PLANNED READY FOR A 5AM RISE. SOME SERIOUS MOPED RIDING WILL BE REQUIRED FOR ESPANIA.

A BIENTOT

MECHANICAL PROBLEMS: NONE. ENGINE NOW WELL AND TRUELY RUN IN.
NAVIGATION: SPOT ON NOW.
CURRENT LOCATION: COUTURE, 10 MILES SOUTH OF RUFFEC (THE CHARENTE REGION).
FUEL CONSUMPTION: STILL AMAZING 140+ MPG.

Room with a view



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DAY 7, THURSDAY 17/07/03



THE PLAN TO GET UP AT 5AM DIDN'T HAPPEN. BEAUCOUP DE VIN THE NIGHT BEFORE. SERIOUS MOPED RIDERS SHOULDN'T DRINK WINE SO LATE. I'M NOT A SERIOUS MOPED RIDER THEN.

STILL, 8AM WAS THE DEPARTURE TIME. AT THIS TIME A JUMPER IS REQUIRED. WEATHER WAS HOT AGAIN TODAY. I MANAGED TO FIT AN UNPLANNED VISIT TO THE VILLE DE ST MILION, A WALLED TOWN.

St Milion



THE END OF THE DAY FINDS ME IN A FOREST CAMP SITE (INFESTED WITH MOSQUETO) AT LUXEY, SOUTH OF BORDEAUX.

Foret de isolation



THE LANDSCAPE IS DIFFERENT HERE WITH SOME BIG INSECTS AND SOME LONG STRAIGHT ROADS.

Forest Friend, or foe?



STATISTICS

HOURS IN SADDLE: 10 HARD HOURS.
MECHANICS: NO PROBLEMS, EXCEPT THE LOSS OF THE TAX DISC HOLDER GLASS UNDER THE REAR WHEEL.

A BIENTOT

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DAY 8, FRIDAY 18/07/03



AN EARLY START TODAY. AND EARLY BED THE NIGHT BEFORE, OTHERWISE SPAINS GOING TO BE A PIPE DREAM I THOUGHT.

CAMPSITES ONLY GOT 2 CARAVANS AND ME. UNFORTUNATELY THE FRENCH BOYS DECIDED TO STAY UP SHOUTING & DRINKING UNTIL 4AM. I PLANNED TO GET UP AT 5AM. WITH HAVING TO WARE 2 OF EVERYTHING TO KEEP WARM AND MAKING DO WITHOUT A SLEEPING BAG (WEIGHT) IT ALL MADE FOR A ROUGH NIGHT. EVEN SO A 5AM UP & 6AM DEPART TIME HAPPENED. AT THIS HOUR (5AM UK) A COAT AND JUMPER ARE RQUIRED FOR 3 HOURS (THATS A GOOD 60-70 MILES).

FIRST STOP MUGRON FOR COFFE ET DES CROISSANTS AND THEN ONTO DAX. SOMEWHERE IN DAX THE MAP BOOK DEPARTED COMPANY WITH THE MOPED. THIS IS A PAIN AS I'D SPENT A HARD HOUR FINALISING THE RETURN ROUTE, LUCKILY THOUGH THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE ROUTE HAD BEEN PROGRAMMED INTO THE COMPUTER. I CAN USE MY BACKUP (LESS DETAILED) MAP TO GET BACK TO ST MALO, OR CHERBOURG.

A TRIP BACK TO WHEN I LAST USED THE MAP (5 MILES) FAILED TO YIELD SUCCESS. MERCI MONSIEUR SOMEWHERE.

BY NOW IT WAS L'HOUR POUR MIDI (I NEEDED OUT OF THE SUN). FOR £6 A FAIR CUISINE FRANCAIS WAS ON OFFER AU BAR, INCLUDING ABOUT A PINT OF WINE WHICH MOST FAILED TO FINISH. GOOD JOB REALLY AS IT WAS HARD ENOUGH STANDING UP IN THE 35 DEGREE HEAT OUTSIDE. TIME TO LEAVE DAX AND HAVE A FINAL LOOKOUT FOR THE MAP BOOK. NO JOY, AU REVOIR DAX.

LEAVING DAX FOR THE SECOND TIME NOW THE ENGINE STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THOSE SO REMOTE LANES, MMMM, I FOUND A TREE TO ROLL UNDER THOUGH. COULD THIS BE IT? WOULD I STRIKE LUCKY AND HAVE AN EXCUSE TO GET THE TRAIN BACK?

