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Returning to the UK

Sunday morning was pack up time, which was rather slow going, as people kept coming by to chat. Once it was all stowed and ready to hit the road, I had to make a last visit to the hotel to say farewell to those still there, including Torsten and Bibi and Sammy, their little pup, who was soooo cute.

Below: with Torsten

Gary and Ruth and I had decided to travel back to the UK together, which was a bit of a novelty for me, as I invariably travel alone. We had spent some time on the Saturday evening sorting out our travel plan, trying to keep to the smaller roads whenever possible. This meant that we would be travelling basically west-southwest, with a few squiggles where necessary.

Below: We hadn't gone far before we stopped for a photo of a stunning high road bridge under which we had to pass. Because I had the GPS, I was out in the lead, making the pace - slow as it was! I was sure G&R were gonna get sick of me stopping all the time to take photos!

After the late start, we just poddled along slowly, letting the beauty of the area sink in. We decided to take a short detour to Nurburgring, to see the famous racetrack, so turned off our route and made our way towards the town, encountering more and more traffic, then noticing encampments of tents, caravans and motorhomes in every available field and vacant area. Uh oh! we thought. There must be races on at the track. But then we saw vehicles parked on the racetrack. Pulling alongside, Gary suggested we stop in the town for a coffee. The traffic got incredibly heavy. People were walking along the roads everywhere, packs on their backs. Finally we realised what was going on, with all these young people around. It was a huge music festival, which appeared to have been under way for a few days, judging by the amount of rubbish lying everywhere along the roads and in the campsites. At a guess, propbably several hundred thousand people would have been in attendance.

We gave the idea of a coffee in the town a big miss after wandering along looking for somewhere to park without success, and headed out to more quiet climes, where we found a nice quiet eatery and had our coffee and snacks.

Wecontinued on slowly into the late afternoon, then began looking for somewhere to stop for the night.. The GPS came up with a hotel, so we headed towards it, not really believing that it would actually be there. But lo and behold! There it was, just where the GPS said it would be, for a change!! The Hotel de Roches, in the tiny village of Cugnon, in Belgium.

We were super lucky in getting the last 2 rooms, so settled in for a pleasant evening, beginning with a nice drink on the terrace out front. The tariff was all inclusive - dinner (choice of 3 course set menus), bed and brekky for €80. Not cheap, but rather pleasant and very relaxing. And the management moved some staff cars to get the bikes into an alleyway beside the back door, so that they were off the street.

Below: The golden cockerel atop the village church opposite the hotel. We noticed that lots of churches in Belgium have these golden cockerels, for whatever reason.

Above: Gary & Ruth, and below: the travelling trio.

And then I started stopping frequently to take photos of the glorious scenery.

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Below: I spotted this statue in a small village where we stopped for coffee. It is in honour of all the artists who frequent the village, with examples of their work displayed along the wall behind.

I meant to get a translation of this sign, but time has beaten me yet again. He's a historical monster of some sort.

After a rather quick spurt along the freeways as we were running out of time to catch our train [fortunately, we had each separately booked on the chunnel train for the same time's crossing] we eventually arrived at the station and made our way onto the platform, after a little incident while I was checking in. I started to get off the bike to checkin, but mustn't have kicked the side stand far enough forward on the rippled pavement, and we toppled over, me being between the bike and a knee high concrete barrier. Gary and Ruth rushed to lift the bike so that I could extract myself, then we righted the bike and checked out the damage - the left rear indicator assembly was a little the worse for wear.

The rear opening is for cars to ascend to the upper level. We get to go on the bottom level. It's a long, long train, 28 carriages in all, with us in the last one.

While waiting to board, I did some more checking of the bike, and found that the left pannier had bent inwards around the rack!! OMG! But Gary offered to fix it the next day, at their home in Leigh-on-sea. We parted as we departed the train, as Gary and Ruth had family committments that night, so I went off to stay at Ye Olde Plough Inn, yet again! Sheeesh, I'm almost a regular there now, and am given the same room each time when I ask for it.

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