Beth and I are having a short break in the West country. We are having a short tour of places we might want to move to in the few years. Although our recent France trip left us with some great places we would like to live. France also has the added bonus that we could avoid all the flag waving Brexiters. Having said that we are still looking at the West Country.
Last night we stayed in Minehead, it’s a place I have always avoided. This is solely on the grounds that anywhere that had a Butlins was a place to avoid. “My god, I’m so middle-class, my dad would be turning in his grave”. It turns out, that out of season Minehead it’s quite a nice tow. Also we almost stayed in a Wetherspoons pub hotel. Fortunately I was saved by finding another Pub to say in. The Old Ship Aground, The pub/hotel was on the harbour Wall. It had a Vegan section on the Menu and it’s about as far away from Butlins as you can get and still be in Minehead. Here is a photo of Bettie looking back towards Minehead.
From Minehead we moved onto Bude.
The last time I was in Bude was 1974, it seemed much bigger then. There is a new Micro brewery pub in Bude which has a very entertaining owner, who asked if we were local and the tried to bar us from the pub. If you are a League of Gentlemen fan, then the question “are you local?” Should always brings a smile to your face. Well he explained that there was only one rule for the pub and that was that no mobile phones were allowed. So we ordered and Cornish wine and a a beer brewed in Cornwall. I went for a pee and came back to find that Bettie had been fined a pound for looking at her phone. I would put a link up to the pub but they only have a Facebook link and know that this would put a few people off. We both liked the feel of the town and have marked it down as a strong contender for future investigation.
This photo was taken on the beach at Bude.
Now onto Padstow it is very nice but a bit too twee for our liking. We enjoyed our stay and will probably come back for visits but as a place to set up home possible not.
Tomorrow we will head back to Bath for an overnight stay before heading home on Monday.
Shock horror😨😵😱, Bettie and I decided that we needed a curry after our exploits. So we did a bit of research on Google and decided that we would visit the Karachi restaurant. It had a lot of good reviews and the food looked like it would be close to UK curry. We have had many a disappointment when travelling in Europe with Indian Restaurants. So research done we headed off for a Curry. The good news is that the food was good if a little limited in the spice factor. I had a Madras which was more like a korma, Although Betties Vegetable Biriani was good, if a bit lacking in vegetables. Here’s the bad news bit. The restaurant had a Pakistani owner and was following their tradition on drinks and was “ALCOHOL FREE”. So after over 2300km of cycling we finally got a curry, but no 🍺. C’est la vie. Today we have bought some clothes and generally had a look around Lyon which looks like a great place to visit. We are just recovering for a few days. I have found a couple of boxes to pack the bikes in thanks to Decathlon and a local Giant bike shop so we should be able to get our kit home.
Alexander is due to arrive tomorrow and we will have a tour of Lyon. It seems strange that our cycling tour is over and now we are just tourist in Lyon. I suppose we will reflect on it over the next few weeks it is just a blur at the moment and a review of the photos will bring back many memories that have been pushed to the backs of our minds as every day was a new experience, vista or just a nice memory to be had.
One of the things we’ve been looking forward to is a visit to a particular restaurant in Lyon L’instant Fromage they serve cheese, you basically can chose from a selection of cheese or just let the restaurant owner choose for you. They are served on a platter and you are told in which order to eat them. They also come with little sides that are supposed to enhance their taste. They also do Charcuterie as well so you could have a selection of Cheese and Meats if you wanted. I would recommend it.
Here are some photos of a day and evening.
Yes our tour by bike has come to an end:-( Today we are taking a train to Lyon to spend a few days in a Hotel enjoying the city, before Alexander flies us home.
We discussed options of riding today and then getting a train. But all it did was get us to a small town from which we would get the same train tomorrow. Also Mount Ventoux was just a bit too far for us to cycle to the base and then ride up and down as it was 40km away from the train. So it’s the train today and a few nights in Lyon.
Did I say Alexander is flying us home? “OMG” This will be the first time the boy has been in the hot seat with us back in the biig tube in the sky. I remember his first plane. It made from Carboard box’s and flew around our house in Maypole road. Him in front and either Bettie or me in the back.
We got a better view of MV2 today from the train. As Arni once said “I’ll be back”
So I’m not sure why, but I have been reading about Aigues-Mortes. You may remember that this is the fortified town in the middle of the salt flats, In which we stopped for lunch a couple days ago. I have been trying to get a translation of the name into English.
“Aigues” translates to “Acute” and “Mortes” is “Dead”, Mort is “Death” and “Morte” is “Dead Woman”. Also there might be a link to “ægis” which was supposed to be the shield of Zeus, which he gave to his daughter. It has also been known as a goat skin, which some warriors wore over the left arm for protection.
So I figured to it could be a “shield from death”. Or “Stagnant Water” or just “Actue Death”.
Of course I could have saved myself a lot of time and just looked It up on Wiki to get the following.
Attested in the Latinized form Aquae Mortuaein 1248.
