This morning’s ride was planned to be a bit shorter as we headed to the next available campsite and it began with a long, straight, flat section of road, that went on and on and on! Thank you! What a refreshing change from the hills that go on and on and on!
The winds were light so I got to take in a bit of the scenery around me and it was lovely farm land with stone buildings in the distance and a patchwork of fields. Having spent the last few days exploring the sites of World War Two battles and the D-Day landings, we are now heading towards the battlefields of World War One, around Amiens and The Somme.
We rode into the small town of Buchy and it was obviously Monday market day because the streets were lined with stalls and it was bustling with people with their baskets and stopping to chat and lots of cheek to cheek kissing in greeting happening. There was also a WWI cenotaph with quite a moving image as its statue.
I stood with the bikes while Steve went off to get his pastries and something for elevenses and I watched the market go on around me. The cheese merchant was doing a roaring trade, cutting into his wheels of cheese and ladling huge scoops of creme fraiche into containers for his customers. Some of the market stalls were under cover in roofed shelters and these date back to the sixteenth century!
We walked the bikes through the crowds and then rode on to find a patch of grass to sit for elevenses. It was at this time that I said to Steve, “I have a bad feeling about today. Whenever we think it’s going to be an easy day and a short ride, something happens. I really hope this campsite is open.” We spent last night planning our onward route to Peronne and making sure we had campsites along the way and we checked the opening dates of every one. We checked the one we planned to stay at today and it said it was open and it was only a 35km ride away, but no other campsites nearby. I just always feel, when things seem to be planned to be easy, they never are!
Elevenses over, we rode on and…darn…while we were sitting comfortably having elevenses in the sun beside a tree, someone, somewhere had turned on the wind, because it was blowing now. Here we go again, slogging along the road, with the open country providing no respite and a few patches of uphill to contend with too. The wind was so strong that I was back to having to pedal on the downhills, just to keep moving because the wind was trying to blow me back up the hill. So the post-elevenses ride turned out to be not quite as enjoyable as earlier in the morning.
Nonetheless, we rode on into our pitstop of Forges-les-Eaux and found our campsite. Hmmm, it did not look open at all. A sign on the window of reception said it was closed from 12:00-2:30 and since it was 1:00, we decided to sit on the grass, have lunch and wait for it to open. We spread out our little travelling tarp, sat behind a shrub to get some shelter from the wind and had lunch and soaked up some of the sun’s warmth. At 2:30 Steve went to check out what was happening at the campsite and I started packing up our things. He soon returned with the words I did not want to hear, “We need Plan B.” I knew it! I knew this was going to be too good to be true! The campsite still wasn’t open and Steve had done a walk around and said it didn’t look like it was in operation at all. I had visions of us riding on another 40km to the next campsite and I have to say, the thought did not thrill me. Steve was already on the smartphone, looking up Plan B alternatives and found a hotel in the town that was bike friendly. So we activated Plan B, given there were no other campsites for another 40km and we are now staying in a ground floor room at the town pub, right next to the room that stores the bikes, so it is all good in the end!
We went for a stroll around the village and looked at the lovely old buildings, two of which were schools that had once been a school for boys and a school for girls.
We also saw another WWI cenotaph, with some women’s names on this one.
As we were walking along a man spoke to Steve, in French, as if to ask something. Steve said, “Je ne parlez pas Francais,” to which the man laughed and said something like, “parlez vous Francais” as if to say “but you just did speak French!”, to which we all gave a chuckle and he gave us a wave and off we went. Such lovely friendly people we keep meeting! We walked on along a bike path, through an avenue of trees again and stopped to sit in the park, just to enjoy the sun again and watch the ducks on the lake. Very tranquil. As we’ve walked and ridden around, we’ve started to see more references to WWI.
So the day started off with a nice ride, even with the traffic and then the wind put a bit of a dampener on things and then the campsite threw in another glitch, but it all worked out OK. We only rode 35km and on mainly flat roads, so it was a nice change from the long and challenging few days we’ve had recently. This trip really is a case of “expect the unexpected” though, so we just have to take what comes and, as my mantra goes, “adapt and overcome!” So far we’ve been able to do that, so I wonder what we can not expect tomorrow?!