A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesFrance, Germany And Belgium 2012 - By Ren Withnell

France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Prologue

I have a dream.  I dream of myself travelling the world on a motorcycle.  There’s a problem, well several problems with this dream.  The first and most major issue is that I’m a poor traveller.  I’m not one of those that can sit on a bike for endless hours, I get uncomfy and restless.  I’m a home-boy.  I like my home comforts and my computer and all those trimmings.  I’m a worrier too.  I worry about the bike, the paperwork, my belongings and anything else that pops into my mind.  So it’s a dream that does not sit with my nature.

I’m not wealthy either.  I know many people travel the world on all kinds of vehicle and many of them do it on a real shoe-string.  I’ve just not been able to work out how they do this.  Everything costs money, from fuel to food to campsites and to running the bike.  I also run my own business that requires my attention, I can barely leave it alone for a week’s holiday let alone for a month or a year without it falling down around my ears.

I don’t know if I’m man enough to partake in such an undertaking alone.  I’m resourceful enough but I don’t know if I’m brave enough.  I don’t like to step out of my comfort zone and I’m not a risk taker.  All in all it seems it’s just a romantic dream of who I’d like to think I am, not necessarily who I really am.

Still, circumstances this year lead me to decide that now may be the time to take a short venture into lands unknown to myself.  Being neither rich, brave or wilful enough to take on a proper challenge outside the safety and comfort of Europe I decided to see if I’m man enough to cover just a tiny corner of Europe alone.  I considered this trip to be a tiny taster, my first steps into travelling and the bottom of a steep learning curve.

I could afford to take 10 nights away from work.  That meant I’d spend 8 nights abroad and the other 2 nights I’d stop at my Dad’s house on the south coast, using that as a staging post.  Given 8 nights abroad I looked at the map.  Not wishing to cover much more than 200 miles per day it seemed to limit the trip to the top-right corner of France with a dip into the Western edge of Germany.  Hardly the “Big Trip” or even a mini trip.  I’ve got friends who do that kind of journey for a holiday with their wife.  But to me this is still a long long way from home and all that makes me feel safe and secure.

I looked at crossing the channel.  Last year the gf and I went across via Newhaven to Dieppe and that seemed a viable option.  However the available crossings did not gel kindly with my available dates.  I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like in the Chunnel.  The Chunnel crossings are much more regular and still affordable within my dates and times.  I made the booking, I paid, I was now committed to the trip.  Yikes!

I started to flap, as is my way.  Will I be able to find campsites, I had a hell of a bad day in Spain 7 years ago one day when I could not find a campsite and ended up covering 450 miles before a site of ANY description could be found.  The gf kindly sourced me an AA map of Germany that showed campsites but I was still flapping about France.  I googled, I printed maps and I worried. 

I flapped about the bike.  Was there enough tread on that rear tyre?  Does that chain need replacing yet?  Are those brake pads going to last the trip?  I flapped about the tent, do I take the big one or the small one?  Do I need my stove?  How much clothing should I take?  Is my European map detailed enough?  What if I get a puncture?  What if I get ill?  This flapping went on right up to the point of departure…and beyond.

To cut a long long story of woe and worry short, I settled on my small tent, airbed, stove, 3 sets of clothes, the tyre and chain will have to be OK but I changed the brake pads and everything else I will need to work through as it happens.  Other than that the plan is to have as little plan as possible, if I have no fixed plans then I can’t worry about things not going to plan.  The lack of plan I found to be quite liberating.

The first part of my journey, to my Dad’s house, is a 270 mile trip that I’ve done probably 25 times now.  It’s a silly place to live, the south coast, it’s…well…so far away!  Out of curiosity I decided to take my time, have plenty of stops and keep my speed down to that of the lorries on the motorway.  It did mean the journey, a rather dull and uninteresting run down the M6, M40 and the M25, took even longer but I did learn my first lesson.  A Fazer FZS 600 with full camping equipment can achieve 79.5 mpg!  Now that’s impressive.  That’s Horwich, North of Bolton to Worthing, West Sussex, on one tank of fuel!  I know, I’ve done it.

I spent the evening with may Dad and his wife, catching up and watching a god-awful program they’ve somehow got into.  In the meantime I flapped about the bike, whether I will catch the Chunnel OK and was my phone charger working.  That and whether my customers will survive without me.  I must be the only guy in the world who feels guilt about going on holiday for a week and a bit.  Bed.

France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Prologue
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - The Chunnel and Wimeraux, France.
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Wimeraux to Epernay, The Long Way
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Epernay to Lebach
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Lebach To Cochem The scenery is improving as well as the weather. Ren is moving upmarket and into the beautiful town of Cochem.
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Cochem to Bastogne
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Bastogne to Le Nouvion-en-ThiƩrache
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Le Nouvion-en-ThiƩrache to Ambleteuse
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - A Day In Ambleteuse
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Going Home Through The Channel Tunnel
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Epilogue and More Pictures
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Even More Pictures More images or Ren's European trip that will hopefully bring the story to life.
France, Germany And Belgium 2012 - Even More Pictures Again

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Home Travel StoriesFrance, Germany And Belgium 2012 - By Ren Withnell

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