Only about 27 miles to get done today – but hills expected, damn hills.
I am covered in bruises – 1) from the pedals turning and hitting my calves as I push the bike up hills. And 2) from the one or two mortifying and clumsy tumbles I have taken recently: hurt my thumb from the first fall on day 4 – and yesterday I got my foot caught in my bags trying to dismount and the whole lot toppled over. That would account for the lovely colours on my left thigh. Steve would have enjoyed seeing that one – but no lasting damage, fortunately.
I have been hiding from the rain in a bar, supping coffee and checking emails. Bad news! Maylin saw a Consultant yesterday who has ordered her straight to hospital – for at least 4 days. Alarming, and I hope she’s OK. Such rapid admission suggests something truly horrible needing immediate investigation and treatment. (Transpires it was the latest admission for a chronic condition - but that doesn't make it easier).
I will head for their place anyway – maybe I can visit her in hospital and take her mind off things (whatever they might be). She was scrabbling around trying to find sufficient knitting to last the stay when I mailed.
OK, now I can see sunshine outside, so I should get back on my bike – after finishing the frothy, chocolatey concoction I splashed out on – a ‘café viennais’.
I’ve also looked up where she lives – past the village of Couesmes-Vaucé itself and south of a river along a cul-de-sac. Time to head on out, whilst it’s still dry.
I visited the tourist info – hoping for a map as helpful as the previous days: however this time I was travelling outside the arrondissement into Mayenne. I emerged clutching a google map printout which would take me as far as Saint Simeon – a few miles up the road from Couesmes-Vaucé. One of the reasons why I’ve been told that cycle touring is wonderful is that one travels slowly enough to ‘smell the roses’. Don’t know about that because, for much of the day all I could smell was manure as farmers ploughed and scattered.
Wnen my printout map ran out – I stopped in a shop and asked directions – I was assured that Couesmes-Vaucé was up a very steep hill – I can now say that not compared to Dorset it isn’t!
It was also noticeable how many British number plates on cars there were, sat outside Gites along the way – one place was called ‘Calon Lãn’ and there was a ‘CYM’ sticker on the car parked outside that house. I was tempted to stop and ask for a cuppa – but no, pedal on, pedal on.
Didn’t take long before it started raining splots again – but I was on back roads, traffic free and lovely – I didn’t get lost and was at Maylin and Keith’s by 5pm.
Cumulative miles = 200 (and a .05 I’m not going to worry about). I wonder around but no one there – and it’s starting to rain more heavily. So I parked the bicycle in a workshop to keep dry – and found a way to break in (!) – there was a rayburn keeping the place glowing and warm – and three cats soon asked me for food. The yurts (and their extensions) are a warren of hobbity holes – cats, wool, books, riotous colours of sari silks and photographs as wall paper.
While I was standing at the window in the workshop - I noticed a tiny bird fluttering its wings and hopping up and down on the branch of a tree just the other side of the glass - close enough to touch. It was a Gold Crest and I've never seen one so intimately before - I don't know if it was displaying to its reflection or protecting territory but it was bizarre!.
Keith was very surprised to find me there when he got back from the hospital – I think it was a first, in fact, as the place is fairly remote and off the beaten track.
He also told me about a blue tit that comes and sits in the same window and appears to taunt the cats. He's put a video on Facebook that's really worth seeing and deserves to go viral!
Days 8 and 9; April 9th and 10th– Rest Days.
I have spent (as planned) a couple days at Maylin and Keith’s wonderful home (designated a ‘maison de fortune’ by the local council for tax purposes which Sophie tells me now is a ‘shed’!) despite Maylin’s hospitalisation. We went to visit her on Saturday afternoon – which was grand and an opportunity to talk wool and spinning etc (Keith dozing off on the bed beside us, I was amused to note).
I also managed to get up to date with sleep, laundry, daily draws and the blogging (though that didn’t last long).
The weather was also appalling – Huge thunderstorms directly overhead – so I’m pleased to be both warm and dry. I am not so pleased to be regularly sneezed over by the oldest grey cat – green snot – really!!). Woody the dog is lovely and regularly checks the perimeter for enemies – keeping the chickens safe.
First Square of the journey complete – the HOME square. Maylin was enthused by the idea and has offered to knit me a ‘french’ square also - it should be fun to see what she comes up with (I’m easily amused by anything knitterly).
Maylin and Keith are so creative and the evidence is everywhere: Maylin’s skeins of hand-dyed yarns hanging drying, sari silk threaded through the roof struts – prints of Keith’s photographs used to wallpaper. He takes them with his IPad and edis them, plays with them before printing, as it’s the pattern that’s important: sees faces in his images which I couldn’t always see, unless he pointed them out.
Maylin has a dyeing business called ‘Tri-Coterie’ and is the designer of the magnificent and original ‘Wingspan’ Shawl – there are many pale imitations out there now. Her dyeing workshop, created by Keith, is to die for (groan. Sorry).
Thanks to Keith for his hospitality and for treating me to a Chinese ‘Menu de jour’ meal out – (that’s an ‘eat as much as you like’ buffet style meal) and just for allowing me to ‘hang out’. Thanks to Maylin for offering to host me in the first place and only sorry you were stuck in hospital and hope they’ve let you out by now and you’re feeling much better.
The forecast for Monday isn’t great – I can see the headlines now :”British Cyclist gets washed into La Manche and floats back to England.”