NO, UNFORTUNATELY I WAS CARRYING A LES GRAY (TM) REPAIR KIT. THIS CONSISTS OF ONE GUNK CAN HOLDING 1/2 LITRE OF FUEL. THAT'S ABOUT 16 MILES WORTH. IN THE HEAT I'D GOT MY SUMS WRONG BY A HUNDRED MILES.

COMPUTER REPORTED BACK THAT A FUEL STATION COULD BE FOUND BACK IN DAX (5.5 KM). SO BACK I WENT TO BE SAFE, TODAY IS NOT A PEDDLE YOUR BROKEN LADEN MOPED DAY.

FINALLY DAX LET'S US GO, HOURS PASS AND THE SHIRT (WITH NO TIE) REPLACES THE TEE SHIRT AS THE ARMS ARE STARTING TO FEEL THE SUN AGAIN.

AFTER WHAT SEEMED AN AGE I ARRIVE IN THE FIRST REAL METROPOLIS SINCE LEAVING LEAMINGTON. BAYONNE , A BIG PLACE, SEEMED MANIC AND EVERY EFFORT WAS REQUIRED TO AVOID TROUBLE. ONTO BIARRITZ AND LAURENCE IS TOLD OFF BY POLICE FOR HAVING THE MOPED IN A FORBIDDEN LOCATION (THE PAVEMENT). NICE PLACE THOUGH.

ONTO ST JEAN-DE-LUZ AND SEE WHAT'S COOKING THERE. WELL CERTAINLY NOT ANY B&B'S THAT'S FOR SURE. MONSIEUR AVEZ VOUS RESERVE? MADAME AVEZ VOUS EVER RIDDEN MOPED FROM LEAMINGTON WITH DEADLINES SUCCESSFULLY?

ALORS, LOOKS LIKE THE CAMPSITE AGAIN, HELL NO.

AND JUST TO ROUND OFF THE DAY, AFTER CHECKING OVER THE MOPED (AND FINDING A LOOSE TRANSMISSION BOLT... LUCKY YOU) I'M TOLD (AFTER BEING COVERED IN GREASE) THAT THE MAINS HAS BURST. THREE HOURS LATER STILL NO WATER TO WASH IN OR DRINK, BUT I HAVE SUNK A PINT OR SO OF MUSSELS)

A BIENTOT

CURRENT LOCATION: ST JEAN-DE-LUZ
HOURS IN SADDLE: AT LEAST 9.
BIKE STATE: GOOD.
DRIVER STATE: MOYEN.
OUTLOOK: DAY OFF ON BEACH AND TRIP TO ESPANIA IN PREPARATION FOR RETURN TO NORTHERN SKIES.

The Seafront at Birritz.



More seafront.



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DAY 9, SATURDAY 19/07/03



AN EASIER DAY. A FOURTY MINUTE DRIVE PUTS ME WELL INSIDE SPAIN. I WAS PLANNING TO GET TO SAN SEBASTIN, HOWEVER PART OF THE N1 ROAD IN SPAIN SAID NO TO MOPEDS. NOT A PROBLEM AS I CALLED INTO ANOTHER TOWN (ERRENTERIA) FOR REFRESHMENT. TRIED TO ORDER COFFEE WITH MILK IN ENGLISH, DIDN'T WORK. TRIED IN FRENCH, DIDN'T WORK EITHER. YEAP, MUST BE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY EVEN THOUGH IT WAS HARD TO TELL EXACTLY WHERE THE BORDER WAS APART FROM THE CLUSTER OF SPAINISH PETROL STATIONS. SPAIN APPEARS QUITE A BIT CHEAPER.

BACK TO FRANCE FOR DINNER AND SUPPLIES, READY FOR THE RETURN TRIP AT 6AM.

A FEW HOURS ON THE BEACH WERE NOW IN ORDER FOR RELAXATION AND SWIMMING. ONLY PROBLEM WAS THAT SWIMMING IS NOT TRECOMMENDED.

YOU MAY REMEMBER LAST YEAR THE TANKER INCIDENT OFF SPAIN. THIS STUFF STILL COMES ASHORE EVERYDAY. AN ARMY OF TAR REMOVERS ARE AT WORK EVERY DAY COVERING A HUGH AREA. A DRUM OF VEGETABLE OIL IS AT HAND TO WASH YOUR FEET WITH.

PLAN FOR TORROW, BORDEAUX.

