Our ‘homeless’ days of roaming free are now over because we’ve reached our ‘winter’ accommodation and are now living a more ‘normal’ life … I even did some ironing yesterday … and enjoyed it!!! Ok, so that’s not normal but you get my drift. I even enjoyed putting my clothes on coat hangers and folding them into draws. However, I haven’t quite got the hang of the ‘having clothes in a cupboard’ concept yet and continue to look for my duffle bag every morning 🙂
So just to back track for a moment and bring you up to date …
We left Nice and travelled by train to Montpellier where we spent another few days enjoying the sunshine and strolling around yet another gorgeous town. Montpellier is really lovely and another new entry on the ‘places we would like to live’ list. It’s an interesting place because they have a few newly developed areas plus a old town. The new areas have been done quite well and either blend with the traditional surrounding architecture or stand out as being quite different on purpose. The old town has some quite traditional areas with French style cafes and squares etc. and also some areas that have been adopted by the alternative set … body piercing, tattoo shops and the like. I have to say that the French attempts at ‘grunge’ that we have seen have been less than convincing. The French seem to have a strong ‘neat and stylish’ gene that they find difficult to go against. Of course Grunge is all about looking dirty and dishevelled and the French seem to find it impossible to be that scruffy. This result is a partial grunge look that incorporates grunge-type clothing … but it’s ironed and clean, and accessorised with well polished shoes 🙂
After Montpellier we headed up to the Dordogne region to do our last ‘cycle touring’ week … it was very sad 😦
The Dordogne was very lovely and we were blessed with a continuation of the fabulous sunny weather we had had all through October but the nights were chilly and we ended up not camping but instead staying in ‘chambre d’hotes’ (the French bed and breakfast) and also a couple of ‘auberge’. I am not really sure what the difference is between these two as both accommodations seemed to offer the same service. Anyway, at the end of the week we hopped on a couple of trains to Tours and then cycled to our little ‘gîte’ (French holiday home) in Semblancay. The village is very gorgeous and has all the essentials – a fabulous boulangerie (bakery), boucherie (butchers), épicerie (little supermarket), salon de coiffure (hairdressers – every village has one!), pharmacie (pharmacy – again a French essential) and la poste (the post office). We have spent the last week cycling around the area and checking out all the local markets and a few of the local brews. We have also been into Tours a few times by various routes and have settled on a very picturesque route that winds through the country lanes and past a few chateaux. It’s about 18km each way so just enough to keep us in good shape and our legs in full working order. In fact we’ve been doing about 30-40kms every day without really noticing it so will have topped 6000kms in the next couple of days.
The weather has at last turned and it is now cold blustery and frequently wet … good old Europe! Unfortunately we have discovered that our little gîte isn’t as warm as it might be, and is only managing to maintain 15 degrees with the heaters on full blast. It has a lovely open fire but we have found that it smokes a good deal so have spent most evenings staying close to the floor where the air is clearest. We then spend the day smelling like a bonfire … it’s very autumnal but perhaps not the best for our health. The Husband prides himself on never feeling the cold but even he admits that 15 degrees is not a good ‘sitting’ temperature … and then there’s the smoke inhalation … perhaps we’re just not ‘country’ enough. Perhaps a good scratchy wool jumper and a piece of straw to chew on would get us more in tune with the whole stone cottage idyll? or, option B, we could just give up and go find somewhere with heating. Luckily we only booked the place for one month and planned to extend it to the full two months when we got here, but we have now decided plan B is a better idea!
The big news is that we have had haircuts and polished our shoes. With the addition of our freshly ironed clothes, we now almost fit in. At least we are now SLIGHTLY better turned out than the beggars on the streets. You might think that’s an odd thing to say but I have never seen such well dressed homeless people … most wear tailored jackets and are better turned out than your average New Zealander. We even saw someone holding up a sign asking for money to fund an Armani jacket the other day … I think it was a joke.
We have also taken up yoga with the help of YouTube and now spend most mornings grappling with a downward dog and various warrior poses. These sessions generally end in one of us giggling and/or falling over … but it’s good indoor fun that, if nothing else, helps us keep warm. I have also bought some new knitting wool and have taken up sock knitting. It has the advantage of being small and easily transportable … and my feet are cold … so it’s win win all round!
We are now also starting to look round for a flight home so at least we can make sure we have enough money left to get back again 🙂 I think it would be poor form to have to ask the children to bail us out and send us the fare … although, I understand that many a gap year ends like this … granted, it’s perhaps the other way around.
What I’m going to tell you now will shock and horrify some people, and others will nod in a ‘knowing’ sort of way …
the Husband ‘mislaid’ YET ANOTHER e-reader. This is e-reader number three … within 8 months!
So just to recap:
No.1 died from Husbanditis (otherwise known as extreme wear and tear)
No.2 was jettisoned from his bicycle front bag whilst traveling at 18kph
No.3 was left on a train
He was valiantly attempting to make a case for the purchase of e-reader number four (it was falling of very deaf ears, I can tell you!) when the gods smiled on him and we received an email from a lovely lady who had found e-reader No.3 and was willing to post it to us! I am now seriously considering for an impact resistant case for said e-reader that I will superglue to his forehead!
After a long run of no punctures, we have been positively beset by the beastly things recently. The last one was on the way to a local market and as such we didn’t have a repair kit with us so we had a very pleasant 6.5km walk back to the gîte. Upon inspection we decided that the tyres have really had their day so we have bought a full set of brand new tyres, which the Husband is currently, and painfully, changing over one by one. The small tyres are very stiff when new and even more so in the freezing cold when squatted on the front step … or so I’m told. I have kept well out of the way as he seems to be using anger and swearing to assist in the process. There is no mention of this technique on the Brompton website but if it works for him ….
We are busily cleaning any camping equipment that has survived the year and throwing out any that has not faired as well so that we can make up a parcel to send home. There doesn’t seem to be any point lugging it around anymore as we won’t do any more camping now. It also means that we can buy a few more woolies to see us through until February. The tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, pillows and camp chairs are the main items. Most of the cooking stuff, apart from the stove and utensils, have died. Most of our summer clothes are also not worth the postage and my brogues, that I used for cycling every day, have moved through embarrassing and into ‘objet d’art’ status. I’m tempted to keep them but the practical side of me says ‘throw ‘em out!’ We’ll see …
‘D’ = distance & ’T’ = time
26th October Libourne to Sainte-Foy-la-Grande: D 62kms / T 4:15
27th October Sainte-Foy-la-Grande to Lalinde: D 57Km / T 4:03 mins
28th October Lalinde to Saint-Vincent-de-Cosse: D 48Km / T 3:13 mins
29th October Saint-Vincent-de-Cosse to Souillac: D 49Km / T 3:18 mins
30th October Souillac to Sarlat-la-Canéda: D 40Km / T 2:40 mins
31st October Sarlat to Libourne: Train
1st November Libourne to Semblançay: D 22Km / T 1:38 mins
We are now exploring the ‘Indre et Loire’ region around our little ‘Gîte’ … on bikes, of course … so we are still racking up about 30-40kms a day
Total ‘Trip’ distance so far: 6902km
Check out the map