An Uncertain Point of View

île de Ré and Back [Part 2] Sunday 20 August 2017

Despite the previous entries and despite our attempts at budgeting, it appears we may have to take a rest-day – another one, as, physically at least, today hasn’t been the most challenging – in another bloody hotel this week.

Physically and mentally, we could keep going until we get someone from Warmshowers to actually be available – and just keep moving until then. But there are some practical matters to attend to – there are always some ‘practical matters’ to attend to – that require extended Internet access. Something you cannot take for granted in the France we’ve seen so far – even in hotels! But a hotel is the best bet to have that bloody access. Ironically, we require some of this access to more accurately check our finances and take our budgeting beyond best-guesstimate, whilst simultaneously taking a lump out of our finances in order to do so. But, we also need it to make contact with some people, and there’s still a lot of things that need to be checked on – so maybe it is unavoidable this week.

But we have to get off this track as soon as possible.
It’s bloody unnecessary 
and expensive.
And we don’t even like doing it.
It’ll have to come down to necessity to do so.

We’ve got to get better at sorting out accommodation
or dealing with the lack of it when it isn’t there.

Cos Warmshowers really ain’t cuttin’ it at all in France. We’ve had two great hosts in Normandy, of course, but it appears that the whole of France, or at least Pays de la Loire, has gone on vacation for the middle two weeks of August. And while it may, therefore, be wrong to be either too harsh on the place or the website, I am a bit disenchanted with our ability to escape these costly ‘conveniences’ for longer than a week at a time.

So we have to continue to work on this ability, which is what we are about to do. But please notice, you unknown third person I’m having this conversation with, the word ‘work’ there. Keeping such a lifestyle going is definitely not the easy option. It requires planning and effort and focus to retain the integrity of the essential idea of travelling around from place to place, resting our weary bodies, and then moving on. It’s not just dropping everything and buggering off. It isn’t.

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OK, we’ve found a solution for this week – we are good when we put our heads together and focus. Barring finding a host in Bordeaux for two nights at the end of the week, we are going to camp in the environs of Bordeaux Thursday evening. Then, Friday, work our way into the city to try and make us of the facilities available there: wi-fi, recharging, and laundry. Then drift out of the city as twilight approaches to pitch our tents and make our way on Saturday.

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Down and Round the Rabbit-Hole

Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer to the Coast around L’Houmeau [Part 4]: Sunday 19 August 2017

Don’t know how long we can keep living like this. “As long as bloody possible!” my heart says. But it doesn’t matter how free you may have broken from certain conventions or expectations, there’s still this voice that occasionally announces itself and starts discussing the long-term- usually when we take our rest-day within the symbols of convenience and conformity that a hotel’s four-walls signify. But too much long-term – in fact, any-term – thinking really distracts you from living now, 

and the future never comes,
but now is always here,

so you may as well fill it with as much of what you want to be doing.

Then whatever future grows out of that will be based upon that, which can’t be a bad thing: built on optimism, hope, and life, as it would be, rather than on a fear of what might happen if we don’t save this or don’t do that.

Out of a fear of losing a future that hasn’t happened yet – and may never happen – you lose the now.

Seems a shame that.

There are things I’d like to do in the future, though, relating to permaculture, eco-communities, sustainable living, and self-sufficiency that may require some funds, but this journey feels so good, so right, why change it or withdraw from it? Withdraw from negative experiences where possible, sure, but positive ones? just in case? to avoid losing something that you don’t even have for the sake of something you do and something you cherish?

Good paths lead to good places. There may be an unwanted surprise waiting along one of them – sooner? later? – but at least the distance you travelled however far you made it will have been filled with you, and full of good hope, optimism and cheer

and these vibes will echo on.

