Surrey Off-Road Specialists Limited

This year the Mille Riviere coincided with the heavy floods and gales that the UK was suffering. I decided to try the Euro tunnel as there was every chance that the ferries wouldn't be sailing due to the weather and I didn't have time for problems. My co-driver this time was Sharnelle Beanland who is here visiting from Australia and was game to give it a go. The plan was to catch the 08.00 train through the tunnel and meet up with Kenny Shann and Kath in Dijon for the overnight stop. I spent Sunday evening with Sharnee looking like death warmed up at an emergency doctors in Guildford with suspected tonsillitis. The doc confirmed this and gave us a prescription for some Penicillin. We then spent an hour or so traipsing around Guildford trying to find a chemist that was open, luckily we found Moss have a chemist at the top of Guildford high street open 7 days a week 9.00 - 21.00. I really didn't think Sharnee was going to come on the event, but she said she would be ready at 06.00 and she was.

Having had a reasonably straight forward ride through the tunnel, we made our way South, the Jeep was guzzling through the petrol due to persistent heavy headwinds (and my heavy right foot), a call to Kenny revealed that he wasn't far behind us due to his ferry crossing being 2 hours late (we thought he would be ahead). We met up at a fuel stop and continued South together. Kenny was trying out his new set-up consisting of a Mitsubishi L200 crew cab pickup, a custom built "Dolly" with Daisy on the back. We cruised along at a reasonable 70+- along the AutoRouteís but the hills took their toll with the "Mitsi" getting down to 40 in places. We made it to Dijon for around 19.00 then spent a good hour and a half trying to find a suitable hotel having been given duff carparking info by the first one that we had booked in advance. After a good meal and nights kip, we set off for a leisurely scenic drive to the excellent Hotel Clair Matin located in Le Chambon sur Lignon where the event starts from. Sharnee was still suffering in silence with her tonsillitis but was starting to brighten up. Whilst we were sorting out the vehicles and unloading, it started to snow lightly, Sharnee was thrilled, it was the first time she had seen falling snow. (Apparently they donít get snow around Perth). Other competitors started to trickle in as the day went on and that evening there was the usual good mannered banter and general high spirits that always accompanies these events.

"Le Stickage" where you sign on and plaster your vehicle with sponsorís stickers started around 13.00, so we wandered down did the business and had a wander around the town. This year there wasn't a prologue, which was a shame. I like to use the prologue to get some practise in with the rally trip etc, Sharnee had never done this before, and it would have been good to get some experience.

After an enjoyable evening meal and some socialising with other competitors we had an early night. We needed to be up for a 06.00 breakfast to make sure we made the 07.00 start in time. You also have to repack your entire belongings etc into the vehicle as you stop at a different town the following night.

Thursday 8th November. We attended the drivers briefing in the dark at 07.00. The organisers informed us of any changes or discrepancies with the roadbook. There were 2 other British teams entered, Paul Rogers and Chris Moore in a G-wagon and Richard Bradley and Ian Mcneil in a Shogun. There was also a Discovery apparently from Land Rover Owner Magazine that showed up at Le Stickage, but no one including the organisers saw them for the rest of the event. I will be interested to read their report.

Amongst the entrants were some old friends who attend most of the events in the form of; Patrick Lallouel in his tricked up Suzuki SJ413, Philippe and Francoise in their Lwb and Swb G-Wagens, the latter with no roof! And several other familiar faces who I do not know the names of. The most popular vehicles on this event this year were Mercedes G-Wagens. They were everywhere.

