This was an X9 Forum trip, five of us meeting up with a party of French maxi-scooter riders for a weekend's sightseeing in the Baie de Somme.
After meeting the other participants at Maidstone Services, we made our way to Folkstone for my first experience of the Chunnel on a bike. (You park with the sidestand down and stay with your vehicle, making it a rather dull and uncomfortable journey, but so quick!)
We travelled along twisty coastal roads, had lunch in Boulogne then progressed to Amiens. A kilometre-long oil slick provided some scary moments, but otherwise it was a wonderful journey with almost nothing on the roads.
Having met with the French group we were taken to meet their local Piaggio dealer at Kilometre 66 and given cider in his showroom, where I bought a new jacket after much arm-twisting and 'ooh, suits you madam' from my British companions. Then, after dinner, we watched the illuminations at the cathedral.
A few years ago they cleaned the cathedral using lasers and discovered that the outside used to be painted. After dark, the colours on the statues and pillars are recreated using slide projection, with a commentary in French and English. It's out of this world.
After leaving our hotel on Saturday morning we picked up Jef, who had been camping. He travels vast distances on his 125cc X9, laden with panniers, top box and a huge bag lashed to the pillion. The day was spent on a tour of the region's beauty spots, stopping at viewpoints, having lunch overlooking the lake at a Disneyish holiday village and spending an hour chilling on the beach. We also met a journalist from the local paper.
Our stop for the night was a gîte offering regional fare and horse-riding. The regional fare involved potatoes, cider and chocolate mousse, so I was very happy; I also impressed our hosts by knowing that a kir picard would be made with cider rather than white wine (or captains of the USS Enterprise, before someone else says it). Some of our party went riding on Sunday morning, but I preferred an excursion to the castle at Rambures.
Lunch was moules frites. I explained to the nice waitress that I couldn't eat mussels and got what must have been sole or plaice in a caper sauce, which was delicious. (Every meal we had on the trip comprised three courses, wine and coffee - often an aperitif too - and came to 18 Euros. Now think what you get for twelve quid at a roadside eatery in the UK.)
After more sightseeing, there was much kissing on both cheeks and we went our separate ways. For the British group this meant a blast back to the Chunnel. We emerged on British soil just before nine and I walked through my own front door shortly after ten. The Continent: now an hour and a half away. Fantastic.
One of the pillions was able to take some action shots: