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Home Travel StoriesFrance 2013

France Day 3 - Crying Through The Rain

By Sharon Parker

The rain is still with us through the night and remains with us this morning.  It is a grey, wet and as I peer out of the tent I see a rather miserable looking sky. 

I go to get my phone from under the bikes seat and it has not charged at all. Oh no,no,no, NOOOO WAY!! the lead has not worked and I now have no way of charging my phone. Which means I can not get in touch with my girls or them me. I have a mini meltdown.  I am worried about the girls, I feel guilty still about leaving them and this feels like a huge disaster to me right at this moment. I am really angry with myself that I did not test the charger before we left and made sure it worked. I just assumed it would. How stupid am I? I am so frustrated at myself and I get myself so worked up I actually have a little cry. I am not bawling but a few tears do manage to squeeze out of my eyes.

The bf manages to calm me down and being a genius he has brought a spare phone that will charge on his bike.  All I have to do is swap the sim card over and all will be well. My hero. Phew thank heavens for that.
The bf's phone works just fine and I now will be able to call my girls and check all is well. However the bf tries to use his phone to contact his mum to assure her he is safe and well and he discovers he has no service at all on his phone. His network will not connect. Oh lordy this is not going too well.  Good job my sim works in the bf's borrowed phone because between the two of us we now have one phone that works. Haa. We have both been silly but between us this silliness was no disaster.  The two halves we got right worked together to make one whole that worked.  Lucky us.

So other lessons to be learned already. 
1. If you are going to need to charge your phone  check the charger works before going away with it. 
2. Make sure your network is enabled to operate abroad.

I do not know if it is the weather or I am still freaked out about the phone issue but I feel fuzzy headed today. I just do not feel totally switched on. I don't know why really, it is hard to explain, I just feel less than 100%.

We load up the bike in the rain and I try to shake my head clear and regain my spirits.

The rain continues, and continues AND continues. We pass numerous small villages all of which look absolutely deserted and empty. What is going on? I know Sunday is shut day but this is a Monday, is that like a shut day too?

We eventually come into a smallish town and see a open Tabac. We park up and go inside. It is rather an odd place. The rear where I ended up slipping and sliding over to in my wet gear is a betting shop. Lots of French gentlemen are staring intently at horses pulling carriages racing around a track. I peel myself out of my soggy gear and collapse into a seat, while the bf orders us both a cup of tea.
I am grateful that I am dry on the inside. My boots although not comfy have so far proved to be waterproof. My pants are holding up as I expected them to being a rather new Bering pair. And I have my trusty regatta waterproof over my jacket to keep me extra dry and snug. Even my hands are dry in my Surfanic skiing mittens. I have tried several biking gloves and none have been waterproof. I doubt my ski mitts would offer much protection in a fall but it's a compromise I am forced to make. Because cold soaking wet hands is not something I can live with. So I am in reality dry but even so I feel damp and I am definitely cold. So it feels good to wrap my hands around the hot cuppa once it arrives.

This Tabac is not a welcoming place. You feel every bit a stranger in a strange land here. I would like to stay longer and get more of a warm but I feel uncomfortable and out of place, so I am happy to leave once the brew is drank and map consulted. I know I am feeling out of sorts today so I do not really know if the Tabac is really that unfriendly or it is just my state of mind. But something must be wrong, even if only slightly, by the fact I am happy to actually get out of the place and back into the rain.

However my enthusiasm to be back outside does not last for long. The rain continues to come down mile after wet mile. I am cold and feel damp in both mind and body. This blasted rain is relentless and it is beginning to piss me off. I can not even be bothered to look at the scenery because it is hard to see through a rain covered visor. My camera therefore also stays tucked away in the dry. How the bf is managing to do the actual riding in this amazes me

heavily dropped trees and soaking streets in north western france in the rain
Just another rain soaked street in another rain soaked town.

With little to look at other than rain drops on my visor I begin to think too much. And thinking leads to worrying and worrying leads to guilt. I carry guilt easily. I know I feel overtly responsible for other people. I do not know for certain where it stems from. But I have my theories. Like most so called issues I guess it is linked to my childhood, even if I am loathe to admit it to myself.

