Saturday, 4 July 2015

Day eleven (Thursday ) Inor to Verdun 64 km 4 hours 20 mins

Cakes: 1 croissant each; 1 pain au chocolat each;  Coffee 2 x each

So, my nickname while cycling (although I probably shouldn't share this) is le poulet rapido. I am thinking of changing it to le poulet saute. While it may not have the same ring to it, it sure describes how I was feeling yesterday - rapidly cooked to a crisp on a high heat as the temperatures topped 41 degrees!!

We managed to get away at a good hour (8 am on the road and rolling), John nursing over 30 mosquito bites from sleeping with the windows open, in spite of him wearing oodles of insect repellant. I was lucky with only 10-ish bites; John is obviously way sweeter.

The morning was sublime with long shadows and a slight cool-ish breeze, which helped us up the first few hills where my legs were complaining a bit. The road wound through little villages, sometimes with great gothic and Renaissance chateau on the hillsides, often pristine, occasionally boarded up and deserted.

A treat was swinging around the corner in one of the villages to find an Ardennes pony (or maybe an Ardennes cross) grazing in a paddock. We just had to stop and feed her grass over the fence; it would have been rude not to.

As you wend your way through the villages we often see piles of firewood, stacked impeccably. An idle wondering was how long it takes to master the art of stacking (our wood pile looks like a dog's breakfast in comparison), and if there is a wood stacking ecole. I did see a couple working the cutter and splitter; which was a rusty contraption. The idea is to feed length of wood into it to cut them to precisely the same length. Alternatively, with fatter logs, a blade cuts the wood into sections, and the trick is to ensure that your hands are not similarly chopped. I suspect we'll be sticking to our trusty sledge hammer and wedges at home, and turn a blind eye to the mess the wood pile is in, happy with that fact that our arms and hands are intact, even if our backs are sore.

After the villages we were back on the open road where the wind had picked up and it was a bit like I imagine it would be cycling in a fan-assisted oven, We did find a relatively shady spot for lunch, with a bonus stream for feet dipping. The bliss of cold feet for a few minutes (and I think I would ever say that!

We  arrived in Verdun drooping with the heat and instantly found shade and a Tabac that sold cold smoothies - bliss. Then, using wonderful technology, we found a place to stay  having decided that camping just wasn't going to work as we watched the temperature go up to 41 degrees. Salad and cold beer were the order of the day for dinner, then 3 showers (cold) and sleep. Early start again tomorrow.

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