A case of “I saw this and thought of you” Mr Bills, if your out there, remember: “The French giveth, the French might taketh it away”.
Some very interesting things since I last wrote. I actually rented an apartment yesterday. Sounds extravagant? it was €20. Remarkable what being off season does to prices. Granted there was no four poster bed, coming to think about it there was not even a bed, just a very comfortable sofa bed, but it was clean and practical and I got to watch three hours of French political commentary which must have done some good to my understanding of the language as in the encounters I had today I felt a lot more nimble.
Morning start was a bit earlier than usual, I had to get to the ferry, only seven miles, but I did not want to be late as in the off-season they do not run all that many services. I had planned to have breakfast this side of the Gironde but it was not going to be, once you get into the system, at the ferry terminal, there is no going back.
The other thing I thought I would be able to do before getting on the boat was to get a recharge for my French pay-as-you-go SIM card. Not possible, no tabac in sight, not only but I did not get to see one on the other side either and I have been informed that, like in Italy, Thursday PM is shop closed time. Hopefully better luck tomorrow, it’s easier to travel by Google map but I managed to get by on my off line map app, and I can probably do so tomorrow too if there is the need for it.
I kept the GPS gadget going in the crossing and it was interesting to see how fast the ferry cut through the water. It was going approx. 13 Mph which, having read about sailing boats not going much faster than 5/6 Mph (5 Knots), it’s rather impressive.
On the other side I stopped for some food shopping and in the process I bough myself a pair of bike gloves. I did not set out to do so, my hands were cold as I lost my other gloves in the south of England and these things were the only thing they have in the shop. They were good enough to keep me going and I’m sure at €5 I will not have to put up with them for long.
After that I got sight of the Ocean and in between dunes beaches and forests I was going to stay not too far from it all day long.
I even tried to take a picture of the bike on the beach but I quickly realised that, while it was just plain old sand, given the weight of the bike, it was really behaving like quicksand. Lord help me when I have to push the bike through sandy road in Africa, I’ll probably average decimal speeds.
The coast road sort of disappeared a time or two and I had an opportunity to endear myself to the local by treating the law with the same level of contempt that they are known for.
It was not really as bad as it looks and it beats me why they went to the length of writing at point 3 in the bit of paper that bicycles were forbidden too.
I have to say I was much more impressed of the scenery today. After the dunes I got into the Foret du Houtin and the riding was pleasant while surrounded by hundred of excellent wild camping spots. The only thing stopping me from stopping was that, first it was way too early, second I had no mobile internet and third, and perhaps most critical, first thing tomorrow morning there is forecast of rain. Camping with rain in warm climates, OK. Rain in November in France, perhaps not.
Ten miles into the Foret and approximately fifteen miles to the destination I decided it was time to have lunch, but it’s tough to find the right lunch spot when you do not have a chair. Never mind I did find it and not only I found a great spot but I also found a friend.
I was in the middle of tucking into the final bit of yesterday’s baguette with the new saucisson sec, when the dog appeared. Remembering all the things I had read in books and blogs of other travellers about dogs and bikers I was initially quite suspicious but then I remembered I had anti-rabies inoculations so I threw caution to the wind and become as friendly with him as he was with me.
I shared some saucisson sec and it went down a treat, and after going for an extensive sniffing exercise around the bicycle he came and laid down at my feet and sort of guarded me while I was finishing my lunch.
When I left I felt very sad. It did not look like he had anywhere or anybody to go back to. He looked like he had had enough, and he was just going to stay there. I can sympathise, if I did not have the ride I would not know what to do with myself either.