I went on my first ever holiday when I was 17. I went to Majorca with my sister and her friend. I loved it, even if I had to learn the hard way about the foreign sun by cooking myself on the beach to a frazzled lobster. But even while I frolicked in the sea and chatted to handsome American Naval Officers I felt guilty. Guilty because I was here having so much fun while my mum was at home alone. She had never had holidays herself and here was I just 17 enjoying what she had never had.

So on my return home I saved up all my money frantically and I few months later I took myself and my mum off to Menorca. 
I took my mum on other holidays over the years but somehow I still always felt guilty on those times I did not have her with me.  It made no logical sense because I did my best to help her to travel as much as I could.  Or did I? Could I have done more? See I was my own worse enemy.

My mother died way too early a few years back and I miss her terribly even now. But I did not miss the feeling of guilt over not having her with me if I traveled alone. However I now seemed to have transferred that guilt over to my children instead. Urgh. I give myself a talking to and try to remind myself that being selfish is ok. That a happy mum is better than an unhappy one. That it is good for my children to learn independence from me and me from them. That it is ok to give myself permission to enjoy my life.

Because I also know life is short. Too short on many occasions. Not just due to my own mums early death but of those friends and acquaintances of mine that over the last couple of years have either died or become seriously ill. These people are all around my age or tragically even younger so yikes!! It is a wake up call that waiting until tomorrow or rather in my case waiting till my own kids have chosen to fly the nest and go on their own adventures, may mean I never get a chance myself.
We may never get another tomorrow, we have the present and that is all we know for sure. By that I do not mean we all go mad and throw every caution to the wind. It is as with most things in life a balancing act. But as I mother I have to remind myself that yes it is ok to put myself into the frame along with everyone else. My children are no longer dependent babies so I try to convince myself that what I am doing here going off alone with the bf for 3 weeks is ok. That yes I can indeed give myself permission to enjoy it.
Now I got the guilt sorted for a while but what about the rain?

As the rains continues I want to scream STOP. I give in I can't do this anymore. I am too cold and too damp and too muddy headed. Lets just blow the budget and stop at the nearest hotel. Let us get warm and dry pleaaseeeee. But I remain silent. I do so for two reasons. One being the bf. He believes I am a fair weather camper. Despite the fact I have spent a night camping in November with him in the frost I have yet to prove myself to him in his eyes. He knows I hate the rain. I get accused of not being cheerful in the rain and yes there may be some truth in that. I am naturally more happy in the sunshine. But I do not believe I am a total wet blanket in the rain....Am I? So secondly I also want to prove to my own self without a shadow of a doubt that I can indeed do rain and do it with a bloody smile rather than a grimace on my face.  After all, recent years have proven to me that it is no good waiting for the sunshine to come out to enjoy yourself. So I will adapt, I will change my attitude to this whole weather things and smile through the rain ... I will, I swear I bloody well will.

So with this fighting spirit stirred within my soul I do what all warriors of the road do when faced with such harsh conditions... I fall asleep ... to put myself out of my misery. This works quite well apart from the annoying interruptions when I awaken myself by head butting the bf in the back of his helmet when ever he comes to a stop. 

Eventually we find a burger bar with all important internet access in addition to food and warmth. Ahhhhh sweet relief. Oh how the world can soon begin to feel better once you just take a break for a while. Food in the belly, soggy layers removed. Stretch and relax. Such bliss and the smile I give the bf is genuine and not forced. I am ok, I am so glad I did not buckle under my moment of temptation to cry stop. It now feels like no big deal. A bit of rain paaah. From inside the burger bar it is hard to imagine how miserable it made me feel.
The weather report via the internet says the rain is expected to continue but even this news does not feel a disaster while I am sat here. My muggy head seems to have cleared up somewhat too at last.

As we climb aboard the bike once again I even think the intensity of the rain has eased a little. Either that or my mood is now so improved I have a happy force-field keeping the worse at bay.

Our next destination is Epernay and to the Municipal campsite there, another campsite that the bf has been to on his previous visit here. This campsite does not have its own webpage but information on it can be found on Epernays website http://www.epernay.fr/

the tent and the bike at the campsite in epernay. Hedges, grass and surrounding buildings
Fuzzy head so fuzzy picture. Might be nothing special but I like this place.

