Bog Roll :: stuff/holiday

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

02 Sep 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 10)

Today we cycled further in land to visit the Abbeye De Maillezais. After lunch at the abbey car park including free apples and grapes we walked round the abbey which is quite large and amazingly complete given how long it's been a ruin (quary for the local village). It took several hours to walk round the whole place.

We then cycled to another village to hire a boat to visit the wet swamps. The whole area was prone to flooding and so Dutch engineers came to the area and built an extensive series of flood defences, resulting in areas of dry marsh (dry enough to farm but can still flood) and wet marsh (lots of canals but areas of dry land between). The extenive network of canals make for great boating and you get to see lots of wildlife up close and personal

Finally we cycled home into the fearsome headwinds - which was not fun - almost all the way home.

As we were making dinner at the campsite we realised that one set of bike and house keys were missing, so my better half set off to retrace our steps to find the keys - only to discover after a few metres she had a flat tyre. Ho hum, not sure what we'll do tomorrow, but losing keys is not good...

  • Picture of the day: Giants
  • 69.7 km cycled, plus some walking and watersport!
  • Cumulative distance 563.7 km

01 Sep 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 09)

Today we woke up in the dry, packed up and cycled inland to our new campsite in L'Ile-d'Elle. The campsite is on the outskirts of a small town near the larger river port of Marans, both in the heart of the marshes. Most of the cycling today was pretty flat, and easy going on well maintained canal/drainage ditch paths.

We stopped for lunch at Marans, which has a notable old church, which we didn't see. The church we did find is modern and as you can see has a fairly modern glass and steel spire, even if the rest of the building is much older. Marans is also in a new department, Charente-Maritime, though were we are camped is still in the Vendee as the department and region border falls between Marans and L'Ile-d'Elle.

We pitched the tent at the small campsite - which also has functional WiFi too, and then went for a short walk along the river bank which is accessible from the rear of the campsite. We also cycled back to the village to check the shops - just one baker as the mini-market was closed for the summer holiday.

  • Picture of the day: Glass and steel
  • 49 km cycled
  • Cumulative distance 494 km

31 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 08)

Today was a lot nicer than yesterday. When we woke up the sun was out and the tent was dry even though we had rain over night. We got up nice and early and cycled to the nearby supermarket which had a 24-hour launderette and did our laundry before breakfast. After breakfast we went back to collect our clean clothes and hung them out to dry while our neighbours in the cycle camp packed up and set off for the day. Most of our clothes were dry in no time, so after washing our breakfast dishes and getting ready for the day we were able to put away most of our clothes before setting off for the day.

The town was full of people once the sun came out and we went to the tip of the sand bars to walk round the old oyster beds and look at the marhes and wildlife. Later in the afternoon after more cycling and walking we had an ice-cream by the sea before returning to camp for dinner.

After dinner we walked back to town to admire the storm clouds in the distance - which could give us a wet night if we are unlucky...

  • Picture of the day: Fisherman
  • 69.8 km cycled + some walking on the beach
  • Cumulative distance 445 km

30 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 07)

Today we decided at the last minute to leave Les Sables-d'Olonne and cycle on to the next campsite. It didn't rain overnight as expected and though looking glum it was also dry when we got up, so we broke camp, packed in a rush and set off. In the end we decided that Les Sables-d'Olonne was boring and we wanted to be somewhere else.

We cycled all the way to L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, and though never exciting it was dry pretty much all the way there. When we arrived the campsite looked very depressing and uninviting, so we tried the alternate one - which was even worse, went to the tourist information office and then back to the first campsite we had looked at.

We pitched the tent in the late afternoon dreariness and then went to the shop for dinner ingredients. When we returned another cyclist had arrived and was mostly set-up. We chatted for a while and directed him to the supermarket so he could get his dinner before it closed.

The campsite had a little protected space and some seats for cyclists, which was very welcome and we cooked and then ate our dinner in the shelter out of the rain which had finally arrived. Our fellow cyclist had a very nutritionally unbalanced diet, but then buying for one from a large supermarket can be awkward at best - we had slightly more luck being two people and one us is French so has a better idea what to look for!

I'm hoping for better weather tomorrow, because today the town looked like a set for a wet weather spaghetti western. Everywhere was small white bungalows with closed shutters, and not a soul in sight - I have expected Clint to appear from an alley to shoot at me!

