France 6:

The last few days have been full of strange / funny incidents on my cycle tour across Northern France. Some may think I’m eccentric touring with my dog (she’s clocked up over 4 thousand miles along French Greenways now) - but never did I expect to meet a woman cycling with a bird cage strapped to a front bar containing a pet magpie with a broken wing - I’d no time to dig out my iPad to take a photo, what a missed opportunity. Then, no more than 5 minutes later, a man appeared sporting either a black chihuahua or a black cat stuffed in a rucksack - its head peering out over his shoulder like some crazed modern pirate’s parrot-equivalent. He passed me so quickly - and I was so surprised - I really wasn’t able to decide whether the beast was canine or feline. It looked more cat-like... but then, I asked myself, would a cat really accompany its owner on cycle rides in that manner?

Having left the beautiful Velo Francette, a portion of which we’d cycled from Angers to Domfront, we then joined the Veloscenic route which runs from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel. On a glorious day riding along peaceful gravelled tracks through undulating, unspoilt countryside (whilst poor motorists were negotiating busy, touristy roads) we came across a strange warning sign en route Attaques De Buses! Under the signage was further information and a photo of a pair of buzzards: it transpired a pair of nesting birds had been frightening walkers and cyclists by swooping at them - they had not harmed anyone. Well, that was another first: 3 firsts in one morning was pretty good going I thought...

We’d been looking forward to arriving in the lovely port of St Malo, but signage for the route dried up several kilometres before the town so we resorted to entering on the busy roads. The town teemed with tourists, the Tourist Information centre had no information that we were looking for ( routes and camp sites for the days ahead ) and when we finally located the boat ferry to take us across the estuary to Dinard (12.50 euros each for 10 mins of travel with bikes) we were gobsmacked to discover our heavy bikes plus panniers needed to be carried up a steep staircase after alighting from the ferry in Dinard. It was cold. And wet. It was becoming what I refer to as a ‘beam-me-up-Scotty’ day! But then a chap from Jersey appeared who helped my husband up the stairs with the bikes. Shortly after a Frenchman, noticing we looked lost - the signage dried up for several kilometres on the other side too - insisted we follow him till he had us safely en route - even though he was only wearing a T shirt which was becoming more sodden by the minute.

I’ve lost count of moments of kindness I’ve experienced during past months - and this I know - kindness is wonderful to be on the receiving end of.

And what of The Naughty Dog? Well, I’d to laugh the other day; she was huffing and puffing because the man in the next camping pitch wore fluorescent clothing, and then she huffed and puffed at his mother’s dog. I then told him about all the things she objects to - to which he sympathetically responded “elle est ardeuse” ... The perfect word for Poppy Pug x JRT. Arduous.