We are given a very warm welcome by the lovely smiley girl on reception.  She does her best to understand the bf's French which vastly exceeds my own and to help us with some French pronunciation such as the rain - Le Pluie indeed LE PLUIE.

We come out of reception and have a brief talk with a friendly German couple how are planing a trip to Devon in England. Wow the rain has eased and I am being cheered even more now by such friendly greetings and smiles. What a contrast from earlier.

I like this site right away which must mean it is good because it if looks nice to me in the rain it must look great in the sun. I appreciate the hedges around each pitch giving a degree of privacy and the fact the site is not too big a site. It sits beside a nice lake complete with swans a swimming.

3 swans at the water edge on the lake at the campsite in epernay
7 Swans a swimming, well 3 but more than enough to make me smile.

We pitch up in the rain and it is all completed easily enough, even with all our bike gear still on to keep us dry. It is only our 3rd pitch but already we seem to have a good routine going between us.

The rain eventually stops for a short interval so we decide to take a walk into town to hunt down some food. But everything is firmly closed.  We found out earlier from both the girl in the burger bar and the young lady at the campsite reception that today was a religious holiday hence the deserted and closed towns. We give up our fruitless search and return to the campsite finding a tiny amount of sustenance in a chocolate bar from a vending machine. Guess we are on diets tonight.

the impressive and ornate church in epernay france
Despite the conditions the Church at Epernay is an impressive and ornate building.

We climb into the tent to settle down for the night and once again I keep on my thermals. Not quite what I had hoped and planned for, this thermal attire each night but I am sure glad I have them to keep me snug.

It has been a hard long day. The bf did a brilliant job at keeping his spirits up and keeping us on the road and not in a ditch. I fought may own battle not to give in to my muddy head and rain demon. So I go to sleep with a little smug smile on my face. We did well today the bf and I and proved we might be more than just mere holiday makers. There is a chance we might be intrepid explorers in the making. Well maybe not quite but I am more than happy with what we proved to ourselves today.

