mount pingu



Mount Pingu Expedition 19th-21st April 2002

A.K.A. Lost in France


Tales of Bosun Abroad.

Dateline: 19th April.

Location: Chateau Le Mont Epinguet, France.


Around the table 22 hairy arsed bikers sat (not that I checked, it’s just a term of endearment) sounds of merry making and gay badinage filled the room, when all of a sudden a hush filled the room. All looked at Dave, Supreme Commander Allied VSOC Invasion Force, Kenway   “All I said was I fancy having a pair of breasts for a day.” He reiterated “ooh can I have a grope?” enquired Ming the Merciless (Dave’s Evil Twin) quickly ducking to avoid an ICBFL [1].  Sarah however did not seem at all surprised at this revelation, and so in this vein the conversation continued for the rest of the evening. I think the final decision was a 36D would be the most appropriate size. What a way to round off a fantastic ride down to the Chateau, via the Portsmouth – Cherbourg crossing. 17 shiny bikes (yes Mr Tyson was not amongst us) and 22 assorted bodies from Thames Valley vultures, Essex Crusaders, Cockney Rejects and friends.

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“Mount Pingu” is a vast rambling chateau built around 1751, currently owned by a very laid back couple Mark and Fiona, who were the perfect hosts. The bikes were all stored away in the stables, the bar was open and the atmosphere made everyone so chilled out. And this was only the first night. The jokes mainly supplied by Paul and Bob the Badger continued well into the small hours.


The rooms had been allocated, by our hosts, prior to our arrival, I had been allocated to share with a guy called Tony, and we were tucked up right in the attic. Next to the bathroom which in typical French fashion gurgled away strangely. Mind you to get to the loo was interesting, as it was hidden away in the rafters as well. The rooms were very comfortable and very warm and to please Paul (in the next room) and myself Tony serenaded us to sleep, with a superb demonstration of classical snoring.

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Thus ended our first day of the expedition.


Day two arrived a bit too early for some, and I will admit to a bit of a thick head that I blame totally on a couple of glasses of Calvados (Apple Brandy) I had the night before. Red Bull and Paracetamol soon cleared this. And then it was breakfast of wheaty bangs and a plethora of croissants ‘despite the best attempts of Ming and son of Ming (Sean and Josh) trying to eat every one going.

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“So where are we off to today?” was the general cry, having mentioned to Dave many moons ago I fancied finding a landing beach, this was still my plan. It was soon obvious that it was every ones plan, mass rideout and scare the locals’ time was now on.


Dave took the lead, and so the Mount Pingu posse headed off for fun and adventure. It didn’t take long before we had to stop, as it was obvious we had made a small directional error. With Leigh and a few others desperate for fuel Richard went off to scout for a garage, Paul however was more desperate for a tobacconist.  Once re-fuelled, no baccy though, we set off, (after the first of a few U-turns) thundering out of Cherbourg, the plan being to visit Bayeaux via some other scenic towns, ah the best laid plans of men and transvestites. We eventually reached Bayeaux as they closed for lunch. There we split for a while and do our own things. Paul and Christine found the tobacconist and so were happy. Anne grabbed me by my unwashed hand and so Anne, Nick and myself headed off to find the Tapestry. I bet they wish I had never asked the old couple for their scenic directions though. The Tapestry was however very interesting, and what surprised me most was how bright the colours are after nearly 1000 years. Oh we also found the joys of the new style Cornetto machines. Though sadly not a 36D in Dave’s colour.

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Our departure from Bayeaux heading for the beaches was certainly noticed by all as we cruised round the square. We then rode round the ring road 3 times and practised some more U-turns. (Now there’s a title Bayeaux, Bayeaux so good we went round thrice). Due to directional errors we had to fill up again, and we found a supermarket as well. Time was moving on now, and a pre-booked meal called. We arrived back at Mount Pingu with just a few minutes to change and swallow a quick beer before a "20 minute stroll” to the restaurant.


Dave’s evil twin was given the directions and so we strolled off to find “The Butchers Shop”.  Let change that to a country 20 minutes (1-hour) but reaching the restaurant we were glad we had booked, it was packed. With the local cidre and wine laid on, meat off the spit roast and a huge cheese board it was a good spread. The owners were very nice, and as they spoke very little English, and we spoke very little French, lots of gesticulation was the way to go. The Lady owner was obviously quite a pin up, as she was confronted by the whole glare of the assembled biker paparazzi. Half the party decided however that walking home was not the way to go, and so asked for a taxi (wimps) which also happened to be driven by the owner of the place. The rest of us strolled home happily, trying to find planets in alignment, which we failed at, and avoiding the taxi as it plied its way home. Once back a few more beers and I tried to hit the sack before Tony started to snore, a trick which nearly worked.

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Sunday came round bright and early. I was feeling good, and good didn’t mind so I plodded downstairs, to find to my horror I was the first up, or down if being pernickety. So I took a stroll around before brekkies and hoped to get some croissants before Ming and son of Ming got them all. 


Today’s plan was decided on, beach and café, an admirable plan I thought. Rooms were cleared and luggage was left ready for our return. We set off with Ming and son of Ming taking the lead. It was soon found that being Dave’s twin also meant the same sort of directional errors, but only one U-turn was required.  First stop being St Pierre Englise the town where the airborne troops landed. It has a model paratrooper hanging from the church tower, and a museum (which I paid for the group ticket, only for Richard to pay separately). The museum is for the 104th Airborne and included one of the gliders, which is a lot smaller than I thought, and had a lot of very feminine looking troops inside. And is quite interesting. Sadly no funky icecreams could be found. I did however come away with 2 new additions, a biker teddy and mouse, for my bike called Mount and Pingu.


The beach now called and so we sped off round some wonderful little roads, ending up riding across some narrow tracks across the marshes (scaring cows as we went) to Utah Beach. With the sun out this ride, although one of the shorter ones will stick in my memory for a long time it was just so good.  There is a large memorial and some tanks at the entrance, but it is not until you see the beach you realise how tough any attack on this must have been.


However lunch called so the hunt for a café started, the first two places however refused us, fuel was also required though this was more of a challenge as most garages are closed on a Sunday, and we couldn’t work out the credit card system. Luckily we soon found an open garage and Paul Found a bar. Parking all parked on the pavement, sat on the seats outside and watched the world, and American cars, go by. Time soon came to head off again and it was back to Mount Pingu and then to the ferry.  The less said about Cherbourg potholes though the better.

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Arriving back, typical English organisation meant a long hold up but we were all soon on the A3 heading home. All told a fabulous weekend, and a great way to spend a weekend.


My thanks especially go to Dave and Sarah for Organising the trip. An amazing feat for a first attempt.  Would I do it again? Don’t be silly, I believe the return trip either there or similar is being thought of. It may have been my first trip abroad on the Dragstar but it won’t be the last.



[1]  inter continental ballistic French Loaf