‘Let’s ride to the villa
in June’ said Trotter ‘The weather will be scorching at that time of
year’. But as we were putting on our waterproofs 5 miles from home you
could see the doubt on all of our faces.
Being the naïve trusting
type I hadn’t bothered to pack any waterproofs but luckily Boss Hog,
being the overcautious type had packed two sets, these over garments
quickly became a regular attachment until halfway down Spain.
Adequately dressed to play
guess the weather, we continued on the first leg of the journey to
Portsmouth to catch the overnight ferry to ‘St Malo’. It was a
steady enjoyable ride through the varying climate to ‘Pompey’ where,
after being cleared through customs we joined the queue for the ferry.
After a short period we were
duly loaded onto our sea going transport, where after an even shorter
period we had discarded our luggage in our cabins and had commandeered a
table in the bar. While enjoying a ‘few’ pints of Murphy’s copycat
Guinness our thoughts naturally (for us) turned to food.
Seeing a queue form for
the onboard restaurant, we as true Brits joined it, and on reaching the
front requested a table for six. After being well fed and wined, it was
back to the bar for a nightcap of ‘copycat Guinness’ before
venturing back to our cabins and the awaiting ‘bunk’ beds.
Morning dawned as we
looked at the French coastline, and realised the previous days weather
was looking at the French coastline as well, (I don’t remember seeing
it queue up for the ferry, but it was definitely there).
So we decided that if we
disembarked first we would not need the waterproofs. This idea worked at
first, but the weather soon caught us up. So it was wet gear on, wet
gear off, wet gear on, etc, in fact they were on and off more times than
‘Trotters’ phone reception all the way to Montlucon.
We checked into the ‘IBIS’ hotel on the side of the river and
assembled in the bar to plan food. ‘Snoutnav’, having been to
Montlucon before, led us up to the ‘Old Town’ were we found a great
pizza restaurant. Unfortunately as we came to leave the rain found us.
Moonpig and Miss Piggy rang a cab for the long trip back (about half a
mile), while the rest of us did a very good Gene Kelly impression,
hurrying back to the hotel, in what could only be described as a
‘Trotter’ had added to our Twitter site that although the weather
had turned sour the bikes were running sweet, this meant that after we
had loaded up the following morning Snoutnav, Boss Hog & myself were
pushing trotter’s’ Purple Ronnie’ up the road due to a flat
battery. Once it started we were off again chasing the sun.
the day progressed we found ourselves riding in ever improving weather,
unfortunately due to a ‘Snoutnav’ malfunction we were 100miles in
the wrong direction, so after ‘Rebooting’ him it was a quick U-turn
at a pay station and a return to the rain.
Despite the miserable weather
we had a long but pleasant ride through some spectacular countryside and
an unforgettable ‘sky ride’ over the MILLAU BRIDGE (as featured on
Top Gear) until we reached our second stop ‘Beziers’, where the task
of finding somewhere to stay proved a little more arduous than the
Our first choice of hotel was
full, or so they said when they saw a group of soggy bikers, so it was a
trip across town to locate the well hidden ‘IBIS’. The hotel finally
located and checked in, we made straight to the bar to discus eating
It was unanimously decided to
travel 20yards to the hotel restaurant and after being well fed and
watered it was off to bed, making sure first that ‘Trotter’ did not
mention anything on twitter that would tempt fate as to the starting or
not of the bikes in the morning.
As we left Beziers and
also the last bit of France, the weather promised a better ride through
Spain. Not that Moonpig and Miss Piggy cared about climate conditions,
as our next planned stop was the seaside resort town of ‘PENISCOLA’.
What they expected to find there I don’t know, but I have never seen
someone get so excited about a place with ‘Cola’ in its name.
Credit where credit is
due it was a spectacular end to what had become a very enjoyable days
ride, apart from a minor fuse/wiring problem on ‘Boss Hogs’ hog,
that had us parked at a roadside service station for about two hours.
The weather and Spanish scenery had become more in line with summer than
the mist covered French château’s.
