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All posts for the month September, 2014

Our last day!   We awoke early, and were on the road by about 8.30am.  This was our last day, and we definitely had to make it to Dieppe in time for the ferry.  Our map led us past another pretty cathedral, and then up a hill.  A Very Big hill.  Most of us ended up walking up it, coz it was quite steep!    Silly hill.   We decided that Rouen was kinda in a hole, so the way we were going, any way to get out was up a hill.  That made us feel slightly better.  We had 60+ kms to get to Dieppe, so thought we would get a nice start.   Once at the top of the hill, it was pretty easy after that.  Lots of cute, old houses, and even a few with thatched roofs, and grass growing on top.  We found another tiny town, another patisserie, and got a bit carried away again.

Another Church in Rouen

Another Church in Rouen

Another Church in Rouen

Another Church in Rouen

Another Church in Rouen

Another Church in Rouen

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Some pony statue

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The sheer amount of planes that fly every day is amazing.

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More contrails, all going the same way..SO MANY PLANES, so many people going places.

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Adorable thatched roof houses

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The view back on Rouen, after our steep climb

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A signpost

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A cute house!

 

All the french people seem to go out and by their breakfast from the patisserie every morning.  True, that theyre mostly buying baguettes, and not all the yummy tarts and pastries, but we usually had a bit of a wait, and there was usually a line, to buy all the delishuz things.

Oh my goodness, these were amazing little balls of delishusness

Oh my goodness, these were amazing little balls of delishusness

Icecream cones!

Icecream cones!

Breakfast!

This is what I got to look forward to for breakfast!

A water mil, through the trees

A water mil, through the trees

My favourite cute little house, it was purple!

My favourite cute little house, it was purple!

 

Breakfast was a long time in coming that day, and 30km later, we found a little pull over place to sit and eat.  Turns out it was the place that the local French people came to fill up their bottles with spring water, as in the half hour we were sitting there, four separate cars came, pulled out their boxes of empty bottles, filled them up at the spring, loaded them into their cars, and drove off again.  We followed suit, emptying all our bottles, and filling them up with delishuz french springwater.

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Ice cream come of yummy

 

A spring, used by all the locals.

A spring, used by all the locals.

Lots more biking, a couple of bright squirrels, and a squished snake on the road, lots of cute houses, and we eventually made it back to the place where we had tea and coffee, near a little lake, at the beginning of our trip.  Looked a bit different in the day.

La Vache

La Vache

House

House

House!

House!

Lake

Lake

A little town

A little town

Back to Avenue Vert!

Back to Avenue Vert!

Our midnight lake

Our midnight lake

This was our very first morning breakfast place, pretty and leafy

This was our very first morning breakfast place, pretty and leafy

We headed in to Rouen, where we discovered all shops are either closed on Sunday, or close at 1pm.  We biked around, praying to find a pattiserie, and luckily we did, where we stocked up on our last lot of bread, cheese and pastries.  The lady in the pattiserie looked very, when I managed to ask for everything in French, including saying ‘That’s all”.   The range of response when trying to talk to the locals in French was always interesting.  Pretty much all were pleased when we actually tried, though some would just talk to us in English, once they realised we spoke it.  The smaller towns were always interesting, as often the locals would speak little English, if at all, so we would definitely have to try.

At the last moment on the way to the ferry, we found a little market, where we got the last of our provisions (IE cheese to take home, and drinks for on the ferry), and then headed to check in to the ferry.

A church

A church

Bridge going up

Bridge going up

Harbour

Harbour

Blocks

Blocks

Ferry fare

Ferry fare

Harbour

Harbour

Dieppe

Dieppe

Going from England to Europe, they don’t seem to care all that much.  However, going from anywhere in Europe, INTO England, man, they ask a lot of questions.  Who are you?  How long are you staying?  Where have you been?  What is your job?  Where is your husband?   What do all your family members do?   Will you promise me your first born child?
Well, not quite that extreme.  But I usualy have to tell them exactly where I went, and why, how long was I away, and why I want to re-enter England, who I am travelling with.. .    I think they ask more questions than even the USA did.

