After spending an hour making my statement (in French) at the Gendarmerie and then getting a new set of wheels, we set off for Castelnaudary at around 11am, leaving Toulouse behind.
Don't let my little problem put you off going to Toulouse. It's a lovely city: great architecture, friendly people and great food. You can get a flight down from Bristol every day for about £50 return. The old centre is a network of tiny roads connecting open squares and plazas. I love the place!
Talking of food, we had a good fill off good old British comfort food after the (meeting in the) pub last night. We shared - Ceylon murg, chicken Madras, tarka dahl, sag aloo, pilau and naan. All washed down with a Kingfisher or three. It was a nice change from all the French stuff.
Along today's ride we stopped for some dried fruit (good slow release carbs for pedalling) and got talking to 5 ageing German blokes who were walking all the way to Spain. They were interested in learning more about the monkey. I told them I'd won him in a competition and added (the old joke) that 2nd place was two monkeys. Never having heard it before, they were in stitches. "And ze zerd prize was three monkeys!" went on another German with tears now rolling down his face! As we rode off we could hear them in guffaws of German laughter as they were speculating what the eight prize was! I later heard an ambulance heading their way.
Castelnaudary is also a very nice place. It's on the Canal du Midi and is famed for it's cassoulet. Where we're staying, the Hotel de France, was featured in an episode of Rick Stein's French Odyssey. Rick thought it produced the best cassoulet in the world but I know a little place in Leguvin that has now laid sound claims to that title.
I learn a lot of things running with Bristlol Hash House Harriers, particularly from my learned friend Pete 'Duracell' Brown. Only recently, whilst discussing my possible route and the merits of tandems, he picked me up, most forcefully it must be said, on my pronunciation on Castelnaudary. It's pronounced Castel-nory, as in 'story' he lectured. "The 'D''s silent, I think you'll find". I thought he was wrong but bowed to his knowledge. Well, the first thing I did, after arriving in the said town, following the 5hr cycle from Toulouse, was to go into the Tourist Office and ask the nice lady how the name of the town was actually pronounced. My sister can bear witness to the fact that the letter D I fully delivered, and with gusto! I (almost) believed you too Duracell.
Soon after arriving in CastelnauDary, we went for a drink in a wine cave and spent a while talking with three noisey (as in well oiled) Polish couples. They were tiring of wine 'tasting' and were trying to move the owner onto a session of spirits tasting. He was having none of it and was clearly wondering how he was ever going to get them out. They were from Poznan.
The new bike's going fine. But I'm going to miss my handmade Brooks leather saddle.
It's got hydraulic brakes.