BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A great day with some new friends in Pezenas and Caux.


Some days I really do think there is a force guiding us in certain directions. 

It took us about an hour to TRY and clean up the feathers in our room this morning. It was a lost cause. They were everywhere. I even had them inside the mesh lining of my shirt, and Suzanne had them all through her leggings and socks.

Remember I mentioned Bertrand (Bert) yesterday? The guy with the really neat DR350. Keep him in mind as you read on.

We went downstairs at the hotel and there was a message from Bert. It said he would meet us at Cafe Bla Bla (Yes, that's the name), the cafe that he had suggested yesterday. He said morning, it was now twelve o'clock but we made our way there anyway. It was only about a hundred metres from our hotel. We had a laugh at all the feathers around the streets as we walked to the cafe.

The morning after the night before.
All that white isn't snow, it's feathers.

We arrived at the cafe but no one else was there. Bert's bike was there though, so he couldn't be far away. A few minutes later Bert rocked up, and about ten minutes later Christel, his wife arrived.

Suzanne loved Bert's DR as much as I do, and decided to try it for size.

Suzanne decided it was a perfect fit, and wants one.
Just to ride on the road though.

We sat and enjoyed a coffee, or two and told motorcycle stories, as we do. Bert told us a story about him getting pulled over by the cops early one morning on his Moto Morinini. He was doing seventy kilometres an hour over the limit (The limit here is 130, so he was sitting on around 200!). After a bit of a chat Bert was booked for thirty over. They run the same demerit point system here as we do at home so luckily this meant that Bert would keep his license. Can you imagine getting pulled over in Australia doing 70 ks over the limit. Oh boy!

Suzanne then mentioned that we've run out of fuel a few times on the trip, and Bert laughed. He's always doing that and Christel has to rescue him. Is it a man thing?

The day was wearing on and Bert and Christel had to get home. They have four kids that need feeding on a regular basis. Bert kindly invited us for coffee later in the afternoon, which we happily accepted.

Thanks for the coffee Bert.
(No girls, he's happily married)

A few minutes later the invitation changed to "Come for lunch." I feel sorry for his wife. She had already left in the car and had no warning or notice, Bert just invited us. He really reminds me of myself. That's the sort of thing I do all the time. We accepted, but went off to find a shop to buy some sort of contribution to the meal. We soon found that the shops here don't open on Sunday, so we failed there.

A few minutes later we were following Bert to his home in Caux, about ten minutes away. Following for a while that is. All of a sudden Bert's bike rolled to a silent stop. I laughingly said to Suzanne "I bet he's run out of fuel." Got it in one. Fortunately I always now carry my one litre camping fuel bottle full of fuel with me everywhere.

Lots of laughter and a quick top up
and we were on our way again.

When we arrived at Bert's home both Suzanne and I had a chuckle because there were feathers around the back yard. Bert and his family had been to the show the previous night and ended up tracking home a heap of feathers as well.

Then we went into Bert's garage. He's reminding me more and more of myself. He has six bikes, and an MG in the garage. I felt like I was at home.

 Bultaco Sherpa T behind a '49 Triumph.

 The daily ride, a Moto Morini Scrambler

Very tidy MGB, but no chrome spoke wheels or red paint!

After more "boy stuff" we went inside to meet the kids. Now this was no ordinary inside. The house was three stories, plus a basement, but the stunning thing was the way the walls were painted, and had ornate mouldings on them. I've seen this on ceilings, but not on walls before.

Here are a few pics to give you an idea...

 All of this is painted directly onto the walls.
How could you ever repaint?

We met Bert's kids, Agnes, Mathilde, Odon, and the youngest, Clothilde, and sat down to lunch. We were treated to a meal of quail with potatoes an onions, followed by cheese and jam, and some delicious chocolate mousse for desert. All washed down with some red and white wine of course. After lunch Bert's Agnes played a lovely classical piece on the piano. Not to be outdone, Odon busted out a boogie number that rocked the house. It was a very, very pleasant and relaxing afternoon, and Bert and Christel's kids are lovely.

As we sat chatting after lunch I said to Bert "What do you do for a living Bert? Kaboom! "I'm a dental surgeon. I trained as a Rheumatologist and focus on musculoskeletal balance, specialising in chronic pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia, also Chronic Fatigue." You could have knocked us over with a feather, and there were plenty of them around!

Time for a little history: Suzanne was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia just before we left on our trip. It was a case of stay at home and be in constant chronic pain, or come on the bike and feel the same way, she chose the bike. We came away after a specialist Rheumatologist prescribed FOUR different medications, two were strong pain killers including morphine patches. We're travelling Europe, crossing borders with strong drugs, and carrying way more than we should (you have to stock up where and when you can get morphine patches. It's not easy), and trying to buy more when whenever we can. Standard practice, like most medicine - take drugs to relieve the symptoms.

So meeting Bert was like finding a needle, and a very small needle at that, in one of three bloody huge hay stacks. Bert went on to explain that most doctors treat Fibro's symptoms (with medication), but not the cause, because they don't really understand the cause. Bert treats the cause. He gave us a brief explanation of what he believes the problems are, and how he treats his patients. We went outside and Bert conducted a brief examination of Suzanne.

Dr Bert sorting Suzanne out.
Put your feet forward, your pelvis back, your head upright, and so on. We all need to work on our posture big time.

Then he told her a few facts that we already knew, described her symptoms to a T (morning tiredness being one!), then gave her a few useful tips that might help.

Then he really blew us away. He did a few physical tests on Suzanne's hand and wrist strength which showed her strength was very low. Bert then folded up a paper napkin, carefully positioned it between Suzanne's teeth, repositioning her jaw, and conducted the same tests again. The result was truly astounding. Suzanne's strength had increased, probably ten fold. If I hadn't been there and seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it.

It would take a stack of books to explain the whole thing, but suffice to say that we have found a new direction to look in that may offer a solution to Suzanne's problem.

Once we had laid all that to rest, after all it was Sunday and supposed to be Bert's day off, Suzanne painted the girls, and Bert and Odon went for a trail ride. 

Suzanne at work. 

 Mathilde, the perfect model.

Bert's youngest, Clothilde, wasn't too sure about this face painting caper, but her sister was painted so she wanted in as well. She was happy sitting in Christel's lap.

Life here is so relaxed. Odon is going for a ride, so he puts on all his gear and rides his unregistered mini bike out the gate with dad. They then head off down the road without a care in the world.

How cool. Dad and son off for a ride together.

A few of Bert's mates dropped over and delivered a Christmas tree. We had a bit of a chat and a beer. Then, unfortunately, it was time to go.

Beer o'clock.
Christel, Benett, Rayou, me, and Bert.

Days like today are what make this trip so special, meeting great people and sharing some time. It was truly a pleasure meeting Bert and his wonderful family. Thank you for your hospitality and inviting us into your home. We will meet again somewhere again I am sure, and next time we will supply the meal.

Tomorrow is the first day in ages that we have nothing planned. We might stay another day, or we might ride on. I'm not sure if I want to look around here too much more because over dinner Suzanne said "We should sell up at home, buy a house here, and move here to live". It's a lovely place, the weather is almost identical to Perth, and property prices are pretty good as well... 

Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

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