Wed 24th April.
Leaving Alain’s, Beauvais and Henonville.
Alain and Francoise set me up with a good breakfast before I left, eggs, bread, jam and coffee, black gold. Something that I can’t make with my current equipment so I relish when I do have it. One of Alain’s tips was that humans can survive on up to 30 grams of bread a day, that bread had everything we needed in it to survive. Since I’ve been having a baguette a day on average.
I haven’t mentioned his son Loic.
I think he was about 19/20 years old, he looked a bit like something from a Tim Burton film, only a bit. But he was was nice and always set up the table at meal times without being asked. His English was probably slightly better then his parents, but Alain took the authority when deciding what was the right word to use. He was proud of the fact he could speak English I think.
When I left, after they had fed me so well over the last two days, they gave me some bread, some boiled eggs and some apples. I couldn’t believe how hospitable they had been to a total stranger, and was very grateful for everything.
I wrote in their guest book, they wrote in my journal and we took photos before I left heading south for the city of Beauvais.
After about 12 minutes of cycling a car honks at me and pulls over in front of me. It was Francoise. I had left my helmet in their garage and knowing which way I was heading, she drove out, found me, returned it and wished me well. Again, I was amazed at how willing they were to help me out.
It seems like some old habits had remained, which made me think about what might go wrong in the future…
While I was at their house, I studied my map of France. I looked at how far I’d come in the four days or so I’d cycled. I felt good, it was nice to see a distance and know that you’d completed it independently. I looked at where Paris was, my aim for the next day, then looked at the rest of France, getting quite a shock at the size of it.
I realised I wouldn’t have as much time as I hoped and if I wanted to get to Barcelona on time, I would probably have to haul some ass.
On the cycle to Beauvais, I stopped in a field adjust to a few roads and watched some traffic go by while eating an apple. I felt I was beginning to adjust to life on a bike. Stopping wherever, whenever to eat and taking it that section of fields and roads over lunch. Leaving behind old routines and adopting new ones. It felt good and positive.
The sun was out and strong for the fourth day in a row. I thought this was great. I’d left grey miserable England and come to sunny France. I thought it was mad that a country so close would have such different weather patterns. Little did I know.
I arrived in Beauvais and made my way to the town centre. I snooped around, stopped for wi-fi, bought some overpriced bananas, some sun cream and had a brief look at the cathedral.
I didn’t like Beauvais all that much and felt intimidated by the teens in the numbers out shopping, drinking coffee and doing things on their phones. I wasn’t sure what made me feel belittled here. I left promptly.
Still no GPS, I had a slow time finding my second host Denis’s home in Henonville. But after another pedal related slam, a few small towns and asking a local, I got to his home.
He took me in and introduced to his girlfriend Cecine. His English wasn’t so good, not that I’m complaining of course, but conversation was more staggered.
We had a beer in his garden, talked about his kids, his ambitions to improve English (he was studying American literature at university) and how he felt that a lot of France didn’t want to bother with English, but it was becoming more and more important for them to do so.
Schools wanting their teachers to teach more English to kids, but not offering teachers any incentive to do so, as they too would need to learn…
They had prepared vegetarian food for me based on my profile on the WarmShowers site. I felt embarrassed and overwhelmed that they had gone out of their way to accommodate.
We had drinks inside later on, carried on talking and went to bed. I was feeling tired from riding.