We had set the alarm for 7am and eventually crawled out of the tent into a cool and dewy morning, looking forward to cheesy beans on toast (supplies carried all the way from London). The camping stove all set up and ready to cook, it transpired our lighter was broken beyond repair. Despite our best intentions not to forget this time, we had of course not remembered to buy a spare in the supermarket the evening before. Oh well!
Took our time packing up, hoping that the rising sun would dry the millions of tiny droplets of water from the inside of our tent before packing it up. A farmer on a small tractor waved and smiled as he drove past. The a woman with two dogs and another little jiff-jaff turned up. The latter jiff-jaffed his hello and then refused to follow the lady home. We had to walk him back to her. Then I had an idea: “Avez vous d’une feu?” I yelled after her, as she was almost out of earshot. No, “Desolé!”, of course not! She didn’t much look like a smoker; or maybe my French isn’t very French.
The farmer on the little tractor came back the other direction and waved again. Whoever said the French don’t like people wildcamping and chase you away…?!? Just as we were almost loaded up and ready to go, a guy in a white van stopped n came over to say Hi. He spoke very few words of English, but with our few words of French and all of our hands and some weird “vroom vroom” noises we established that he used to ride a bike, a Harley in fact. He loved our little camping spot and wished us a great journey 🙂
After a quick stop at Lidl for water and some lighters, we got some miles under our belt. The air was still relatively cool, especially in the morning, but the sun was out 🙂 I was getting more and more comfortable cornering with the heavy panniers but the relatively straight french roads took it easy on me, giving me time to get used to the heavy bike. The indicators had almost completely stopped working though and I’d have to have a look at that soon. Something to do with the switch, as neither indicator nor the little green indicator light on the instrument panel worked.
Stopped in a lay-by and got the stove out to finally cook our cheesy beans on toast 🙂 Yum! And some coffee of course. Loving the idea of just setting up a little kitchen wherever we fancy!
The wheat and barley fields had given way to pretty seas of yellow sunflowers! And closer to Bordeaux vineyards started popping up. Wine makers had 2m tall wine bottle statues by their gates advertising their direct-from-the-vineyard sales.
In the afternoon it got really hot in the bike leathers! One of the many blinking green Pharmacie lights declared it to be 41°C! Hm….. not sure that’s quite true, but definitely hot enough for some ice cream. Sat in an Intermarché car park and munched almost the whole pot of chocolate & caramel ice cream 🙂 (can’t store it on the bike after all 🙂 )
We made one last push, jumping on the “A”-roads (motorways) to get past Bordeaux. Eventually got off at junction 24 to find a camping spot, as it was already quarter past seven and the sun was going to set soon. But we ended up in a horribly industrial feeling pine plantation area with lots of Private! – No Entry! signs. That’s no good!
So off we went, completely exhausted, desperate to find a camping spot, considering almost anything. And so we ended up riding into a super bumpy little field opposite a Bistro, in full view of a growing crowd of menacingly staring customers. When it became apparent that they weren’t going to turn their backs and let us camp un-watched and in peace, we had to wrestle our bikes back over the bumps and back onto the road. Bummer! Going to chalk that one up to a bit more off-roading practice then and carry on…
Eventually turned off the road down a little track into a light, easy-going looking pine forest (none of that almost surgical-precision type plantation we had earlier). The ground was almost pure white sand like on a beach and we found a little spot under a little oak tree. Just beyond that the path had been blocked with a little heap of stones, so the owner’s obviously didn’t want any visitors. But we were well hidden from the road and it was perfectly peaceful 🙂 Except for the MILLIONS of mosquitos! Aaaarrrrggghhhhh! Deet!!!! We got absolutely munched that evening, even with several layers of anti-mozzie spray!
Had some yummie smoked mackerel and lambs lettuce salad for dinner with cheese, olives and wine for seconds! Yum, yum, yum!!!
Then grabbed some more wine and decided to explore further down the path into the forest. It got real dark in one place where we crossed a tiny river – really beautiful and eerie. Then out into a clearing where there was a fence that looked like it shouldn’t be crossed: some sort of military installation (that you can’t see on the map of course).