Wednesday, 28 June 2017

More Museums in Belgium

Museums on the way to Luxembourg

It is that time of year when the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club have their annual French Trip. It is not always to France! This year it was to Vianden in Luxembourg. Once again on the Buell, and with no rain to upset it, it was a pretty uneventful trip. Sunshine almost all the way with one thunderstorm in Liege while sitting in a cafe during an afternoon to remind us of previous years. 

Our first stop over was in Ieper (Ypres) with a visit to the sculpture of Elsie Knocker and Marie Chisholm sitting on sand bags at the Ariane Hotel, more on that another time with the following day going off to the village where they set up their treatment stations and a visit to the Old Timer Motorcycle Museum near Oostend this is run by Johan Schaeverbeke former rock musician and entertaining character who has collected motorcycles and mopeds over the years and now has them on display. 

The site also has accommodation and known as the Biker Loft. It is a very interesting place that has recorded the history of how Belgium got to work over the years with many mopeds and lightweight motorcycles. It even includes a tandem that has an engine and went to get wed on! She must have been an interesting person to. 

It reminds me of the PG tips tea adverts of the sixties! “Can you ride tandem?” There are some interesting machines there that include a Dresche that has leaf spring handlebars and a Praga BD, double overhead camshaft 500 of 1927. 

Many machines I have not heard of but have Douglas or Villiers engines. I had not realised that some manufacturers badged models and sold them as the competition to increase sales. No different than today. During that evening I went to the solemn ceremony at the Mennen Gate and found a possible reference to my fathers elder brother who was killed by a stray shell miles from the front in the First World War at the tender age of 15. He had enlisted lying about his age as many did. 

The next day we travelled on to Liege in glorious sunshine and arrived early enough to explore the city and found a Blues Bar with live music in the evening. Great to listen too, but the audience was quite small. A taxi back to the Campanile on the north west side of the city completed the day around midnight. A day off in Liege to enjoy the culture and miss the thunderstorm. Time to travel again to meet up with the guys from the club at Vianden in Luxembourg and a visit to the circuit at Francorchamps and then on to the track museum in Stavelot. They have some interesting bikes there and many more cars that famous drivers had driven. I spotted a bike and sidecar that had done a circuit of Africa during 1926 to 1927. Raid Robert Fabry on a Gillet Herstal.

 Travel was easier then as few countries were that interested in people traveling through and letters of introduction were your visas. All too quickly we had gone around this museum that was in the grounds of Stavelot Abbey and we were on our way again. This time arriving at the Belle Vue Hotel in plenty of time for some pre dinner drinks and meet up with Oz who had brought the thunderstorm with him to Liege. I knew he had arrived because of the big black clouds that broke the blue sky!