  • Picture of the day: Strange bird
  • 59.3 km cycled + some walking to and from Super U
  • Cumulative distance 375.2 km

29 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 06)

Today we spent the day in Les Sables-d'Olonne. We first cycled from the camp site to the tourist office to find out what there is to do - surprisingly little in fact. The weather was rather flat and dull, so we opted to follow their walking trail. The town is pretty much devoid of any significant merit and it's not at all pretty, historic or interesting. Even the selection of shops wasn't very exciting.

One street we went round is odd though, it's only a few metres of street but most of the walls have shell art on them - some of them more interesting than others. I took quite a few pictures but I think the cat is probably the best - see picture of the day.

For lunch we managed to find a sandwich shop and I took advantage of the free WiFi to check what was going on in the world and update my bike data - while my better half warmed up - it wasn't warm at all. After lunch we visited the WWII hospital bunker before we cycled back to our campsite in the afternoon avoiding the impending rain.

In the end it didn't rain much and we went for a walk to the coast by the campsite around tea time. We found a pretty deserted set of rock cliffs and a text-book wave-cut-platform. It was also pretty warm and sunny - which was nice for a change as it has been cool all day.

If it rains tonight we'll stay another night, if it's dry we'll break camp and go onto the next campsite. The forecast is for rain but the town is rather dull and we've done it, so it would be best to press on if we can.

  • Picture of the day: Shell cat
  • 14 km cycled + some walking about
  • Cumulative distance 315.9 km

28 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 05)

Today we packed up the tent and cycled from Le Barre-de-Monts along the coast to Les Sables-d'Olonne. It was pretty flat and easy going with plenty of coast line and fine sunshine. We stopped for lunch and a few pictures on our way, but otherwise it was pretty uneventful. When we arrived we check with the tourist information office to see what was going on, before cycling to our campsite to the south of the town to set up camp and then to the supermarket for dinner ingredients.

  • Picture of the day: On the rocks
  • 81.3 km cycled
  • Cumulative distance 301.9 km

27 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 04)

Today we cycled back to the island of Noirmoutier and explored. It was very nice and sunny all day and it was also a lot quicker going over the bridge to the island without loaded panniers! At the end of day we had a very nice ice-cream, which was justified on the grounds that we had cycled a lot and that it was hot!

  • Picture of the day: Chateau
  • 68.4 km cycled
  • Cumulative distance 220.6 km

26 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 03)

Today we cycled south, back through the picturesque port of Pornic, onto the island of Noirmoutier via a very challenging causeway, then off again over a big bridge setting up our camp in La Barre-de-Monts. Overall a pretty easy ride over flat countryside either by the coast or marsh land - causeway and climb on the bridge excepted.

We passed a wind farm in the marshes that we passed on the way out of Brittany into Vandee. As you would expect there were piles of chopped up birds beneath each turbine and the noise was so deafening you couldn't hear jumbo jets taking off or the French Air Force jets on low flying manoeuvres....

In truth we saw no dead birds beneath the turbines and you couldn't actually hear them as they turned above the noise of your cycle on the road. A passing car was loud by comparison. A pretty good day and a new department for me, so somewhere new to learn about!

Vandee is famous for some regional foods, brioche being a very visible and highly edible example.

  • Picture of the day: wind turbines
  • 78.1 km cycled
  • Cumulative distance 152.2 km

25 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 02)

Today is a rest day from touring so we went for a bike ride... We went down along the coastline to port of Pornic, which we visited in 2012 on a previous holiday.

After a short while we came across the memorial for the HMT Lancastria, a British troop ship that was sunk during the retreat from France in 1940 with massive loss of life. The number of people killed is officially unknown, but reliable estimates put the loss of life anywhere between four and eight thousand. It is the single greatest British loss of life at sea ever and one of the worst military disasters in British history. During the war it was hushed up as it was thought that should bad news would be bad for moral.

When we arrived in Pornic we had a look round, the place was buzzing with activity and we had a very nice serving of ice cream, which I justified as it was rather hot and the bike ride was long.

After we had a good look round the town, we cycled back to our camp, having another look at the ever busy Saint-Michel biscuit and cake shop! Tomorrow we cycle back though Pornic on our way to our next stage.

24 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017 (Day 01)

This morning started well, we got off the ferry and cycled through an empty town to the same place we had breakfast on our last day on our previous trip to France. We then located a shop to buy lunch from, finally arriving at the SNCF station with plenty of time for our train.