Anyway, again with the weird biking through customs, weird exciting.  We headed onto the boat, found comfortable seats, and proceeded to spend the four hours: eating, yum, playing cards, watching the sunset, napping, reading, and being tired.  Off the ferry in NEwhaven, then the bike back in the dark, along the undercliff trails, to home!  Arrived about 11.30pm, all ready to go to work tomorrow.

PRetty sky

PRetty sky

Lovely sunset

Lovely sunset

Pinks

Pinks

We ate these the next day, Yeahhh

We ate these the next day, Yeahhh

yum

yum

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Countryside

Countryside

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Corner house

 

Fighting Plan

Fighting Plan

Knobbly things near the port

Knobbly things near the port

Pastries!

Pastries!

Chocolate things

Chocolate things

A sunny day

A sunny day

 

We awoke bright and early, and finished the last of the Raclette on some baguette, (sub standard baguette, becoming bread snobs!), with the promise of buying more, better, baguette in Ry, then heading out somewhere pretty to eat it.  After saying goodbye to our lovely hosts, we headed down the hill to Ry.  One thing I noticed around a few places, were little shrines, just by the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere.

Our cute little house

Our cute little house

The attic

The attic

House

House

Selfie

Selfie

Ready to go

Ready to go

Cute little house

Cute little house

A Christian statue at the side of the road - there were quite a few of these, spread around

A Christian statue at the side of the road – there were quite a few of these, spread around

In Ry (An absolutely adorable little town), we stopped at the local patisserie to get (More, Again) baguettes, and pastries.  This place was one that I just wanted to ask for one of everything, in a large sack, if you please!  Everything looked amazing.  After filling up our bags, we headed out of town, until we found another littler town, where we found a nice flat area to sit and eat our spoils.

 

Little river in Ry

Little river in Ry

Little river in Ry

Little river in Ry

Old house in Ry

Old house in Ry

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This is what the signs that signify the end of town look like. No more Ry.

 

Mmmm second breakfast

Mmmm second breakfast

Delishus

Delishus

We then pottered off towards Rouen.  We wanted to arrive at a decent time, so we would have plenty of afternoon for Touristing in Rouen, and we arrived just after lunch, I think.  We stayed at the Ibis in the middle of town (got a cheap deal), and quickly showered and changed.

Rouen is lovely.  I wasn’t expecting anything, as I hadn’t done any research, what with being busy with other things.  It is an adorable town, with streets preserved as they were in medieval times, with their crooked beams and leaning houses and narrow streets.

Medieval streets of Rouen

Medieval streets of Rouen

Medieval streets of Rouen

Medieval streets of Rouen

Cute

Cute

Very cute crooked houses.   Medieval streets of Rouen

Very cute crooked houses.
Medieval streets of Rouen

It is also home to Monet’s Cathedral – the Cathedral that Monet painted a series of impressionist paintings, all in different lights of the day.   Google it, if you don’t know what I”m talking about.  It was very impressive, so much detail and intricacies.

Cathedral of Rouen

Cathedral of Rouen

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Cathedral

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Cathedral roof

 

Doors that are tall enough for anyone

Doors that are tall enough for anyone

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Joan of Arc windows

 

Cathedral

Cathedral

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Gardens

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Tall

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Such detail

 

 

It was also interesting to read about the bombing of it during the war, and see some of the windows that were plain, as the pretty stained glass ones had been broken.   It had been bombed by the Lancaster bombers, which was interesting and relevant to me, as we had actually seen some examples of the Lancaster Bombers flying at the Eastbourne airshow, a month or so ago.

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Windows

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The Disaster!

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Angel

 

There was also a large ornate building in town, that still had all the mortar shell holes in the sides of it.  I find it very interesting to see these actual bits of history, rather than just hearing about it, or reading it in textbooks.  It was like when we were in New York seeing paintings that Picasso had painted, then while on a walking Tour in the Montmarte area of Paris, and standing in front of the house where Picasso had actually painted that picture.

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War wounds

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Didn’t fix the holes…

Anyway, Rouen!   Rouen was also the place where Jeanne d’arc – Joan of Arc, was imprisoned, and then burned at the stake.  There is a church and a memorial dedicated to her.