Peniscola itself was a typical friendly Spanish beach resort and the
hotel we found was on the front with all our rooms overlooking the beach
and sea. We were allowed to park the bikes on the pavement outside the
hotel, and the covered pavement café/bar belonging to the hotel became
our resting place all night with beer and paella in abundance, and
people watching aplenty (Young sexy Policewomen in uniform in ‘Boss
The morning breakfast
was by far the best ‘continental’ one we had so far helped ourselves
too, and with more than a hint of sun showing in the sky we loaded up
and headed for Granada, our last stop before the villa.
Although, as with each
day so far, the ride was very pleasant and carefree, the weather did not
hold up to our early morning expectations, It was a vast improvement on
the previous three days with no real need for waterproofs, but equally
no real need for sunglasses other than as wind and insect protection.
However temperatures were soon to rise (amongst the male boars) when we
realised how many young scantily clad females called Granada home.
for bigger picture
caused a slight problem in the fact that we could not find rooms for us
all in the hotel, So Trotter, Moonpig, Miss Piggy and myself had to
’suffer’ the comfort of four star accommodation, while Snoutnav and
Boss Hog had the pleasure of the ‘Bates Motel’ hostel on the
opposite side of the road.
We did allow them to join us in our bar for pre-dinner drinks before
adventuring out for food, beer and sightseeing (and there were some
||The last day’s
ride to the villa started with the same uncertainty about the weather as
all the others, the only difference was today’s destination was the
main reason for the trip, five fun filled days at the Clubs’ (oops
sorry) I mean Trotter’s villa with the added promised of a slight
diversion to the Hilltop ?? Town of RONDA, which Snoutnav had previously
found on one of his many ‘World navigation’ trips.
This diversion was worth
every mile, even the ones were we had the pleasure of a couple of Police
Ronda is in fact built
on two hills with a spectacular bridge spanning the gorge that runs
through the middle, and a panoramic vista like nothing I have seen
before off the edge of the sheer cliff edge that the town was clinging
onto. Just like Boss Hog, who as well as clinging on had his eyes firmly
shut for some of the view, while the rest of us were trying to comfort
him by ‘bouncing’ up and down on the viewing parapet.
|We then had a meal
in one of the outside restaurants overlooking the Bullring, where a few
of the Feral Boars ordered wild boar for lunch, which as pointed out by
Miss Piggy amounted to near cannibalism?
The last section of the ride, Seville to Monte Francisco turned out to
be quite sunny so we relished the chance to ride into Portugal the way
we had hoped to spend most of the trip, with leathers and waterproofs
packed away and T-shirts and club vests on proud display.
Late on in the
afternoon, after arriving and settling into the villa, our thoughts
unusually turned to food, usually our first thought would be beer but we
were already well accustomed to the well stocked beer fridge. With the
evening’s entertainment already planned, USA v some overpaid waste of
spaces, in the world cup, takeaway chicken and pizza seemed the obvious
choice. So Trotter and I went off on ‘Purple Ronnie’ to take the
required items away.
After the ‘overpaid waste of
spaces’ had shattered everyone’s plan of a euphoric beer frenzy, we
decided to have a quite intellectual beer frenzy and one by one we
headed off to land of sweet (no doubt perverted in some cases) dreams.
for bigger picture
Waking up the next
morning to the familiar sounds of next doors ‘gay’ cockerel (you
have to hear it to know, and we WILL strangle it one day) a strange
round ball of hot stuff was spotted in the sky, on checking the
reference books we learnt that this strange phenomenon was called the
sun, and that it was expected to stay with us for our duration in villa
So attired in summer
riding gear, i.e. normal riding gear minus sleeves, Miss Piggy and
myself headed to Faro to escort and direct our two visiting Hogs,
‘Wobble Warthog’ and ‘Throbbo Truffle Pig’ back to their
awaiting sty in the communal surroundings of Villa Andorihna.
