This is my rewrite of the lost post…

Saturday 27th May

Day fifteen

Chatelaillon to Marennes:                67km,

191m climbed,   3hr 53’

Total Distance     749km

Well our resident restaurant critic was right about the restaurant. It was a terrific amalgam of French and Italian food. One thing that she had overlooked though was that she wasn’t alone in her view of the place and when we turned up it was fully booked, so we had to eat ‘interieur’. When we said what about the dog? The reply was ‘pas de problem!’ This typifies the French attitude to dogs; they are really welcoming. Every bar we go to brings water for Alf before we get our drinks. Wendy had ‘the best mussels she has ever had’ and I had a pizza, I just can’t seem to get enough carbohydrate at the moment.

The ride was fairly straightforward today – apart from nearly getting killed!

It was a flat and almost boring route along cycle tracks running beside roads through the dry marshes to Rochefort. The La Velodyssee people bill Rochefort as ‘Royal Rochefort’ and a splendid place to stop and spend some time. It didn’t look very splendid to me, though my view was probably jaundiced by getting lost again (due to poor signage and the busy Saturday morning traffic). I went past the train station a couple of times and thought that it was worth a photo.

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As I was cutting through some quiet back streets to get to the next section a car suddenly pulled out of a side road, turning left and cutting off the corner to do so. The problem was I was in that virtual corner at the time. He must have missed by back wheel by a gnat’s whisker – I would like to think due to the fairly smart swerve I executed. He was a young lad driving a white banger and was more shaken up than me, and serve him right too!

As I cycled off I pondered, for a brief moment, that it could have been the end of my journey there and then.

The southern suburbs of Rochefort merge seamlessly and seedily into the town of Tonnay Charente. For those who know Derby, think of a combination of Harvey Road, London Road and Ascot Drive. For those that don’t know the pearl of the midlands Tonnay is twinned with Sandown on the Isle of Wight, which says it all. The town’s riverfront had some fairly grand looking buildings that were rundown. It had clearly seen better days.

The route and my spirits picked up on leaving Tonnay Charente as we joined another old railway track, which was like riding through a green tunnel. This was a bit of luck as it was now the hottest day so far, at well over 30°. Scorchio! The final leg into Marennes was along an unmade track across the marshes into Marennes, the first 650m or so were the worst surface of the journey so far; it was like riding across builders’ rubble. Fortunately my new ‘trekking tyres’ lived up to their name and I didn’t suffer the fate of the chap who had complained on the trail’s website that he got a puncture the only one on his “multi-country trip” – he doesn’t know how lucky he is.


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