07/09/2018 Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward is nomadonanomad
Very short post for now, but I have been admonished by a number of folks who are hassling me about my whereabouts and also if I’m still alive! Yes, to the second one, obviously, and I’m in a place called St.Brevin les Pins, which is on the opposite bank of the Loire estuary to St. Nazaire. I made it here in just 6 days of cycling which has amazed me but it’s pretty easy to keep going for longer than one thought possible because everything is closed and there’s nothing to do except keep pedalling.
I’ve been to France before on a number of occasions and was well aware of the French propensity to take unimaginably long lunch hours, and that on Sunday almost everything is closed, but rural Brittany is something else! The ferry from Plymouth docked in Roscoff at 7.00am on Saturday morning (1st Sept) and off I went not knowing that I should have prepared for the first 3 days of my journey by ditching all my possessions in favour of only food and water. The Bretons prepare for Sunday’s closure, by shutting up shop on a Saturday. Then after Sunday’s day of rest they need Monday to get over the stress of the whole procedure!
If it hadn’t been for a tremendous guy, originally from Plymouth, who fed me at his hotel in Glomel on Sunday I would have starved. How anything gets done here I have no idea. I arrived here in St. Brevin les Pins and treated myself to a campsite as I’d spent the previous 5 nights wild camping and needed a shower, baby wipes can remove only so much dust, and to get some laundry done. I also needed to get access to ‘wiffy’ as they pronounce it here as my new shiny iPad, with roaming data access, was not being recognised by the usual suspects, Zuckerberg for one, and even this site, WordPress. So sorry again for not having posted. Logistics prevented this happening, as well as being completely shattered so I’m also having a day off………lucky bastard!
Not just logistics mind you. This cycle touring is a lot harder than you can imagine. A quick run down of my normal day goes something like this. Wake up. Break camp and load the bike. Set off riding whilst looking for food. Find food and devour without much in the way of manners. Set off riding again whilst constantly looking for the next food stop. Find food and again stop to eat. Set off again, still looking for every opportunity to eat. (In Brittany, over the weekend, this really was a nightmare) After finding food for the 4th time start looking for a place to wild camp. This must be done out of sight and the tent can only be pitched at last light. As soon as the tent is pitched I am asleep in no time as I’m exhausted. Wake up at first light and get away before being caught. The next day………repeat! No time or energy for blogging, emailing or much else for that matter.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do love what I’m doing, and France itself. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much of the language I’ve retained from 25 years ago when I could get by quite nicely. One small problem is that, when I’m trying to think of a word, not in English, my Lao, which was never that good gets into my mind and prevents me ‘finding’ the word in French. On numerous occasions I’ve thanked people with ‘khop jai der’. I’ve said ‘bor pen nyang’ a few times as well, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said ‘sabaidee’. Anyway, I’ve had a number of great conversations with folks who don’t speak any English and we’ve understood each other perfectly well. I hope my French continues to get better over the next 3 weeks as I really do like it here.
A word of warning, and something that I learned after just over the first hour of being on French soil. I’d found myself at St.Pol which is close to Roscoff, but not on the Eurovelo 1 cycle route that I’m following. Realising I had taken a wrong turn I started climbing out of the village when I realised I needed to visit the ‘little boys room’, or ‘le vaysay’ as it is here. At 8.00am nothing was open and it was purely by chance I had spotted some public toilets down by the shoreline. A quick turn and sprint down the hill and I got there, and just in the nick of time! Now heed this warning well. NEVER, and I mean NEVER go into a public toilet in France without taking paper with you. By the way, I don’t mean the Herald Tribune, Le Figaro or the Leicester Mercury, I mean stuff you use, not read. I will spare you the details but afterwards I was very pleased at my staggering levels of ingenuity. Don’t ask. I promise you don’t want to know.
So what to do with my day off? Hoping that today recharges my batteries.Already found out how amazing a 30 minute shower and a shave is and what it can do by way of revitalisation. I already feel ready to tackle the next, approx. 800kms to Hendaye at the end of the French section of Eurovelo 1 which then goes into Spain, continuing into Portugal. My fitness feels as though it’s improving a lot and I hope there’s more to come. I have already come to the conclusion that this European tour will help no end before I head off to South America.
So my laundry has been washed and is now drying which is why I can do this post. A trip into Les Pins and a Hyper Market to stock up for the upcoming weekend, and I may just treat myself to a beer or several on the off chance I can find a bar that opens on Fridays. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get lucky?
As always, thank you for reading this far, and may your God go with you.
Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward.