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Craig's Musings

Benidorm 24 Day 6-8

I was hoping to write more in the fly while I was out here, but time has been hard to come by. I am making lots of notes so I can write a book when I get back, but here’s a quick overview for days 6-8.

Day 6 – Rochefort to Angeac-Champagne

After yesterday’s extra exertion, today was only going to be 80km and I had a specific destination. My friend Ian was flying out and I would meet him later with a friend of his living in France, another Ian just to confuse things.

My morning started well, crossing the River Charente on the transporter bridge. Built in 1900, this is the last of its kind in France. Operated until 1967, it is now a Listed Historical Monument and is a tourist cross for passengers on foot, or luckily for me – bike.

Then it was a mixture of lanes, paths and roads to get to Cognac, where I waited for news. Ian had managed to break his rental bike, so I stopped for a beer for an hour, before cycling on to a quiet, quaint village, waiting.

I beat them there, only because the two Ian’s had been to a Pineau distillery (Pineau is a regional aperitif made from fortified wine and Cognac eau-de-vie). They’d also popped to the local trout farm to get some fish.

French Ian, was putting us both up for the night, and feeding us, and boy did he. Hi friend, Mico, also came over. Mico is the owner of Audemis, a local Gin producer that makes Pink Pepper Gin. You can get it in Waitrose, and Cote restaurants also have it.

We had an amazing evening of wine, chat, Pineau and fresh fish, and it was pretty cool for a Basingstoke lad like me, to have his G&T made by the gut that brews it, complete with him popping to the garden for a fresh rosemary garnish.

Day Seven – Angeac-Champagne to Bordeaux

After a gorgeous sleep in a converted French barn in the middle of nowhere, French Ian made us breakfast. Croissants and Baguette from the oven, with Cassis Jam and the best Goats Cheese I’ve ever tasted.

Then we were off. It was a quite a hard day for me for some reason. Perhaps the wine and late night? But evenings like that last in the memory, so I was happy with the pay off.

Ian became accustomed to a constant problem I have had, namely finding places to eat. Perhaps the routes are across areas that are too quiet but in Montandre, the only place we could find was quite high end. So, completely underdressed, we enjoyed a nice two course gourmet meal, before heading off to Bordeaux. The weather turned a little rainy towards the end of the day but I got to the hotel as Ian took his hire bike back.

My girlfriend, Lorraine, was there to meet me. She’d flown out especially to see me and bring anything I needed. She’d even had to endure a 36 hour cancellation notice on her flight out because of a strike by French Traffic Controllers, forcing her to come a day early on the same day she found out – what a gal!

A small bit of drama was still waiting for us, when 20 minutes later Ian called with the words, “there’s a little bit of a problem”. It turned out he’d not actually booked his room all along. Luckily, we had been upgraded so there was a spare bed in the hotel room, which was a duplex.

A quiet drink and meal, went on for a few hours, and a few bottles and we finally hit the sack at around midnight.

Day Eight – A Day Off

When I woke at 7.30, Ian had already left to catch his flight. Myself and Lorraine mooched around the city, not overly blown away, looking at a few things, before returning to the hotel to do some washing and sort some things out on Terrence. 

Then we went out for a lovely Italian in the evening. When we asked for  the wine menu, we were simply told you had to go downstairs to the Wine Cave and pick a bottle. Very cool.

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