The set of experiences that combine to give us a sense of I don’t disappear when they go their separate ways. They become greater, just keeping going, as part of the whole everything inhabits in their different temporal bundles of energy – so nothing can really be lost

If you sell your present to a future that hasn’t happened, the only sure thing is that you lose the now. And if your hope for that future you’re afraid to lose is based on the-afraid-you now, then who is to say you’ll grasp that hoped-for-future or even recognise it when you get there?

Unless you’re preparing for a rainy-day, which again, if that’s the only thing you see in your future, how will you know it’s the right rainy-day? Won’t they all seem rainy in some way, but never quite as dark as the one you imagine? Even if you do recognise it, won’t that just be a now created out of a present based on fear, which could only ever lead one way – being born as it is: of fear? Even if there’s nothing bad waiting along the path you finally choose, each step will be fear-filled, tentative, unsure – so, really, how much life will be lived? and what reverberates from such a life-path – as that energy’s rebounding, too?

So we’ll continue on as long as we can – as long as circumstances allow. We just have to assist those circumstances – by not blowing money on niceties that aren’t that nice when you see how much of an impact they have on your ability to maintain the real niceness of life.

We’ve begun budgeting properly, which is cool, and as our love and familiarity with this way of life increases, our perceived need for a hotel or Warmshowers may continue to decrease and help our budget stretch a little longer.

It would be nice to do all of this off our own backs and resourcefulness rather than on any inheritance, which being unearned could be used in a quite lackadaisical and disrespectful way, which would also undermine much of the meaning behind what we’re doing: it would become more of a jolly than a way of life we had chosen to lead.

That money will always be there. For what? For when we finish? Finish what? Start what? The ‘what’ that is part of our combined inheritance one day? But when is that ‘one day’? And is that it and when? Do we not live until there?

Of course not.

Are we just waiting for that day? or do we keep living? 

How?

By living right
and this feels so right that where it leads cannot be wrong,
and it’s damned exciting
and damned exhilarating

because it is so bloody fragile.

The whole of life is just more intense, more real, more lived. It just feels full, and if that sounds egocentric, it’s full not really in the sense of ‘I’ – ‘I have this experience’ – but as in I am just one part of experience – and therefore all experience.

Beautiful. Very intense beauty.

For now, we’ll carry this on. We kind of figured we’d have to hole up somewhere over the Winter months – and that looks like Spain – and that looks like teaching.

We’ve got a better idea of how far finances might take us. Amazing how not far given the fact that we only buy food. Even if we get used to not having to hotel and only Warmshower, we still only have enough for the next eight weeks: until the middle of October, so we could be teaching by then…

…but how long will we have to work to be able to have enough to stop teaching and just ride again?

We don’t know.

It’s just: keep going and see.

I’m now being an example of trying to control a future that hasn’t happened.

We can only continue along a strong positive presence that enables us to fill our presents with positivity; and the positive now is to keep doing what we’re doing while it continues to make sense. In order to do that, we need to work out a budget, work to a budget, and work on getting it down: learning to economise wherever we can.

We are, but it is a learning process – quite a harsh one sometimes – and other things will crop up that we need to be ready for, so we do need some rainy-day money, but how do we get that rainy-day money back up to where it was? and have the money to start travelling again in March?

I don’t think we can.

How do we keep this Tracing Horizons’ show rolling without recourse to resources not of our own earning or making?

The way we can.

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23:55. Wow, the stars!

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Down to the Molecule

Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer to Coast around L’Houmeau [Part 3]: Saturday 19 August 2017

2150. In the tent. On the coast. You automatically feel like exclaiming: “We’ve made it!” And I’m sure that will be the tag accompanying a photo or two relating to today. It does, however, have a sounding of finality to it: a sense of destination reached – and we don’t really have a destination. Is there such a thing as a destination, anyway? There are landmarks and achievements, but nothing really stops – ever. Even when we reach a stage where we’re not conscious of moving, we will be – on some level. Even when others see us as no more than atoms and cells and molecules, we will still be journeying on: our voices and actions reverberating somewhere, spreading ever further. We may not be conscious, in the traditionally accepted sense, of this continuous dispersal, but a bundle of experiences that became conveniently labelled ‘we’ will be out there, living their own conscious lives, experiencing their own experiences, being experienced, and becoming further experiences; only detached from this frame, so they can no longer be acknowledged and claimed by this thing called ‘I’.