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Joan of Arc Memorial

Joan of Arc Church

Joan of Arc Church

 

We wandered town, ate yummy things, and enjoyed the sights, before heading back to the hotel for some extra layers of clothing, and a nap before dinner.  We ate at a lovely restaurant, overlooking the Cathedral, and it was all lovely.

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Carousel. only for little people.

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The clock. Has been around since 1400-1500s.

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The square near the Joan of Arc Memorial

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The Seine, as it runs through Rouen.

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Mid afternoon snack - raisin escargot and cherry flan

Mid afternoon snack – raisin escargot and cherry flan

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Ohhh patisseries..

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An old wall

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A concoction of mince, sauce and egg.

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Proper french onion soup. Contains cheese, so must be good!

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Lit up at night

 

 

Church

Church

Beams!  Shutters!  Passageway under the house!

Beams! Shutters! Passageway under the house!

Thatched roof!

Thatched roof!

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Pamplemousse!

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Oh bread, how I love you

 

This water tower seemed to be everywhere

This water tower seemed to be everywhere

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Dale’s meal… The french waiter was impressed he ordered it. And ate it!

 

Friday 26th September

Friday we woke at a decent time, got up, and, as you do, went to get breakfast from the local patisserie.  More cheese, bread, pastrys, oh no!

Breakfast spread.  Those things I am holding are little pastry balls of delishusness

Breakfast spread. Those things I am holding are little pastry balls of delishusness

Breakfast tart :)

Breakfast tart :)

It did take us a while to get all sorted and out the door, as it was our first proper morning, but we weren’t in a particular hurry, and the whole day was kind of like that, just pootling around, looking at whatever we felt like, going wherever.  The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, with just enough of a breeze to keep you cool.   I imagine summer would be quite hot.

Hanging Basket, Forges-les-eaux

Hanging Basket, Forges-les-eaux

Un petit chien!

Un petit chien!

Where do we go?

Where do we go?

All kitted out

All kitted out

We headed back over to Avenue Vert, which turned, very suddenly, from wide, paved, smooth, to rough grass with a bit of a dirt track in the middle.  It was certainly interesting, but you wouldn’t want to follow that forever.  Quite bumpy.  Lovely and peaceful though, heading through the farmland and trees, with no city noises or car noises.

To this way!

To this way!

After Forges-les-Eaux, the Avenue Vert turns a little less pavement-like, and a little more like a dirt track...

After Forges-les-Eaux, the Avenue Vert turns a little less pavement-like, and a little more like a dirt track…

We got back onto normal roads, then kinda lost the trail a bit, headed down a few little side roads and had a bit of a map consulting session, before we headed off down some more back roads.   We saw a tiny town up on a hill, and off-roaded it up a steep hill to have a look.  La Ferte-Saint-Samson, a tiny little village on a hill, with very cute buildings (tudor style, and Henri reckoned with Germanic influence), probably 15th-16th? Century.  It was quiet and lovely, and we biked around for a bit.

Vines growing out of the chimney La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Vines growing out of the chimney
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

An adorable little house. La Ferte-Saint-Samson

An adorable little house.
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

La Ferte-Saint-Samson

La Ferte-Saint-Samson

La Ferte-Saint-Samson

La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Old church La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Old church
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Headed to the top of the hill to check out the cute little church, where the bells rung for midday.  Whoever was ringing them, seemed to enjoy it, and they went on for quite a bit.   Found a little orientation statue thing, and a very old tree, which I climbed.  Carefully.  It was so lovely and peaceful and sunny.

The lookout. La Ferte-Saint-Samson

The lookout.
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Countryside

Countryside

The lookout

The lookout

A bowl

A bowl

Coutnryside

Coutnryside

La Ferte-Saint-Samson

La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Church La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Church
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Someone at some point during the morning had mentioned that we hadn’t had any flat tyres or problems yet, so heading out of town, Henri got the first flat tyre of the trip. We went back to the pretty village square to fix it, so not a bad view to have to endure.

First flat of the day.  Dale is "helping".

First flat of the day. Dale is “helping”.

