Thursday 24 July
Our first night on a French campsite passed without any incident. The site having many English visitors using many modes of camping - Caravans, Motorhomes, static caravans and Eurocamp tents which include Safari ones??? Not sure if these come with resident Elephants and Lions? It does seem a strange name to give a tent in France.
We bimbled into town after breakfast to stock up on fresh bread for sandwiches, croissants for elevenses, food and fresh drinking water. We called into the Tourist Information as we had been made aware the previous night that the Pilgrimage trail we were following used a ‘Passport’ scheme which entailed Pilgrims to receive preferential treatment at campsites and maybe a small discount on the overnight costs. Success there was indeed a ‘Passport’, we received these at no cost - even better, received our first stamp and went on our way.
The walk we are following for the majority to our destination involves following an original pilgrim trail walked from Canterbury to Rome, so in theory the route would prove easy to follow. The day proved true to form, we followed the trail through fields, the TGV line in part and our first rest stop was a very welcome picnic area. We sat down on a bench…..it’s surprising how these little things give such pleasure when normally you would just have to make do with sitting on the grass. We were both absolutely saturated with sweat but I guess that would be something we would have to come to terms with with temperatures close to 30 degrees. We dined on chocolate croissants and drank luke warm water to sate our thirst. Soon it was time to set off again.
The trail now went straight up hill, Rachel felt that she would be able to be with me most of the day, but invariably this meant having to push the bike up the hills. Sometimes with me acting as the rear stoker, pushing the bike from behind. The rest of the day saw us travelling through lush woodlands, the occasional field and a fair bit of roads.
By mid afternoon we had reached our destination and proceeded to the nearest cafe / pub for a drink and to catch up on the internet. Alas the village appeared to be in a dead zone for wi-fi signals so we drank up and set off to the campsite. Now we had a choice of two and the first one we tried to use, which had free wi-fi, had no space when Rachel enquired the previous night. So I told Rachel to go on ahead and bag a nice cosy spot with some shade and quiet. Meanwhile as I was passing the first one, I popped in and asked again if they had space. Maybe because I had my pack on they immediately said yes and showed me to a nice quite sheltered spot……prefectamundo.
Now I just had to find Rachel……the phone wasn’t working so I walked the extra 1k to find her. She had found a spot and proceeded to unpack, I explained tactifully that the better site had come up trumps, so we returned there. Yes it worked out a few Euros more expenses but for free wi-fi it was worth it. We even had a small stone step to sit on while we had dinner.
Now for some strange reason this site, despite the costs, did not supply toilet paper. Now some things are a must and soft, squishy and it does not have to be a nice colour, are a must. I explained this Rachel and she set off to investigate the ladies toilets. Having confirmed this was true and with no shop on site Rachel marched into the Reception and with some polite inquisitive authority said “ is it correct that there’s no toilet roll ’? I think the manager got the hint and proceeded to produce a pink toilet roll from a cupboard like a rabbit out of a hat.
We dispensed with the obligatory noodles for tea and went all Mediterranean and had cous cous. Now here I must digress and mention that I am currently reading Bill Bryson - A Walk in the Woods. The book explains in great detail his experience of walking the Appaluchian Trail in America, some 2000+ miles. Now we are not attempting to come anywhere close to that distance but I have recently read an excerpt where he talks about Noodles - and here I must share it with you.
“ On the first night after a rest and possibly eating ‘normal’ food you are starving for noodles; on the second night you are starving but wish it wasn’t noodles, on the third you don’t want the noodles but know you better eat something; by the fourth you have no appetite but just eat because that is what you do at this time of day.”
Well it is not quite like that for us, but as I am a vegetarian and with only one pan and a frying pan menu options are limited to what we can get in a pan all together and what is quick to cook and available in the shops - the French ones not giving the widest choice.
The meal was a huge success with fresh fruit salad to ensure we maintained our 5 or 7 a day.
After tea we spent a few hours in the bar on’t net whilst also charging equipment. We were so tired after our very long trans-country day that we fell asleep easily despite the very loud Zumba class that was taking place just across the way.
Distance - 10.50 miles
Total since Helmsley - 518.75 miles