The morning that greeted us hadn’t lost any of its sogginess unfortunately. We packed up under grey skies and as we set off to leave, the drizzle started again.
Damp aside though, the path we rode along was just lovely. It was a mixture of gravel cycle path alongside the river and quiet country roads. We took in scenes such as lines of ivy covered trees, lakes every shade of green from the water weed that sat on top, a riding stable with people in the arena having lessons, many runners and cyclists out for a Saturday workout, a doggie obstacle course where a boxer was being loudly and enthusiastically encouraged to run over a bridge and as we went along taking in these scenes, the morning warmed up. We stopped to take off a layer and waited for a couple of horse riders to go ahead of us and get some distance, before we tailed them along the path. It was just delightful.
We rode into the small village of Oudon and as we stopped for a photo, a couple came riding towards us, clearly touring cyclists because they had the same sort of panniers as us, same brand and everything. The lady was carrying panniers and the gentleman was towing a trailer. They stopped for a chat and we asked each other about where we were from and where we were heading. They were, like others have been, quite astonished that we were from Australia. “That’s very far!” they exclaimed. They were the second couple we have met from Switzerland and they had been on the road for two weeks, just riding for a holiday. So we chatted for while and then we wished each other happy travels and pedalled off in our opposite directions.
We called into a boulangerie for Steve to choose his pastries of the day, then rode on to a small park where we sat for elevenses and watched the kids playing Saturday morning soccer. What I love, is the fact that kids are just kids, no matter where they are! I chuckled as I watched the little tackers kicking for goal and running after the ball and even if they were nowhere near the ball, still having to do the obligatory slide and skid on the grass, because after all, that’s what field sports are all about…get as much mud on that kit as possible and have as much fun as you can doing it! So the ball may have been at the other end of the field, but there were at least two little fellas just having a great time running towards nothing, just to do the sliding skid on the grass. Good on ‘em!
Elevenses over and our Saturday morning sports fixtures having been viewed, we continued pedalling towards our destination of Ancenis. The sky turned a darker shade of grey, the wind became stronger and the chill in the air became colder. We rode up to the campsite to discover the office didn’t open for another three hours. We tossed around the idea of riding on, but then decided to stay put and kill some time, because we had chosen this location as a two-nighter so we could have a Sunday lazy rest day. We rode around for a while, wheeled the bikes into the entrance of a shopping centre, thinking we would just stand near the entrance for a while to warm up and get out of the cold, but were soon approached by a very nice, polite security guard who informed us that the bikes couldn’t stay. Even though not a word of English was spoken, we got the idea! Oh well, it was worth a try, so back out into the wind and cold we went and found a Subway for Steve’s lunch. We sat outside while lunch was munched and then decided to head back to the campsite to wait. With the weather as cold as it was and with us and our belongings already being damp from the night of camping in the rain, we’d pretty much decided to opt for a cabin, rather than pitch the tent again.
We sat outside the office at the campsite and before too long a lady came up to us and spoke in French, to which we gave our perfectly rehearsed reply, yep, you guessed it…”Je ne parlez pas Francais.” She was telling us the office was closed until 3:00 but then we began playing charades, with her resting her hands beside her head, making a sleeping gesture. “Oui,” we said.
“Velo,” she said, pointing to the bikes.
“Oui,” we said again and she gestured for us to follow her. I waited with the bikes, while Steve went with her, to be shown where the bike camping section was. Well, it turned out to be such a top spot, we immediately ditched all plans for a cabin and pitched the tent instead. We have a lovely big grass area and a big marquee tent equipped with microwave, fridge and indoor and outdoor picnic tables. It’s the first “camp kitchen” we’ve had and the marquee gave us a place to sit out of the wind, so we pitched the tent in a sheltered and private spot behind a hedge and this is our home for a couple of nights. We were able to cook supper in the marquee on the Trangia, out of the wind, eat at a table like civilised people and now sit and type, on a table, with real fair dinkum overhead lights too! The only trouble is there’s no wifi down here, so we’ll have to go in search of it tomorrow so as to keep the blogs happening. It’s been tricky blogging lately because the places we’ve stayed have had really poor wifi, which means photos won’t upload, but the wifi zones have also been a single spot outside the reception office. This has meant freezing cold nights sitting in the dark, trying to post a blog, while freezing our tails off in the process. So, sometimes the blog happens late or a day late, due to wifi or it may suffer somewhat in quality because we have to do it as quickly as we can because it’s midnight and we’re sitting outside in the dark and the cold, just to access a single wifi spot at a campsite. It’s just another small challenge to be faced at times!
Tomorrow we’re looking forward to a day of doing not very much at all! It had occurred to us that we haven’t actually had a real rest day yet. All of our non-riding days have been roaming days where we’ve spent the day either walking or riding around exploring, so they’ve still been busy and full days and time on our feet. They’ve been great, but we’ve decided to have our first “do nothing day”, where we will just hang around camp, do some washing, hang around camp, read a book, hang around camp, play Uno, hang around camp, have a snooze, hang around camp, maybe take a stroll into the village and just generally have nowhere we need to be and nothing we specifically have to do. We’re hoping the weather is nice and lets us do the hanging around camp bits because I’d like to just sit and read and drink tea (although my Australian supply of Madura tea that I brought with me is finally almost gone!). So, pick up your pom-poms again…
Gimme an R…R!
Gimme an E…E!
Gimme an S…S!
GImme a T…T!
We’ll take some time to sit and rest
Rest will help us do our best
I’ll read a book and drink some tea
Then have a snooze and feel lazy
The legs deserve a little rest
Constant cycling is a test
We’ll take some time to just be still
So we can climb the next big hill
Yaaayyyy Reeesst Daaayyyy!!