But, we’ve made it to the sea; well, the ocean – as Agnieszka keeps reminding us both. And like meeting and crossing the Czech border, it does feel like some kind of landmark. Smiles beamed broader, spirits rose higher, and that selfie-stick came out for maybe only the second time – the other time being at that Czech border. And it felt spontaneously, unforcedly joyous, so who cares what it meant? or whether it should mean any particular thing? It meant what it did as it happened, for no other reason than it did; and if that was a cliché, then there’s a reason that clichés exist.

And it did crown a wonderful day. A chilled get up in a place you’d never sell as an idyllic overnight stop in a holiday brochure, but which turned out to be a beautiful peaceful place to wake up in, take it easy, breakfast, chat, stretch, and ease into the day while the heavily condensated camping gear dried out. Then a fabulous ride through the flat marshlands of sand reclaimed from the sea, which make up this part of France. Distant distant horizons, lovely weather, the synchronised surfacing fish posse: a natural wonder I will never forget, a man named Geoff, a dog named beautiful, a beaver beavering, some nature reserves of storks, the falcons, the buzzards, the dinner by the road – then we meet the coast as our day’s riding draws to an close.

Lovely.

Using that word a lot this Summer. Lazy writing? Limited vocabulary? Perhaps, but it seems the aptest in my book, so what’s the point of using others? That’d be like using socks as gloves because you felt you were overusing the gloves. Oh, the socks may serve some glovely function, but the fit wouldn’t quite be right, and there’d be a sense of discomfort whenever you wore them.

So, ‘lovely’ it is.

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Synchronised Rhythm

Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer to the Coast around L’Houmeau [Part 2]: Saturday 19 August 2017

12:40. A hyper Utile! More supplies. Near L’Aquillon (I think). Lovely chilled decamp. Am loving this sense of freedom from demands, needs or expectations other than our own; and we’re not really expecting that much; just going with our flows and responding to needs when they occur.

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Yes, we do love it, but it is something that we’ve worked very hard for; and is something that requires constant work. We love it because we more consciously chose to do this than maybe any of the other choices made in our previous lives, but that doesn’t make it easy – though it does (if that makes sense).

We accept the difficulties because we have chosen them as part of our lives – and the benefits and freedoms arising out of living largely to your own rhythms outweigh any of them by a considerable margin; and in relation to our other lives, make them not that difficult at all; although this appears to be the default setting visible to most or many, and an unfathomable lifestyle choice, going by reactions we encounter along the way.

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Though many outside the age of certain lifestyle choices betray a more genuine feeling akin to our own: “Cool!” 😀

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Where some see deserts, some see life thriving in the cracks in between – as it speaks of possibility for us all.

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Synthetic-on-Sea

Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer to the Coast around L’Houmeau [Part 1]: Saturday 19 August 2017

6:52. France isn’t all: ‘my-camera-isn’t-good-enough-for-these vistas’, ‘insouciant chic’, and ‘effortless cool’.

As we made our way along the much-longer-than-it-appeared-on-our-mapping-application D747, our in-union-with-our-sense-of-self-within-the-world-around-us was torn asunder, as every crevice of calm was assailed and invaded by the monotone roar of machines belligerently missioning from there to there, regardless and heedless, oblivious and dangerous – to life.

To all life,
That is all.

Cars, cars, and more cars, and trucks, and lorries, and camper-vans, and caravans, and engines, and wheels, rowing and rolling and pushing, racing, bursting great holes through the fabric eternal; no longer eternal, but victim to the cold caprice of disinterested cogs in the wheels that steal anything life.

Finally, we got off the main thoroughfare of coastal dashers to enjoy the paths, lanes and trails running along the dikes threaded through this land once reclaimed from the sea.

