The place still didn’t look open – just as I was loading the bicycle up, a small digger went into action – and when I rode past the reception – it looked deserted, with boxes all over the place – so I assume the site isn’t open yet for the season. Since I hadn’t used any of the facilities (not even a tap for water) I didn’t feel guilty about not paying and cycled out (whilst whistling nonchalantly) and on to Coulommiers – where I stopped for coffee and to buy something for lunch.
There was a really lovely Fromagerie in Coulommiers – and an excellent greengrocers. All the fruit and veggies I’ve purchased have been really tasty – it’s lovely to know that a tomato is going to burst with flavour when you bite into it, rather than the soggy, watery nothingness that happens sometimes with English tomatoes.
I also managed to have half a conversation with the lady who served me coffee. She has a yellow Labrador, so I got a dog fix too.
The day evolved: I spent a couple of relaxing hours in Bellot (I think it was) having the lunch I’d bought: cheese, bread, tomato, and an entire punnet of strawberries, which tasted divine. Worth doing the exercise to build up an appetite. I also took out the tent to drape over a railing to dry.
The bar where I went to have coffee seemed to be a magnet for waifs and strays - there was one guy who'd evidently had a stroke, another had severe scoliosis and a woman who looked very thin, smoked and drank like the proverbial trooper so who, I wasn't at all surprised to see, had an arm in a plaster cast. I couldn't understand a word of the conversation, but I did understand when they asked me what i was doing, as I sat there andean-plying my handspun from that morning. I was, however, completely bemused when two of the guys lifted their shirts and started comparing bellies.
After I left Bellot (must have spent a number of hours there, but who's counting?), I wound my way along a stunning and lush valley, following the River Morin. Thick green grass, hedgerows, woodlands and beautiful farmhouses, with cows and their young calves, and lots of horses too - all absolutely gorgeous. I also saw lots of birds of prey -don't know what they were - they had red/brown bodies and darker tips to their wings, and the same dart like shape, built for speed and slightly larger than kestrels. Looking online, the closest to colouring seems to be red kites - but they didn't look like the red kites I saw in Mid Wales?
After the flat of the valley, there is inevitably an 'up' and so there proved, to the pretty town of Montmirail. I have been reliably informed by two different people (if I understand correctly) that there is camping just up the road - 2km.
In reality it was a much shorter distance. I soon came upon the camping sign and followed them to a Sport's ground, where a shower block was parked amongst picnic tables. There was hot water! I couldn't see any reception - could it possibly be free? Incroyable!
It's raining. Time to tuck myself up. Did two sections of the border on Gill's Shawl before sleep. (The mat is staying inflated after it's repair, thank goodness).