We weren't too sad though

We weren’t too sad though

A map!

A map!

Lovely and sunny

Lovely and sunny

Clear road ahead

Clear road ahead

Finally managed to leave town, looking forward to doing some decent biking, and Dale got the second flat tyre of the hour, just down the road.  There was a french horse, whom I greeted in French, although he was quite uncommunicative.  He didn’t mind that I brushed all the flies away from his face though, and we had some pats, before parting, and we continued on our way.

One thing I noticed, and kept noticing throughout the trip, was that even in the peaceful quiet of the countryside, there always seemed to be some passenger plane or other going overhead.  Just the sheer amount of plane traffic in the sky above Europe is amazing.  So. Many. Planes.  So many people going places.  It is honestly a bit ridiculous.

Another little town

Another little town

Second flat of the day!

Second flat of the day!

Mon petit poney!

Mon petit poney!

More lovely countryside, green rolling hills, farmland, and the occasional bit of wooded forest.  We had a vague destination of a local castle, though google maps couldn’t pinpoint it, and we ended up biking around in a big circle, before stopping to ask directs from a local French lady.  She spoke lots of fast french words, until Henri asked her to slow it down a little, and we ascertained that we had to go down the road, left at the corner, then a few kms along, then you couldn’t miss it.   I think we were a bit excited about asking and getting directions in French!

Farmland

Farmland

A little road

A little road

Dear Josh (ieBear), I thought of you, every time we saw cow eggs.

Dear Josh (ieBear), I thought of you, every time we saw cow eggs.

 

We eventually found the castle, Chateau Bremontier-Merval, which was a massive four storey thing, very pretty, which is now a school.  It was on a hilltop, surrounded by lots of huge, old trees, all leafy green and knobbly.

Tall!

Tall!

I had to back right up to get the whole thing in the photo.  This is now a tertiary school.

I had to back right up to get the whole thing in the photo. This is now a tertiary school.

Built in the 1600's

Built in the 1600’s

Pretty

Pretty

Smile!

Smile!

It's this tall!

It’s this tall!

 

 

After the castle, we headed towards our destination, somewhere to the South and West.  We stopped for lunch in a little town, I think was called La Feuillie.   There was one patisserie, where the lady didn’t speak much English at all, but we managed to get all we needed.  We met a Brit, who had lived in France for a while.    There was no supermarket, but we managed to find a couple of dairy/4 square type places (I’m not sure what you call them in England.. Newsagents maybe?)  where we bought enough food for dinner and breakfast.

pre lunch snack

pre lunch snack

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View

View

Bonjour, little schoolkids

Bonjour, little schoolkids

Lunch!!!

Lunch!!!

Road

Road

Totes saw a baloon

Totes saw a baloon

We had to follow some main roads, which really wasn’t as fun, but not much choice.  We had a lot of trouble finding our destination – gmaps doesn’t always like French places.   Eventually, our lovely Airbnb hosts came to pick us up, which honestly made me happy, as the lived at the top of a massive hill.  They were very happy, as we were the first bike tour people they had had stay with them, and also the first New Zealanders.

Our accomodation was an adorable little cabin, with all the amenities, a pull out couch, and an adorable little loft bed up top.  We had a quick dip in the pool, met the local ponies, goats, geese and chickens, and then got clean and dry for dinner.  Henri made us a lovely, lovely dish, of layers of potato and raclette (we had this in Bordeaux, it is the cheese that is for melting, it is so, so delishuz).   For the sake of feeling better about ourselves, we also had some stirfry veg.  And baguette.  I put the raclette/potato mix on the baguette.  It was amazing.   Lovely pastries and tarts for dessert, and I think we also had some macaroons.

Our accomodation for the night

Our accomodation for the night

A pool

A pool

Goats

Goats

A seal

A seal

This is the most amazing thing!   A raclette and potato pan pie.

This is the most amazing thing! A raclette and potato pan pie.

This was our dinner, and it was amazing

This was our dinner, and it was amazing

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One giant macaroon!

Secluded

Secluded

 

I guess I should have felt bad for the sheer amount of food I was eating, but I really didn’t, because, hey, so very delishuz.  Also, we were biking like 50km a day.

