Monday, 13 July 2015

Day twenty (Saturday) Chalon-en-champagne to Epernay 50km hours

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

Packing up our tent today we had a little visitor. It started with a bit of rustling around the bags and a little ginger tabby tail. The kitten who had decided to help us pack then got his nose into everything. He hopped into bags, tried to eat the breakfast baguette. Found the bag with the cheese in it and started to gnaw through it...all the time purring like a freight train. I have no idea how something so very small could make such a loud, contented sound. He was gorgeous and if I thought I could get away with it I would have popped him in the top of a pannier and brought him home. Instead we are left with some fun memories and a photo.

Packed and fed, we said goodbye to the little ball of ginger fluff, and headed off to the canal again. The path was smooth and lined with flowers, and the air cool and heavy with the fragrance of 'green'.

Initially we made good progress, stopping to admire little villages along the way. The path stopped abruptly so we dropped into one of these villages and started the process of climbing and descending. Now back in chalk country there is a quite a bit of this!  

After one such climb we stopped for coffee. Talking away John suddenly announced 'well that was a mistake'. I looked over and there, very close to him was a tiny field mouse who had run across the road and not seeing us, run straight towards us. The mouse froze. I went around the back to gently suggest it might want to make an exit into the neighbouring field and which point the mouse went totally immobile. I have never touched a live filed mouse before but I was able to softly stroke the mouse along the back before literally nudging it along - at which point the mouse exited rapidly. 

The vineyards have started to proliferate again, creating a very green background to the fading gold of the corn. We rolled along into the ever-present head wind suddenly noticing an apparent castle keep on the horizon. On closer inspection it turned out to be a whimsy that a 19th century landowner had commissioned to hide the pipes at the head of a canal - very cool.

We headed back into Epernay for a second time on our trip, although John had been so zonked the first time he didn't recognise it! We managed to coincide this stay with some sort of motorbike rally (Eddie - you would have been in seventh heaven I reckon!!). This was interesting in many ways...although peace and quiet were definitely not the order of the day. 

We did find an awesome fromagerie though, and partook of some of the produce. There was also an opportunity to imbibe a little more of the champagne. John made an observation that I have been mulling does appear that Epernay has focussed almost entirely on champagne, possibly at the expense of other history and culture around the area. I guess everyone has to make a crust, and judging from the prosperity of this town, and others that surround it, they are making a loaf or two. Off to Charly tomorrow!!

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