And will there be geckos for tea?

10th August 2018

Eight degrees at dawn! quite a shock after some of the high recent night temps, felt distinctly chilly for an hour or so.

The cooler air made for a good nights sleep though, which is just as well for although our adjacent road went completely quiet well before sundown it did seem to be a thoroughfare favoured throughout the night by mopeds - unless it was the same manic moped jockey frantically going back and forth all night! It wasn't continuous or anything like that but I do recall being aware of a hard revving moped going by a few times during the wee small hours.

We were joined by a rather wonderful tiny gecko for tea, last night, which is a sure indicator we are moving south. I have noticed a gradual change in the architecture - tall houses made of mellow stone with yellow and orange pan tile roofs - and fields of sunflowers started to appear yesterday.

Amy got a good, if rather short by her usual standards, walk this morning round the margins of some delightful old hay meadows. Rolling countryside with lots of tree abundant ancient hedgerows for her to examine and the agriculture thereabouts was all small scale stuff so lots of wildlife and wild plants about. We saw a family of what I can only speculate are a local variety of badger snuffling through a recently cultivated after corn field. Amy was on an extending lead at that point so couldn't run amok amongst them but we did pass them quite close by and yet they seemed in no particular hurry to get back to the safety of the field's margins.

After the walk we set off towards Niort and I'm glad we did stop where we did yesterday as there was nowhere as good (if anywhere at all) before Niort on the roads we travelled this morning.

Niort was unexpected pleasant surprise, a nice and sizeable town full of well preserved traditional architecture, easy to find one's way around and altogether most agreeable. Amy and I had half an hour to wait for a Netto store to open (great selection of low price tinned vegetables and other bargains - a bit like Lidl used to be!) so took an amble amongst some very fine old properties nestling in quiet roads. Partially, they are quiet as many of the residents seem to favour e-bikes as their mode of transport, something I really applaud but, I do think the fitment an old fashioned bicycle bell should be compulsory as more than one of them swooshed silently up behind us and nearly had us jumping out of our skins until we finally realised what the **** was happening!

Or maybe I just don't get out amongst civilised people enough?!

Leaving Niort behind we went south, not very far, on the D650 and turned off in pursuit of the Foret de Chize denoted as ' Reserve Nationale du Chasse' which I translate as killing fields for hunters. However, before reaching said foret we happened upon a vast open plateau area, of cultivated light limestone soil for sunflowers, flax and frequent small enclaves of grape vines. It abounds with small areas of woodland, has a working single track railway cutting through it and is quite perfect for a day's sojourn.

The absolute silence here, for there are NO people or machines anywhere, reminds me of my early childhood in 1950s rural Warwickshire as do the occasional signs for the railway, being a block image of a steam train (I simply can't imagine what today's kids must make of it?!) but the real trains that actually use the line (two so far today, both three carriage affairs for passengers) couldn't be more 21st century if they tried. Indeed, they look as if they have come straight from the pages of a sci-fi magazine!

It's one of those locale's that almost give us too much choice for a stopping place but we rather liked this little spot here:

Google Maps
Latitude : 46.19421 (46° 11′ 39.16″ N)
Longitude : -0.43657 (0° 26′ 11.64″ W)
accuracy of signal : 4 m

I see from google maps there is an InterMarche store not too far away so that will do for tomorrow's grub and from there we can finally check out the hunter's forest. Whatever it turns out to be like it certainly shouldn't be 'touristy' anyway and its not the hunting season so one hopes there will be no guns popping off in our direction either!

Although, this being France who can say for certain!

Summer lightning

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