Sunday, January 24, 2016

A weekend of favourite things

French Village Diaries winter cycling Marais Poitevin
Cycling in the Marias Poitevin

A few of my favourite things (in no particular order) are my family, my friends, pizza cooked in a wood fired oven, bike rides, sunshine and the Marais Poitevin (an area of reclaimed marshlands where canals and waterways are the back drop to peaceful pathways, perfect for cycling and a great place to visit summer or winter).

This weekend has included all of the above. With Adrian and Ed both at home we joined friends for a Saturday night pizza fest at a local auberge. Handmade to order, perfect thin bases, generous toppings, cooked in a wood fired oven and à volontée (eat as many as you like). I’m not very good at à volontée meals. I have no idea when it would be a sensible time to stop. For future reference two pizzas would be fine, three was probably one too many.

French Village Diaries pizza night
Pizza night

French Village Diaries winter cycling Marais Poitevin Damvix
Beer in Damvix
Thankfully the weather today was perfect; blue sky, sunshine and temperatures up to 19 degrees. I hung the washing out, we lunched and then set off to the Marais Poitevin with the bikes. When we arrived, it had the deserted air of off-season to it, but as lunchtime became afternoon, life returned and we shared our route with walkers who wobbled and oozed across the path, families on bikes with small ones who tack left to right like sailing boats and fishermen whose clouds of tobacco followed us along the towpath. Despite the mild weather it’s only January and the waterways were fuller than usual, the fields flooded and the air smelt damp and earthy. The trees whose roots help to stabilise the banks of the water channels are kept short and stubby and evidence of winter pollarding was everywhere. The tourist boats looked unloved, beached on the banks and the hire shops were shut and deserted like most of the bars, except our favourite one in Damvix whose sunny terrace was the perfect place to enjoy a beer and muesli bar. Just over the road we were treated to the sun illuminating the stained glass window, visible through the open church door.

French Village Diaries winter cycling Marais Poitevin Damvix
Damvix church

This was my first bike ride of 2016 and Adrian’s first since coming down with Real Flu two weeks ago, that left him in bed and unable to work for a fortnight, which is not ideal when you run your own business, but he is feeling much better now. He breezed back to the car at the end of our 31km ride seemingly unaware of the head wind that had reduced my speed to walking pace. At least the sun was warm on my back giving a long shadow leading out in front of me. I like long shadows; they make me look tall and thin. It may have been an easy, flat ride, but I still had jelly legs and a tender bottom by the time I had finished, although I was delighted to hear I’d burned off over a thousand (greedy pizza) calories. My face also had that warm glow you only get from being outdoors in winter and this evening I’m very happy.

This post has been linked to Dreaming of France.

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