I’ve seen the Pyrenees for the first time this evening. After so much relatively flat or tame topography over the past five weeks, it’s good to finally have a little drama added to the landscape. They are only in silhouette, shrouded in haze and only just perceptible from the sky but they are definitely there. (Or my glasses need cleaning.) I’m in a place called Alzonne by the way, about 90km along the canal from Toulouse. Carcassonne is a further 20km to the south east.
I’m still suffering g from the mosquito bites inflicted upon me in Marick’s basement on Thursday night. I really wish I had got out of the bed and killed each one of the little f*****s. Not only would I have gained great pleasure from doing so, I would not now be scratching my way through the day. Last night on the campsite near Grisolles was particularly uncomfortable. On the positive side of things, the bites are receding, slowly… I need to buy some Autan. I’m already taking antihistamine tablets but the former was recommended way back in 2010 when I was the victim of a mosquito attack in Italy. I wrote a whole section in ‘Crossing Europe…’ about mosquitoes and their bites; I should go back and re-read it. I seem to remember there being three factors that increased your susceptibility; being pregnant, having blood group O and beer. I need to drink more wine…
I judge my WarmShowers hosts on how I provide for WarmShowers guests when I host back at home. Alas in recent years this has been less frequent. When I lived in that beautiful tourist hotspot that is, err… Reading, I hosted quite regularly in the summer. Since moving back to rural Yorkshire I’ve hosted just three times. In Reading I was half-way between London and Oxford or en route to the West Country. In Yorkshire, despite it being far nicer, I’m not really on anyone’s cycle route (although not very far from the Pennine Cycleway – take note!). Anyway, aside from a warm shower, I provide food, drink, Wi-Fi, clothes washing, advice, deep-tissue massage… Well, most of those.
There were times this morning when I thought this particular day – the whole trip perhaps – were being derailed… It all started by me heading over the bridge back in the direction of La Réole. Oops! Wrong direction. No big problem; I’d only cycled perhaps 50 metres across the bridge and by doing so made a nice video clip (yep, you guessed it – watch the video…).
There’s no mistaking that I have now arrived in the south of France. Not only has it been hot (in fairness, it’s not been in the least but cold since Brittany) but there have been a long list of things that tick the Southern Europe boxes; lavender, a lizard, terracotta roofs, parched fields of crops, hilltop villages, towns that shut down in the heat of the day… No cicadas yet but they will come in the next week I imagine.
The Cycling Europe Podcast continues to follow Andrew Sykes as he cycles on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. After a day off in Morlaix, Brittany, Andrew sets off cycling south along the EuroVelo 1 – known locally as the Vélodyssée – following a disused railway track and then the Nantes-Brest Canal before continuing along the west coast of France to La Rochelle. He takes time to explore the attractions along the way including the historic town of Josselin and, with the help of a shuttle bus for bicycles over the bridge, the World War II submarine pens in Saint-Nazaire. The music is by Rob Ainsley.