Ah getting up at 6.15 after not sleeping that well, after dreaming that my cabin was full of people or that I was trying to sleep in forbidden parts of the boat… Mercifully the cafe that sells coffee is within sight of my cabin door, so I sat and watched the bright but cloudy sky go by over the settled sea with a paper cup of passable coffee and the custard tart that H gave me just as I was leaving. That was breakfast number one, another to be had somewhere in a couple of hours on the road. The forecast is for cloudiness with some sun but no rain drops so that is looking good. Thirty minutes till we land, time to squeeze everything back into my bag. I am so pleased not to be travelling with small children as almost everyone is here, the constant focus on discipline and behaviour.
On the massively packed car deck I bumped into Helen and her partner by coincidence on the same crossing and parked close to each other. I will be staying with them in La Rochelle next week, on the two last nights of the trip.
Later… I am at Le Chant de L’oiseaux, a beautiful small site with about ten pitches, run by a British couple who you can tell are really particular about how the place looks and runs. Instead of a supermarket and my stove I am trying out their home made pizza cooked in three shifts, the first for children (he apologised that there were so many children on site at the moment though they all must be out apart from one little boy who his dad proudly sat him on my motorbike seat without his nappy) the second for women and the third at about 8.30 for men (now 9pm I wish I had cooked my own). Nice but a little strange. No free sockets in the bathroom to charge up your gadgets. In fact there are notices everywhere about what you can’t do and must do. Above the recycling bin for glass is the instruction Do not drop glass into the bin. I have a beautiful partly shaded spot in the corner next to a couple ‘without children’. I have ordered pizza. I was shocked to find that this campsite was only 125 miles away from the port. Or was it? Perhaps that is as the crow flies. I haven’t yet worked out how to get all the geeky figures from this GPS.
How did today go? The weather has been perfect: sunny all day from 9am when we left St Malo, cool though, about 18 degrees. The roads were ok to boring and my attempt to avoid the peage failed dismally. Then there was my nervous foreign technophobia first with a pay at pump petrol station (in the middle of the night I realised that I had put in the wrong pin for my card and mercifully didn’t do it three times as my card would have been blocked) and then the dreaded peage which appeared to refuse to issue a ticket. I stopped thankfully at a motorway service and picnic area and got my first glimpse of the French and a meal deal which I had no hesitation in agreeing to, while on the TV screen in the petrol station and also on the ferry and here on site the ‘deepening crisis’ at Calais where refugees appear to be trying to force their way into Britain. David Cameron is outraged. The Brits are having their holidays upset. I sat out in the warming sun then headed off. Once off the main roads I found the local road down to this site, through forests, quite beautiful and an easy pace, shady. I could do with more of that.
It was good to get the old tent out after my flirtation last year with a huge Redverz tent, marketed as being able to accommodate two adults plus their adventure bike. I knew it was a daft idea and should never have succumbed. I was trying to remember when my tent was last used. Someone did not sweep it out after they used it.
The bike seems to have much more room in the luggage and I have been trying to decide what it is I have left at home. The panniers work well, more tricky to open than the old ones but stunningly well made and capacious. The GPS is good apart from finding the most ugly roads to send me down. Cleverly it knows when you are running out of petrol and offers to direct you to the nearest petrol station. I’ve used that twice on this trip, in fact every time I have filled up, already. So far, so good, looking for nice places to stay and good weather are two good ingredients.
Today I rode 166 miles. I’m reading The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. I’m only up to page 36 but so far I have to agree with the reviewers who find it a pretentious list of name dropping and pseudo poetic erudition. You get three or four lines about Wordsworth, then the same about Nietzsche, and so on. The same reviewers say that the last sections are much better. I may skip to them. I had thought a book about travel would make a good companion for my own trip but not so far.