It had rained all night – so another slow start for me – nutella porridge (could get used to that), an apple and du pain for brekkie and a daily draw.
It’s still overcast and a bit brisk as I pack up.
I forgot to mention – yesterday in the bar with the friendly bar lady and her golden Labrador, I came upon my first ‘squatting’ French loo this trip. There were more at this campsite. I think they’re very sensible.
For most of the day there’s a brisk North Easterly impeding my progress - that’s a head wind, folks! It’s also a tad chilly. So I was hoping to find somewhere warm to get something to eat for lunch, preferably with wifi. In Orbais it was nil on both points – though the smells emanating from one café were mouth watering it was ferme. And I missed the boulangerie by 5 minutes. AND the fruit and veg I bought at the small supermarket completely contradict what I said in yesterday’s post about the groceries being tasty in France – the tomato, apple, Satsuma I bought today just weren’t up to scratch.
From there, having consumed a measly banana for lunch, I took the road towards what I hoped would be a river valley like yesterday’s, and came upon the road of the russet brown slugs. (I guess I might include myself in that description, but I’m wearing a purple down jacket). There were dead slugs, squished slugs and live slugs who appeared to be playing chicken at the side of the road.
First slug: “you go”.
Second slug: “no, YOU go”.
First slug: “chicken!” and sets off gaily.
SQUELCH. Second slug: “told you so”. (I'd like to point out that at no time did I do the squelching).
These slugs are maybe big and long enough to rival the Great Dartmoor Black (Beast) Slug. Or maybe not.
Besides the entertainment of the slugs, the wildflowers crowding the roadside verges and heralding spring have given me great pleasure: cowslips (in vast numbers), primula, violets, wood anemones and kingcups today, and, occasionally, bluebells just starting to open in woodlands.
There were lots of woodlands today, but the hills were getting a little steeper than previous days. I could tell by the way cars that passed me by would disappear completely then reappear several hundred metres or so later, inclined at an acute angle.
I feel so pooped, I actually lie down in a bank under the just budding trees and have a kip, waking an hour or so later feeling slightly disorientated and wondering where on earth I am… and I’ve only done 29miles so far today!
I finally find warmth, and un café (grand) in Vertus. The road to this town was truly spectacular and made up for all the ‘ups’ to get to it- it snaked in curves for a over a kilometre down a steep slope lined with vineyards and an imposing view. I am well and truly in Champagne district now. Every other person in Vertus seems to be selling Champagne.
I move on from the warm tabac (sans wifi) reluctantly, and get onto the main road for Châlons en Champagne. Not far up this road, well away from any habitation, I spot a deserted farm complex surrounded by probably 500 square metres of woodland. This will do nicely as a camp spot, I decide. As I am sat in my tent munching on cheese and baguette, I spot a strange light reflected in my bicycle bell. I look behind the tent to witness a spectacular sunset – the photo doesn’t do it justice. Hope the red sky at night prophecy holds true.