The beauty of travel… it’s a completely personal experience. This time away, I feel I’m travelling rather than on a holiday. I have no real time constraints and that’s giving me opportunity to slow down and experience a lot more. No fixed plan or route, I’m winging it. I’m free, I can do whatever I like. I can go anywhere I desire. This really is opening my eyes.
So when Mark suggested I stay another day, and I fancied a bit longer in this glorious part of France, I gratefully accepted his offer of a third night in his idyllic spot in paradise.
I originally met Mark and Alison on my first ever visit to France last year. It’s great to find such lovely people and Mark has introduced me to several more friends in the area.
Mark, Chris, myself and Ted cycled to Les’s house for drinks one evening.
The night flew by and blessed us with a beautiful midnight sky.
We met more lovely people that evening, which the next day we met up with again.
Chris has a stunning property – soon to have a swimming pool! We visited what will be an incredible barn conversion belonging to Chas. All in the most perfect spots.
Beautiful Saturday afternoon, what better than a cycle ride in France with Mark… and Ted. Yes, and Ted.
From Amazon, I bought a dog attachment for my bike so Ted can trot along beside me. It comprises a pole with an elasticated lead. Ted is brilliant and he’s even learning “left” and “right” – which is handy as it saves him being run over by my bike at every left turn.
I had a go on Mark’s “Gentleman’s Path Racer” bicycle. Made in around 1933. Surprisingly nice to ride… Until I realised it has no brakes!!! Well, none that stop you anyway!!!!
This how to tire out a Border Collie. For ten minutes.
A little re-arranging of the van means I now have the Bike, Kayak, my chair and spare fuel… all strapped to the back of the van!
When your evening is filled with glorious sunshine, blue skies and a toasty 28-30 Degrees, what better opportunity to crack out the BBQ… Too good an opportunity to miss…
Sunday brought me back to the lakes at Saint-Blaise where I’d enjoyed swimming and walking a day or so ago. I wanted to explore more of the area so Ted and I set off with our back pack to explore.
It didn’t take long before water dog was in. Of course.
However, it is official, my dog is an arse hole. There I am in the lake, far enough away from people… having a wash. Trying to be discrete. Meanwhile, Ted is splashing and barking in the water, drawing attention to us. People started to gather, finding him hilarious. I on the other hand was stuck in the water and couldn’t really get out until they’d got bored and left. Cheers Ted, you utter sh*t bag.
I’ve been told this before, but being typically British, I forget that when people offer for you to join them, they wouldn’t ask if they didn’t want you to. Likewise, when offered a beer on the beach, instead of doing the default British “no thank you” even when actually, I’d quite like a drink, I need to learn to accept.
I genuinely do enjoy chatting to people. My only stumbling block here is the language barrier. I can speak enough French to tell someone I can’t speak French. Really useful that.
But how will I learn if I don’t accept offers to join them? I realise that I won’t ever experience different ways of living, different cultures, etc. unless when invited, I participate. On the plus side, I realise this issue and can now do something about it.
So I moved from here:
To here, to write my blog:
Guess what… People stopped to say hello and chatted. The best thing I ever did on my van was put the map of Europe along with “Hello” in several languages.
When local people see it, and they see their language on it, they seem to be instantly friendly and welcoming, with many stopping to say hello… They are interested in what I am doing, where I’m going.
Exactly what happened when parked up for water, etc. on my way to Saint-Blaise. People saw me sitting on my step and came to chat. It seems when travelling alone, you rarely actually have to be alone if you don’t want to be.
My mission from now on: Step out of my comfort zone, and mix with the natives when invited. When offered a drink, accept. Stop running away. They want to chat to an English person travelling. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t welcome – well, insist – on my joining them. I will learn!
Yes, the sexy hat is back.
This has been my wake-up view for the past couple of nights. Glorious.
France is beautiful. I didn’t realise how beautiful. Yet I am less than 300 miles from rip-off Britain. Reports from home of rain and the heating on, yet I’m sitting here with belting sun and blue skies. I’m glad I’m not in any hurry, I want to see more of France.
Blue skies, sunshine and water. Perfect.
The French villages are delightful.
The sand dunes south of Bordeaux are next on my list but somehow I want to visit places like Verdon Gorge in the East. Perhaps a route from Portugal along the Spanish coast back to France could be a plan. That could lead me to Andorra… Italy… Switzerland… The endless possibilities and excitement.
Dear UK, I may be gone for quite some time………!!!