Thursday, June 18, 2009

Istanbul - Normandy Final

End of another trip


Chev Cab

Bertie's adoption paper

We can now look back and feel very pleased with what was a highly successful expedition. Everywhere in every country, the vehicles were received with enthusiasm by the general public. Those with knowledge of these old vehicles were astonished by the audacity of the concept to attempt to get such a large group such a long distance.

All the crews contributed to this success by retaining their focus for 6 weeks. As they became more comfortable with travel in strange lands – on the wrong side of the road – their enjoyment also increased. Right to the end everyone was still socialising every night and setting out each day with enthusiasm.

Once again we had our faithful companions along on the trip, Penelope ( the Garmin GPS ) proving her worth as the marriage saver. Sitting on the ledge behind my head was Bertie the Brooklands Bear, our adopted mascot. Bertie, dressed in a Sidcot flying suit made by Gieves and Hawkes, was presented to Lang by Prince Michael of Kent just prior to the Vimy flight. He has since accompanied Lang on the Avian flight, was in the Itala during the Peking to Paris expedition, travelled around the world in the Fiat 500 and is now safe at home again.

In conclusion we would like to thank our friends who generously provided some very unique hospitality that no tourist operation could possibly emulate. From the brass band parade followed by some wonderful Italian fare we thank Sandro and Wilmy Scarpa and the Fiat 500 Club. For the night at their 17th century farmhouse with tables groaning with homemade fare and a cake decorated with an Australian flag, along with an impressive private collection of military vehicles, thanks to Marjorie and Peter Tombs. As a fabulous finale to our week in Normandy the D-Day dinner party at a real French Chateau with fine food and wine thanks to Anna and Franck Bailleul.

There were many others along the way who made our trip unforgettable – Jerome Stevens and the boys at the French Military Vehicle Club, the enthusiastic crew in Scarperia from the Italian Military Vehicle Club, Derek Skoda for help with shipping, Colin Smith and the MVT. There were also numerous people who extended friendship and help to members of the crews right across Europe – thank you all.

We were all proud to have reminded people of Australian and New Zealand historical achievements and commemorate the sacrifices our forefathers made by walking the ground where they endured, suffered and died.

Bev and Lang