I had a good nights sleep and got under way after brekkie (made the coffee too strong again by just roughly pouring the coffee granules into my saucepan and hoping for the best!)
Today’s route would be fairly straight forward – following the canal to Redon, not too far away. Feeling quite confident for a change which was just as well since it would rain from the time I woke up until the time I reached my destination. The bike coped really well with the canal paths, even in the wet and the mud. I can’t actually lift the back of the bike when it’s fully loaded (4 panniers plus tent, sleeping bag and blow up roll mat). As was pointed out to me on many an occasion – I had too much stuff! I did use most of it though. My sleeping bag was WAY too big since I didn’t check it before I loaded it (novice error!) and I didn’t wear my jeans but apart from that I did use almost everything else. I had about 50 snack bars and sugary emergency supplies which I probably could have got on the route sometimes but it was good to have some in reserve for the days when there weren’t many shops and I forgot to pick up any lunch.
So – back to the canal path. A little way along the track I came across a family going the same way as me. They said they would take a break soon and I said I might join them since the rain was making it very hard going. Dominique, the father, knew a great little coffee place near a beautiful church in a village just off the canal path. We chatted over coffee and the teenagers, Maxc and Djina, told me about themselves. Maxc loved rugby and was keen to improve his English. Djina didn’t seem to share the families enthusiasm for cycling (I think she hated it). Not surprising considering the weather. Her lovely father would encourage her by shouting ‘Allez Djina Allez’ regulary as we cycled along the path. When I found myself getting slow and disheartened, I would imagine Dominique shouting ‘Allez Allez’ and my pal Pablo shouting ‘Vamos’ to get myself moving! That seemed to do the trick.
We continued all the way to Redon together, stopping at a little cafe in St Martin along the way. Lots of cafes allow you to eat your own food so long as you buy a drink which is good. Over lunch (mine was a carrot followed by tuna on bread again) we had a brief discussion about foie gras, still readily available at almost every eating establishment in France it would seem. Being a veggie (well pescatarian) for almost 5 years now and pretty much dairy free for the last 2 years, the idea of foie gras (a product produced by force feeding a goose to enlarge it’s liver) is really appalling. Many people in France (and in Britain too) believe that, although it’s a shame for the birds, because it is a ‘tradition’ it is somehow OK. I just put my view that it’s cruel to use animals and abuse them in that way. There are lots of things that became traditional but it didn’t mean that they were right. We left it at that. I appreciated her opinion even though it directly opposes mine. It’s something I’ve been trying to get better at – not getting overly irate when people have very different views to my own. It’s work in progress!
We continued on with Maxc and I leading the way. Even with all of my extra luggage I was rolling along really well in the pouring rain. Having the company really helped! We had great fun that day. As we approached Redon I decided that a youth hostel (yeah, I know, YOUTH hostel if a bit of a laugh – still young in my head though so surely that counts?) was my best option. Everything was soaking and I needed to be able to dry stuff out. Dominique had parked his car right by one the day before and said he would show me where it was. Kindly, as I cleaned all the dirt off my panniers, Dominique said he would clean my bike for me – what a super star!
Afterwards, after everyone had dried off and got cleaned up, the family headed off to another town by car to meet with family for supper. I said farewell then went up to my room (which had 3 beds and an en suite – very glamorous youth hostel!). I got myself cleaned up and the sun was now beating down. I slightly wished I was camping, but was happy that I’d get a good nights sleep. I headed into town on foot, looked for some supper which was a tuna and olive pizza with no cheese (surprisingly delicious!) and did a wander round to see what there was in Redon. It’s a really nice town with a Rotary connection and is also twinned with ANDOVER! As many will know, Andover is very close to where I live in Pewsey, Wiltshire. I found an Irish bar which I sat and had a beer in but couldn’t finish it. It was quite strong (which I hadn’t noticed when I ordered it) and at that point I hadn’t had my supper so it went straight to my head. As I wandered back towards the centre there was a marquee and stage under the railway bridge with a duo performing a live concert. Free for the people of the town. I think it was part of a festival whereby stages pop up in different towns each evening and people can have a beer and listen. It was great, the duo played and sung really well and it was nice to hear some live music having had a few days on the road.
Around 10pm I headed back to the hostel. There was a fire alarm as I was settling down for the night so everyone congregated outside the hostel for a while looking bemused and then went back in again! I went to bed tired but pretty happy with the days efforts.