Tuesday 8th July
Very excited this morning about the forthcoming trip to France. So much so I woke at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep, a less than desirable state of affairs. Finally got up at 5:30, had breakfast, woke Mary up and finished the packing. Made it to Joan's early (for a change) and we hit the road.
The weather was fine and a little windy but really not a bad run down the motorway. 10:30 had us entering Dover, in good time for the 11am ferry
Then disaster struck. A moronic German, who obviously hadn't bothered to learn the UK road rules, swerved right on the roundabout in front of us when he should have gone straight on and knocked Joanie off. It's amazing what goes though the mind when something like this happens but I dumped my bike and got over to where she was lying prone in the road.
The police were there in moments (can you believe) and were really great, securing the scene, taking statements, looking after Joan (and me), advising on the nearest Honda dealer and generally getting it sorted. Anyway the priority was that Joan was all OK apart from a wooly head (situation normal then), a bent finger, various torn gear and a scarred bike stuck in gear. One of the policemen was overheard loudly telling the German that he was completely in the wrong, a little bit comforting but it doesn't get you going again :(
Carole Nash Insurance also deserve an hon. mention. The help line (although an 0800 number it's not a free call from a mobile, it should be) was answered promptly and they dispatched a recovery man, Graham, who arrived in about 1½ hours and took Joan and the bike home and to the garage respectively. Carole Nash has constantly impressed and I can only recommend her.
Joan was determined that I should proceed to meet Mary and Lynn on Thursday, she wanted me to leave her but that was clearly not an option but once Graham had her under his wing there seemed little reason not to carry on. A bit cautiously I hoped on the bike and headed on to the Port.
Sea France are obviously used to people missing their ferry and had me on the next one. They also made a job of tying down the bike, once outside the harbour I found out why, waves crashing over the prow ship were interesting. I met a couple of interesting young Australian travellers making the most of their OE on board, going to France for 2 months having done far more travel than I, impressive.
Some planning was in order and because of the lateness of the hour I decided to make for the medieval town of Senlis, just north of Paris and the Logis de France suggested a three chimney “Hostellerie de la Port Bellon”. The GPS estimated 2 and a bit hours for this, pretty accurate as it turned out although I nearly ran out of fuel, into the last litre on the bike! This coupled with first high wind then very ominous black clouds and heavy rain showers in the vicinity, the high speed of the Peage and thoughs of what if we'd been somewhat earlier, later or faster in Dover, made for an thoughful run.
The hotel does not deserve three chimneys that I can see but I took the last room anyway and they do have secure storage for the motorbike. More to the point the very busy restaurant made up for the slightly shabby room with an excellent formula dinner and half bottle of red. This followed by a walk through the hugely pretty town was a pleasant end to a rather too dramatic day.