Having established the changes etc we all set off at approx. 2-minute intervals. To give Sharnee time to get up to speed with the navigating, we followed Kenny with Kath doing her usual brilliant job. We had a fairly uneventful morning with the roadbook proving to be very accurate, also had the first mechanical problem, the selector fork on the front axle disconnect had worked loose and was floating around on the selector shaft. This meant that the front halfshafts were not connecting together only giving me 2-wheel drive. We pulled over and I stripped out the selector. Kenny came up with a quick fix; we used a piece of foam rubber from my lying down mat to jam the fork across. Repair done we pushed on, now with 4-wheel drive, up to that point I had only been using 2-wheel drive. Sharnee soon got to grips with the Coralba rally trip and was looking a real pro by the end of the morning, her throat was a lot better and she was starting to enjoy herself. We crossed a Viaduct that had carried a railway line previously, the view was magnificent. As we gained altitude there was a dusting of snow that gave the autumn colours another dimension, the scenery is stunning in these parts. We stopped for lunch at a small bar and had an interesting mix of food, we think the meat was rabbit but we were not sure. Lunch finished we set off with RedOct taking the lead. The rest of the day was spent crashing along overgrown tracks and through some disused railway tunnels, nothing too technical but good fun. On one section of road we came round a corner to find the entire road full of sheep, goats and small deer. The shepherd had three sheepdogs up front steering the herd, but the weird thing was when he shouted at the herd, they all lined up on the correct side of the road in an orderly group whilst we passed. We arrived at the finish first surprisingly enough, as there were at least 5 vehicles ahead of us by my reckoning when we started out after lunch. It was then a case of finding our hotels and a rest. We had covered around 130 kilometres. It was cold and wet, I decided to try and do a more permanent repair on my front axle, so I removed the selector unit and cut a piece of wood into a suitable shape and siliconed it into place. This repair worked a treat for the rest of the event. We then went and found Kenny and Kath at their hotel and joined them and other competitors for supper (if you could call it that). We were given what was humorously referred to as vegetable soup, water with a couple of peas, beans and carrots in were more accurate, and the rest wasn't much better. Still at least it was warm and the company was good fun. The other Brits were on our table and we all had a good time. Then it was another early night ready for yet another 7.00 start.

Today it was Sharnee's turn to feel the pressure. We were the first vehicle out from the start with Kenny and Kath following. As usual the lead vehicle usually ends up with everyone following in a convoy, so if you go wrong it can be quite embarrassing. Apart from an initial glitch at the first junction, Sharnee performed flawlessly and we set off at a good pace heading for the hills where we had been told there was some large amounts of "neige" (snow). We made good time and were soon climbing upwards along wooded tracks, the first signs of snow started to appear on the track. When we got to the top Sharnee took over the driving in RedOct and Kath drove Daisy. This was Sharnee's first drive in snow (about 200mm deep) and did a thoroughly good job, hanging the ass out round the bends; she drove like a Pro. However the effect of the girls driving and the boys navigating proved detrimental to the navigation, i.e. neither Kenny or myself was paying attention and resetting the trip when we were supposed to or ticking off the boxes, so eventually we lost the plot with no real idea where we supposed to be. The girls took over the navigation again and soon had us back on track. Daisy took the lead and we started to head off downhill towards the valley, we figured that was the end of the snow and carried on enjoying the scenery. We started back uphill and this time it was obvious we were going a lot higher, we were already driving in 300mm of snow and still climbing. We rounded a bend to find marshalís vehicles and mud and slime everywhere. The course opening Marshals were winching themselves through a mudhole. A second vehicle had tried to go round and was half buried in the undergrowth. We waited for them to sort themselves out and then Ken drove straight through the mudhole hardly spinning a wheel. We did the same, however, Patrick following in his Suzuki was less fortunate, with the engine screaming he flung the Suzi in only to be defeated on the steep ramp out. He had bottomed out heavily, so I reversed back and tied a rope on and gently pulled him out. The Suzuki is nice vehicle to recover because it weighs nothing; you can do it all slowly. Once we had got Patrick through we headed off as the marshal's had got their winch vehicle in place to deal with the rest. We set off on almost virgin snow that on the top of the mountain was getting on for a metre deep in places. As we were the lead vehicles and there was no one else behind we stopped and had a play in the snow doing donuts and all the other childish things you have to do in snow when no one is looking. We headed back to the valley and pushed on towards the lunch stop. We then did an excellent quite difficult hillclimb that I remembered from last year, it basically is a steep, slippery twisting track through Broom bushes, that ends up climbing a short steep mound with treacherous rocks that will take the cars side panels apart if you get it wrong and then a difficult rock ledge to struggle up. We both took these in our stride and carried on. The terrain continually changes on this event, ranging from narrow heavily wooded tracks to mountaintops to open grass plains resembling Dartmoor or the Highlands to river crossings and some mud.

As we pushed on we experienced most of these. There was an interesting climb up some steps in the rock, they were about 2 metres across and 400mm tall, then there was the 5 kilometre long descent down a very narrow, very twisty track with steep vertical drop off's to one side that descended down one end of a beautiful valley before entering a village. We drove along the valley to our lunchstop refilling at a garage before stopping in Saint Enmie one of the most beautiful villages in France for lunch. It is situated at the base of a sheer vertical rock face.

