Monday, November 23, 2020

Lockdown Diaries, day twenty-five, espressos and armchair travel

French Village Lockdown Diaries day twenty-five Espresso Day
Espresso Day, 23rd November

Day twenty-five, Monday 23rd November 2020

Espresso Day 

It’s Espresso Day today, but then isn’t every day, an espresso day? It certainly is chez-nous, although technically our morning coffees are probably allongés, as much as we love the hit of a decent strength black coffee, we do prefer it a bit longer than the traditional tiny shot favoured by the Italians. However, serve my daily fix in a ‘regular’ bucket (as most UK coffee shop chains seem to do) and I’ll run a mile. My perfect coffee would be served on a sunny terrace with a view, in an attractive little cup, with a sweet biscuit in the saucer. I’d also have to add a square of dark chocolate, minimum 74%, that I’d have packed in my bike bag. Once suitably caffeinated, we’d hop back on the bikes and spend the day cycling the back roads of France and enjoying the stunning scenery and sunshine.

Armchair travel 

As my face enjoyed the warmth of the sun in the garden today, the rest of me was miles away, lost in the pages of an adventure. In life there are those of us who dream and those who do. It has long been a dream for me to cross France, by bike, and La Rochelle to Geneva has been my favoured route, following in the footsteps of Susie Kelly’s solo walk Best Foot Forward. Adrian and I may seem the adventurous types and have tackled some pretty cool holidays by bike, even in this virus-challenged year, but the logistics of getting back again, means a truly epic ride across France is still only at the dream stage. 


A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Paul and Diana in the planning stages of their Susie Kelly inspired La Rochelle to Lake Geneva charity bike ride. Online at first, we met in person at the end of their second day on the road and we’ve kept in touch since. They had more barriers to overcome than we would, including needing flights to get them and their bikes to La Rochelle and home from Geneva, Paul recovering from an horrific car accident and neither of them being seasoned cyclists. However, they are doers not dreamers and with grit, determination and emotion, made their adventure real. It was a pleasure to have played a small part in their journey and an absolute delight to spend today reading through the book Paul has put together during lockdown. I really hope Naked France will be available to share soon.


We did manage a little escape on our bikes this afternoon, combining an essentials shopping trip to Chef Boutonne with a Living Magazine drop at the supermarket. Leaving home once Adrian had finished work for the day, we pedalled furiously in the cold air, as the colours of the sunset rapidly gave way to night. It made me feel alive and for now, trips like this will have to do to satisfy my wanderlust, but it’s not really enough. Cycling might be the perfect post-Covid-19 social-distance-ensured method of travelling, but we have never camped, by bike. The risks to staying every night in a different hotel, without the luggage capacity to pack all our own bedding and towels on the bikes, makes me uneasy. It is sobering to think that we might never be in a position to roam carefree on long distance adventures, where the only risks are cycling safely and ensuring we remain well-fuelled. I guess now is the time to spend plotting routes and planning, as well as reading about the adventures of others. 

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