The name comes from the Occitan Aigas Mortas meaning “dead water”, or “stagnant water” equivalent to toponymic types in the Morteau Oil dialect cf. Morteau (Doubs): mortua Aqua (1105, VTF521) and Morteaue (Haute-Marne): mortua Aqua (1163, VTF521).
The name comes from the Aigues-Mortes marshes and ponds that stretch around the village and also the fact that there has never been potable water at Aigues-Mortes.
There are a couple more history lesson from Aigues-Mortes,
- Many attempts we’re made to build a canal system that linked Aigues-Mortes to the sea but they all eventually silted up. This was mainly due to deforestation above and in the Rhonè Valley. This lead to the topsoil being eroded and washed down rivers to silt the canal. Here is a report from 1804 the prefect “Mr. de Barante père” wrote in a report that: “The coasts of this department are more prone to silting … The ports of Maguelonne and Aigues Mortes and the old port of Cette no longer exist except in history” he alerted: “An inordinate desire to collect and multiply these forest clearings since 1790 … Greed has devoured in a few years the resource of the future, the mountains, opened to the plough, show that soon naked and barren rock, each groove becoming a ravine; the topsoil, driven by storms, has been brought into the rivers, and thence into the lower parts, where it serves every day to find the lowest parts and the darkest swamps.”
It seems that we have not learned many lessons about man’s impact on our environment and the world as a whole.
- Argues-Mortes was the place where “The Massacre of the Italians” took place in 1893,. It took place over a period of two days and left 8 Italians dead and over 50 seriously and injured to over 50. It seems that due to a recession and a call for workers to harvest of the salt, lead to friction between the local workers known as the , “Ardèche” and the Itaian workers “Piedmontese”. They were forced to work together and a fight broke out between a couple of groups which quickly turned into a struggle of Honour between the two groups. This was not helped by the Nationalists Major who gave official speeches on the pride of being French incited the outcasts of the Republic to fight against foreigners?. Seems that Nationalism always seems to lead to a bit of a duff up.
Take note, all you little Englanders.
Today we are taking a rest day and have camped just outside of Avignon. We rode in to do the sightseeing thing. It is very nice clean and has some lovely lanes to stroll around. We also checked out the train timetables for our trip to Lyon. From the ramparts of the old castle you can get a view of Mount Ventoux. You can’t see it in the photo, but to the naked eye it is quite something and the clouds topping it are great. I think it would be chilly up there today. PS. it’s mostly under the big white cloud.
It now seems that we will have to comeback another time to ride it, but we did get to see it. We are pondering what to do now. We only have one more say of cycling before we board the train for Lyon and a two night stay, in which we will sort bike box’s and then fly home. I’m sure we will comeup with something to do. Here are a few photos.
Last night we stayed in possible the worst campsite of the whole trip. The less said about it the better. Although it was very close to the centre of Arles so we were able to cycle in and have a burger. We were up late due to a long ride yesterday. I also had to cycle to the nearby Aldi to get some milk and croissants for breakfast. We did eventually get on the road at about lunchtime. Google reported that it would be 38km ride. The reality was over 50km avoiding the unridable tracks Google tried to take us along. So again a varied route of roads unridable tracks and lovely quite vineyard roads. Not a lot else to say about the ride. We are now in Avignon and on nice campsite. I had a plan to cycle over to Mount Ventoux but I think I have been Vetoed. here are some photos of our ride.
I was talking To Paul Mason on the bike ride yesterday about the weather and the general feel of this blog. The point I was trying to make is that it sometimes feels a bit negative. I write about the rain, the hills, the indifferent service, and the fact that France regularly closes. But the truth is that we are having a great time and the country is spectacular. The people we have met along the way have been very friendly and in most parts very helpful, with two exception, “waitress in micro brewery bar and a Bretton man by Bourdoux” We have only not rode our bikes due to poor weather “possibly twice”.
Our ride took us firstly through some sandy paths and then onto a major dual carriageway. Which scared the crap out of Bettie but it had a great hard shoulder. It was a bit like riding along the hard shoulder of the M4:-(. Eventually we got onto a bike path of the Rhone Setè canal and then onto the Rhone itself. We have now made it to Arles which is famed for inspiring some of the paintings of Van Gogh. Also a couple of thousand years of history as well.
We stopped for lunch in Aigues Mortes.
Which is a fortified town. I looked up the meaning, useing Google translate, the literal translations comes up as Acute Death. A further bit of Google’ing and a better translation might be Stagnant Marsh/water. Anyway there is a whole lot of History to be had here. It goes back beyond the Crusades.
“No more Monty Python”
“No one expects the Spainish inquisition”.
Well I have posted many times about France closing on a Sunday well it seems that this doesn’t count in the Staganat water place here is the evidence.
After lunch we pressed on. and a discussion about the length of today’s ride lead to a “short sharpe discussion followed by a long silence”
We finaly arrived at Arles. Anothe city full of history and Van Gogh again. The campsite is not great but we are only here for a night so no big deal. I wanted to cycle back into town for some food I had seen a burger bar selling Bio food, they did veggie burgers. An hour or so later Bettie and I are chopping down on some of the best Veggie burgers we have had.
Here are some photos of today’s ride.