Travel StoriesFrance 2013
France Day 11 - Grim
By Sharon Parker
The temperature drops rather dramatically during the night. My airbed goes flat again so this does not help and with practically no insulation from the ground it is a very chilly night indeed.
I suspect that the morning will not be what I hoped for and sure enough on emerging from the tent with stiff hips my fears are confirmed. No glorious sun to greet my eyes this morning, just bleak grey skies, heavy with pregnant rain clouds and a chill wind to add to the scene of displeasure.
Not long after waking the rain starts and although I am truly grateful for the wonderful weather of yesterday I am rather annoyed that today's offering has ruined my plans. No chance of lazing for a while by the pool and I suspect any river activities will be called off. This is confirmed when I walk by the river to see all the canoes firmly stacked up on shore with no signs of any attendants hoping for business. But chin up girl Millau is still a stunningly beautiful place even in the rain.
The bf has a chat to the friendly multi-lingual camp receptionist and comes away furnished with instructions on how to get to the Millau Viaduct Visitor Centre. So with this option seeming the best plan for a wet day we climb into our bike gear. I have bought several new base layers for this trip from various brands and today is the turn of my Helly Hansens. Now if you know anything about brand names you will know these are bloody expensive. I of course did not buy them at retail price but picked then up cheap off Ebay. However due to the expensive price of such items I was expecting good things from such an costly pair of base leggings. As I pull them on they catch ever so slightly on the Velcro of my jacket which lies next to me. This ridiculously over priced piece of shite disintegrates on contact with the Velcro and now sports a nice hole. Now ok, lets be fair to the poor HH maybe the manufacturers never had bikers in mind when they designed such fragile pieces of crap. Their market is in all honesty probably the beautiful sports people you see occasionally. You know the ones I mean, the ones who manage to jog gracefully by looking all serene and perfect. Not unkempt and red faced and sweating. But regardless off the fact that HH is not tough enough or mean enough to do battle with a piece of velcro, of all the leggings I purchased the HH are the thinnest and my least favourite anyhow. The hole is just confirmation that they really are just a fashion statement for some and not in the least bit practical or long lasting or tough piece of base clothing. So in my humble holey opinion Helly Hansen is not a brand that a camping biker might want to add to his list of essentials.
As we get on the bike in search of the Visitor Centre the rain gets increasingly heavier. A grey mist descends and I can not even see any scenery beyond the boarder of the roads. The rain becomes torrential and the temperature drops even further. With this amount of visibility we get lost and eventually end up at a building that we think is our chosen destination only to discover that we are at the Aveyron Region Visitor Centre instead. As we stand there some what bemused a large puddle forms around our feet from our dripping wet clothing. Much to the all too obvious disgust of the gentleman receptionist. Feeling as welcome as a shark in a swimming pool I decide to ignore his stares and have a look around anyway seeing I am here and proceed to do just that, leaving a trail of water wherever I choose to roam. There is not much to see and it is all rather boring with a few displays of goods made in the area and videos showing sunny places to visit in Aveyron. Hmmm, well it is warm and dry in here so I fake interest for a while longer before bracing myself for the onslaught of the rain once again.
After a small detour we find ourselves on the right road to the Viaduct Centre. The road winds its way down the valley and we pass under the bridge. It is awesome seeing the bridge so close and you really can appreciate the sheer size and scale of this project. The rain eases off a little as we climb off the bike again and go into the correct Centre this time. The Centre shows detailed photos, scale models and other various information about the bridge. There's also the costs involved and the names of all those involved in the architecture and construction. There is not much else to the Centre but then as it is just a place dedicated to the Viaduct so what else could there be?
Once back at the campsite the bf takes my airbed to the pool to try to find the hole in the hope of being able to patch it up. While he does this I try to get rid of the rather large rain puddle that has appeared on top of our tent. I pull the guide ropes this way and that in the hope of getting the tension just right to stop the pooling. But despite my best efforts the dip on the roof is determined to stay there and the bf comes back to report no success with the airbed either.
We climb in the tent and warm ourselves by eating some delicious French soup. The ducks come to beg for some tit-bits but they are having no luck with us. We are enjoying our food way too much to share.
Weather for ducks but no luck on the food side of things.
We decide to take advantage of an unexpected break in the rain to go for another stroll through the town. The rain does not stay away for long and as it returns we head back to the tent. At the campsite we watch the weather in the TV room and it shows nothing but doom and gloom. I am sorry I even see it. I think it would have been better to live in false hope than know it is a fact that it is not getting any drier for some time yet. We are still happy and upbeat but from the look of the weather map we are going to to be tested and everything we posses is going to be tested too by this trial by deluge.
While the bf goes to chat to our BMW neighbours who have also returned from a soggy day out, I pick up my phone to check for messages. They is indeed a message so I set about trying to retrieve it. This not being my phone but the bf's and me having a very ancient phone and not used to this modern technology it proves quite a challenge.
During the night I attempt to talk to the bf about something that troubled me that day. Being a woman I like to discuss a problem. Maybe even going over it several times until I can finally get to grips with it and try to make sense of how the problem came about so I can understand it. Understand it enough so I can maybe prevent it happening again or if not prevent it at least see it coming and not to get side swiped by it. But the need for understanding is often not on a man's radar. Men are generally interested in a solution to a problem. Not a discussion about how the problem came about in the first place. If they see the problem as now fixed they certainly do not want to go back over old ground and talk about it all again. It is clear by the bf.s expression and tone of voice that he is on the defensive and thinks I am just trying to bring up trouble. I struggle to understand why he can not grasp my need to talk about this but I also know from experience and countless books I have read that it is vital to remember some important facts. These being...Your partner is unlikely to think like you, nor are they likely to react to a situation the same way as you would. So it is no good hoping that they can completely understand you or where you are coming from. Sometimes it is even like talking a foreign language to one another. They will not instantly understand you. All you can hope for is that they care enough to at least try and understand a little of your language and take the time to translate it to their own. If you are both willing to try and learn a little of each others language then it will make a huge difference to how successful your relationship may be.
I climb into bed still rather unsettled. The day has been wet and the night is extremely cold. I try to control my chattering mind and remind myself not to let my mind be my master but I the master of it. Please be quiet mind, it is time to sleep, shush I said, damn you. But my mind is ready for a fight. Pffhhtt!!
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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, 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!
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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Travel StoriesFrance 2013