The village looks as though some of the higher buildings are carved into the rock and in the valley there is a fast flowing river with wide flat banks. We stopped for our lunch here and enjoyed a delicious meal in super surroundings. The interesting thing is that wine and other local hooches are constantly consumed during the event, I have never seen anyone even remotely tipsy, but when you see what is waiting for you after lunch, a stiff drink is probably not such a bad thing.

The next section is driving up the sheer face alongside the valley for another 5 kilometres along even narrower tracks with an even bigger drop off the side. There are places where the track is no wider than possibly 2.4 metres, on one side is a vertical face hewn from the rock and on the other oblivion, albeit with a stunning view. For me this is the highlight of the event. We slowly picked our way up to the top, having to make several awkward shunts on the tighter corners, this meant reversing towards the edge with windows covered in mud and both mirrors folded in to enable the jeep to hug the rockface, feeling your way backwards waiting for the sudden lurch. Having taken that in our stride we charged on across some wide open plains along hard stony tracks with quite a lot of water to splash through, stopping to open and shut gates occasionally. The terrain shifted back to wooded tracks and we were back on disused railway lines passing through old railway tunnels, with fantastic Autumnal colours all around us. We passed the spot where Adam had his happening last year, but in daylight this time, the drop was pretty severe, it was probably as well it had been pitch black last year, it would have made all the helpers a lot more nervous. We carried on along some interesting tight twisty little tracks back down into the valley for the famous river crossing. The G.R.M. have constructed a raft from timber and 205 litre oil drums, it is pulled by a rope each way by the competitors, who are expected to pull it 3 times each before they get the final roadbook of the day to enable them to finish the course. A winch cable that is strung across the river guides the raft and prevents it wandering off down stream. The raft takes 2 cars at a time, so Daisy and RedOct travelled across together. Once back on terra firma it was our turn to pull, Sharnee did the pulling on my behalf whilst I filmed it. Having consumed some freshly roasted chestnuts offered by the marshals, we grabbed our roadbooks and headed off. An hour later we were on the final pages of day 2's roadbook on a piece of the road section when disaster struck. Kenny radioed that he thought he had a stone in one of the front discs as it had started making a racket. We pulled over and I stuck my head inside the front left wheel where the noise was coming from. I noticed the stone guard was bent and touching the disc, so I pulled it away from the disc and Kenny gave it a short roll forward. The noise was still there and when Kenny put his brakes on to stop there was violent bang from the left-hand front wheel and Daisy lurched off to the right stopping on the verge. This did not look good, When I peered in through the spokes of the wheel; I could see twisted metal that turned out to be the remains of the brake disc. We jacked it up and removed the wheel to see what had happened. The face of the disc had torn away from the main portion of the rotor leaving the braking surface completely detached from the hub. Kenny had had some Warn freewheeling hubs fitted (not by us) to the front and back of Daisy to make it easier to tow on the dolly. They apparently had not used the correct heavier duty disc for the front, so it tore off.

Luckily it had happened at low speed on a reasonably safe part of the event. Having established that it was beyond repair and that neither of us had the necessary spares to fix it, we had to decide what to do. The decision was to totally remove the remains of the disc and wedge a screwdriver handle in the calliper to simulate the disc. We cable tied it in place and refitted the wheel. This gave Kenny some braking albeit with a pretty desperate pull to the right and the handbrake. A fallback plan was tying RedOct on the rear and letting Kenny tow me along using me as his brakes as needed. After deliberating about the ins and outs, the decision was that we would continue on the roadbook as there was only 2 pages to go and most of that was off road, and as Kenny has the Tera Low transfer box mod on Daisy, in low range you donít really need brakes anyway. The decision made Kenny was off! The next section on the road book proclaimed "Descente Raide" meaning a seriously steep downhill section. Without hesitation Kenny turned off onto the section and disappeared over the edge.

I eased RedOct over the edge looking for Daisy; there was no sign of them anywhere. I slowly made my way down a quite treacherous heavily wooded very steep route through the trees, there wasn't really a track as such just a few tyre tracks to follow. I radioed them to see if they were all right, "Sound as a Pound" came back the reply. In today's economic climate I wasn't sure whether that was good or not, still he sounded happy enough so we carried on down. I radioed Kenny back asking what that clanking sound was I could hear, "What noise is that" asked Kenny? I said "Oh it's Ok, it's just your balls banging together"!

