Day 1: Prelude to Invasion
A nice early start to the day (preceded by a rather silly "getting drunk with niece's boyfriend" incident, leading to a great white telephone conversation with a Mr Oh God) meant a nice relaxed start to this years rally.
All the stickers were on in good time, we had a chance to meet people and grab a couple of pics before we were off visiting some old haunts (given we are one of only 2 crews to have been on every rally so far) via some new routes. A fab pic at RAF Odiham and a detailed briefing on the planning of D-Day at Southwick Park.
Pizza's at the ferry terminal (eventually) thanks to Dominos and then boarding for a somewhat bouncy journey across the channel. Happily the motion sickness pills Frank took kept him on an even keel, all be it NOT on alcohol!
Day 2: Fortress Europe
A early start and a run in with the traffic restrictions for the Caen marathon meant a slow start to the day, however, it was a great opportunity to meet some of the new crews. Team Skibum have taken a relaxed approach to the road books this year. so many times in the past we have rushed past things in an effort to keep on track. This year, we stuck with the tulip diagrams until we found a fab little radar museum where we spent an hour or so nosing around (worth a visit if you are in the area) and then navigated our way to campsite 1, a beer and a barbecue!
Day 3: Moving Inland
Day three started with the mother of all rain storms at about 0300hrs (The Oz Tent paid for itself!) and this set the theme for a rather damp but good spirited start to the day. We took a trip West to the area of Omaha beach, St Mer Eglise and Carentan, before a long wriggly route of back roads, a skill challenge for the navigator and an observation challenge for the crew brought us back towards Bayeux.
Having worked hard to 1600hrs, Team Skibum navigated to a free WiFi opportunity and it's from there that we are posting this blog.
Tonight will be an early night having packed most of our kit and prepped the car for an early start as we slog up to Belgium. So, till tomorrow, may the best ye've ever seen be the worst ye'll ever see.
Good night and may your god's go with you (with thanks to Dave Allen... For those old enough to recognise that line!)
Day 4: Remember The Fallen
As planned, we were up and out early today, on the road for 0620hrs and have now been on the go for 9.5 hours... Bushed!
We have seen lots of motorway, where our task of the day was to snap pics of vehicles with different national plates (i.e. GB) during the journey. A ploy invented by our dear organisers to keep us awake! Just not keeping the navigator awake....
Then we hit the Somme and drove some lovely tracks passing dozens of small cemeteries as well as the Lochnagar crater where the biggest mine used in WW leaving a HUGE crater behind.
We are very keen to both see the Menin Gate ceremony tonight, so we are cutting short our tour for the rest of the afternoon, in order to get to the campsite in plenty of time. The ceremony has taken place every night since the first world war when the local fire service saluted all the unknown soldiers who were lost and never found.
Day 5: WW1 & Op Market Garden
We had a wonderful day, went to the Airborne Museum & as ever the locals welcomed us like old friends. The museum never ceases to amaze even after 3 years - a must do. As ever the CWGC do a beautiful job & tend the resting places of the fallen with such care.
We had an off-road challenge today & Frank was at the wheel, he did a sterling job & missed all the trees & we completed the challenge successfully. I'm hoping it"s my turn if we go to the quarry tomorrow...
Day 6: Remember September
Guess what, got to drive the quarry & it was fantastic especially as I was driving the 110 :-))) What's more... We got 20 minutes of Germany today, can't wait till day after tomorrow now!
Had a lovely journey so far & 100 odd miles of twisty turns to go. Might be a late one tonight!
Day 7: The Battle of the Bulge
Another wet day on the rally today with strong winds and scudding clouds. We seem to have brought the British summer with us. That aside, another good day moving down from Ypress to Bastogne. Along the way we pulled into see a private collection of WWII memorabilia and we were absolutely stunned. The first cars there were greeted by a class of schoolchildren all waving flags, cheering and asking for autographs. Sadly we missed this but I'm told it was an amazingly heartwarming experience. Not even the organisers knew it was going to happen.
The museum itself was amazing, lots of things, every one of which had a story attached and th were guides in each section to talk us through those very personal stories. It is worth a visit and if we can figure out where it was... We'll post a link.
We finally arrived in Bastogne just as the rain did, happily, the Oz Tent lived up to it's advertising and we were pitched and dry in no time. Sadly, the rain barely stopped for the two days in Bastogne and there are some very wet rally participants.
Day 8: The Bois Jacques and Beyond
A round circuit of the villages and sights around Bastogne today, much of which we had seen before, so we skipped past La Roche, as there was a cycle race and the place was jammed with people, cyclists and traffic.
Sadly, due to an error on the navigators part, we missed out on an off road driving trial today, but on the upside, we were first back inthe campsite, had time for a shower, a sit down with a cuppa and a chance to relax.
Day 9: The Last Patrol
Overnight, the rain was incredible. All that was missing was e stair carpet... We had the stair rods! Happily for us the Oz Tent once again kept us dry and secure. However, breaking camp in the rain is nobody's idea of a fun activity.
Day 9 is the day we look forward to with a visit to our friends at Binning off road club in the Alsace (http://atv-altrock.de/).
Once again we were welcomed with sandwiches, wustchen and most importantly, kaffee und kuchen! Catherine got a tour of the site in a Unimog... Which she now wants added to our fleet... And she also got a tour in an extreme off road buggy based on a Land Cruiser.
Our deepest thanks go to Steffi and all of the crew at Binning for providing us with such a wonderful break to our long trip.
We arrived at the campsite in Altburg to a little sunshine for a change and a very generous barbecue provided by a local American and his family, such a bonus not having to cook