A BIENTOT

HOURS IN SADDLE: 2
DRIVER CONDITION: GOOD
MECHANICS: CLUTCH SOUNDING NOISY WITH EAR PLUGS OUT. HOWEVER, INSPECTION FINDS NO OBVIOUS FAULT.

Definitely in Northern Spain now.



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DAY 10, SUNDAY 20/07/03



UP AT 5AM FOR A 6AM START AGAIN. FIRST PROBLEM, WASHROOMS WERE LOCKED UP. NOT TO WORRY WORST THINGS HAVE HAPPENED ON THE BEACH.

THE PLAN TODAY IS TO GET TO BORDEAUX. USUALLY AT 6AM IT'S NOT SO HOT, BUT TODAY I WAS SWEATING. A SHORTS & TEE SHIRT DAY ALREADY.

A DIFFERENT RETURN JOURNEY IS TAKEN AND I DRIVE UP THE COAST BEFORE CUTTING ACROSS INLAND TO BYPASS BORDEAUX.

FIRST STOP THE VILAGE OF TOSSE FOR UN CAFÉ AU LAIT ET DES CROISSANTS. THE CAFE OWNER HAD GREAT PLEASURE IN TELLING ME ALL ABOUT HIS AV89 MOBYLETTE HE HAD IN 1966 (SAME AS THIS ONE).

NEXT STOP LEON. A NICE PLACE WITH LOTS GOING ON. I ASK FOR HALF A KILO OF SEAFOOD SPECIAL (COOKED AT THE MARKET) ONLY TO BE SHORTCHANGED BY 10 EURO, STRANGE THAT DON'T YOU THINK? TOOK SOMETIME TO EXPLAIN I GAVE HIM UN PIECE 20 AND NOT 10.

ANYWAY, MUST MOVE ON GETTING HOT. THE AREA CONSISTS OF FOREST & MORE FOREST. ALOT OF THE DAY WAS SPENT DRIVING THROUGH IT ON SOME ISOLATED C & D ROADS. IN THE CULTIVATED AREAS I INVENTED A GAME WHICH I CALLED 'FAIRE LES IRRIGATORS', OR FOR THE ENGLISH SPEAKING WORLD, SEE IF I YOU CAN TIME IT RIGHT AND DRIVE THROUGH A WATER JET THAT NOW AND THEN SPRAYS THE ROAD. WHEN SUCCESSFUL THIS GAVE A FEW MINUTES RELIEF FROM THE HEAT.

Faire Les Irrigators.



A QUICK STOP FOR MORE SUN CREAM.

AFTER 150 MILES THE NEXT SNAG IS PETROL. PETROL & SUNDAY'S IN FRANCE DON'T MIX WELL AND A 20 MILES DEVIATION WAS TAKEN IN ORDER TO GET FUEL IN BORDEAUX. I DIDN'T HANG AROUND HERE, AS LIKE BAYONNE IT'S ALIVE WITH DANGROUS CARS AND THEIR DRIVERS.

IT'S NOW 7PM AND THE TRAVELLER STRIKES LUCKY BY FINDING ANOTHER CAMPSITE (LUCKY ME). THIS WILL HAVE TO DO AS IT'S MORE THAN TWELVE HOURS SINCE STARTING OFF AND TO BE HONEST THE BACKSIDE HAS HAD ENOUGH.

A BIENTOT

MILEAGE TODAY: APPROX 170
MECHANICS: ALL SEEMS OK.
DRIVER CONDITION: AVERAGE TO GOOD WITH SLIGHT HEAT EXHAUSTION.
TOMORROW: KEEP HEADING NORTH FOR COOLER AIR.

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DAY 11, MONDAY 21/07/03



NO EARLY START TODAY. SPENT AN HOUR OR TWO EXTRA IN BED (ON THE FLOOR) AND AN EXTRA HOUR SORTING OUT THE FLOOD DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE OVERNIGHT STORMS. I'M NOT SCARED OF LIGHTNING BUT LAST NIGHT TOOK SOME BEATING. THE MORNING GETS OFF TO A DAMP START AND IT CONTINUES TO RAIN. BUT, NORTHWARDS WE CONTINUE, COME RAIN OR SHINE.

A ROUTE UP THE COAST NORTH OF BORDEAUX WAS THE PLAN. THE STOP FOR BREAKFAST WAS SAINT-ANDRE DE CUBZAC. WITHIN TWO MINTES OF STOPPING LE MONSIEUR APPEARED SAYING WHAT A GOOD MODEL THE AV89 WAS.

