June 21st, 2011
This weekend just gone the Cyclo Club went away to the Cantal area of France – not too far away from here (about 2.5 hours by short route, but 4 by long windy road route) and we stayed in a holiday village (see here for more info) which was perfectly comfortable and pleasant – although the food was not top quality, it more than made up for it in sheer quantity! The only problem was the fact that it was half way up a bloody big hill and when you’ve been out cycling that last 2 km was a killer!
We left at 6.00 am on Saturday, pausing at a pleasant spot for breakfast. You can see a photo of it here – le Chateau du Val. We ate bread, cheese, sausage, chocolate, and drank coffee or wine -for the brave amongst us. Then headed off for the Village. Unfortunately the weather grew worse and worse. I’d already decided not to cycle on Saturday, preferring to spend the time with Claire & Cathy, non cyclists who had come along for the trip. I’m very glad – the reports we got back were of driving rain, low cloud, blue knees and thunderstorms. Mr D’s bike broke 30 km into the ride, so he wasn’t happy (except now he is in the midst of persuading me that he needs a new bike…) but those who did the whole ride were totally wiped out at the end. Steve didn’t manage the final climb
but those who did said the views would have been spectacular – had it not been for the cloud!Our friend Gilles, who hates cold and wet cycling, made it. He really was SO proud! We’re going to make him a medal and present it to him on Friday with aperos at Claire’s house. King of the Mountains indeed!
The non cyclists visited a Museum, which wasn’t terribly interesting. The excursion didn’t start too well. We’d been told that we were leaving at 2.00 so Cathy Claire and I retired to our rooms for a nap. The cyclists left at 1.30, and Cathy and I mumbled “Goodbye..Take care..enjoy” and went back to sleep. Alarms set for 1.45 we woke and started to potter, getting ready. Then Claire arrived “The bus has been tooting. I think they’re waiting for us…” We scurried over to where the bus was waiting “Ah! Les Anglais!” Claire, who speaks French like a native started saying “You told us it was 2.00 …” but was drowned out by jeers (friendly, but jeers nonetheless) It appears that everyone else had gone out to wave off the cyclists so were all ready to leave at 1.30 as well… Anywhoo…
Our destination was, ostensibly, a museum of Cantal life, in a typical style. Home at one end of the building and barn at the other. While the house part was reasonably interesting – nicely set out with old furniture etc – the rest was a bit of a junk yard, with no order to it. It was as though they had gathered everything they possibly could find and then thought “…And how are we going to display this? Oh, it doesn’t matter. Let’s put it all in one room!” The guide wasn’t terribly inspiring: “Here’s a watering can…that’s a mouse trap…this is an old sewing machine…” He did perk up a bit when people asked questions, but it was difficult to think of many.
We then went to Mauriac, a smallish town, where Claire bought a much needed fleece (she’d come prepared for summer, not Autumn!) and I met a cat-in-a-pharmacy who wanted to climb inside my raincoat. I’d've been happy to take him! And then to a Chateau where there was a museum of miniature cars. Most people found this quite interesting. I wasn’t rivetted. I preferred looking round the chateau which is, in fact, a Chambre d’Hotes. Chateau de la Vigne, if anyone’s interested. The gardens were lovely, with a fine view – but by the time we got there it was lashing down with rain again, so we didn’t really have the opportunity to enjoy the view!
In the evening we had an apero from the region – white wine, honey, lemon and creme de chataigne (chestnut liqueur) – which slipped down very easily! And then a hearty meal of tartiflette (cheese, ham, potatoes) There was dancing as well, but by 10.00 most people were dropping off to sleep at the table, due to the early start and their exertions in the afternoon. I did one dance and then bailed out. Mr D didn’t even do that!
Time to make dinner. More next time.