We then took the train to Rennes, changed for another train to Redon, and then finally another train to Saint-Nazaire. All the connections went well and the provision for bikes on the French rail network is very good - much better than the UK. At Saint-Nazaire we cycled to the bridge and took the free shuttle service over the Le pont de Saint-Nazaire bridge to Saint-Brevins-Les-Pins from where we cycled to Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef where we pitched our tent.

A few years ago on holiday we passed Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef several times and I found the name highly amusing. This year we are actually staying here! It's also the home of the baker Saint-Michel who make some very nice biscuits and Madeline cakes that I'm rather partial too!

After pitching our tent we investigated the town and bought ingredients for dinner. There isn't much to the place other than a gigantic factory - that does smell rather good though - and a very frantic factory shop that sells all of their goods. After dinner we walked down to the beach and I took a few pictures of the setting sun against the sea.

  • Picture of the day: Fishing towers at sunset
  • 26.7 km cycled, lots of trains, a ferry and a mini-bus
  • Cumulative distance 29.2 km

23 Aug 2017

Summer Holiday 2017

Today after work we set off one year later than planned for our holiday by bike along the west coast of France. We left the village bang on time on a mostly empty train, which managed to take twice as long as it should to travel the 12 km to town for our first connection. Basically it arrived just outside Basingstoke, then stopped and waited for nearly 10 minutes before rolling into the station, so we missed our planned direct connection and had to settle for a change of train at Winchester. As a result of the shenanigans we were later than planned arriving at the ferry port and were one of the last to board the ferry.

As stresful as it all was, in the end no harm was done and we were also sure no one put anything on top of our bikes, being the last to be stowed in the Brittany Ferries "bike shed". The ferry set off in the gathering dark of Portsmouth and after taking a few pictures we retired to our cabin for dinner (pre-packed) and a sleep.

04 Jun 2017

Spring Holiday 2017 - Return

Today is our last day in France (for a while). I woke up in our little motel all depressed about returning to the UK... We checked out and drove the short distance to Saint Servan to have our breakfast by the sea before we went to board our ferry home.

The crossing home was uneventful, though we did have to wait to board and enter the UK because of the security theatre staged by the security forces. The security forces of the world have better things to do than to pointlessly check people travelling from Saint Malo to Portsmouth with their bikes, boats, and stuff - the car in front had a melon that escaped when he opened the tailgate!

When we arrived home, it started to rain as we were unloading and I couldn't find the house keys so there was a slightly damp delay before we settled down for dinner!

Pictures for the day: Tour Solidor.

03 Jun 2017

Spring Holiday 2017 (Day 07)

Today has been our last full day in France. In the morning we packed everything back into the car, disassembled the bikes for transit and drove north to Saint Malo for our last night. On the way we checked the Armor-Lux shop for stripy clothing, several sports shops for the rest of the Bretagne cycling strip I'd already bought but was missing one piece in the right size. In the end I was quite lucky and found what I was looking for my better half less so.

In Saint Malo we checked into our ultra cheap motel and then did some more shops - this time we found something for my better half and finished the day off in a creperie on the ramparts. The place looks tourity but was actually very good, better than the one in Auray a few days ago.

Today's picture is looking north-west towards England when a dirty great cloud front blew in blocking out the sun and it got rather cool...

02 Jun 2017

Spring Holiday 2017 (Day 06)

This morning we went to the market today for food. At lunch we had lovely local fish, but my better half had pork instead which wasn't so good and turned out to have some living guests - so it went in the bin...

In the afternoon I lounged about in the garden in the sun reading a book - it was a bit windy for a bike ride, and it also cooled down.

For dinner we went to the pub with family, which was pretty good (for pub food) and the live music wasn't too bad either. I rather like Mojitos - though I have to have mine without alcohol.

Picture of the day: Big tower.

01 Jun 2017

Spring Holiday 2017 (Day 05)

Today was nice and warm, so we went for a longer bike ride, right round the Golfe du Morbihan, which went pretty well, and the navigation wasn't too bad. I didn't find any lose gravel today, we didn't miss our ferry connection and I didn't get sun burn - so pretty good all round!

After lunch I set up my mother-in-law's computers and then we went to Auray (again - having cycled through in the morning) for a short shopping trip and look round.

For dinner we went back to Auray (for the third time) to a creparie with the family. Pretty good meal but not the best I've ever had.

Picture of the day: Weird fish, bike ride: tour parts 1 (46 km) and 2 (29 km).