This last week I have cycled across the Ardenne through fields of wheat that stretch to the horizons under big, blue skies. This may sound a bit boring but it's not at all. I have been on the move early as the morning sun casts a golden light over the golden fields; there is a cool breeze; I have the quiet back roads to myself; it's a kind of meditation. Every now and then I pass through a sleepy village. At one village, Pierrepont, I stopped to eat breakfast. There were no cars, there was no activity except the occasional local shuffling back and forward to collect their baguette and the only sound was the creeky door of the boulangerie each time somebody went out or in. Soon I passed into the Champagne region with its rows of vines, funny shaped tractors and pretty little villages.
A few days ago I cycled for the day with Walter. He is riding his tandem from Germany to Bordeaux - his wife is joining him halfway. Walter had two great pieces of German wisdom to share. One is 'the first one, is the last one' meaning that the person who focusses only on winning, misses out on so many more important things, that he really loses. The second is that beer is a good isotonic drink after a day's cycle - not so sure about that one, Walter. The day after I passed through a small town called le Ferte Gaucher and was invited into the home of an elderly couple for coffee. Monsuier is a retired farmer, he bought the farm from his parents and renovated it, adding bedrooms. It is 12km to the east of town. Now he keeps a small vegetable patch. He is very proud of the flowers in his garden but disappointed that recent rain finished the blooms early. He enjoys the Tour de France and was excited that it passed through the touwn this year. Many cyclists pass their way but never anybody from Scotland before. He doesn't speak English so I hope that you're impressed that I gleaned all this in French.
Yesterday I crossed the Seine, today I'm on the banks of the Yonne and tomorrow I'll begin heading west along another great French river. So hopefully my next blog will be all about my journey along the Loire.