WITHIN ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES HE RETURNS WITH HIS AV89 ALONG WITH HIS CAMERA. HE SAID THAT ANYONE TRAVELLING FROM ENGLAND TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE AND BACK MUST BE MAD. WELL WE SHALL SEE MONSIEUR.

Within ten minutes who should appear.



A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER A STOP FOR LE MIDI IN A ONE-HORSE TOWN. THIS PLACE COULD HAVE MADE A GOOD SET FOR A WESTERN, ONLY TUMBLEWEED WOULD HAVE BEEN REQUIRED. I HAVE TO SAY IN IT'S DEFENCE THOUGH THAT FOR THE PRICE THE DINNER KNOCKS SPOTS OFF WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN OFFERED BACK HOME. MIND YOU, YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO BE A VEGETERIAN HERE. THE WEATHER CLEARS AND WE'RE BACK TO THE TEE SHIRT.

THE MOBYLETTE PERFORMS PERFECTLY AND FOREST TURNS TO GRAPEVINES AND AS USUAL TWENTY-SOMETHING MPH IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY. PETROL TODAY IS EASY TO FIND AS I PASS THROUGH THE LARGE TOWN OF SAINTES.

ONCE AGAIN HOURS PASS AND THOUGHTS OF A DECENT NIGHTS SLEEP SPRING TO MIND, SO ALSO DO THOUGHTS OF DRYING THE TENT OUT BEFORE THE MUSHROOMS START TO TAKE ROOT.

AS THE SUN STARTED TO DROP A PLEASANT VILLAGE/TOWN CALLED TONNAY-BOUTONNE APPEARS ON THE HORIZON. THAT'S GONNA HAVE TO DO, AND SURE ENOUGH JUST OVER THE BRIDGE A HOTEL APPEARS AS IF BY MAGIC.

UNE CHAMBRE FOR 20 EUROS, WORTH IT JUST FOR THE BATH ALONE. THE TENT IS DRIED OUT AND THE MOBYLETTE LOCKED IN THE COMPOUND FOR THE NIGHT.

FULL USE IS MADE OF THE FACILITIES AND WASHING NOW HANGS OUT ON THE BALCONY FOR OVERNIGHT DRYING, IT'S THE BEST AVAILABLE. AND THE FORECAST FOR TOMORROW, MUCH THE SAME, ANOTHER 150+ MILES.

A BIENTOT

CURRENT LOCATION: TONNAY-BOUTONNE, APPROX 15 KM NORTH OF SAINTES.
MECHANIC CONDITION: GOOD.
DRIVER MORALE: VERY GOOD (NOW BED IS AVAILABLE).
TIME IN SADDLE: ABOUT 8 HOURS.

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DAY 12, TUESDAY 22/07/03



DAY STARTS OFF SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT, NO TENT TO PACK AWAY. FIRST STOP SURGES, ABOUT 25KM NORTH. A MARKET TOWN WITH PLENTY GOING ON, THIS PLACE HAS SPEAKERS THROUGHOUT THE TOWN CENTRE PLAYING MUSIC. A GOOD PLACE TO LISTEN TO THE BEATLES WHILST TAKING A COFFEE (AS IT'S SAID IN FRANCE).

THROTTLE FULL OPEN (AGAIN) AND OFF CRUISING FOR ANOTHER TWO HOURS BEFORE STOPPING AT MAILLEZAIS FOR DINNER. ONCE AGAIN THE MOPED SEEMED TO ATTRACT ATTENTION. THIS TIME SOMEBODY'S FATHER USED AN AV89 FOR YEARS TO AND FROM WORK, OTHERS TAKE DOWN THE WEB ADDRESS STAMPED ON THE BIKES MUDGUARD. I HOPE THEIR READING IS BETTER THAN THE SPEAKING.

'UN CLASSIC ABSOLUMENT'. I WAS TOLD.

WEATHER CAN'T MAKE UP IT'S MIND TODAY. NOT QUITE WARM ENOUGH WITHOUT A JUMPER ON, BUT WARM ENOUGH WHEN STOPPED.

GRAPE VINS APPEAR TO BE BEING REPLACED BY SWEET CORN AND SUN FLOWERS, PERHAPS A SIGN OF MY PROGRESS NORTH, SLOW AS IT IS.

By 11am these fellows had had enough sun (or not enough water) and all turned their heads.



