Wednesday, 20 July 2016

T4rdis2 Tour 2 - Day 17 - 20 Northeastern France

Day 17
Sunday 17th July 2016 - Blazing hot all day, and not a puff of breeze!

We didn't really do much today because it was just to darn hot!  We moved house - about 70kms up the road - from the Richardmenil Aire to one at Thaon Les Vosges - a place that seems to be very popular with French Motor-homers!  We just managed to nip into the last available space, and once again we're parked right on the edge of a canal that has frequent boats pottering up and down.  Following lunch we did consider getting our bikes out, but in the end all we managed was a little potter around the pretty village before we flaked out, and like all the other guests here, just contented ourselves with relaxing in the sunshine.  However, even that proved to be more than we could manage, because the burning sun soon resulted in chasing the shade around T4rdis2 as it's shadow moved - so why didn't we just go inside - well, even with all the windows open the indoor temperature was touching 38 degrees - like I say - just to darn hot!  Oh and dinner, that had to be postponed till about 9pm when it was ever so slightly cooler.

Day 18
Monday 18th July 2016 - Another scorcher!

The morning dawned with clear blue skies and the promise of more lovely sunshine, however after yesterdays laziness we were determined to go out today, and we thought we would be cooler on our bikes than walking.  Therefore, following breakfast I soon got on with the job of packing our picnic, and I thought I could use some of the speciality meat we had brought on our last shopping expedition.  In the packet it looked like little slices of herb coated ham - yummy I thought.  However, when I opened it up it turned out to be little slices of herb coated ham held together with a thick glutinous jelly substance which I didn't quite like the look of.

John manfully tried it and said 'not too bad' so he got it in his baguette, me, I settled for much more traditional English fare - vintage cheddar cheese and pickle - but English supplies are running low now so maybe in the near future I will have to be more adventurous!

Anyway, once our picnic was packed we set off along the canal and river side, and all in all we covered a neat 52kms, and even though the sun was unremitting, the breeze we created as we zoomed along kept us reasonably cool.

The view form our lunch spot

However, the scenery was much the same  as our previous forays of the last few days, but we were quite happy because I don't think we will ever tire of watching the herons that flap up form nowhere, the fish that regularly jump up to snare insects, along with the iridescent damsel and dragon flies that often seem to try and race along at our sides.

Tomorrow we plan to move again, nearer to the German border, but specifically to Lake Gerardmer, and we might even treat ourselves to a campsite for a few days - so far, out of 18 nights we've only paid for 3 so I think the budget can stand it, and besides, the washing cupboard is getting a bit full.

Day 19
Tuesday 19th July 2016 - another raging hot day with cloudless skies

As planned this morning we moved on to a little campsite within spitting distance of Lake Gerardmer and we've got a lovely shady spot under some trees.  By the time we were settled in, had  lunch and done the washing the afternoon was wearing on, but we still took some chill time to sit and enjoy a sip of beer and a good book.   Therefore, by the time we pottered down to the lake side it was about 5ish but no cooler, and it was still very busy with families bathing, boating and generally messing about on the water.

After a while we did pause to sit on a semi shaded bench but the area was heaving with big ants - and John said it looked like I'd got Tourette's with all the flapping about I did while trying to prevent them from crawling on me!  So we didn't linger to long before exploring the busy streets of the village that were full of colourful eateries and the usual tourist shops.  Then it was back to T4rdis2 where we sat out in the warm evening and watched the sun disappear over the pine tree clad hills.  Tomorrow we'll try and be a bit more active but another very hot day is forecast.  Oh, and surprise surprise, we've taken a very big liking to chilled French white wine!

Day 20
Wednesday 20th July 2016 - even hotter if that's possible, and not a cloud in the sky!

We seem to be alternating between lazy days, and ones where we are a bit more active - and today was to be the latter  and more cycling was planned - John did say there was a hill to go up, but he failed to mention just how steep it was going to be - our first ride out in the Vosges very nearly defeated us!

We left T4rdis2 at about 10.30, and almost straight away we found ourselves poddling up gentle slopes which I mistakenly thought was the hill that John had mentioned - BIG MISTAKE - we had only covered about 2kms when we reached The Route Forestiere  and where the climb  really started, and only probably another 500 metres more before the steepness knocked us of and changed our planned ride into a 'cyclo-hike'.  Indeed, the hill rampt up so sharply, and the searing heat from the sun sapped our energy so much that we/I were even struggling to push, and later we both admitted that, at that stage, nausea nearly got the better of us!  However, we did persevere, only to be dismayed as a gentleman of about 60 years shot by us with great ease on his mountain bike - he was being very ably assisted by a battery - maybe we need one of those!

Eventually (just before I was ready to give up) the climb became much more gentle, and thankfully more shaded, as we cycled along the pine tree clad road admiring the steep ski slopes that exited on our left and that would have provided a very quick way down - it wouldn't have been for us but my bezzie mate Sharon might have considered it!

Anyway, it was onwards and upwards until we spied a bench overlooking the lake in the valley below, and we both quickly agreed it was a perfect place to stop for coffee even though we had only ridden/walked about 6kms.  We sipped our coffee and then set off again, and it was here that John gained an extra mile in distance over what I did!  We'd gone about half a mile up the never ending hill when I suddenly realised I'd left my sun glasses behind on the bench - it's a good job I've got a Knight in a shining Tourmalet Shirt!

Our ride continued up the gentle slope, and eventually, when we had gained 3253 feet in height, we found ourselves able to change of our granny rings and pick up a bit of speed as the terrain became more level. The road eventually lead us to our picnic site at Fontane Charles Ferry - a crystal clear and icy cold water spout that looked as if it might have been drinking water.   While we were eating a French chap came along and filled his water bottle from it, but we weren't quite brave/stupid enough to risk it, we made do with our lukewarm squash that we had brought from home, and I just contented myself with splashing it over face arms and legs - and the coolness of it felt like bliss!

From there it was the long charge downhill, but in many places the tarmac looked to be  melting and sliding down with us, so my maximum speed only got up to 34mph, and my brakes by the time I got to the bottom - red hot - but better safe than sorry.  And John was right, it was only a 20km ride, but under the conditions it was quite far enough and when we got back to T4rdis2 we were both quite happy to put our feet up and do not a lot in the afternoon.

Later we'll have to make a decision whether to move on tomorrow or to stay put on our lovely little campsite spot.  Unsurprisingly, there are thunderstorms forecast but we've agreed to wait till morning and decide what we're going to do then - oh boy, it's a hard life!