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  • Day15

    Another sunny morning but very cold initially. Breakfast at 8 in the conservatory and joined part way though by Elaine and Victor who we met yesterday and the chat over breakfast meant we set off a bit later than intended at 10.10. A very long flat day, 10 km more than expected with lots of dykes, canals and shell fish fisheries as we wound our way round a circuitous route to La Rochelle. We only passed through one place of note all day (Marans), but fortunately at lunchtime-ish so we could get supplies at the SuperU which didn't (!) close for lunch and we spent a pleasant lunchtime in the shade of trees siting at a picnic table by the canal, occasionally having a brief chat with other cyclists and avoiding the wistful looks of a stray, but placid, dog who seemed to want to share our lunch.....yeah right! But no coffee today, maybe that made the day seem longer?

    We left the Vendee region and entered la Charente Maritime as we continue south. Following the signs went pretty well, only thrown off course briefly by a parked car right in front of our sign obscuring it from view. But a quick retrace of our steps when we got to a junction devoid of any signage, which alerted us to the possibility that we'd gone the wrong way, sorted the problem. No repeat of the problem with finding the cycle route into the heart of St Nazaire, this time it was plain sailing, well cycling. The only worry (for the stoker) was keeping dry with a 10 metre unguarded drop from the cycle track to the canal below!

    Got to the apartment and was met by the owner, a typically chic older French lady who was very pleasant but who definitely didn't do the cleaning and tidying herself. The evening consisted of unpacking, getting some groceries for tea from the local supermarket and putting on the first load of washing. Then bed, totally pooped. It had been a long day in the sun, chilly at the start but warmer as the day went on.

    Now 5 days at a more relaxed pace in La Rochelle with Ellie and Ross arriving tomorrow.
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  • Day13

    The captain made himself known at breakfast when the muesli dispenser snapped off as he was using it and deposited its contents! Even without such events we always get some odds looks as we are togged up in cycle gear whilst all the Mesdames and Monsieurs are smartly dressed - but we are crazy Brits!!!!

    Another sunny but cool day as we cycled along the prom at Sable D'Olonne admiring the fantastic sandy beach. We spent a lot of today's ride close to the sea or on Sandy or gravel forest tracks, we were back to acorns popping as well today, had a bit of rear wheel skid too. The stoker is a bit more nervous than she was after our few little tandem mishaps this year! There were numerous camp sites scattered along the route and I would imagine this area is packed in July and August not sleepy and laid back as it is in September. Most of the seaside towns are semi shut down this time of year so we decided to get provisions at the first 'open' village we came across which was Jard sur Mer. Whilst Tony was waiting outside the public toilets for me a lady cyclist asked him if he spoke English! She was from Scotland so we had a little chat with her and her husband,when he arrived, and it turned out that we are both booked into the same little hotel tonight! How weird is that!

    If we open the windows at tonight's accommodation we can hear the sea but can't see it as a pine forest is in the way. Today we opted to eat at lunch time in Jard de Mer as weren't sure we would find anything open in La Faute sur Mer as it is quite small, which was a good decision as it would be quite a hike to the village and after all this cycling the legs are quite happy to rest! Only one more cycling day then 5 days rest in La Rochel - hurray (say the legs and bum!)
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  • Day11

    Woke up this morning to the pitter patter of rain on the window shutters, looked out and the skies seemed to be clearing so went for the sun tan cream anyway! Also noticed something (not someone) swimming around in next door's pool, only an automatic pool cleaner wasn't it bit like those automatic lawn mowers. Anyway then went down for excellent breakfast and by the time we were leaving the rain was just spitting, but boy was it cold.

    Called in at the boulangerie before leaving the village and headed off. As we went past some of the inlets and dykes the tide seemed to be well out so tried to go across the causeway to Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile, it's like the one to Holy Island in the north east of England, you only get across when the tide is out. Well, when we got there the signs say don't cross more than one and a half hours after low tide and we got there 10 minutes later, people seemed to be gathering for the spectacle so we got a coffee and watched for a while too. As time went on cars and even some lunatic on a bike with a Bob trailer and camping gear went over. Interestingly where the causeway starts the road is well above the beach so looks OK, but as the road bends you can see it gets lower, if you look that is. So some people probably just don't believe the sign or, it seems, there may be a bit of a game to see who can be last to cross. At two and a half hours after low tide some were still going for it but 5 minutes later we watched the last car to get across sending plumes of spray from the wheels on the lowest section! The driver looked pretty cock sure as arrived at our side but I thought I saw nip into the loo shortly after parking up!

    Excitement over we headed back onto the original route in a race of our own to try to get across wind out of the line of showers that looked threatening. It's very flat country, like Holland, lots waterways stretching way inland, salt pans, fields apparently surrounded by moats and the odd local wandering around with shotgun popping it off at the wildlife. Our yellow waterproofs seemed a good idea, not only for the occasional shower!

    Stopped in a village square for lunch and as we were finishing another tandem turned up also Brits, of course, doing same route as us as far as Montpelier but having to go faster to get back for work.....shame!

    After lunch the sun came out and we had a pleasant run through forest tracks, past various resort villages closed for the season until we got to St Jean de Monts which was teaming with people. Found the hotel, had a walk along the prom and a go on the big wheel, very scary for one of us. Gill operated the camera, Tony held onto his seat. Then shower, change, meal and rest. For the flattest day yet, only 50 metres climbing, and despite actually being a couple of km's LESS than predicted, it seemed very tiring.

    Zzzzzzzzz Zzzzzzzzz
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