We carried on with no problems after that and finished the roadbook arriving at the fabulous Lou Serre de La Can outdoor pursuits Gite Complex located at Saint Germain de Calberte. This is our base for the next 2 nights. It is a fabulous centre situated in the Parc national des Cevennes and consists of a central hotel building Le Petit Calbertois where everyone congregates in the evening for good food and alcohol. Alongside the hotel are 2 terraces of stone Gites that we stayed in. Each gite has 2 double bedrooms and a pullout double bed in the lounge. They supply beds, blankets and pillows, you are expected to bring the linen. Each Gite is fully self contained and has good heating and lots of hot water to shower in. the whole place is built with typical French flair and a lot of thought. We unloaded the vehicles in pouring rain and got ourselves warm and dry. Kenny had decided to try and finish the event as the drive back with little brakes had not proved a problem, but when he checked the other disc in daylight, it had started to break up as well so that ruled them out of the event. Over breakfast the plan was made that Kenny and Kath would get a taxi back to Hotel Claire Matin and collect the "Mitsi" and dolly and return for Daisy, whilst Sharnee and myself would bash on and finish the event.

It started well enough; we had to drive to the starting point approx. 30 kilometres down the road by an ancient burial tomb called Ronc Traoucat. At the drivers briefing we were informed that the main route was extremely narrow in places and that we would be too wide, so they had laid out an alternative route for the larger vehicles. There were also some changes to the roadbook and then we were off. We were the fourth vehicle out in our group and with Patrick in his Suzuki taking the lead together with his friends in the big Nissan Patrol, followed by a LWB G-Wagen van and ourselves. The vehicles started with gaps between them so you didn't end up playing follow the leader, and when we left the start Sharnee was spot on with her navigating, the roadbook made sense and all was going well. We came to the first difficult bit, a short uphill through some trees and then a difficult drop onto a narrow ledge with quite a long way to fall if you got it wrong.

This track passed by another ancient structure called Fringayrolles I believe. We then made our way along the ledge to an awkward axle twist that had the G-Wagen lifting wheels, at which point various spectators would leap onto the vehicle and balance it as it negotiated the obstacle. There was nothing there to worry RedOct with around 14" of wheel travel at each corner and Airlockers, it would happily swallow this section up, however one of the spectators was readying himself to leap on. If you are reading this I apologise for being rude when I shouted at you to get off, but I have a good reason for doing it. The section was not going to cause any problems to us, If I have someone travelling on my vehicle, I am morally liable for their wellbeing. If something terrible happened I would be liable in court also. So I prefer not to have unnecessary passengers, no matter how well intentioned. We trundled through the axle twist with no dramas and carried on. We continued back down onto the road and made our way to the next turn off.

We were on our own at this point and the track we were following was covered in fallen leaves, although the roadbook was making sense, there were no signs of any other traffic having been up the track. I was pondering this, either the others ahead of us had gone wrong, meaning we were the lead vehicle again, or we could be off course. Sharnee was adamant that we were right and we carried on. She was absolutely right and we caught up with the others at the top of the hill. They were parked up studying the roadbook and scratching their heads. This didn't look good. The roadbook had gone wrong somewhere, The instructions were to turn right and travel 220 metres before turning right and heading back down the hillside. We turned right and looked for the track, it was nowhere to be seen, we drove on further and found a track, but that was 668 metres up the road. We went back and joined the others, eventually through a process of checking and elimination, the track we had spotted at 668 metres turned out to be the correct one. We all headed off down and were following the Nissan, when it managed to embed itself on a very hefty treestump. I pulled round him to give him a tug, but the stump was on his sump and could do some serious damage. The suggestion was to try and lift the vehicle manually with us all grabbing a part to lift on. Surprisingly no one suffered a hernia and it worked and he backed off with no harm done. We carried on down the hill and regrouped at the bottom. By now we had decided to travel together as a group, as we were having a good time. The next obstacle changed all that. There was a steep possibly 1:2 slippery hill that had some difficult tree roots to negotiate where you had to drive between 2 trees. Patrickís "Suzi" had 3 attempts without success. The Nissan decided to let me go next. The plan was to see if I could get up to the next level area and then winch the next vehicle up and relay the vehicles until another vehicle with a winch could get there to relieve me. I took it gently on the first attempt hoping that the Airlockers would carry me over the roots, but the "Suzi" had polished them and I didn't get over. I backed down and tried again with some more speed, this time it slid sideways on the roots and left me parked against the tree on my right hand side. After a bit of effort and the removal of my Hi Lift jack from the right hand side, I backed down again ready for my 3rd attempt. This Time I gave it full throttle in 3rd, It scrambled over the roots and I was on the next part of the hill. The area I had earmarked to winch from was too slippery, no one would get going again from that point, and I was still struggling for grip. I had already pulled over off the main route in readiness to turn round; I looked up ahead and noticed that there was another track crossing the hill about 15 metres on. I was in the undergrowth, but there was reasonable grip and what appeared to be an easy ramp up the bank onto the track, so I put the power back on and headed for the ramp. As I got closer I noticed a long log lying lengthways across half of my route. It was only about 200mm in diameter so I thought I would charge it and bounce the front over it and power the back up it once the front wheels had grip on the track the other side. What I couldn't see was a wall about 500mm tall behind it.

