Sunday 30 August 9:10 am – Relais ‘La Roseraie’, Bayeux (Day 98 of my midlife gapyear)
I wonder when I will converse again. Will my voice go rusty, my tongue uncertain? This will be day eight without a proper conversation.
‘Sadness & Happiness’ – the last poem in Selected – one of my favourites – so much so as I think my shoulders slumped and I let out a little sigh of … there should be a word which reflects the regret of finishing a book.
Now I’ll have to finish my ‘poem’ and prepare to share it with Robert. That makes me nervous just thinking about it. But excited too. I want it to be good and I want him to like it.
7:05 pm – Camping les Hautes Coutures, Benouville
I had a little chat with a fellow cyclist this evening – a Frenchman out for a ride and a bicycle tourist – he had a little English – we spoke of my trip and his, earlier in the summer, to Scotland. He told me that in WWII a Scotsman playing the pipes led troops into battle across the bridge I’ll traverse in the morning.
It was a day of two distinct halves. The first was through very, very quiet farming country and little towns. Beautiful – fog hugged the earth pretty much all day. But in never rained. And it was mild. Freshly harvested hay bales are strewn across fields. There were cars outside churches. A few open bars. Quiet.
Then I reached the sea.
I got a crepe in some small beach town and a Frenchman was keen to chat about my trip – but we had about the same number of words in each other’s languages. He was enthusiastic and friendly though.
From there I rode along the coast in and out of beach towns – full of French and English holiday-makers. This is Juno, a landing beach of the British and Canadians. It was interesting to see they had become English in their accoutrements: carousels and soft-serve ice creams and hot chips served from kiosks and people walking and flying kites and building sand castles and roller-blading. While the English may visit for the history they also want a fun beach holiday – the Americans back at Omaha were just there for the history – they’ll go to Florida for a beach holiday.
So I rode through these late-summer holiday-makers – an object of some interest. People looked, and watched – but none tried to speak with me. At the Brittney Ferry Terminal, I left the sea with a right-hand turn along the canal which runs to Caen.
All up I rode about 65 kms to arrive at this 4-star campground – I prefer two or three as they have all I need and nothing that I don’t (pools, playgrounds). But here I am. And I’ve paid for 3 hours of internet too.
Today I thought often about my return to Sydney – riding in from Palm Beach. Coffee in Manly. Pedalling across the Bridge. A drink in the Rocks and ‘home’ to Five Dock.
And Robert’s Selected Poems – I was thinking about them. I think the Germans have a word for the remorse felt when you’ve finished a book.
Monday 31 August – 8:40 am, Camping les Hautes Coutures, Benouville (Day 99)
Another foggy morning with some rain overnight and drizzling off and on now. I am breakfasting in the ablutions block – among the washing basins, not the toilets – on digestives with butter and tea while my computer (and hopefully my mp3 player) charges.
Last night – after some work – I sent my next e-newsletter – which I was happy with and had replies in the night from Bob M., VAL, Sabra and Debra B.
8:15 pm – Camping Municipal des Chevaliers, Houlgate
Short riding day – less than 40 km – I didn’t leave Benouville until midday. I had proceeded along in my getting ready but before I could get the tent packed it started pissing down. I took shelter in the bar – had a coffee and did some work.
When I did finally get away it was under a heavy blanket of cloud and lingering fog – breezy. And that’s what it was like all day, but for 90 seconds of sunshine while I was at the tourist office here.
The early part of the day followed the River Orne back to the Channel – partially through a wetland nature reserve where I saw a deer – second of the trip – the first near Southampton. In that millisecond of seeing its haunch I though “kangaroo!” – same colouring.
Then I was back along the sea.
I was going to ride further than Houlgate but I realised I was knackered. They had a municipal camping ground – €8 plus free Wi-Fi (which I haven’t tried yet).
While I was pitching my tent, and unpacking my bicycle – other bicycle tourists showed up for the neighbouring pitch. They are French, but she lived in Sydney for a year and New Zealand before that. She speaks English quite well. We had a bit of a chat – but nothing of substance sadly. They seem to have gone into town now.
I showered. I made dinner. Yesterday’s wet clothes are hanging up until I go to bed.
I wish I had a chair with a back. That would make life better.