THIS EVENING FINDS ME CAMPED OUT AT THE TOWN OF ANCENIS, SOME 30KM NORTH EAST OF NANTES, IT SITS ON THE RIVER LOIRE.

Ancenis.



TOMORROW IF THE WINDS BEHIND ME AND THE PISTON CONTINUES IT'S RELENTLESS POWER/EXHAUST CYCLES I HOPE TO BE SOMEWHERE AROUND THE ST MALO AREA READY FOR A CROSSING EITHER THURSDAY, OR FRIDAY. WE SHALL SEE, I MIGHT EVEN TRY THE TOURIST THING. THE TOTAL DISTANCE TRAVELLED TODATE IS 1380 MILES WITH PLENTY MORE TO GO.

A BIENTOT

MECHANICS: NO PROBLEMS, HOWEVER SLOW PUNCTURE IN SEAT AIR CUSHION. THIS IS A PAIN IN THE REAR.
DRIVER CONDITION: MORE THAN SATISFACTORY.
HOURS IN SADDLE: ABOUT 8, COVERING MORE THAN 170 MILES TODAY.

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DAY 13, WEDNESDAY 23/07/03



LUCKY FOR SOME, BUT NOT FOR ME. LAST NIGHT/THIS MORNING HAS GOT TO BE WORST YET. COLD, DAMP AND NOISE (BUT NOT IN THAT ORDER).

TWO MINUTES AFTER LIGHTS OUT, HUGE GRASSHOPPERS START UP, SO LOUD I HAD TO INSERT THE MOPED RIDERS EARPLUGS. STRANGE BECAUSE THE PLUGS STOPPED THE CRICKET NOISE, BUT STILL ALLOWED ME TO HEAR PEOPLE ON THE SITE. FREQUENCIES I GUESS.

AS THE NIGHT PROGRESSED SO DID THE COLD TO A POINT WHERE THE GAS STOVE WAS ON FOR A GOOD WHILE. SO MUCH SO THAT I HOPE I DON'T HAVE TO USE IT AGAIN AS THE GAS HAS ALL BUT BEEN USED UP

. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THESE CONDITIONS ENCOURAGED AN EARLY START, 6.30 AM IN FACT. THIS WAS GOOD AS I COULD GET 50 MILES OUT OF THE WAY BEFORE BREAKFAST, AND I DID.

THERE WAS NO OFFICIAL DINNER TODAY, JUST A STOP SOME 50 MILES FROM THE FINAL DESTINATION (IN THIS COUNTRY) ON YET ANOTHER PIECE OF ISOLATED ROAD. THE DINNER CONSISTED OF FRENCH STICK CHEESE AND PATE.

HEADING NORTH I DECIDED TO MAKE A DEVIATION (SOUNDS LIKE A FRENCH WORD) AND HEAD FOR MONT ST MICHEL. I ARRIVE THERE ALONG WITH THOUSANDS OF OTHERS. NOT TOO DIFFERENT AS TO HOW I WOULD IMAGINE LOURDS TO BE.

Mont St Michel.



LOOK'S LIKE A WHOLE INDUSTRY HAS GROWN UP AROUND THE PLACE. SIX EUROS ENTRY FOR MOTOR HOMES, FOUR FOR CARS, ONE FOR MOTORBIKES. HOWEVER, ZERO FOR MOBYLETTE RIDERS AS THE GIRL TOOK ONE LOOK AND WAVED ME THROUGH. GOODNESS, DO I LOOK THAT BAD?

ONTO THE FINAL DESTINATION, ST MALO. HERE B&B, CHAMBRES D'HOTE OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL THEM ARE NOT A PROBLEM. THE PLACE REMINDS ME OF TORQUAY. I FIND A PLACE AND SETTLE DOWN FOR AN EARLY NIGHT WHICH NEVER REALLY HAPPENED BECAUSE THE EVENING WAS SPENT PRACTISING WITH LES PROPRIEUTEURS (SOMETHING LIKE THAT, SOUNDS FRENCH AGAIN) THE CORRECT PRONOUNCIATION OF VARIOUS WORDS AND THERE CORRECT FORMATION. BOY MY FRENCH IS BAD.

A BOAT TRIP'S GOING TO TAKE ABOUT SIX HOURS FROM HEAR SO LOOK'S LIKE ONE MORE NIGHT OUT ON THE ROAD IS GOING TO BE REQUIRED IN ENGLAND. MAKING A TOTAL TRIP TIME OF FOURTEEN DAYS BY THE TIME I GET BACK.

