Linda, Rosemary and I set off for a cycle ride, cycles prepared, seat lowered for Rosemary, and tyres pumped up and off we set. Three hundred yards down the road there was an explosion like a gun, Linda was horrified the neighbour was out shooting rabbits. Nope, it was the inner tube of Rosemary’s bike bursting. Quick walk back to the house and left Rosemary behind, and off we went again. Did a quick circuit along the dykes and through the fields. Little wildlife to be seen. One escaping bull calf, and a dead Coypu on a bridge.
Back at the ranch lunch was prepared and then we were off to Surgeres. Surgeres is apparently the centre of the dairy industry of the region. Even butter labelled Surgeres can be found in the supermarket. There is an citadel in the centre, but little remains other than part of the fortified wall, a church and a tower. We took an English guide leaflet from the tourist office. This leaflet provided much light entertainment and brain exercise, but we discovered Surgeres was the centre of the diary industry. We suggested Mike and Linda set up a tourist guide translation company. A beer at a local cafe, where the waitress was a Brit heading back home to start her University course at Cardiff.
Some supper shopping and then home for wine, and some manual labour podding Linda’s white bean harvest. This continued while the pizza dough base rose Finished the evening making and consuming pizza and red wine. while reminiscing on the long lost colleagues from the Walker era.
Not a sunny day, but warm, with little wind and no rain, almost what the doctor ordered. Lazy day, ate our pain au raisins from the supermarket. I accessed the Internet, emailed, blogged etc, while Linda & R went off to view L’s vegetable and flower potâge. Mike had to take cycling clients to the airport in La Rochelle. Rosemary, Linda and I went out to a vide grenier (aka car boot) in a nearby village. En route, the petrol light came on, but it was easy to fill up at the supermarket under Linda’s expert tuition. She said how the government had reduced the price per litre by 5 cents, to try and boost the economy.
The boot sale was depressingly large and every stall had to be examined. But fairly early on, lunch was purchased, sausage and frites and a glass of rosé. We sat at a table with a French couple, with whom Linda chatted and who had done well buying clothes for their grandchildren. It was an all-day event; it was even open during the French lunch time period. Not to miss their lunch, many of the car booters were sat around groaning tables behind their pitch, reluctantly getting up to deal with a passing purchaser. There was entertainment with some youths playing English rock songs. They did break for lunch. Rosemary actually made a couple of purchases, a roundish shaped Ricard water bottle and an old French linen shirt come nightie.
Back at the gîte supper was dutifully prepared, BBQed spatchcocked chicken, sausages, and roasted veggies from Linda’s veggie patch. The odd glass was drained.
The Mistral really challenged my patience during the night. You could hear the gust in the nearby trees and count the seconds for the gust to turn the tent into a twisting, bulging hallucinating mess. Not the most conducive sound and sight to help one get to sleep. Slowly the clocked ticked on and 7 arrived. Dressed ourselves and packed the tent, at least it had not rained during the night, small blessings. The tent required some firm handling to control its riotous antics and to stuff it into its ever shrinking bag. At least we were not in the middle of a thunderstorm, another blessing.
Off we went on our way to Mike and Linda in Arcais where we were going to be staying in their gite. Long motorway drive all the way to Niort, should be good, French motorways are typically uncrowded. Oh yeah every blasted French person and their dog seemed to have taken to the road today. The only time the road was quiet was during the long French lunch break. Bouchon after bouchon all the way to Niort. Even a brief respite at a motorway café was a let-down. I have always been impressed by the motorway cafes on the routes to Lyon and the Tarn, but this route along the South and then up to Bordeaux was the pits. The cafes were small, and crap, mainly serving drinks out of vending machines.
Turned off at Niort, and headed to a super market at Mauze-sur-le-Mignon and stocked up with food, which, with the prospect of a fridge, we could finally do. Arrived at Linda and Mike’s where they had supper and a drink awaiting us. A pork and bean stew with Toulouse sausages. Suitably replenished we went to bed in a very quiet, dry and windless gite. Bliss.
No rain during the night, and the wind was not bothersome. Lovely bright morning, a tad nippy though. After pain au raisins and coffee we were out down to the coast to check out the sea side restaurants. We ended up down in Carro, seemingly on an island bordered by Marseille to the East and oil refineries to the West. The Mediterranean did not seem warm to touch, but was pretty rough looking, 30 plus windsurfers were making the most of the wind. It was now 12 o’clock so most of the French sailors were heading back to shore for their 3 hour lunch break.
We found a small café and I ate the classic French Mussel classic, Moules et Frites followed by Tart Tatin and icecream. Rosemary was presented with a huge Pizza.
Back to the car and a trip up the road past the oil refineries and then back home stopping for a coffee. The first town we have seen this year where there were groups of men playing Boules at the Boulodrome.
Back at home, the tent had pulled out a few pegs, must have been windy, or the soil with the drenching it has received in the last few days had grown a tad soft. I now think we have chosen the windiest pitch in the whole of the campsite. The Mistral blows directly onto our tent. Supper was the remains of the olive bread.
R and S Blasdale are out of here in the morning. Let’s hope it does not rain during the night.
Woken early morning before light by the pitter patter of rain, and thunder, Very loud thunder which made me jump. At getting up time, the rain had stopped, so breakfast and into town where we bought a roti chicken and some rustique olive bread for lunch from the market. Again stopped Rosemary from buying kittens.
Lunch over and the rain returned. Clear now, let Friday be a better day. Weather forecast looks OK.