Monday 27th June - Dunstable to Pontarlier
Having got home from work at 2230, the alarm going off at 4am the following morning really wasn’t welcome. However, it was time to get up, get ready and then off to the club ready for the next two weeks crewing for the Binder Boys during their European tour. I met Robin and Ed at the club and on Monday 27th June at 0502 we were on the way to the Channel Tunnel.
Robin’s drive down to the tunnel and the train journey under the English Channel was somewhat uneventful but we were welcomed by some very warm sun in France. Ed took the wheel for the first French stint and we made our way into central France. Despite crewing for Robin at the Open Nationals last year I had never towed the Binder trailer before and so I thought I would sit back and watch the pros. First lesson – the trailer doesn’t fit under a 2 meter toll booth restriction which resulting in me running to the back and lifting the barrier up before getting caught by the authority! I was not to do that on my own! Second lesson – ensure adequate quantity of own CDs as I can’t say that I have the same taste in music as Robin!
After passing a lorry full of beer on fire and the Police waving us past (would like to see that happen on the M1!) it was my turn to take the wheel – it was easy on the autoroutes!
On my run through central France I could see in the mirror a white Mercedes Sprinter van roaring up behind, getting as close as he could to the rear of the trailer and then zoomed past. As I slowed down, gripping the wheel, whilst the trailer started to begin to swing from side to side, I started to berate French white van men, accusing them of being as ‘good’ as our very own, only to see as it went past a British number plate. Doh!
The anti-snake device did its work and we finally reached our destination, a small aeroclub in Pontarlier near the Swiss border in the evening. The locals made us feel very welcome and we rigged the aircraft on the grass just beside the apron, and made way to the hotel, just the other side of the aerodrome, for a much needed beverage.
I was told that the beer in France is well renowned however disaster struck when we sat down in the restaurant to find out that they had run out! However the reserve beers were ordered (which in hindsight they obviously wanted to get rid of). Robin and I went for a light flavoured beer and Ed went for one called ‘Desperados’, (the name turned out to be quite ironic). It didn’t really take his fancy so we swapped. To begin I didn’t think it tasted too bad but any beer which has tequila in it doesn’t taste as nice the more you drink it!