Canoeing. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
This morning we awoke to blue skies and had our 8am breakfast in seemingly good weather. Our B&B hosts were stunned that we wanted breakfast so early on a Sunday and they didn't mention that the Boulangerie (bakery) doesn't open til after 8. Still, they made us apple cake and a very nice brekkie that we had in their loungeroom on the big dining room table.
Had a severe case of envy when we discovered their pewter cast chess set starring characters from Asterix. He and Obelix were king and queen, Vitalstatistix and Impedimentia were bishops, wild boars were knights and village huts were castles. Menhirs were pawns. On the other side: Caesar was king, Cleopatra was queen, centurions were bishops, horses were knights, roman tents were castles, eagle insignia were pawns. Coolest. Chest. Set. Ever.
It started to rain as I rode down to buy provisions for lunch. A baguette and 2 eclairs was the best I could do on a Sunday morning. We were picked up by a Cockney English bloke in a van and transported back to Savioneires to being our canoeing trip, just as the rain got heavier. After pushing the green plastic canoe straight down the river slope Solo Man style, he gave us a few scant instructions and off we went.
I thankfully decided to put on my waterproof cycling jacket which meant my top half stayed dry; otherwise, we were both soaked very early on. The water of the River Cher was really warm, probably about 24 degrees, warmer than the air.
|Luke paddling and looking less than impressed with our choice of activity|
Saw a turquoise kingfisher from a distance, blue dragonfly/butterfly bugs and lots of water birds as well.
Within 2km, the arms and back started to hurt. And that was when the going was good. We tootled down the Cher until we hit some major rapids. I think this was the bit on the map that was circled with something written in red, in French. I suspect it said "Don't go that way, you bloody idiots!" Anyway, we did go that way and enjoyed a spot of white water rafting, shipped a fair bit of water but didn't die, so all's well that ends well.
After that we joined the Loire river which is heaps bigger and not as interesting. We cleared the rain but encountered the head wind. Would have preferred the rain. From there on it was a struggle to keep the boat heading straight. Poor Luke was fighting to steer it because it always veered right, blown by the wind. We got stuck in shallows, ploughed on, did our best to keep going. Started to swear and wonder what the bloody hell we were thinking, canoeing 17km when we could have just cycled it easily.
In theory we could have stopped on a river island and had a picnic lunch. Unfortunately the moment didn't really present itself so we kept on. We managed to get in sight of the Brehemont church and finish point, about 1km down the river.
And then the storm hit us. Cue the incredibly strong headwind, squalls of rain and very cold temperatures. We pulled up on an island and our cheerful French picnic became more of a Bear Grylls survival adventure. I was instantly cold and shivering heavily. We got into the lee of some trees and did our best to wait out the worst of it. I started to wonder what Bear Grylls would do, if I should try and construct a shelter from branches, leaves and dried snot. Intead I just squatted in the mud and shivered. Gulped down the eclairs and bread, rugged up, tried to dry off a bit and then we continued on.
|The storm and the Bear Grylls survival island/picnic spot|
|We made it to Brehemont. That concrete was WARM and good.|
|The chateau at Azay Le Rideau|
|The bridge and mill at Chateau Le Rideau|
|Obligatory pic with chateau|
|The winding stairwell|
|The roof beams were 500 years old|
|His Master's Voice. This was an art installation and it was huge.|
At 7pm we had a drink at the riverside cafe and then went back to the lovely Hotel de Biencort where we are staying in the disabled room on the ground floor. Only one with twin beds... but nicely huge.
|The weeping willow that promised itself it wouldn't cry.|
|Mmmm, best creme brulee ever|