As the front wheels bounced over the log it was already light on the front due to the steepness of the hill, the wall bounced it higher still and sent the front off to the right sliding along the wall. The end result was a slow motion rollover onto the drivers side then roof before finishing up on the passengerís side. I climbed out through the driverís window and surveyed the carnage. RedOct had ended up parked on its passengerís side facing uphill with a tree in front and another behind. No one else could get up the hill to help with their vehicle, so it was a case of self-recovery.

Several people had made their way up on foot and suggestions in different languages were coming thick and fast. My decision was to put a tree strop around a tree off to the right of the vehicle, then using the Warn 8274 winch on the front with the wire through swingaway snatchblock and then back onto the rollcage (a lifesaving standard item on all Wranglers), I would use the winch to recover the vehicle onto its wheels. Before righting it I attached the choker chain to a pretty stout tree in front of the jeep. This was to stop it rolling backwards when it was on 2 wheels. All was going well until it was apparent that another small tree was going to get in the way, someone produced a saw and removed it. We continued to right RedOct, as it landed on its wheels, the substantial tree that we had decided to tie it off to decided to uproot itself and looked as if it was going to fall on RedOct. I just laughed; it was quickly becoming a comedy of errors. I tried to start the engine to find it had hydraulicíd with engine oil, so I took the plugs out and asked Sharnee to turn it over whilst I was perched in the bonnet area. WHOOSH!! About a pint of oil came flying out of the rear plugholes, deflected off the brake servo covering me in hot oil. I just had to shake my head; this was not a good start to the day. Also it was starting to turn cold. I fitted a new set of plugs and started RedOct up. The entire area disappeared under a thick cloud of smoke that didn't fully clear for a good 10 minutes. I shunted around a couple of times and managed to get a clear run out of the woods onto the track. I couldn't get enough grip to get going so I ended up winching myself to the track. Once there I turned around and started winching vehicles up. Eventually a pair of well-sorted LWB Land Cruisers came up the hill and relieved me. I spent probably 30 minutes rounding up all the rubbish and stuff that appears when you roll the vehicle, lost pens, furry mint imperials and crap you never knew you had in there. I surveyed the damage, The windscreen glass was broken, the frame was badly dented on the top edge, the canvas was in sorry state, and the drivers mirror was broken. The only other damage was where I bent the door inside when my bulk hit it. The side window wouldnít wind all the way up now. Sharnee had not been in the vehicle when I rolled it, and she wasn't looking too thrilled at the prospect of travelling in it now. She gamely agreed to carry on towards lunch and see how it went from there. I ended up pulling over and cutting out the broken screen as I was worried about small pieces getting blown back into our eyes and visibility was bad in direct sunlight. I stowed all the broken glass in the Warn winch accessory bag and we pushed on. The weather had turned cold, and on the road sections it was freezing. We rejoined the main route where we got stuck behind a convoy of vehicles taking forever to negotiate some pretty straightforward stuff in the trees, There was a nicely prepared Belgium Frontera that was in front of us that was performing well. We eventually drove up a huge hill to the top where there was a stop for a picnic if you wanted and a phenomenal view. Jean Louis Milelli (GRM President) was waiting at the top and was concerned that we were OK, apparently we were the second vehicle to roll this day. Jean- Michelle, one of the marshals's had rolled his Toyota on an earlier route. Unfortunately his was a lot worse and he suffered quite nasty cuts and bruises and the Toyota was badly damaged. We opted to push on, as the weather was looking worse all the time. The Roadbook showed Descente Raide some 160 metres back down the track, so off we went. We found the track and descended down a route marked by odd squirts of paint on rocks.