Lovely.

Even here, though, sanctuary was shattered by the sound of holiday camps pumping manufactured enthusiasm through inadequate systems, creating that perfect sense of jarring disharmony you feel when something is out of synch with the Living World.

Camps where kids are sent for a fortnight of enforced frivolity and fun-by-numbers, which must be fun for some – but is clearly none for some.

Definitions of ‘fun’ are as varied as those of ‘interesting’, ‘tasty’, ‘quality’, ‘beautiful’, ‘ugly’, ‘sexy’. They’re just words invested with meaning by the speaker, then invested with a slightly different meaning by the beholder.

Other words announce themselves as I reflect upon yesterday.

Plastic.

Synthetic.

Again, two words that hadn’t applied to our French sojourn so far.

We exited the marshland and continued along a lonely lane, tailwinds enthusiastically assisting us along our way.

And,

lost in a breeze

We got lost.

Well, not lost, but off track,

so we had to re-route

Back on the 747.

Caravan parks to the left of me. Caravan parks to the right. No-one allowed in or out. Concentration camps of conformity, where fun is synthesised down to its lowest common denominator and mass-produced on cost-effective scales out of garish materials born not of this Natural World; and born never to return to it either.

Hollow sounds, which ring tragic in the ear, carrying within them the absence of feeling that fills a joyful expression announced of spontaneity and free-wills expressing themselves.

“We are on holiday.
We are here to have fun now.
And fun we shall have. Goddammit.”

And they are everywhere around the Le Tranche area. People farmed out here en masse, deprived of the money they have worked hard for, to spend on this idea they have bought into, which seems to rob most all of their dignity and virtue, as they are subject to bombardment by the slightly off-colour, slightly out-of-tune, not-quite-the-same-tasting world; where individuality is quashed and a human becomes a mob; where frustration is released through enforced hilarity; where cries are released as alcohol numbs; infusing these simulacra of happiness with strains of terror, of anger, frustration and anguish, and a self-consciousness that this is a situation not really born of one’s own desires, but of choices made by another – and not really for your own benefit.

And it saddens me.
And it’s tragic.
And it’s sad.

which is why I’m here, and not over there,
where we all are

Who am I
the judge?

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Your Own Voices

La Paulière Field to Le Riot du Plessis (Le Plessis Bergeret): Tuesday 15 August 2017

1125. Outside a supermarket on the edge of La Verrie. Have already decamped, rode to a boulangerie, breakfasted, aired, stretched in a park – and are ready to make our (hopefully) chilled way to a forest some ten kilometres shy of the city in which our rest-day hotel dwells.

Despite the overnight light rain and the upon-waking-up shower accompanied by a symphony of ominous clouds which got us up and decamped in 50 minutes yesterday, it was our first day in prolonged proper heat since we left Vienna and began our English odyssey – and I guess I was a little rusty at hydrating properly. I’ve got one of those thirsts today that can never quite be quenched, like when you’ve had one-too-many the previous evening. So, with midday and our serious riding of the day on the horizon, the clouds all broken up and wispy, 25º on the thermometer, the Sun beaming on me, and a sheen of sweat cooling the torso, I’ll have to keep an eye on that today.

1535. La Ferrier: not our destination, but pretty damn close and, personally speaking, also about the limit my body’d like to  go today – particularly my bum.

It’s been, I forget now, thirteen consecutive days on the saddle – and that hotel and that rest-day are looking pretty damn attractive right now.

Don’t get me wrong: loving the ride today, and much prefer camping to the alternatives, but sometimes your body, or something else, has got different priorities and, after only 190 minutes riding and about 47km covered, my body and bum are telling me: “Rest!”

Tonight is another night under canvas. Hope we are able to find a place in that forest we marked as our target for today. Hard to tell exactly what ‘forest’, ‘landuse’ or ‘meadow’ mean on maps.me, but we’ll see, and at some point needs just tell you: “Stop being fussy – and stop! Here’s perfect.”