We lay out on the deck chairs, surrounded by the gathering dark, and watched the stars start to twinkle, and the bats flitter about through the trees.  Bliss.

We must have seen half a  dozen planes go by while we were lying there (plus one shooting star).  Do they ever stop?

Another decent nights sleep, however this time, we intended to be up and gone early the next day, so we could get to the next town with plenty of time to look around.

 

Zoomy!

Zoomy!

zoomy

zoomy

Yeahh

Yeahh

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Built in the 1600’s

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I am LOST!  (we knew how to say this, in case we were)

 

 

Ferry arrived in Dieppe about 4am.  It was dark.  And cold.  And we’d only had a few hours sleep.  Uncomfortable sitting up sleep (Henri and I both had blow up neck pillows, an excellent idea of hers!).  But we were quite excited about being in France, so we weren’t that sleepy.  Well, a little, but in all the effort of finding bikes, getting them untied, bags reattached, and off the ferry, we managed to stay awake.  Out through customs, then off down the dimly lit streets of Dieppe.  It was dark, quiet, and a little bit misty.  We rode beside the water for a time, then across a bridge and through the town.  Nice and quiet streets, barely any cars, however it felt a little weird, not really knowing where we were… when the sun came up, we would be somewhere different!

Made it through customs!

Made it through customs!

Night mist in Dieppe

Night mist in Dieppe

Night mist in Dieppe

Night mist in Dieppe

 

We biked for a while found the start of the Avenue Vert (Green Avenue), then stopped by a little lake, where we put more clothes on (including jackets, as the mist made everything a bit damp), used the cooker to cook up some hot water, and had some tea/coffee and biscuits.    We then rode on through the night (well, early morning, really.  Was about 5.30am ish).

Our breakfast lake

Our breakfast lake

Our little lake spot

Our little lake spot

The first part of the Green Avenue was very easy, the first 50km is a wide, flat, paved bike trail, lined with trees on ether side.  It was lovely, but easy, and more than a few times I just wanted to close my eyes for a bit.  Would have ended up in a ditch.   About 7am ish, the sky started to lighten imperceptibly, and every time you looked, it seemed lighter and lighter.   We finally saw the sun shine through the mist, and then we started waking up a bit again.

The sun finally started to come up through the mist

The sun finally started to come up through the mist

Cobwebs

Cobwebs

Misty fields

Misty fields

All rugged up

All rugged up

 

Quick nibbles stop

Quick nibbles stop

Such a wide path!

Such a wide path!

We found a little town with a cute little castle, and with the mist and sun coming up, was quite romantic.  Le Chateau de Mesnieres-en-Bray.  A quick ride around the village revealed cute little houses, an old well, and lots of pretty gardens.

Cute little house!

Cute little house!

Little town

Little town

Housee

Housee

House

House

Well

Well, well, well, what have we here?

Fontaine

Fontaine

A castle!

A castle!  Le Chateau de Mesnieres-en-Bray

More along the Avenue Vert

More along the Avenue Vert

 

Our first stop was in Neufchatel-en-Bray,where we bought baguettes, delishuz pastries/tarts, and, of course, some cheese.  Neufchatel is known for it’s cheese, made in the shape of a heart. A creamy, smooth, tasty, cheesy heart.  Neufchatel cheese is apparently one of the oldest cheeses in France, dating back to the 6th century.   It is delishuz.

Musee

Musee

Neufchatal

Neufchatel-en-Bray

Breakfast baguette

Breakfast baguette

We headed further along the Avenue Vert, until we found a nice place to sit and eat our breakfast, which had been a long time in coming.   MMmmmmm finally, french baguettes and cheese, custartd and fruit tarts.  So much better than being at work.  It was also very lovely to see the sun.   Henri had packed us a cheese picnic set, complete with plates, chopping board, and both soft and hard cheese knives.  Perfect!

It was very interesting to call up my mum on Skype and have a quick chat, and show her where we were, and then to call Garth and Neke (who were in Fiji) and have a chat to them too.. the wonders of modern technology!

