I had high hopes for France's Atlantic coast. I'd imagined myself standing on a wild promontory, looking windswept and interesting as I gaze thoughtfully across the ocean. The reality is a busy chain of beach resorts with hideous amounts of people and cars. There were a couple of highlights. Such as cycling like bats out of hell down the Medoc with Daniel and Thierry, two French cyclists on tour that I'd met on the ferry. The cycling here is along specially-built, traffic-free pistes cyclables through a vast coastal forest. And the medieval walled town of Brouage. Standing on its deserted, dusty main street, I felt as if I was on the set of a spaghetti western. Any moment now Clint Eastwood would step out from the shadows, stare at me with eyes of chipped granite and say through clenched teeth - "gosh, it's jolly hot under this poncho".
As I write I'm in the beautiful city of Bordeaux. I'm not a fan of cities but I love Bordeaux with its cycle paths, wide esplanade along the river and vibrant life. Photos on Flickr. And today I have been away for 4 weeks. It's flown by. I do think about home, family and friends but I'm not at all homesick and feel I've adapted pretty well to life on the road. Funny little things remind me of Portobello - the bells of the village churches remind of the bell's of our town clock; this morning I listened to an accordion player on the street, just like the one that plays on the prom; and the screech of the swifts overhead or the clap of a woodpigeon's wings make me think I'm sitting in my garden on a sunny afternoon. Sometimes on a Saturday night I lie in my tent and think, wouldn't it be nice to be magically transported back to Portobello for a nice lazy Sunday. I'd go for a long walk along the beach; have coffee at the Beach House sitting on the prom; then perhaps a scoot round the lagoons on the bike. It would all be so easy and familiar. But then I remember that's why I left!
So now I'll have a second night at a lovely wee campsite on the outskirts of Bordeaux before heading onwards and upwards - literally, for now I have the get over the Pyrennees to make a rendezvous in Spain!