Has a good steak last night in the cattleman's restaurant, watching Texan rodeo on the box. Rodeo can be incurably addictive we found out.
At breakfast this morning jc reported that there was no granulated sugar for our cornflakes, only sugar lumps. We set about making some by rubbing the lumps together. Too slow. She then put a couple of lumps inside a polythene wrapper which she bashed repeatedly with the butt of a knife, much to the apparent annoyance of the other guests. Objective achieved tho, she sprinkled the contents on her cereal. I didn't want to be so unruly, so I put a lump under the fob of my room key and pushed down strongly. Nothing. Raising myself a little out of my chair I pushed down even harder on my sugar lump. All of a sudden there was a loud Bang! as the lump disintegrated and the table contents rattled noisily. The guests all jumped as one at the sudden noise. I kept very still for a few moments before sprinkling the now perfectly powdered sugar on my cereal. On the way out we noticed that there was nice a bowl of granulated behind us.
I've been trying to teach jc some French as we bowl along. Having already tried and given up with 'numbers' and 'animal names' I tried 'directions'. I thought this was useful, particularly in the light of her poor navigational skills. I did, in fact, achieve a modicum of success: she now is confident that gauche means either left or right!
Leaving Castelnaudary (we are now within just 1 BIC of the Med!) we pedalled down to Carcassonne(pictured) for coffee, a distance of about 40km. Carcassonne is the largest intact medieval citadel in the world: a must-see place.
We decided to leave the canal system and return to the roads. This is mainly because of the poor state of the canal path and the meandering course of the canal in this region - you spend so much time travelling sideways and even backwards. Back on the road we picked up a nice tailwind (payback time!), and made very rapid progress towards the Med. We hammered along!
Eventually stopped about half an hour shy of Narbonne, and within just a short distance of the sea. We're almost there!
You have to drink an awful lot of water on a long ride. We've gotten through gallons. A good draught every 10 - 15 minutes or so I'd say. There's an old rule that says 'if you wait until you're thirsty, you've probably left it too long'. I agree with that, especially if it's hot. One day I certainly didn't drink enough. I got rather light headed and what I passed reminded me of used sump oil. Not nice. But I mention water because we've become somewhat connoisseurs to the point that we could produce a guide to where best to drink it across France. There's huge variation. In some towns, Nontron for example, the water is very chemically whereas, mostly in the countryside, the water can be very light and refreshing, some having a rather pleasant sweet taste. (All tap water in France is safe though.) in the wine bar where we met the Poles (who are probably still there), the 'en vrac' (sold loose) wine was only 1.30 euros per litre. jc was considering filling up her water bottles with it.
Our scrumping days are long gone, and have been replaced by figing. It's easy to spot fig trees growing naturally in the South of France and, at this time of year, they are fully ripe. We've gourged ourselves aplenty on this exquisite, honeyed, fruit. Totally free too, with no need to reach into gardens!
We are currently beside the pool under a hot sun. We've just had a swim. The hotel is a ranch-style place on the middle of a huge vineyard. Quite posh and run by a German who looks and sounds like Heitz Wolffe (of The Great Egg Race fame). It was too expensive really, but I negotiated a 30% reduction and a BOGOF deal on the breakfast. Sorted!
Should be on the beach by lunch tomorrow - barring disasters!