Apart from a few of the Boars
exercising themselves with the occasional game of ‘Swish F**k’ the
time at the villa was spent, eating and drinking and making the
oversized pool look very crowded.
|The local eateries
in the village and the world famous (to us anyway) Mars Bar ribs, were
expertly complimented by ‘Boss Hogs’ barbecued spatchcock chickens,
why he couldn’t spatchcock
a ‘gay’ cock I don’t know, I am sure it would have appreciated the
chef’s special sauce!!!.
Apart from the
occasional trip to the Harley shop in Faro and the local supermarkets
the riding was kept to a minimum, due mostly to the well stocked beer
fridge rapidly becoming less stocked.
This relaxed, almost comatose
routine unfortunately passed a lot quicker than it should have, and it
was all too soon time to plan our return trip. After the ‘Flying’
contingent had returned to rendezvous with their big bird, the rest of
us packed and mentally prepared ourselves to finish off as much of the
alcoholic supplies as we could.
Our first stop on the
return trip involved a ride up the Portuguese/Spanish border, to the
medieval walled town of CIUDAD RODRIGO.
This picturesque quiet
town, with cobblestone streets and a town square ringed with bars and
restaurants, for some reason reminded SNOUTNAV of Denbigh town centre. I
did not see this resemblance myself, and I don’t ever remember seeing
as many birds nesting in the eaves and dive bombing the ‘al fresco’
drinkers in any welsh town, let alone Denbigh.
After a few beers we
headed back to our hotel to sample the restaurant menu and more
importantly the wine list, both of which produced a highly satisfied
reaction from us all.
I believe that during the night there was a rowdy crowd passing the
hotel after partying a bit too much, but due to the highly satisfying
wine list and the beer aperitifs neither Miss Piggy nor I heard
anything so we both woke up the following morning fresh and ready for
the ride to Pamplona.
The ride to Pamplona
took us past the occasional olive field followed by the occasional
olive field with the occasional olive field thrown in for a change.
However, after riding around Pamplona for what seemed like an eternity
looking for the converted old nunnery, that hopefully was going to be
our resting place for the night, the visions of olive fields had long
disappeared. When we were finally checked in and sitting in a drinking
area (the bar itself was too small for any communal sitting) we
started to realise what a strange place Pamplona is. This was confirmed by the lack of restaurants in the town and
by the fact that in most of the bars, if more than one person was
getting served at the bar there would be no room left for anyone else
Considering it was a wet and miserable evening this meant there was a
lot of seriously overcrowded buildings, so it was back to the
‘nunnery’ for food. On asking for a table reservation for six we
were informed that there was ‘no room at the inn’.
The hotel receptionist
(the only friendly face in town) rang a number of possible eateries on
our behalf only to told ‘NO!’ Eventually she persuaded the
restaurant staff to fit us in, so we thankfully and meekly followed
our guide into a starkly white and pristine ‘totally empty’
This surreal eating experience continued until just before we finished
desserts, when half of the restaurant was filled by a crowd of women
,a large percentage of whom were wearing ‘comfortable shoes’.
whole Pamplona experience led me to believe that the annual Bull Run
consists of a load of bulls and a lot of people desperately trying to
run OUT and AWAY from the city
The following day, the
next leg of our trip found us heading back into France and through the
spectacular Dordogne towards the equally spectacular BERGERAC.
When we arrived at a tree lined square just outside the town centre we
were gifted with a choice of four hotels all with walking distance
from were we had parked.
We opted for the one that we felt most suited our needs, parked the
bikes up in the rear car park, and after settling into our rooms
rendezvoused downstairs in the bar, just in time to witness the
arrival of a ‘Shearing’s’ coach load of Brit OAPs about to check
into a hotel that suited their needs, surely a bizarre coincidence.
