98 – France

France for me is all about the nightingales….

Thirty or so miles in from the coast the serenade began, France has a theme tune and on this occasion it wasn’t me singing ‘Lost in France’ or worse still, ‘Je Suis Un Rock Star’. This little brown bird could be seen as the Susan Boyle of the spring talent show, definitely no visual bling.

Arriving in Dieppe has such a familiar feel by bike, although this time without a view along the Avenue Verte, the stoker’s position affords me time to study the hedgerows and verges, with plenty of time to watch the birds. Early spring must be the richest time to set off on a journey, optimism fills the air and the first bluebells are carpeting the woodlands. Clear blue skies and a warm sun did not warn of the cold nights, waking to thick frost and ice in the pans.

A wonderful campsite near Francastle in an old orchard in full blossom provided entertaining bantams and our first serenade by the nightingale. A voice that is certain to charm the ladies arriving from Africa from the night skies and still going strong to lead the dawn chorus.

The French dawn chorus is spectacular, the nightingale accompanied by the trusty blackbird builds to a crescendo as others join and then gently settles to te gentle pulse of the cuckoo. Spring has definitely sprung and from the stoker’s saddle its hard not to feel the joy, with no steering, braking, gears or traffic to cloud the journey.

France has also been about the Romans. They certainly did not believe in going round hills, so as we plump for direct roads to Belgium, we cover 40 miles stretches of continual climbs. I would mention the downhills if it wasn’;t for the headwinds forcing us to pedal all the way! The entertainment of the skylarks’ aerial antics and calls and swoops of the lapwing across vast, open fields deserves applause from the passing traveller.

At Bavay, the evidence of Romans was clear at the top of yet another huge climb, the restoration of a huge fortress is underway. Straight on to Le Cateau and a kindly farmer giving us space to pitch and a beautiful red sky to sleep under, with inquisitive cows peering through cracks in the barn door to inspect the new neighbours.

From here the Romans afforded us passage into Belgium and each night warmer than the last as we head north, the beginning of the cyclist’s tan already evident. That attractive blow torch effect across the forehead and nose and nut brown hands


8 responses to “98 – France

  • Mark Brady

    Hope you are both well and not arguing I miss you both big time in particular Chris for all the conversation with you and Mick. That are easily the most intelligent customers i have and you are both travelling. I will be soon votinf green next week I am a lifev long labour support but its only tackle. Hope your both in good health and not arguing and takng in the different landscapes


    • b1ke

      Hi Mark

      Pleased you’re following our ‘progress’. Hope all’s well at the Pump Room. At this end, we’ve arrived in Berlin and we’ll be here for just short of a week before heading off towards Poland.

      Yes, me and Janyis have had the odd barney on the tandem and I can’t just ride off and cool down, but overall I’d say the pros of the bike outweigh the cons.

      Take care and say ‘hi’ to everyone at the cafe.


  • andy littell

    Like two different bike rides – with one bike – how curious – more entries required in Stokers corner if poss – to match the entries in ‘the tour’ section……..

    • b1ke

      Hi Andy
      Really glad you’re on board with this one I’ve added a couple more entries – the view from the rear is quite different and we decided against trying to combine our experiences – hope its not too confusing! We’ve had really limited access to internet, but I’m keeping a diary and trying not to bore everyone with the detail when putting entries up.

      Things just get richer the further east we go and we’re only in Berlin so hope this will be amplified still further as we leave Germany later this week.
      Take care
      J x

  • Kris Taylor

    You write beautifully. Thanks for makin it a joy to keep up with your adventures, it’s like bein there. Hope you’re takin more fuel on board than humous n margerhita’s, keep those glycogen levels up n i look forward to readin more.


    • b1ke

      Hi Kris, I’m keeping the Szczerba engines stoked with a more varied diet than he is known for, but pasta is a daily feature!

      Janyis (in Stoker’s Corner)

  • Kris Taylor

    congrats on gettin the green politician elected.

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