My first decent shower

Bienvenu gentle readers. Look at that, almost bilingual! Has anyone else noticed this? The more I wander around rural France, the more it looks like the USA. I’m on a campsite it St Symphoniere that has a collection of cabins, some scrawny trees, a kid with Tourettes and looks for all the world like the home of Cleatus in the simpsons. This place is in a huge national park made up of the forests of Landes. This is the largest man made forest in Western Europe and was planted to provide wood for the ships to fight off the bastard English! That didn’t work because the trees are still here and so am I.

Today was always going to be a fairly short 48 miles, and so it was. It is slighty different from all the others in that I’ve left the CTC route and set off on my own- and it went really well. Leaving St Emilion was tricky, but after a bit of off-roading around the city walls, I got going and barely stopped until lunch. I made a big thing of this today just because I had plenty of time. The day was heating up to incendiary point so I pulled into a leafy lane and set up my stove, made tea, ate lunch and read my book for half an hour. Great! Pedaled on along these dead straight perfect roads (who pays for these roads – my father always used to say the French had soft suspension on their cars to get them over their ‘cart track’ roads. Things have changed) watching the huge cumulo nimbus clouds building in front of me. I thought I wouldmmake it before the heavens opened, but no such luck. 500m outs the village the heavens opened. I found an obliging tree to shelter under (I know, thunderstorms and trees but I made sure it was a pretty short one) and waited while the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed. I got slightly wet but after an afternoon of 30+ temperatures it was a blessed relief.

Anyway, more forest tomorrow and I may make it to Spain – not sure, will check later. Getting close anyway. Au revoir Steve Jobs does not like my French spelling

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I was lost in France

Well, it’s not surprising when two out of the three systems for navigation let you down. The written instructions from the CTC had a dyslexic jumble g of road numbers, my route on the sat nav went walkies, and when the French started using the flexible Cornish mile for measuring distance, it’s lucky I got here at all

I’ve been on the road a very long today but, with Jessie’s help, found a store reeling gas in screw top cannisters. That involved negotiating the traffic of Liborne and getting great directions from a less than sober cyclist who actually led me for a mile or so and finally left me shouting ‘Cette direction, cette direction’ !!

But now I am in the famous St Emilion on a crowded commercial campsite. It’s been rely not today and, true to form, I cam hear the thunder rumbling away. That puts me about 20 miles west of Bordeaux, so I guess it’s ok to say I’m now in the south of France. A couple more sleeps and I’ll be in Spain

I’m really tired today after a fairly disturbed night last night. On the one side I had three ungodly
Men/Boys who made random noises at random times, and on the other the godly church that binges the hour all through the night. Not so bad at 1,2 & 3 but by 5 it was getting beyond a joke.

Anyway, shortish day tomorrow which I’m looking forward to.

L & K’s mes petites

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I wanted to stay in Ars!

What you might call a workmanlike day today. Head down and pedaled for 72 miles. IDDD nice and early to get a head start on Ken’s puncture troll. He must have heard men because 6 miles into the day he got me, and again about 20 miles later. I eventually found the almost invisible piece of something embedded in the tyre and put an end to his little games. And a few bits fell off the bike. So this evening in Archiac ( a one horse town where the horse has left out of sheer boredom) I’ve mended three punctures, screwed a few things back on the bike, and stopped a rattle that was driving me CRAZY!

No beer tonight. I ended up drinking more beer with a fellow camper and ate my entire stock of Inuprofen by breakfast.

And my lesson for the day. When you see a supermarket don’t ride past thinking there will be plenty of others because there won’t. Archaic has no shops and I cycled through wheatfields and vineyards with nary a SuperU or Intermarche in sight. Tonight I ate all my emergency rations cos I didn’t get any lunch either. Doh!

No photos today

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Where’s the chain?

What a difference a day makes. It was (as Lance Armstrong would say) there was no chain on the bike and the whole rig glided along as though on air. Damn, it was chilly this morning without my gilet (am I going on about that a bit?) but by 10 I warmed up until the day got really hot. Lovely! It’s like cycling through warm cotton wool.

