Jensen Monday Club

Day 1: Ice Cold in Ulm


Top Touring Tip 1: Don't sit on your wad.

We were going to leave in the early hours of Saturday 30th of September to catch the 5:30am "flight" (as they like to call it) of the Channel Tunnel to Calais, France. So on the Friday evening Kate took me over to Chris's house, and along with Chris and his wife Elspeth, we had a farewell meal. It didn't feel like the last supper, but as we parted Kate broke down in tears at my imminent demise.

Good start then.

We managed to go to bed at 10pm, with the alarm clock set for 12:30 ready to leave for the Channel Tunnel. Chris had already packed the car, so a quick cup of tea and an e-mail to the Jensen mail list, and we were on our way.

Car ready to go. Note the cold air ducting Chris had installed.

Chris Practicing his Dukes of Hazzard entry

There wasn't an inch of spare space in the boot or the rear of the car with equipment and luggage. The packing maestro had done a cracking job.

Rear Seat  Boot. Solar panel to help the battery.

At 1:30 the car was backed out of the garage, with a 5000 mile adventure awaiting.

After all that fettling and servicing, the first thing I noticed was that one of the number plate lights was not working. A swift kick resumed normal service, and we were on our way. For 5 miles then the fuel gauge packed in...

No mind, we turned the stereo up and we didn't care. We had pockets full of cash of every denomination, credit cards aplenty, and we weren't afraid to use them.

We took a satellite navigation unit which cover the European Union countries,

but after that it was back to maps. We had been told about The Map Shop , which was:

                A. Astonishing with maps of just about everywhere in any scale.

                B. Just down the road from where I live so nice and easy to get too.

We had stocked up with maps, and as a bonus there is an old fashioned sweet shop around the corner that does all the stuff you haven't seen since you were a kid, and a cracking fish and chip shop, so we had to have some. Well, it would have been rude not too!

Unquotable quote: "There be dragons..."

The journey to The Tunnel was uneventful, and we rocked up in plenty of time.

Outside the Channel tunnel

The Tunnel is one of the great engineering feats of the world, and takes just over 30 minutes to cross the 23 miles from Britain to France, underneath the sea. Quite remarkable.

We drove into the train and prepared to leave.

Driving into the Tunnel Train.

We had the good sense to take what became known as "The Victuals Bag" This was stuffed with all the goodies you need to sustain you in the long and dark hours of a trans-continental blast.

The "Victuals Bag" Kept us going when the going got tough. Or Hungry.

Lamb and Mint crisps. The food of champions!

By a spooky co-incidence, Chris had a pile of classic car magazines lying around at his house, and I had picked one completely at random for some reads in the car. As I flicked through it in the Tunnel train, I came across a letter to the editor from Chris regarding insuring a classic car for a trip to Istanbul!

How bizarre is that?

Chris with magazine.  Close up of letter

We entered France just after 6am, on a bright, warm sunny morning. This was going to be good!

I took the helm of 136-8801, gave it a boot full, and we were on our way. Only 4750 miles to go.

The drive in France was short but sweet and we were soon into Belgium. Belgium is the beer brewing capital of the world and it was a tough decision not to drive into the nearest beer cafe, get blind drunk for 2 weeks and Photoshop the pictures (I know the German's and Czech's also claim the title of being best brewers, but sorry lads. Get your self a glass of Westmalle Triple and you'll see my point of view)

Belgium soon rolled into Germany, and we were surprised to see how wholeheartedly the German's had adopted wind turbines. There is a huge debate in the UK about the merits and de-merits of wind power (usually regarding how the turbines affect the look of the countryside), but to my eyes they didn't look to unsightly, and surely the environmental benefits must out weight the negatives?  Answers on a post card to...

Chris had previously lived and worked in Germany, and at dinner the night before had mention a popular national dish called "Schwein Haxe" (sorry to our German readers if the spelling is incorrect). It sounded fantastic, and as luck would have it, it was on the menu at the services when we stopped at for lunch.

The car still looking fresh at the services.

Take a look at this beauty!

Schwein Haxe King Henry the VIII style!

Unquotable quote: "I can't believe how good that glass cleaner is. Oi!  You're not supposed
to drink it!"

The day was getting hotter and hotter and we hit a traffic jam.

With the air conditioning on, the temperature gauge started to rise...

No mind, we turned the stereo up louder and took no notice. Chris claimed these birds were buzzards, but they looked like bloody vultures to me!

It was a very tight squeeze through the narrow lanes of the road works...

and the congestion wasn't helped by people gawping at Concord, and the Russian version Concord-ski, side by side at the nearby air museum.

This slowed us down a lot, and we got to our first nights destination much later than we had expected, but a pint of ice cold wheat beer soon cheered us up!

Chris looking like he is about to dive in his pint!

 We had heard that German Jensen owner Patric Albutat was hoping to meet up with us, and so we gave him a call and arranged to meet.

Patric enjoys a pint

Going for "a pint" sounds so much better than "fancy 565 millilitres?"

It turns out Patric had driven 6 hours and 385 miles to meet us from Berlin, and so we decided to make a night of it and go for dinner and a few beers afterwards.

He had brought his rather tasty MK3 with him, and we took some pictures of the car. It was very dark and the flash camera not only gives poor light, and in no way does justice to Patric's car.


It turns out Patric is a writer, and we were hoping he might write this for us, but he modestly declined!

Unquotable quote: "... those are really woody woods."

I hadn't realised how bad the flash was on my camera till I took a look at these pictures, but here a shot of "downtown" Ulm (what exactly is "downtown"?)

After a dinner of tapas we headed to a busy pub for a drink. By pure co-incidence my mate Simon was on his way to Bulgaria to see his mum, so he met us in the pub and took this picture of me, Chris and Patric. He also brought packets of the Black Country delicacy, pork scratching, which Patric has now tried and pronounced;

"The most disgusting stuff I tasted so far, utterly awful. Much worse than Marmite! Do you think I could make them send me some? Haven't been able to source it locally or over the internet"

A little cultural exchange between Germany and the Black Country (which actually owes a lot of it's dialect to German and Norwegian)

Chris poses with the scratchings.

                  Up close and personal with a bag of Mr Porky!

We took this picture of the fire drill notice in the hotel in Ulm as the bit about "Alarming the fire brigade" made us laugh, but we weren't so sure about the references to "The Buming"...

A good nights kip, and we were ready for:

Day 2: Belgrade- There be Dragons...