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My French Life: My own petit Tour de France

At this time of year, what with the baby chickens to bring on, vegetables to grow, a website to write for … and a house that still needs a lot of renovation (… a lot) life in France is mega hectic and I am really too busy to do much tailored exercise.  I walk the dogs, I toil in the garden, I chase the cats, I act as gofer for the Other Half washing plaster buckets and fetching breeze blocks and I wander up and down to the chickens bit of the garden – I also attempt to keep the house clean (ish).

I really like to do focussed exercise though and I miss my sessions in the gym which I can’t do as there’s not enough time in the day, so as it was a nice day yesterday, and as it’s getting closer to Le Tour de France kick off at the end of June, an event that is close to the heart of the French, I decided to get my bike out and go for a ride.

I’m not keen on road cycling on the whole, too many near misses in London to be happy about it but here in France, in the rural, quiet back roads of the Seven Valleys in Nord-Pas-de-Calais , there’s so little traffic and the views so spectacular that the worry of other road users isn’t a problem.

The blue sky overhead, birds tweeting all around, cows in fields moo-ing as I sprinted past them, a red kite swooping down in a field and a heron sitting majestically on a fence post; ladies in housecoats, farmhouses and old barns with ancient wood structures spilling out, churches with wonky spires, small chateaus and gorgeous masion bourgeois slipped by – it was a perfect day to peddle up and down the hills and along the windy roads enjoying the sights.

Those were the good things about my ride.

The bad things:

1) not just one but three French men weeing at the side of the road. I don’t know what it is that makes French men want to get their johnson’s out in the fresh air and relieve themselves in public view but it is a fact of life here. I suppose if you’re far from home and can’t wait it’s a necessary thing but there was a case in the paper a little while back in which a French man tried to sue Google when they inadvertently caught him peeing in his own front garden when they did one of their satellite swoop views. Not really any excuse for that methinks, he obviously just likes doing it in the fresh air, or perhaps he was helping the compost bin along (it does help to wee in the compost bin apparently. I try to get my other half to do it but he says that there are too many wasps about and won’t risk it – selfish I think).

2) A huge beetle landed on my handle bar and I am a real baby about such things. I dislike insects intensely and once was really late for work because there was an enormous spider on the stairs and I couldn’t bring myself to kill it as that would have meant contact with it and I couldn’t get past it. I had to wait for a friend to arrive and take it out of the house.  I get this fear from my Dad who used to literally run out of the house when he saw a spider. He would leave my Mum to trap them under a glass and remove them so that he could come back in. There are times when had I been my Mum I would have left the spider there and even introduced them into the house. Anyway I nearly fell off my bike when the beetle landed and swatted it away with my water bottle but then I couldn’t drink the water afterwards as I kept thinking the beetle had touched it.

My French life - beetle

Okay it’s not exactly Le Tour de France I know, I certainly didn’t knacker myself out that much; alright a bit as there are some steep hills. I was a bit exhausted afterwards and had to have a bit of a push up the hill back to our village, but for a few hours I was able to experience the rush of being on a bike, focusing my mind on a goal (20 miles) and achieving it. I am le winner!

A bientôt
Janine
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