My first day trip to France

I have been in the possession of Ann Miller for about 14 years now and feel I am a very useful Moulton in more ways than one.

My first day trip to France was a few years ago and a day to remember.

To begin with, for the drive to Dover, Ann’s husband, Harry, wanted to put me upside down on the roof rack of the car, but Ann wouldn’t hear of it. “Speedsix might fall off” she said. So off came my front wheel and they laid me in the back of the car. Now I was comfortable and Harry’s Holdsworth was placed on the roof rack!

At 6.30 am we moved off from Maidstone for Dover, arriving in good time to catch the 8.30 am Hovercraft to Calais. Once aboard I was strapped against the wall in case it was a rough journey. Then the cars were driven on and chained down. One quite rudeIy puffed his exhaust over my front wheel to my disgust. I said to Holdsworth “Does this always happen?” Holdsworth sneeringly answered “Only to those with little wheels!”

On arriving at Calais, we were left outside a supermarket while Ann and Harry got the picnic – wines, bread, cheeses, ham, tomatoes, fruit and not forgetting croissants, all of which was loaded into my bag and panniers – oh yes, going on a day trip evidently means carrying panniers for plenty of wine and food!

By about 11.00 am French time, we were on the road to Guines where we stopped at the Lion d’Or cafe for Ann and Harry to sit outside on the pavement and have local wine to refresh them as it was a lovely day. Then we carried on to stop at another cafe at Ardres where they called the Patron Lovely Jacque, and this time Holdsworth and I were locked up together, while they went inside for their coffee. After a while we went a little further so that Ann and Harry could participate in their picnic beside the lake. About an hour later suddenly we were covered up with waterproofs as the rain came pouring down and Ann and Harry were able to shelter under the awning of the chips shack. Soon the sun came out once more and we were going back to Calais by a different route, this time alongside a canal, and just hoped they didn’t fall in! Another stop at a cafe for coffee and here the Patron showed off with how many wine glasses he could hold in ONE HAND – 25 I believe. So out came the camera. This time Ann parked me right in front of the door so that she could keep an eye on me.

Next stop was in the centre of Calais at a Supermarket, where Holdsworth and I were locked up until Ann and Harry came out and loaded us up with more food and about 10 bottles of wine to take back home. By now it was 6pm and time to stop at another cafe for a last wine or beer before catching the 7pm Hovercraft.

When we got off at Dover I was amazed when Ann struggled to place two more bottles on board me: this of course was the duty-free spirits they were allowed. But she ended up having to carry one in her bag on her back. Served her right – my poor carrier was creaking and my tyres needed more air! At least she had the sense to push me to where the car was parked.

Once back at home, they had to unload the car and once all the food and drink was unloaded they only had the nerve to say “We’ll leave Speedsix until the morning. He’ll be OK in the car in the garage. At the end of the day it was a good trip, and I have done a few more since then and also now I am very handy as I am used to get the shopping at the supermarket about two miles away as we are now living in a small bungalow in a village called Verlinthun about ten miles outside Boulogne along the road to Le Touquet and about seven miles inland from Hardelot. Ann is doing Bed, Breakfast and Evening Meal there and hopes that if any cyclists especially Moultoneers are in the area they will call in and see her, even if only for coffee [See advertisement on page 23 of Issue 50 of The Moultoneer – Ed].