Thursday, 29 January 2015

Le Somail up in the loft et a Perpignan avec Energie Citoyenne

So in Le Somail we spent some time up in the loft for a well earned break with the dust and the sanders and some serious protection.
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Team Dust, Isabelle and J.P. et nous outside the establishment soon to be an auberge with bike hire and workshop.
We learned a new word ‘neo-rurals’, had some fine wine and bread and made new friends!
A la prochaine!
Refreshed and re-invigorated we headed of for our last port of call in France, vers Perpignan along another canal.
Of course there was boats. Here a beautiful one. There was boats and bicycles….
…. and you might spot some flamingos in the distance.
We cycled on a thin strip of land between the sea and the canal. Our first glimpse of the Mediterranean.
In Perpignan we were greeted by Oceane of Energie Citoyenne, herberged by some friendly Bretons and we went for a Halloween bike ride with a posse and at last we did a film screening in a secret location, some wasteland behind the housing estate.

Despite of what everyone had told us about Perpignan we had a really good time and thought it was a nice place with a good atmosphere and some great people.
Here is a tableaux vivant of a famous French painting. Can you name it?
And here the beautiful little community garden Energie Citoyenne made along the canal under the road.


Energie Citoyenne

We’re looking forward to meeting up with Energie Citoyenne again in June when we shall be cycling together to join up with the Tour Alternatiba.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Canal du Midi

After a nice little stop over in une lieu dit Garbajon, with representatives of the clown gods we roll down, down, down to the Canal du Midi. And there it was in all it’s glory! And it really is like that, like in all the pictures… just like this one…. here’s the picture. What a picture! We chose the right season, too with the golden leaves falling down and everything glistening and shining in the warm autumn sun….

This old lady here was also taking advantage of the warm autumn sun. Leaning against the wall sun bathing she went: “Psst! Attention! There be giant chickens about. They might even be on bicycles. They been rampaging through the country side for a while now causing havoc and leaving the occasional nid de poule or even an entire auberge.” And right she was. We cycled past a chicken auberge. Sadly it was closed and there was no giant chicken to be seen. We hope to see more velo auberges for all kinds of creatures on bicycles on our travels.
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Popping round the corner to stop for a little coffee we come across this collage of edifices. Ancient and modern dominantologies, dominating the skyline, the church of Jesus and the church of Power. Look who’s winning this time round….

Back on the canal in the company of lovely, funny Max who vient d’ Agen where we did our show in the market of Estillac, where we made all the babies cry, bought the famous pruneux d’Agen and enjoyed the atmosphere of locals being local, and starting a great little local market.

After a picnic by the lake we said good bye to Max and cycled on to the famous cloisters of something or other who’s name we have forgotten. We didn’t go in because it was a ticketed event and we didn’t get past the information desk. So we poked our noses through the big impressive doors, into the church instead.  Round the corner behind the altar, through a whole in the fence we saw these rather lovely wooden figures.

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Meanwhile, above the door, these chaps were looking up to god, discussing something very important… we could hear them talking about something like where to get the best cake in town and things about other deadly sins...

And on the walls these peeps where getting right on down with the deadly sin stuff, looking all a bit emacieted… hmmm, starting to feel a little bit peckish…

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So was that little walrus monster here, tucking into a virgin.

Everything began to be a bit gluttonus…. and then the modern electric glutton gargoil came hoovering round the corner and our glutton glands took over and we headed for cake….

mmmmh, we went for a double treat…
After cake we startyed coming across some giant evidence! Giant stone boots by the way side….

A car thrown into a field…. Boules de voitures !?
Was the giant catching cyclists to build his fence out of their bikes?

We hurried on down the canal to find refuge in the castle of Carcassonne.

Aaah Carcassonne! - Do you remember the story about these two fellas? - No I wasn’t listening. - It’s alright, she’ll tell you -… And she did, but we’ve forgotten it. It went something like that, the story we think.

The canal was getting a little bumpy now...

a little wilder and bendier...

and a little artier, even if the music was a bit wooden. Elvis, Bob and Georges just jammin.
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There’s a wise owl and a naked lady… there must be a book shop somewhere near…
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Behold the three wise folk who know where everything is kept and where to go next…
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“Follow the signs” they say. But what do they mean?
Of course, they mean follow that sign.
Of we went following the signs and we couldn’t go wrong. The path got slimmer, we had to pass through the contamination, along the roman bridge, along the bumpy path…

….along the track that gets narrower and narrower…..
… and takes us to our next adventure.

Friday, 2 January 2015

A Velo-Odyssey

The birds are telling us to go south.
The windmills of La Mancha are calling us south wards.
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Marie-Antoinette the kitten is telling us to eat cake. And some of the best cakes to be found are south in Tavira.
So in Rochefort we roll on to the trans teleporting bridge thing with pulleys and wires and cables and all to take us across to the other side and to escape posh tea and a cat fight with Marie-Antoinette.
On the other side we discover a strange chapel where people pray to the armless virgin Mary, mother to headless baby Jesus, surrounded by Beelzebubs’ acolytes, flies everywhere. But actually, there are no parishioners anywhere. We decided not to hang around…
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Luckily we found a very stylish French lady on a mini-bike to cheer us up.
And then we met the blacksmith and his son and they showed us the route southwards. Another little canal, where the two of them ride their horses and go cycling. Phew!
And all of a sudden there was a giant in bathing trunks, running south wards for his holidays.
Quick, follow that giant and his boat!
Suddenly giant paper boats headed straight for us! Where’s the giant gone? Which way do we go and can someone stop these boats from charging us!
Lost in a sea of corn, we finally made it through the maze after many days.
We found ourselves on another ferry and here we pick up the trail of the giant again, lorries full of rocks. And as everybody knows, giants like rocks and find lots of useful and useless things to do with them.
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In the bay of Arcachon, the land of stilts we staid with a bakers mother. The baker is riding a Bullit in South America. On the wall there was another clue, sending us south to La Mancha.
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Follow the little red bicycles through the woods. Don’t talk to the hunters or even stop for them and find the narrow cement cycle highway.
We made it across without falling of and found a save haven in the empty village of the people with no clothes.
A chalet had been prepared for each of the bicycles and a sign had been left for us. We knew exactly what it meant, even though the B was missing. On voyage, ever south wards!
The next night was not as fortunate for us. We had to spend it in the haunted campsite of the gas lake. Here’s Johnny with the bill…
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Here’s Johnny the stoned squirrel with l’addition plus admin charges!? Warning! Do not stay here!
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In the marshes though we came across the cutest little calf ever and things began to look up again.
Oh it’s so cute!
And up and up and up we went the famous big Dunes underneath which lies a whole Celtic village.  
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The giant and his boat was nowhere to be seen. The dunes, the wind and the painful sand blasting turned Kevin ito a sand flee.
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He hopped here, he hopped there and hopped right out of his cycling shorts…
Luckily Marie-Antoinette didn’t see it.
Back on track, crossing Les Landes, we left the cost behind us and headed for the Canal du Midi to take us south.
We found the canal near to here, Bazas. In the tourist office we saw this picture of the square. And outside the tourist office we saw the reality of the square. Fortunately there are days when the cars can’t park there, but this wasn’t one of them. So we left Bazas and headed for Agen.
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