Delishuz pear and custard pastry.

Delishuz pear and custard pastry.

Mmmm neufchatel cheese

Mmmm neufchatel cheese

Breakfast tart

Breakfast tart

Breakfast apple pastry

Breakfast apple pastry

We continued along in the lovely sunshine, until we reached our destination of Forges Les Eaux. where we were staying at Hotel St Denis, in the middle of town.   We gladly stored our bikes out the back, and headed up to put our bags away.  The rooms were quite nice, the beds very wide, with the weird pillows that they have in France – one long pillow across the head of the bed, and then a few square pillows.

Suns up!

Suns up!

Zoomy

Zoomy

All in a line

All in a line

Not called the Green Avenue for nothing

Not called the Green Avenue for nothing

French ponies

French ponies

French signs

French signs

Huge sunflowers, and a bit of a garden

Huge sunflowers, and a bit of a garden

Pleasant

Pleasant

Tree

Tree

We headed out to the nearest patisserie, to get more bread, cheese and tasty treats, and a couple of bottles of cider.  We had more neufchatel cheese, some emmental, and some lovely cheese complete with a layer of ash (not volcanic, it was vegetable in origin!). We achieved lunch in our rooms, and then retired to nap for a couple of hours.  A good nap, to be sure.  A shower, non riding clothes, then a wander around to take in the sights of the town.   We ended up having pizza for dinner, with french cider and wine, and got a good nights sleep.  Overall a good start to our trip, and we’d managed about 65kms since beginning.

Lunch

Lunch

Emmetal, and ash cheese

Emmetal, and ash cheese

Tasty breakfast

Tasty breakfast

Cute house

Cute house, with beams, and bricks in patterns

Custard raspberry tart

Custard raspberry tart

The little blue dot

The little blue dot

Adorable little houses Forges Les Eaux

Adorable little houses
Forges Les Eaux

Pretty Gardens - Forges Les Eaux

Pretty Gardens – Forges Les Eaux

Pretty buildings  Forges Les Eaux

Pretty buildings
Forges Les Eaux

Forges Les Eaux

They seem to really like their flowers and window boxes.  Forges Les Eaux

 

 

After a busy weekend of work, getting final bits ready for our ride, and a long ride out to Faring, we counted down the final days.    On Wednesday my padded seat and padded pants arrived, with no days to spare!  The girls at work sent me home early, so I could finish packing, and we packed the last of our stuff, loaded our bikes, and wiggled on out the door. And I do mean wiggled:  with paniers on both sides of the bike, it was a tight fit out the narrow and bendy hallway of our flat.

Henri and Alastair met us outside, where we had final passport and ferry ticket checks.  A few final adjustments, and we were off!   It was getting dark, so lights were on.  The first thing we noticed was that the bikes were a whole pile heavier, what with moderately full panniers on the back.  Very hard to lift the bike, and if you were standing, it liked to try and roll out from  under you in awkward ways.

 

Dale's Bike, all ready to go

Dale’s Bike, all ready to go

All ready to leave. Dale, Myself, Henrietta, Alastair

All ready to leave.
Dale, Myself, Henrietta, Alastair

We took the waterfront trails, and then the bike route from Brighton along the coast to the east, to Newhaven, where the ferry was leaving from.  Check-in was supposed to start at 9pm, but didn’t actually start till 9.30, so we zoomed back up the road to the nearest pub, so we could have dinner.  Cue our first attempt at locking up the bikes and removing all the gear.  It seemed to take forever.  Putting it all back on again, seemed to take just as long.  We hoped we would get faster at it!

It felt super weird going through the ferry check in on our bikes, with passports in hand.  I have never done anything like that before, so it was quite exciting.  More stamps!  (for me anyway, not so much for Dale, with his British Passport).

Tying bikes up on the ferry

Tying bikes up on the ferry

Had to walk onto the ferry, as the ramp is apparently slippery for bikes, then we headed to the little alcove that they directed us to, where we unloaded the bikes (again!), and tied them up securely in a pile against the wall.  Picked up all our gear, and situated ourselves on the least uncomfortable seats we could find, for our 4 hour ferry trip.