Along the Loire

We’re back in 2015 as this campsite has WiFi after two days in the Dark Ages! So you are being subjected to another update.

In the past 3 days we have covered about 100 miles heading upstream from Orleans to La Charité sur Loire. We have now joined the Eurovelo 6 cycle route which we will be following all the way to the Black Sea. We did the first part, from the Atlantic to Orleans, a couple of summers ago with Eleri, our daughter, so it feels good to be back with an “old friend”.

It has been fairly flat and along wonderful cycle paths almost the whole way – generally away from roads but if not then the roads were very quiet. Christine survived the fall in temperature to 10C on Monday by wearing full-fingered gloves, a beanie hat under her helmet and 5 layers of clothing! It has warmed up a bit, and best of all we have been spared rain!

Since Orleans we have been camping and making inroads into the  overspend against budget following the “blow out” at the wonderful hotel in St Pierre du Vauvray with associated meal. (Well we are both accountants so we hope you’ll forgive the reversion to type!) And, wonder of wonders, the campsites since Orleans have all had toilet paper in the loos – none if those before did. But still no loo seats!! (Why is that?)

The cooking is going well – or at least as well as can be expected  on a little gas stove with just one burner.  Here is tonight’s feast:-

A veritable feast!
A veritable feast!

It’s a couscous/bulgar wheat concoction from a packet with added ham and a tomato and some of the local vino, Pouilly Fume, in case you were wondering! Hardly cordon bleu but it’s fuel! It was followed by a slice of cake and a banana.

We are realising just how big France is, as we are still only about half way across it!

A big thank you to everyone who has sent us messages. We love getting them! We will update again when we next have wifi.

The Loire Reached!

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First sight of the Loire!

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April.
We have reached Eurovelo 6, the long distance cycle path that we hope to follow all the way to the Black Sea! It was a long hard day from Chartres to Orleans on Saturday. The pretty river valley was swapped for prairie style fields. Much less picturesque, but it did mean most of the day we cycled to the sounds of skylarks! Highlight of the day was a car slowing down and inviting us in for coffee at the next village. We chatted to the delightful Yves-Marie who spent 9 months last year cycling from Kyrgyzstan home to France! When we left he presented us with a jar of the honey from his and his brother’s honey business. We also felt we were cycling in the footsteps of the Romans, as most of the roads were straight! We were delighted when we finally saw the Loire, but less pleased to discover that of the 2 campsites in Orleans, one only accepted motorhomes, and the other was closed! As Stephen was feeling unwell we splashed out on a cheap hotel!
Decided in light of Stephen feeling under par, Christine’s wish to go to church on Sunday morning and the forecast of very heavy rain in the afternoon, to take a rest day in Orleans. A wise decision. And a chance to catch up on washing, sorting photos etc. back on the bikes tomorrow!

We’re Really Under Way!

We are back on wifi so can provide an update. Wednesday morning started with a brute of a hill to get from the Seine valley to the Eure valley, but after that it was glorious cycling yet again both then and Thursday. For 2 days we followed the river Eure upstream along its beautiful valley, almost always on cycle paths or very quiet country roads through very dozy villages. And a further 2 warm days under cloudless blue skies. We camped at a small campsite on Wednesday in Ezy sur Eure and on Thursday at a larger one in Chartres, both by the banks of the river. We had cycled just under 70k both days. We have had a wonderful start to our trip! Low point was using the facilities in a bar/cafe en route and finding it was a hole in the ground! Seriously!

Today, Friday has been our first rest day. We went to look at the cathedral in Chartres, and were blown away by it; absolutely magnificent. Probably the best cathedral we have visited.

This evening we are going to treat ourselves to steak on the camp stove, rather than the usual pasta with a ready made sauce. We are getting used to the camping, and Stephen is proving to be an excellent chef.

Tomorrow our first rain is forecast, which we are not looking forward to, as it is a long day to Orleans where we pick up Eurovelo 6, the cycle path we hope to follow all the way to the Black Sea.

Day 4 Update

Just a short 30k today. What a perfect day for cycling. France at its beautiful best! Cloudless blue sky, temperature warm but not too hot, mainly cycling very quiet lanes through green river valleys, and finishing along the banks of the Seine. We are staying at an excellent hotel which Stephen has used when visiting Intertek’s French operations nearby. This is the view from our room.

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Three Days In

We were waved off from home by a group of friends and family, and suddenly everything was a very real. Just us and our bikes. Christine managed all of 100 metres before getting off to push up a hill! Mainly day 1 was as lovely a cycling day as you could imagine, apart from the ferocious headwind for the last stretch East from Brighton to the campsite near Newhaven. Christine really struggled, at the end, especially as she has done no training at all. But she made it to the campsite, having, near the end, off-loaded her luggage to friends Jane and Roger, who came to share a farewell meal. We camped and found that our inflatable mattresses were more comfortable than the futons we used for the last few days at home!

Day 2. Up early to break camp and cycle the couple of miles to the ferry. How lovely to have a tailwind! We waved goodbye to the white cliffs of Sussex, wondering how long it would be before we saw them again! Arriving safely in Dieppe, we aimed for a campsite supposedly 0.5km from the town. After 2km decided we might as well head for the first campsite on the Avenue Verte route to Paris. That appeared to be closed so we ended cycling 38k to a lovely campsite in Forges les Eaux, right beside the cycle way, which was magnificent! But it was another late arrival. From just outside Dieppe it was along a disused railway through glorious rural French scenery. A beautiful route to cycle and we would highly recommend it.

Day 3. Up late, especially as Christine managed to sleep for 11.5 hours after the exertions of the previous 2 days!! Packed all our camping stuff away and headed to town for croissants, eating in a beautiful little park where we chatted to a group of French cyclists, who managed to pass us twice later in the day! (Very much a case of the tortoise and the hare.) We left the Avenue Verte and headed along country roads. We had forgotten just how quite they can be in France. There are NO roads around us as in Surrey quiet. It was meant to be an easy day, but there was a complete lack of campsites, and so we kept going before deciding to blow the budget again and go to a hotel.

Almost There!

The last few days have been stressful and busy – we cannot believe how long everything takes.  But we now have a clean and (almost) empty house – just a last few things to put in the loft tomorrow morning.  A takeaway with the last bottles of cider/beer and then an early night is what the doctor has ordered.

The pictures below show our lounge as it has been since the furniture was taken to storage on Tuesday:

IMG_0072All our stuff waiting to be packed:

IMG_0078IMG_0073 And then packed.IMG_0080 IMG_0081

Camping Out – Sort of

Last night saw the start of the camping (perhaps more “glamping” at the moment if truth be told) after we dismantled the bed in preparation for the removal men arriving today.  We spent the night in our sleeping bags and camping pillows on futons on the bedroom floor.

Preparations are still “progressing” but we keep on coming across things that we hadn’t previously thought of.  However, it all seems do-able – just.  Today is going to be slightly traumatic as the removal men are going to be taking all our bikes other than the ones we will be riding and Stephen’s pride & joy which is going for a holiday chez Sally and Marwood.