Perfectly Plotted

Alençon to Les Cassieres: Friday 11 August 2017

12:31. Alençon. 21ºC. Temperature’s shot up, the Sun’s out, and the clouds are scattered. Hopefully a nice day in prospect. Pissed it down during the night. Hopefully it pissed itself out and we’re not racing the same cloud that’s been around over the last three days.

We’ll see.

As long as we get to keep most things dry by the time we camp and decamp, it’s not much of an issue. Nice to be able to strip off the extra top and bottom layer upon exiting a finely functional Ibis hotel: nice spacious room, great shower, great breakfast selection, very friendly and helpful staff. A toilet-brush would’ve been nice – Ew! – and we could’ve done without one guest persistently trying to toast the inappropriately shaped baguette in the toaster, and subsequently failing on a number of occasions, allowing us and fellow guests to breakfast in the fine atmosphere of burnt toast. He got there in the end, by maybe the fourth attempt. By which time I think he had a point to prove, both to himself and us fellow guests.

And now our journey South continues. Very shortly we’ll be leaving Normandy, which has captured all our senses so very much – the attack of pleasure upon them all that it is. Will all of France continue to cast such a spell? People say, “no,” but experience will tell – and we are looking forward to it, so…

Today we head for Sillé-le-Guillaume – 36k, and toward the tiny tiny village of Les Cassieres, which is less a destination than a direction, as it lies just beyond a forest or wood in which we’ll hopefully make camp.

Away!

69136be4-1b1b-4b01-b653-f64085a7d839

aced427b-713c-4149-967e-15692b8b7c3d

“These are not unspoilt, unmanaged forests, but they are being managed very well, so the bits that are being, let’s say ‘unmanaged’ for the time being, or left to regrow, are left to their own devices, and look unspoilt, so, yeah, I’d say: ‘Very well managed.’ They seem to rip out carefully selected parts and use them for whatever, but then just leave the others to develop pretty much as maybe they have since time immemorial. Of course, there are the more familiar pine-tree forests, which, I would say, are not that native to these parts to be so ubiquitous, but there are still these really old-school looking forests, which are still pretty hostile and wild. So managed, yes, of course, but a balance appears to be being kept. It would seem France knows how to do these things.”

a1f9e01e-545d-4ef9-a390-d6ff58737c05

15:40. Plop! The fish are feeding. The dragonfly are acrobaticking. The island spinney rests before us. France, you are yet to cease throwing up splendid surprises as we make our continuously merry way through you.

7a34d1a4-aec9-44e8-a404-118ca7a98129

A little bit more ascending than descending today, but none has felt at all unpleasant. The extended downhills have been great, and the vistas at almost every turn of the head are the love of life. After descending out of Mont-Saint-Jean – yes, we had to ascend to get into it first – and pausing for a wee drink and an apple, before making our way to and through Sillé de Guillaume, to stop somewhere for dinner, before, again, making our way towards Les Cassieres and bed, we climbed amongst some beautiful unspoilt-looking forest.

e72a47d7-660f-4705-9ddb-f6b8e4b8bbaf

“Giver of life”

As Agnieszka put it to herself (she thought)
as we rounded a corner.

A lake. Beautiful.

Benches, too!

“Dinner?”

Dinner!

ef9e7d24-e2ab-4776-b78d-e0af0ae42a91

What a spot! I’d say: “What a find!’ but I now think that France has plotted all these things for us, on a special mission to leave us with a magical impression and destroy any negative preconceptions an indoctrinated English person may care to have. If it has done so to such cynical ends, I thank you, anyway. If it hasn’t, which, of course, I truly believe to be the case, then, “thank you, again.” It really is a pleasure getting to know you.

And, as we have exited Normandy and entered Pays-de-la-Loire, what else does this country have in store?

The nature and everything: nothing feels off limits. It’s like: it’s here, it’s there – enjoy it! Great, just great. That shouldn’t be the exception, as it is in many other places we have visited – and it isn’t here. Another reason to just be; and just be happy 😁

~~~~~~~~~~

next entry>>

<<previous entry

Michal & Zuza

Valašské Meziřící to Valašské Klobouky: Wednesday 05 July 2017

Up: 7:45am. 22ºC. 208.93km covered. 15 hours 41 minutes 16 seconds riding done.

Destination: Valašské Klobouky

13:10. 29.5ºC. 240.62km covered. 17 hours 40 minutes 47 seconds riding done.

Destination: lunch 😃

AA1314D2-AA52-4532-9A8F-5CD7EF8FD137

Michal: our mountain-trail-climbing hero.

424 metres plus Kraków above sea level.

641C86AF-CD61-47C3-9E4B-AAF81D7047EE

50km/h downhill: “Yee-harr!” Bee. Face. Bee. Mouth. Bee. Ouch!

A85FFCC5-A85A-42F5-9337-88D059DB8868

273.53km covered in total;  64.6km for the day; 20 hours 15 minutes 09 seconds of riding in total.

Arrive.

A yummy warm welcome of apricot dumplings thrust into hand on arrival.

Protective dog from Mexico who decided to adopt me 🐾

Didn’t help with the harvesting, though the human dynamo that is Michal was straight in and at it 😵

Me: contaminating the drinking water in our canteens with my under-rehearsed showering-in-the-tent technique 😨

Thunder and lightning all night in the mountains (at a present altitude of Kraków plus 111 metres)!

A magical, beautiful region.

An amazing day of amazing experiences.

Thank you Michal and Zuza: this day belongs to you.

~~~~~~~~~~

next entry>>

<<previous entry