These would be our guides for the rest of this route. We were now on our own, there were no proper tracks to follow, and just these marks and odd bits of bunting tied to the odd shrub here and there. Sharnee was on form once again with her navigating and we made good progress along some quite technical terrain.

The roadbook went wrong again and we couldn't make sense of it. It went wrong where they had advised us to modify it at the drivers meeting; we may have misunderstood their instructions. We backtracked and reverted to the original route ignoring the changes. This meant if we had a problem, and were on the wrong route, no one would look for us there. I was unsure about this but decided it was worth a go. Luckily it started to make sense on the roadbook again so we pressed on. There was one piece that was quite tricky; we were driving along very slippery flat sections of rock that protruded like flat fins out of the surface. At one point we had to make a sharp right turn whilst negotiating the rock surface. The angle was uncomfortable and there was a long drop off to the passengerís side. Sharnee decided she had seen enough and asked to jump out. Once she was out I needed to shunt carefully a few times to make the turn. With each shunt RedOct was working towards the edge and eventually ended up being supported by a small tree. One final shunt and we were back on level ground again. Sharnee jumped back in and we carried on eventually meeting the main road exactly as the roadbook predicted. That was a relief. We drove to the lunchstop and stopped at an ancient restaurant in a tiny village. The facilities were primitive but the food was excellent. We sat down with the other competitors who had helped us when I rolled. The lady in the group spoke good English and translated for us. We discussed going on and finishing the course, but it was now bloody freezing and it looked as if rain or snow was imminent so we decided to head back. Thatís easy to say, but we had no idea where we actually were. The roadbook is just a series of sketches; it isn't a map as such. Luckily one of the guys on our table had decided to go back and invited us to follow. So we wrapped up with everything we had and headed back the 20 Kilometres or so. All I could see of Sharnee was her nose poking out of a mound of clothing, we were both wearing sunglasses and the light was going. Once back at the base we had a cup of coffee to warm up, Kenny and Kath had the key and hadn't returned yet. They showed up after 30 minutes having had an adventure of their own. The taxi drive cost them £290 and had taken 4 hours to cover the 319-Km's. They then collected the "Mitsi" and dolly and headed back stopping at every car accessory shop they could find on route to try and get me an emergency windscreen to drive home with. Every single place was shut this Saturday because it was a public holiday; they did manage to find some plastic sheeting which meant I could at least keep the worst of the weather off. We discussed what to do, there was no way I really wanted to drive for 2 days through pouring rain with no waterproofs so the decision was made to send RedOct home with Green Flag relay. I called them and explained what had happened, they said that they would collect it and put it in safe storage but I would have to get my insurance company to contact them as it had been involved in an accident. So I cleared out what I could and secured the rest and a truck arrived within the hour and whisked RedOct off to Ales (the nearest big town).

That sorted we could now relax and enjoy the evenings events. We went along for the prize giving and got loads of stick from various friends, one cheeky Dutchman offered me £5000 to take it off my hands. There was the usual pre amble and thanking the various Mayors etc and then they started handing out the prizes. Not understanding much French, I wasn't really paying attention until Kath nudged me in the ribs saying theyíre talking about us. There was a big round of applause and we were summoned up to collect a huge wicker basket full of local wines and produce. I dragged Sharnee up with me, she was reluctant but she was a vital part of the team and had done brilliantly.

This move impressed Jean Louis as he could give her a kiss instead of me. I was touched, apparently the prize was for team spirit, something along the lines of rolling the vehicle whilst assisting others and continuing to assist having righted it.

Personally I think Jean Michelle the marshal who rolled his Toyota deserved the prize more than I did, I hope he manages to get the vehicle sorted quickly. Once the prize giving had finished, we sat down for supper and planned our return trip. I was asked to join Jean Louis at the top table to toast his newly arrived twins. Having finished a very nice supper, the others headed for the Gite whilst I joined Jean Louis and the organisation for a drink.

The following day Kenny, Kath, Sharnee and myself piled into the "Mitsi" with Daisy on the dolly and headed back. I have to say that the "Mitsi" did a very good job lugging its heavy load home and was actually quite comfortable in the crew cab. We had a pleasant trip back with an overnight en route, back through the Eurotunnel and home Monday afternoon.

As ever-another superb event organised by the GRM, the Mille Riviere has now become a more technical event than before and is definitely worth putting on your list of events to do.

You should probably budget for around £1500 depending on your vehicle and location if you fancy having a go.