Saturday, 5 May 2007

Cub Trip Three: Jeepster

Diaries have intervened and it’s been difficult to get the team together for our third-time-lucky attempt. Martin’s had several opportunities to bring the Cub home thanks to other flying friends, but he’s held out so that the original three amigos can complete the job. What a splendid chap.

We’re back with General Motors for this trip. We’re using Martin’s Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland. It’s an interesting package, of which more later.

Did I mention we’re videoing this? We’ve carried a video camera with us through all of the trips with a view to recording the experience for the future boredom of dinner guests. Martin tries to do a piece to camera on the Eurotunnel train, but it’s impossible because of a deaf van drivers’ outing immediately in front of us. They stand next to their transit with their faces three inches apart, bellowing obscenities and emitting barking laughs throughout the journey. If the rumours are true, and the English aren’t popular abroad, then the reason why is parked 6 inches in front of us.

Mart primes a hand-grenade for the transit drivers

On the previous visit I attempted to find Dieppe airport by programming TomTom with the latitude and longitude. It failed due to TomTom using Celsius for co-ordinates, while I’m more used to avoirdupois. AHC and Shaw senior were unsympathetic. Mart tries to demonstrate his superior technological grasp by programming our destination correctly. Our route provides us with unparalleled opportunities to take in the Bois de Boulogne, the Ruhr Valley and Easter Island.

Martin achieves level 2 on Super Mario Brothers

Eurotunnel runs smoothly this time and we’re soon sub-Manche and southward bound. My unerring directional talent puts us on the road for Paris – after all, I’ve done this trip a few times now.

But we’re going to Dieppe.

The few moments of irritated silence soon dissipate and within a few minutes we’re singing Tom Tom Turn Around again.

Adrian has an old-fashioned belief in maps. He has no sense of adventure.

AHC identifies where they went wrong in 1944

Martin’s at the helm as we head down past Le Touquet. The weather’s fine, but gusting to 30mph. Each time we pass a truck or cross one of those astonishing French valley-spanning viaducts, the Jeep lurches alarmingly across the carriageway. The steering-wheel swerves like a slowed down Michael Schumacher in-cockpit video.

There’s plenty of room in the back so I perform a few druidical sacrifices to various weather gods. It’s a 4x4, so it’s easier to hose the blood out than it was in the Bentley. I set aside the liver of an unblemished goat for Adrian’s tea.

The original Willis version had rather less wood and leather
We’re back in Dieppe in time to visit the Cub. It’s still sitting where we left it, looking expectantly at the hangar door. There’s a definite expression on its face. If it was a spaniel it would have its lead in its mouth and a look of pleading. Weather permitting, we’ll go walkies tomorrow.
What’s this? L’Auberge Clos du Normand is fermé! With tears in our eyes we go in search of an alternative. It’s off-season and the choices aren’t extensive. We eventually locate a small hotel in the centre of Dieppe. Not picturesque, but clean, friendly and serviceable.
Time for a cold beer. The Pirate Bar in Dieppe harbour has beer so cold it hurts the back of your neck. It also boasts a pleasantly pneumatic barmaid who endures our unsubtle geriatric slobbering with charm and balance. Music’s alright too.

Who invented the riff? The Beatles, Stones or Chuck Berry? Discuss
Hungry now, we begin the customary quest for vegetarian food in a country that believes you can get a good meal out of a pond. After examining every menu in Dieppe, Hall-Carpet nominates one as being the pick of the bunch. We’ll go in, explain to the patron, and he’ll cook us something delicious. We try it. It’s true! There really is a Gallic shrug! The restaurateur helpfully offers three choices: meat, fish or someone else’s restaurant. He directs us to a pizzeria. It’s shut.
We’ve now walked every street in Dieppe. Hall-Carpenter is looking at pigeons and licking his lips. Of all the lives in all the world, he had to get involved in ours. We try to cheer him up by pointing out that he’s no longer Monsieur Vrai, having been wrong about the restaurant. But every time we point at him he bites our fingers.
Desperate, tired and ravenous we return to our hotel. We reason that, as we’re guests, they have to feed us. I ask the waiter if he has anything for vegetarians. He turns the menu over and shows me the vegetarian options.
AHC just ate the table display, and people are staring.

Dusk in Dieppe. A good city to walk around. We know this.

No comments: