I am taking the opportunity to write some memoirs of the holiday so far whilst Robert is descending down from his big ride today (25th August) – I have just had a message to say he has reached the top! I did not want to slow him down so let him go on his own…! My climb to the Col d’Aspin a couple of days ago was hard enough as I am not in condition with very little cycling since Mallorca in April. I may try the Tourmalet one day.
The weather has been mainly good for us apart from a couple of days in the Pyrenees which were low cloud and drizzle – but one of these we cycled up Col d’Aspin into sunshine. We have made the most of this with some lovely bike rides. One round pretty villages (with their mud walls) from Le Neubourg, another along a very pretty Voie Verte between Sarlat and Cazoules which had plenty of cool shade. The next one was from our B&B in the Gers region where we spent 4 hours in rolling countryside with the temperature increasing – but with excellent views. The next was our trip up the Col and we also did a circular lower level route, still with some climbing, in cloudy conditions in the Pyrenees the following day.
Other activities have included a very enjoyable canoe ride from Montignac in the north of the Dordogne region on the Vezere river. We also visited the gardens at Valmer in the Loire valley. These are not the biggest or best gardens we have visited here – but were very enjoyable all the same. I was enticed there by the free entry allowed on my RHS card for one of us. We managed wine tasting here, purchasing 3 bottles before leaving! We also tasted wine, Floc de Gascogne and Armagnac in the Gers region from a local producer suggested by our Chambres d’Hotes host. The only other ‘sight-seeing’ as such, has been a short afternoon in Auch with it’s cathedral and newly restored staircase to the river Gers, including a statue of d’Artagnan. We did visit the chateau of Lavardens in the same area, mainly to see the glass exhibition we had read about on the internet!
Food and company have been excellent so far. This has included a pizza by the river in a restaurant in Montignac, watching the ducks and a friendly frog that ascended from the river. Also a night food market in the same town with food and wine from stalls, sat on trestle tables, talking to the locals – actually some other English people! We have had two excellent meals in the Chambres d’Hotes in Antist with the company of the hosts and the other guests. This is an especially interesting experience if you do not mind what food you eat and like most foods. Usually you also need to be able to converse at least a little in French. Last night we had a good, but simpler, meal in our current hotel where they display the menu for the day at the reception in the morning so you can decide to take it or not. We have eaten in an expensive restaurant which was also good and we were lucky to get in as we arrived late. For two of our nights we had a small kitchenette and were able to prepare our own meal for a change.
No swimming so far this holiday although we came close yesterday when the weather was bad, investigating the thermal spa in Bagneres de Bigorre. We did stay in one Chambres d’Hotes with a pool but did not have time to use it even though the weather was hot. So we have only worn our swimming clothes for canoeing.
Finally whilst the cat is still away, I must do some of the craft activities I have brought with me especially for the occasion – the teapot cosy started in Mallorca and perhaps also the bead bracelet started at the same time!!