HOLIDAYS ALWAYS SEEM TO COME AND GO QUICKLY, HOWEVER IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A HOLIDAY THAT REALLY SEEMS LONGER THAN WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS I CAN CERTAINLY RECOMMEND MOPED RIDING IN FRANCE.

A BIENTOT

MECHANICS: NO PROBLEMS.
DRIVER CONDITION: WEAK BUT STABLE.
HOURS IN SADDLE: 9+
SPONSORS: SHOULD BE STARTING TO GET WORRIED!

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DAY 14, THURSDAY 24/07/03



AN EASIER DAY I HOPE. A TWO-MINUTE TRIP FROM THE B&B TO THE PORT. AND THEN A SIX HOUR CROSSING TO PORTSMOUTH.

Just out of St Malo.



WHAT A RELIEF TO THINK NO MORE LANGUAGE PROBLEMS. AT 6.30 UK TIME WE ARRIVE IN PORTSMOUTH, I'M GREETED BY THE BOATS CAPTAIN AS I LEAVE THE BOAT. I SUPPOSE YOU DON'T GET MANY MOBYLETTE RIDERS PEDALLING OFF THE BOAT.

IT'S TO EARLY TO STOP SO A PLAN WAS CONCEIVED TO CONTINUE FOR AN HOUR OR SO BEFORE LOOKING FOR SOMEWHERE TO STOP. A CALL AT A LOCAL PUB IN SOBERTON FOR INFORMATION ON B&B'S IN THE AREA REVEALED ANOTHER SECRET MOBYLETTE RIDER (ANGLAIS). WE'LL CALL HIM JEFF. HE WENT FROM PARIS TO THE ST TROPEZ AREA ON A MOBY BEFORE TRADING IT IN FOR A DAFF 66.

ANYWAY JEFF POINTED ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO A HOTEL THAT HE & HIS WIFE RUN, VERY HANDY THAT. A CELEBRATORY PINT IS PURCHASED ON MY BEHALF AND IT'S OFF TO BED READY FOR THE LAST HUNDRED OR SO MILES IN THE MORNING.

A BIENTOT

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DAY 15, FRIDAY 25/07/03



THE CONCLUDING DAY, AND THIS ONE SURE ENOUGH PROVED TO BE THE TOUGHEST REGARDING WEATHER. IT'S A GOOD JOB THE WEATHER IN FRANCE WASN'T LIKE THIS OTHERWISE THERE'S NO WAY I WOULD HAVE MADE IT. I AWAKEN TO THE SOUND OF RAIN OVERFLOWING FROM A GUTTER. MY CONCERNS OVER THE CONDITION OF THE SKY THE NIGHT BEFORE HAD BEEN CONFIRMED, A WARM FRONT WITH LOTS OF RAIN IS PASSING OVER. AFTER KITTING UP WITH THREE BIN LINERS (ONE AS A COAT COVER, AND ONE FOR EACH SHOE) I HEAD OFF NORTH. THERE FOLLOWED FOUR HOURS OF NON-STOP HEAVY RAIN. WAS I BOTHERED? ITS ONLY WATER.

JUST OUTSIDE BANBURY THE WEATHER CLEARED AND A DEVELOPING WARM STRONG WIND WAS USED TO DRY THINGS OFF BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE CHEQUERED FLAG (CASTEL FROMA) WHERE IT HAD ALL STARTED ONLY FOURTEEN DAYS EARLIER (ALTHOUGH IT SEEMED QUITE A BIT LONGER).

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? OF COURSE I WOULD. AND FINALLY, A FEW WORDS TO THANK ALL OF THOSE WHO ENCOURAGED ME TO GIVE IT A GO ESPECIALLY THE WACC'ers (Warwickshire Auto Cycle Club). SPECIAL THANKS ALSO TO MY WIFE RUTH FOR THE MORAL SUPPORT.

A BIENTOT MES AMIS.

JOURNEY STATISTICS:

TOTAL DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 1850 MILES (Spain and back), OR 2960 KILOMETRES.
TOTAL AMOUNT OF FUEL USED: APPROX 13 GALLONS (59 LITRES).
AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION: 143 MPG (31.5 MPL), 228 KPG (50.39 KPL).
TOTAL DRIVING TIME: APPROX 120 HOURS.
AVERAGE SPEED: APPROX 16 MPH.

So who's the quickest?



COME JOIN THE WACCERS.
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