Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A clash of passions

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou-Charentes Rochefort Charente-Maritime Ben Swift Team Sky Alex Dowsett Movistar
The Tour du Poitou-Charentes leaving Rochefort

This week is not just the last week of the holidays it is also the busiest and potentially the most exciting week of our summer.

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou-Charentes 2015 Rochefort Charente-Maritime Alex Dowsett Movistar
Alex Dowsett signing my programme
Today was the first day of the four-day, five-stage Tour du Poitou-Charentes cycle race, an event we have been following for about four years now. It may be a little brother to the Tour de France, but it is still an important race in the cycling calendar that attracts the big names from the big teams. This morning we were stood by the Team Sky and Movistar team buses, (almost) rubbing shoulders with Alex Dowsett (that’s another autographed programme to add to my collection), Ben Swift and Luke Rowe. I was close enough to the open door of the Movistar coach to watch their final preparations. Bananas and muesli bars were eaten, water was drunk, shoes were ratcheted up, tops were pulled over brief glimpses of bare chests, helmets and sunglasses were positioned and finally the riders emerged to sign autographs before checking their bikes and cycling off to sign in. An experience that was very much worth the hour and a bit drive to Rochefort in the Charente Maritime.

Tomorrow afternoon I almost get to invite my favourite cyclists over for tea and cakes as stage two of the race will pass through our village – can you see my happy dance? In order to ensure the safe passage of the race, the publicity caravan that passes an hour earlier and all the support vehicles the commune was ‘told’ to provide a team of marshals. As a Maire in France is someone in a position of authority being ‘told’ rather than asked nicely, didn’t go down too well at first. However, the levels of excitement displayed by me seem to have rubbed off and now it is something most of the village are talking about. Ade and I are looking forward to being involved as marshals tomorrow, doing our bit for the village and feeling like we are part of the race organisation too.

French Village Diaries Charroux Literary Festival 2015 Vienne Poitou-Charentes
Charroux Literary Festival 2015
French Village Diaries Charroux Literary Festival 2015 Vienne Poitou-Charentes James Vance author
James Vance
As if this wasn’t enough for one week in rural France where quiet and calm normally rule, on Thursday and Friday I will be attending the Charroux Literary Festival. Oh yes, a real literary fest event with real authors almost on my doorstep. I can’t wait to attend the sessions run by Kate Mosse, Jacqui Lofthouse and Diana Morgan-Hill among others. In order to really feel the pulse of excitement I’ve volunteered to introduce local author James Vance for his session on The Basics of Plot Structure in Fiction. Am I nervous? Yes. Excited? You bet!

The only pin that could burst my happy bubble at attending my first lit fest is that I will be missing the final two days of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. If books and cycling are top of my list, cycling and Status Quo are top of Ade’s list and just to round off the fun this week, the mighty Quo are playing in the Loire on Saturday evening and Ade and Ed can’t wait. A two-hour drive is worth it for a free Quo gig. I’ve still to decide whether Saturday is a lit fest day or a Quo day for me, but I’m pretty sure Sunday will need to be a lazy day. You’ll probably find me in a darkened room re-energising on patisseries.

French Village Diaries Charroux Literary Festival 2015 Vienne Poitou-Charentes
Charroux Literary Festival 2015

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