Once again we found
the hotel restaurant closed to us, this time because it was full of
OAPs, but since SNOUTNAV had discovered through the wonders of modern
technology, (i.e. fancy phones), a highly recommended local eatery, we
were happy to leave our fellow countrymen to, no doubt, discuss over
the table about when they were last in France or last visited the
We easily found the restaurant after a slight diversion to an outside
bar in an idyllic ‘allo allo’ picture setting, only to find that
all the high recommendations did not do the friendly and exquisite
establishment justice. To say that it was one of the best restaurants
that I have ever visited would be more exact, and I would recommend it
to everyone who is visiting the area (name and address at the end of
After being wined, dined and made to feel very welcome by the owners,
we returned to our home for the evening to partake in a few
‘nightcaps’ and to try and make a very enjoyable evening last as
long as possible, before we had to follow the example of the ‘coach
people’ and stagger of to bed.
With a reluctance to
leave BERGERAC behind I joined the rest of the Boars in loading the
bike for the penultimate time.
Today’s ride would
take us to FOUGERES, since the early malfunction SNOUTNAV had worked
perfectly so we confidently set off, .and true to his talent led us to
the required destination. However locating the hotel was not as
We had arrived in
FOUGERES during their annual music festival, which made navigating
though back streets and diversions difficult to say the least. We knew
where the hotel should be, but we kept going round in circles trying
to find it.
discovered the rear entrance and made our way to reception. It was a
biker friendly and clean hotel, but it was also the smallest bedroom
we’d had to squeeze into so far, or maybe since we were coming to
the end of fifteen days of excessive wining and dining, the room just
Out on the streets
there were bands everywhere playing all types of music. So in true
biker style we located a table outside one of the bars in the nearest
square, and spent most of the evening listening to a brass band play
ABBA songs (it was a very good brass band and they had nice yellow
After the bar owner had finished showing us all his ‘Harley
Davidson’ clothing we decided we had heard enough ABBA, and so we
wandered off to the main square, where they were playing ‘noisy
young persons ‘music but more importantly where all the burger and
crepes stalls were.
Deciding I liked the snug room fit I indulged in a giant bratwurst and
fries, then leaving TROTTER and MOONPIG to wander back the rest of us
settled down in an ABBA free bar and listened to the ‘noisy young
people’ have a good time.
By the time we all wandered back to the hotel most of the street
entertainment had finished, so we were able to head off to bed for our
last nights sleep on foreign soil.
Leaving the hotel the following morning was almost as hard as finding
it the previous day, due to the fact that some ‘self pleasuring’
French person had parked right across the gateway that we now had to
try and get the bikes through.
Once we had managed to maneuver past the offending four wheeled shed,
it was a steady dash up to CHERBOURG to catch our allotted ferry,
passing on our way out of FOUGERES last night’s bar owner who was
busy polishing his ‘Harley’, don’t these people ever sleep.
On reaching CHERBOURG
we had a short wait before boarding the ferry. Once we had been
directed on, we headed for our allotted seats which coincidentally
happened to be right by the cafeteria. So fully stocked up with a full
English breakfast and lashings of coffee we all settled down to pass
away the hours until we reached Blighty.
All, that is, except BOSS HOG, who on visiting the upper deck for some
fresh air, managed to find himself a drunken Aussie to listen to for
most of the trip.
After a very smooth crossing we arrived back on home soil, and some of
the best riding weather we had seen all holiday, typical! So with
leathers firmly packed away we were finally able to ride in blistering
heat from POOLE to HOME.
So the trip ends, and what a trip it was. 3700miles of easy riding
(despite the weather). The bike had only done 1000 miles from new
before we left; it’s now well and truly run in.
We saw some spectacular sights, and did some amazing things.
Crossing the MILLAU BRIDGE would normally be an event but we crossed
it in a wind so strong that even trying to walk up to the viewing
platform was difficult.
The view of the cliff edge at RONDA was awesome.
Some of the roadside cafes were an adventure, the food a bit
‘different’ but I wouldn’t have missed any of it.
Even PAMPLONA, at
least now I can say I’ve been there done that.
Congratulations to SNOUTNAV, only one malfunction, now that’s
And finally, until next time.....
The restaurant in
BERGERAC if you ever get the opportunity go (the town is well worth a
visit as well)
Restaurant Le Saint Jacques
30 Rue Saint James
OLD SPOT (Les, Evicted