The day began a bit chilly as we emerged from Chez Tent. I donned my jacket and headed for the bathroom block. Now I should point out, the bathroom block at this campsite (and it turns out at our latest one too) is unisex, which is fine given that the spaces in which one would perform any sort of personal activities, are enclosed in individual cubicles. When faced with these shared facilities though, there is always the possibility of unexpected encounters or observations, and one must be prepared for such experiences! When I walked into the building last night to brush my teeth, I was confronted with a gentleman in the process of dressing his lower half. He had clearly just emerged from the shower, but for some reason, wholly unclear to me, he had decided to perform the post-shower dressing outside the cubicle and in the general surrounds of the open building. I smiled quickly, to show him I was just a friendly stranger entering to perform my own routine, of the dental variety, and then averted my eyes and scuttled as quickly as I could into the nearest cubicle! This morning as I returned to the building to perform my morning routine, on entering it was to be met by the back of a gentleman in a toilet cubicle making use of the urinal option. He too, chose to ignore the door which was so kindly and practically provided on each cubicle and instead chose to share his own bathroom routines with passers-by, such as myself! After these encounters, I was left with only one word in my head…doors! Doors, gentleman, doors! They are such marvellous inventions, they truly are. They provide a measure of privacy and dignity to those individuals performing what are, in fact, quite personal activities, while sparing the viewing public from having to actually…view! Ferme la porte!
Morning routines complete and still with my 20/20 vision preserved, despite the scenes I had witnessed, we packed up and headed off into the streets of Moissac.
It was now a bustling little town with people going about their business, school groups being chaperoned, groups of men standing and passing the time of day and people strapping their baguettes to their bicycle racks. Steve emerged from the store with his own supply of bread and pastries and we were ready to hit the path. After a chilly start, the day soon warmed up and the sun beat down. We rode past some lovely scenery of fields, old buildings, a very new to the world foal wobbling around her mother’s legs and then something that was new for us – a nuclear power station. The enormous stacks billowing their steam could be seen from quite a distance and we rode past quite close to them. Strangely enough, they didn’t look like a blot on the landscape, if anything they looked quite graceful, two curving chimneys quietly steaming away.
We stopped for elevenses in the sun beside the canal and I plastered on yet another layer of sunscreen. Then we pedalled on and exchanged multiple Bonjours yet again with the friendly people out walking or riding along the path. It really does make the ride extra enjoyable, to share a smile and a greeting with strangers as they pass and it was another ride of multiple Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour!. I began to practise my inflections, because people say it in so many different ways. Some with an upswing at the end, some in a sing-song tone, others with emphasis on the Bon and some with emphasis on the jour. So I began to try a different tone and style to my greeting with each new person I shared it with!
After stopping for a quick lunch and yet another layer of sunscreen, we rode into the outskirts of Agen, where we intended to pick up a few supplies before heading out into the countryside to the location of our campsite. As we rode into Agen, one man we passed went one better with the pattern of Bonjours. He said, “Bonjour Madame” and tipped his hat! How ‘bout that! That was lovely and sure put a smile on my dial! We managed to navigate the busy streets of Agen, which took some getting used to after the peace and quiet of our canal path, but we finally picked up the bits and pieces we needed and headed to our campsite at St. Hilaire-de-Lusignan. While Steve went to check us in, I introduced myself to the camp cat, who strolled over and rolled in the grass in front of me. I gave him a pat and a scratch behind the ears and he got his motor running in top gear! I think it was one of the loudest purrs I’ve heard. Then the feet started going as he kneaded the ground and then rolled over and kneaded thin air, with his claws and paws flexing in delight. He was a nice friendly and playful little chap. We soon pitched the tent on our nice little patch of grass beside the duck pond, had a shower to wash off some of the layers of sunscreen and the day’s exertions after 62km of riding, had a cuppa and settled in.
So today was a lovely ride on a beautiful day, shared with some peaceful scenery and smiling friendly locals. Dee-lightful. Our campsite here also has unisex bathroom facilities, so I’m thinking when I return to use these facilities tonight and in the morning, I may take a particular interest in the architectural design of the roof beams and ceiling colour, just in case I’m met with any unexpected visions before me! So here’s the deal…I promise to look up, just in case…and gentleman how about you promise to discover the amazing contraption that is…the DOOR!