So we will end up somewhere …
… and it will be just right 😀

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1710. A lake. Human-made or made for human? Don’t care: chilling. On our way to where we are going, passed it. “Shall we stop there and chill out by the water?” Yes. 40-ish minutes of horizontal immobility and eye-shuttage later, and I’m doodling.

We’ve been chilling.

Because all of what we’re doing is so pleasurable and so fulfilling, it may be seen as one long holiday; it isn’t; it’s work; and we also sometimes forget that, lost in our reveries or our silly conversations as move from here to here.

Enforced getting up and out there so early this morning has allowed us this time to just stop; we’ve done the bulk of our riding for the day (hopefully), and just have to get from here to tent-pitch time. That’s a time to chill, too, but it’s more a drifting towards total switch-off and sleep than just doing nothing, which is a significant, and only just now appreciated, difference.

Would be nice to camp here and though, with our experience of France’s nonchalance, tolerance and indulgence so far, I guess it’d be possible, we may feel just a little bit too exposed to foot-traffic at random times to be able to switch off completely for the big sleep … and, er, satisfy certain more solid bodily functions in the morning, though it’d be great to just wake up and be in our breakfast spot already, even though we’ve barely got enough food to see us through to sleep this evening. We only carry just enough to see us through until the next time we are able to restock on fuel and it must be holiday fortnight or whatever in this region at the moment, as most towns are like ghost ones: the roads are pleasantly devoid of serious traffic and an open shop or boulangerie or café is a bonus rather than a taken-for-granted.

It’s nice, again, to see that the French still respect the weekend, still respect general time off rather than selling it all out to the needs of that ‘all important economy’ thing that everyone talks about with such significance, but very few, if any, could actually define. And it doesn’t seem to be doing France any harm – at all! The standard of living is clearly high – and clearly higher than those countries with which I’m familiar that are slave to this economy thing. The quality of life is, well, incomparably higher again; from what I’ve seen, anyway. And they’re trying much more effectively to not let economic progress or development savage too much of their natural surroundings. That’s not to say some isn’t savaged, but not on the don’t-give-a-shit-scale as England or Poland.

And, returning to a theme which I’m feeling and noticing – France is just France: how it is. England always seems to be trying to be something, trying to define itself – why can’t it just be? It’d be happier if it did, and feel so much better, too, than when it’s trying to put on airs and graces, and be like something it’s seen elsewhere. It’s there elsewhere because it evolved elsewhere. You don’t become chic and cool by pretending to be someone else, you do it by throwing away your complexes; by being yourself, but not at the expense of others, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people being themselves, and I love them for that, but when I see areas, villages, or towns clearly trying to dress themselves up in a way French towns, villages or areas instinctively do, I now know why it always comes across as feeling contrived and somewhat oppressive within my home shores – because it was trying to impose something.

If you want to be influenced by something positive, please do – there can never be too much positivity, but be influenced by the spirit that brought it to be; don’t just copy, in the hope that imitation will bring the same results. It may appear to do so, but it’s heart will be missing – and that is from where life flows.

Of course, I am spending all or most of my time in the best of France, or what France can be – why would I spend my days following roads I found distasteful? – but the fact that such a spirit exists and lives and thrives means there is no reason why this positive should not be ubiquitous, at the expense of the negative; rather than vice versa as so much of our mediated worlds lead us to believe.

Live life. Celebrate life. That is all. It’s easy, it really is, but for some reason we think it’s complicated – and that others enjoying life is to be envied, to maybe fear, and therefore to be curtailed. It isn’t. Just join in, or follow your own heart and passion, and you’ll soon find that other’s lives will bother you less and less as, simultaneously, you become part of a greater world of lives lived. And it’s a beautiful thing, it really is. You only have to do it and not heed those doubting voices with their vested interests – because those voices are not your own.

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