This morning was a bit surreal. I’ve resigned myself to being woken by the Dawn chorus, although some of them have sounded like a bunch of drunks on their way home from an all-nighter. But this one was spectacular. I went out for a pee one night and was blown by the night sky, and the birds singing was a bit like that. It had depth and layers and repetition until something new started. So, I just go to bed earlier now knowing they are going to sake me at six.

Today I was heading for Coulon and when I got to coulogn I just thought I’d read it wring. I was a bit fed up because I’d only done 45 miles and it seemed I was supposed to stay in this dump. Quicy changes when I realised my mistake and pedalled on withe hot sun at my side and the, by now, strong northeasterly at my back for another 20 miles.

Colon is full of Brits. I’m in a bar and there are three families around me. I made the mistake of asking for a grand bierre that they kindly served in a tankard. So much formmy anonymity!

I’ve run out of gas! Who told me you can buy screw top canisters everywhere? My ‘girlfriend’ in Mllets who sold menthe Pocket Rocket, that’s who.

AnywAy gentle readers, Santander is almost 400 miles nearer than when I set out so I must be doing something right

To the south!

How about this for roadkill?

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Poupet still

Not much to report today other than bow lazy I’ve been. Got up, had breakfast, had a long hot shower, felt exhausted and went back to bed. That shower didn’t have one of those really annoying push button thingies that I always mean to make some sort of clamp for, Market, and make my belated fortune from the same people who all bought travelling bath plugs.

Eventually walked to St Malo sur Bois and bought lunch in the only shop that was open. Resolved to go further afield this afternoon, but in the meantime felt a little nap coming on. Cycled this time to St Laurent sur Sevre along beautiful paths that go from the campsite, along the banks of the Sevre and found one more shop that sold me a cheap padlock. Still, better than nothing.

I am siting on the veranda of a kittle lodge on the campsite – did I mention I’ve not seen another camper, all very spooky – basking in the evening sun and about to go for a few beers. In the bar they have a dog that has the colouring of a Bengal tiger! Good beer as well.

He’s is a picture of my path to the supermarket. Bit of a contrast to yesterday.

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Wetter, ‘otter still, much harder

That was a tough one. I’m not going to go on about it but I knew something was a bit odd when it started to rain at breakfast. Still, I’m used to that so set off and had a great 40 miles to the Loire. There was a real change in the countryside: gone were the lovely lanes of Brittany and instead there were rolling open wheat fields for as far as the eye can see. It also got busier and a bit less relaxed. Cyclists don’t wave any more and the traffic became a bit stressful. So anyway, I laboured on, got lost a few times and eventually found this beautiful campsite in Poupet after 72 hot miles.

I had some equipment failures as well. Actually I have been losing equipment including my old and much favoured gilet. The worse part was that all my keys were in it. Losing the top off my pump seemed minor but could have been catastrophic.

Im hoping for a better day tomorrow but if it rains I’m going to take the day off. Phew. Say nice things people. That has been tough.

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‘Otter

Made it Nort sur Edre it is and another beautiful campsite that has charged me nine euros. Last night was only three euros, but this one has Mosquitos. I’d forgotten about those little buggers but happily not about the DEET and my plastic melting powers are at their peak.

And it’s getting ‘otter (where’s my Tarka joke when I need it?). That’s it now, even the gilet came off today and I have this constant struggle to find water. I’ve been practising ‘give me water or I will die’ in my best O level French but have not had to use it so far.

Today is Sunday meaning that the usually sleepy French countryside was even quieter. I went through towns and villages calling out ‘ello but I guess they’re all in church or something. In bed if they have any sense and not pedalling 23 miles on a completely straight road. Those Romans have a lot to answer for!

So tomorrow I pass a big milestone and cross the Loire. I’m almost in Nantes today so no winder it’s getting hot.

If none of this makes sense it is because blogging on an iPhone is a cuddly business. Thank you for all your good wishes. Onwards, southwards!

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