8th August 2018
Near Montreuil Bellay, France
Turned out we picked a good quiet spot last night as we didn't encounter anyone, or even hear human activity, for the entire duration of our rest-over there. There was an excellent Amy walk this morning along a nearby cycle path which I'm pretty sure was once a railway line, now de-comissioned and put to leisure use.
Something was written in faded chalk about 1944 and it occurred to me perhaps that was the last year it was used as a railway - and, anyway, would have been under Nazi direction at that time. Which led me to ponder on just what it might have conveyed through occupied France for them. Parts and/or fuel for the war effort, guns and explosives, storm troopers, Jews collectively on their way east? WW2 was very much 'only just over' when I was a young schoolboy and walking that disused line this morning it still resonated with it's eerie echoes.
Back on the road, we struck out for Samur where, contrary to the rubbish I wrote yesterday, we crossed the mighty Loire river. I got confused (I easily am these days!) between the Loir and the Loire - two different rivers in the same region with a very similar spelling. I did think as I crossed the Loir at La Fleche that the Loire had quickly diminished in breadth and today's actual crossing confirms it's still a wide river at this distance from the coat. Splendid view of Samur, which looked very attractive, as we crossed the river on a new road a near distance from the actual town.
The area, in general, is much what I have come to expect of this part of France - nothing bad about it but nothing exceptional either and only able to cross the Loire where there are bridges (obviously!) tends to funnel traffic and make it's approach roads fairly busy.
In the past I have either tried to avoid overnighting in this area or have ended up in a designated rest area on the banks of the river somewhere, which has been OK but always a bit too much activity and too well lit with street lamps for my liking. So, today, I randomly pulled off the D347 south of Samur into a single track side road which soon turned into a quiet and shady green lane where we have stopped for lunch. If we don't get shouted at this afternoon or evening I'll certainly overnight here as it's really going to be as good as we are likely to find without driving on for some distance.
Latitude : 47.15821 (47° 9′ 29.56″ N)
Longitude : -0.14967 (0° 8′ 58.8″ W)
accuracy of signal : 5 m
Last night was cooler at 17 degrees and made sleep far more tolerable than the previous few nights and today is much better too being mid 20s but with an all together fresher feel than of late. On the assumption that the worst of the recent heatwave may have passed we'll keep going due south from here. That will entail a lot of what should be interesting driving on roads very much less travelled and take us through the odd bit of forest.
If all goes to plan we should eventually pass by to the east of Bordeuax into what is, as I recall a truly vast area of forest. I say 'as I recall' because the last time I was there was in 1976 when I went to work for an Arab gentleman in Parleboscq, M Sidiqui at Chateau de la Caz, to learn the Armanagc trade. M Sidiqui didn't like the way I parted my hair back then and he very soon 'invited' me to return home to the UK, which I have always thought was rather a pity. Had it all worked out I could now be a content old Aranagc producer, speaking fluent French and living out my dotage graciously in what must surely be 'god's own country'.
I want to see the Chateau again as the last time I saw it it was an unrestored, but just liveable, edifice with a very leaky roof making the top two floors uninhabitable! I looked the place up on the interweb a while ago and it looks to have very much been gentrified now but I'd still like to renew the acquaintance.
Also, its coming up grape harvest time in the south of France and grand cru grapes are still picked by hand with temporary/casual labour and not machine harvested. If I can get a few weeks work as a 'vendanger' it should pay the French minimum wage of just under ten Euros an hour and provide a much needed top-up to my fiscal 'resources'(!). It might also help improve my French - there seem to be vacancies advertised on the web, which also gives locations so I'l try just turning up and see if I can talk my way into some paid employment.
I can continue to sleep in the Jeep so I don't need accommodation but the key thing will be a shady place to secure Amy whilst I work, if she's very luck she may even make a new friend or two!
Well, anyway, its good to have ambitions, eh?!
Heavy weather Summer lightning