Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

07 Sep 2013

Summer Holiday 2013 (Day 15)

This morning we woke with a heavy heart - we are going home and back to work. We cycled through a sleepy town to the port and boarded our ship home. We didn't arrive that early for boarding but they must have been running slow as we were still able to board quickly before most of the cars and got a nice seat on the rear deck to watch the world go by. Other than a few annoying smokers who don't realise they stink, we had a pretty warm sunny morning sitting on deck until lunch time. We went to the cafe for provisions and then looked at the on-board shops before returning outside to sit in the sun.

Overall the crossing was pretty impressive as with previous years, lots of sun shine and no unpleasant events until we arrived in the UK and were were delayed unloading by over an hour. We cycled from the ferry terminal to the train station over the utterly atrocious roads and terrible cycle provision in Portsmouth and boarded our train home.

Because we were an hour later than planned, it was pitch black and we had a very uncomfortable cycle home in the dark. Thankfully my new Topeak lights work very well even though they are really only designed to be seen not to see with.

06 Sep 2013

Summer Holiday 2013 (Days 13/14)

Today we had the full day in the city of Nantes. We walked down to the tram stop and then took the tram through the city to meet up with family. Our plan for the day was to visit Les Machines de I'ile. While the exhibition was open the elephant and various bits were closed to maintenance so we could only take the limited tour.

When the shipyards in Nantes closed, they set-up the most insane model shop you have ever seen to keep skilled engineering jobs in the city. They have built a massive walking elephant that can take 50 people on a guided tour of the island, a enormous aquatic themed triple decked merry-go-round and at the moment they are in the process of building a gigantic fifty metre diameter "Heron Tree".

The whole place is full of the most over the top and fanciful, science-fiction come steam-punk contraptions I've ever seen. It's hard to describe the place, but even though we couldn't see everything I was utterly blown away with the place and I want to go back to Nantes just to ride on the elephant!

After the tour we went into the very tasteful gift shop then had lunch at the very nice cafe that is attached. Once that had all settled we had a wander in the stunning afternoon sun, first round the island it's self then back to the city centre. We looked in at the Castle and went past the school (sixth form equivalent) that my better half went to and into the adjoining botanic gardens. The gardens were pretty enough but they were also full of the most fun and zany art/flower displays I've ever seen.

Tonight we are having dinner at one of the towns more famous restaurants - should make up for last night's terrible food, the only time I've had a bad meal in Brittany!

The city's beautiful botanic gardens are full of the most wild installations you've ever seen. On our last day we decide to go back to have a look at the ones we missed yesterday. Each one is accompanied with the most absurd description. They were created by Claude Ponti and have been there all year. When we saw the first one yesterday we didn't understand what was going on, but once we saw a few more we realised it was a joke - on a huge scale...!

Our train trip was pretty uneventful, though I still hate the stupid hanging bike things that SNCF insist on having installed on their trains.

On reaching Saint Malo in the early afternoon, we checked into our B&B Hotel and then went shopping. Carrying everything by bike means we got very little, as it has to fit on the bike - which is good for self-restraint!

This evening we'll go into old city to buy our last crepe...

04 Sep 2013

Summer Holiday 2013 (Days 11/12)

We left our gite early in the morning and cycled back to town. We nipped into the church in the town to have a look, it was rebuilt after the war and though tiny has stunning windows in the most amazing colours.

We cycled along the canal for a short while until we arrived at Blain where we met our family for lunch. After lunch we went though town to find a shop to buy dinner (we're at another gite tonight) then we returned to the canal.

We left the gite at wonderfully home made sign that said "gite d'etapes 2 km ->". We followed it for about 50 metres and then it said "gite d'etapes 1.5 km ->". We then followed some increasingly rougher and uncomfortable tracks until we arrived at the farm where the gite d'etapes is. The farmer showed us round and we settled in. The place is very pretty even if the signs to get there are a bit random...

To our amazement while waiting for the water to boil for my cup of tea I noticed a box of Mille Bornes in the gite which as a coincidence as my better half had being saying during the ride that it was her favourite game from her childhood. I've been counting the kilometre stones off as we've been cycling along so it reminded her of the game. We had to play the game, even though she couldn't remember the rules and we the box didn't have any!

In the morning we left the farm via a different route and rejoined the canal. We met our family for lunch and then reached the end of the canal at lock 2 where is joins the River Erdre.

The river here is deep and wide and never had much of a tow path, most boats put sails on and sailed down the last few kilometres to Nantes. So we had to leave the canal and take a detour in land before we rejoined a river side path through the city of Nantes.

We cycled all the way to Lock Number 1, which holds the river level up in the city and beyond the lock you are into the tidal part of the river.

Once we really made it the end we went back through the centre of the city to our bike friendly B&B to crash out before going for dinner with our family. Nantes is a fantastic city, very vibrant and very bike friendly. Nantes is currently in the process of remodelling it's self from a car centric city to one that favours people on foot or bikes. It's a great place to get round on foot or bike and surprisingly quiet as traffic noise is minimised.

02 Sep 2013

Summer Holiday 2013 (Days 09/10)

Today we took a day of cycling and had a day with the family. In the morning we went into town, looked round the market and did shopping things. Once that was done we went to to the village of La Gacilly where there is an annual outdoor photo exhibition. This year is their tenth anniversary so it was extra special, with loads of extra pictures and events.

The exhibition was pretty impressive - some of the pictures were absolutely stunning and more will appear on Picasaweb once I've processed them. The village is pretty enough to start with but with giant photos everywhere it is even better!

After looking round the village we went for lunch in a very busy restaurant - they were turning people away it was so busy. The food looked a bit fancy on the menu but was very good and we enjoyed it.

After lunch we went into the shop of Benjamin Rousset who makes decorative things from old cutlery. There was all sorts of things in his shop from clocks, lamp shades to candle stick holders and fashion jewellry. We got my better half a nice bracelet made form two old spoons!

After returning to our B&B we had a walk from it down to the river and picked some blackberries from the very resplendent brambles growing in the hedge in the lane to the B&B.

After another night in a real bed we had short stage today. We went into Redon for the morning market and lunch, then left our family as we cycled along the canal to Guenrouet where we were staying at another gite d'etapes.

The canal is quite different here, it's flowing across flat mash as opposed to cutting though granite hills. The problem here wasn't cutting the rock, rather containing the river level as it soaks out evenly into the marshes.