Forming a Plan The formulation of a cunning a devious plan to take on Europe is formed in the tiny mind of our intrepid explorer...
The GF Question Do I take the gf with me to France? Can she come? Will she like it? These are all very difficult questions...
France...I wanna go but can I...?? Can Sharon make it to Europe? Will the kids survive? Will the bf behave? Is there any space for makeup? All these questions and more...
The Load Getting everything we NEED and a few items we WANT onto a motorcycle can be a problem. Now I have to work out how to get 3 WEEKS worth of gear onto the poor donkey(aka bike)
Camping In Cambridge The start of our Epic Adventure...or bike holiday around France. Cambridge is surprisingly nice really.
France - Day 1 Sharon's first day from her point of view. Cushy Cambridge and dry weather...what more could a girl want?
The Chunnel The Chunnel, I'm excited but also stressing because the bike's already broken before we leave the UK. I worry too much...
France - Day 2 - Bikes, Trains and Tents Sharon leads us through sunshine, hair issues, the Channel Tunnel and into France. But France is eerily quiet...
Here Comes The Rain Bike fixed...bike broken. Rain, endless dull roads, miserable towns and more rain. Oh the joy of travel! At least Epernay welcomed us with a huge smile :-)
France Day 3 - Crying Through The Rain The rain plays tricks with Sharon's spirit but a stiff upper lip and giving herself a good talking to see her through.
Rain Into Dijon Rain, rain and more rain. Just how long can it last? Would we be better off with a Jet Ski? Can we continue to keep our Great British Stiff Upper Lips?
France Day 4 - We Are Mustard We Are Dijon is the destination and we're surviving the rain...that makes us well mustard! We're happy in spite of the rain but how long can we keep smiling?
The Joy Of Being Lost As we head south the rain lightens but will it ever stop? I get lost which is no surprise, but lost turns out to be the best part of travelling. Are things finally taking a turn for the better? I do hope so...
France Day 5 - Biker's Paradise Sharon's day 5 in France starts out rough but improves considerably. What delights can put such a joyous grin on her face?
The Stunning Alps We are both facing a very strange situation...that of sunshine, warmth, beauty and pleasure.
France Day 6 - Magnificent Mountains Sharon shares the delights of the Alps. Sometimes life is good!
Highs And Lows From the stunning Alps to our ultimate destination...MONACO! Is it all I expected? Will it be as I imagined?
France Day 7 - Scooter Mayhem Sharon describes the best and the worst France has to offer. Ride on the back with her from the beauty of the countryside to the mayhem of Monaco
Resting And Deciding Today we stop to take a breather and recuperate. It's also time to make a decision about the rest of our journey. I used to be indecisive, I'm not so sure now.
France Day 8 - Chilling In The Pool A day off from the journey sees Sharon and Ren doing something very silly, breaking things and achieving very little. What a splendid way to spend a day!
Going West Day 9 sees us heading west from the coast. It's finally dry, but it's still windy so not too hot. The gf's not well and Ren is relentlessly lost. Overall not a bad day then!
France Day 9 - Poppies, Vines and a Wet Lettuce Feeling poorly rather spoils Sharon's day today. Still on she must go on and survive what might have otherwise been a good day.
Biggest Bridge In The World In glorious sunshine and fine health we make our way from Nimes to Millau complete with it's Viaduct. Sometimes life is good, occasionally it's great!
France Day 10 - Deflated to Elated Today is a good day for Sharon. Today the sun shines, the scenery is beautiful and the people are pleasant. Join her as France puts a smile on her face.
The Wettest Bridge In The World The Millau Viaduct ought to be impressive. It is, but nowhere near as impressive as the amount of rain falling from the skies.
France Day 11 - Grim Not every day can be filled with sunshine and smiles, even on holiday. This one certainly was not for Sharon!
False Hope Part One Ren would like to invite you to a joyous report about the delightful weather in the South of France! He'd like to. Instead it just rained and rained and rained and rained...
France Day 12 - It's Gloomy Inside And Out Sharon freezes her butt off during the night then is treated to a cold and wet ride. The Ren sure knows how to spoil a girl.
False Hope Part Two Is this the end? Has Armageddon arrived? Is this the Apocalypse? It sure as hell feels like it.
France Day 13 - Quietude For A While Sharon's report on another day of mixed weather. There's peace and beauty then there's mud and cold. Adventure...no-one said it would be easy!
Sunshine After Rain A night of rain soaked delirium. Will the day be any better? Will our travellers ever dry out?
France Day 14 - A Bit of 5 Star Luxury Sharon has a much better day on the road and a luxurious 5 star campsite. It's amazing what difference a little dry weather can make.
Back Into The Flatlands A quiet, simple and easy days ride through France for Ren. Pleasant enough but the flatlands are getting a little boring now.
France Day 15 - A Bit Of 2 Star Delight Sharon has an ordinary day and a frustrating battle with the weather.
Not Far To Chinon It's a short, easy and peaceful ride this day in France. Ren gets all philosophical too.
France Day 16 - A Historical Walk Around Chinon Sharon enjoys a hint of sunshine and the history of Chinon, France.
Shopping To Mamers Ren's airbed's leaking now. No problem, find a shop and buy a new one...easy? I don't think so...
France Day 17 - The Gift Of TIme Even though the weather is cool Sharon's heart is warmed by the people she meets in France today
Don't Go To Ault Ren has a grim, long, dull and uninspiring day in France. The accommodation doesn't help.
France Day 18 - Is This Misery Or Joy? Sharon finds sunshine, ancient caravans and ponders about hapiness.
Looking For Luxury With time on their side Ren looks for the perfect campsite for the next to night. Not finding it makes him a very grumpy boy.
France Day 19 - Campsite Conundrums Although the wind blows the sun is shining while Sharon looks for the perfect pitch.
Resting In Ambleteuse Ren philosophises too much on the final day of his trip around France.
France Day 20 Sharon's in a reflective mood on the last day of our French trip.
Back Into England Ren recalls the final day of the French Adventure. It's all over far too soon.
What Did We Learn? Ren sums up his thoughts about France and the French trip.
France On Reflection Sharon sums up her her experience of the French Trip. Damn those Alps.
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