L’Île de Ré ~~~ Sunday 19th June

so, as you left us (far too long ago – again, apologies!), we were on the beautiful but expensive L’Île de Ré, forming a plan outside of a cycle hire shop.  the plan was executed thusly:

bright and early (ish) on the following morning, we returned to the cycle hire shop, and hired us not two bikes, but one.  since it was the sixth anniversary of our handfasting, we decided to mark it with something a little special, and a little different.  though neither of us had ridden a bike for years, and neither had ever ridden one before, we hired a tandem.  it was…  an interesting experience.  the island itself is astonishingly flat and, because of this, is crisscrossed by cycle trails.  extremely bike friendly.  it’s a tiny little place, and i have no doubt that with a decent bike and a little determination, it could be circumnavigated in a day (or two, if you wanted to take it steady).  the tandem we hired was…  well, fairly ordinary.  it had reasonable gears, and fairly bog-standard saddles.

oh. my. gods.

my poor, poor arse.  i was in agony for quite a lot of the ride.

nevertheless, the ride itself was lovely.  we had, frankly, a bit of a dodgy map.  it was just one that was in a leaflet given to us by the cycle hire shop, showing the main cycle routes through the island.  sadly, it didn’t show any of the roads on the island, so within an hour, we were lost in the middle of a forest, on a sandy logging trail that was impossible to ride on.

sod it!

we managed, with a bit of guesswork, and Hubby’s sense of direction, to find a tarmac trail (oh, blessed tarmac!  i could have kissed it!) which seemed (as, indeed, it turned out to be so) to lead out of the forest.  however, we spotted a photo opportunity.  so just before we got back in the saddle, we took this:

Hubby: "Quick - look French!"

proceding out of the forest, we asked directions of a couple of very nice and helpful french ladies, one of whom was going the same way we were.  we followed her at her suggestion, but lost her somewhere along the way, and got lost again!

the whole point of this was to get from St Martin (on the north side of the island) to the beaches (on the south side of the island).  eventually, we managed to find our way there, and spent a very lovely hour or so messing about in the Atlantic Ocean.  it was somewhat rough, and decidedly chillier than the Mediterranean, but it was lovely, nontheless. 🙂  following this, we headed into the dunes to dry off (since we had no towel with us).

it was a curious experience to be sitting amongst the (fortunately deserted) dunes, in a beautiful foreign country, naked save for a sarong wrapped around my body.  outdoor nakedness is (sadly) not something i can indulge in very often, but it’s always nice to feel the breeze where the breeze doesn’t normally reach (if you know what i mean… 😉 )  the sitting was somewhat careful, however, since dune flora and fauna are not forgiving.  there was rough and/or thorny vegetation bloody everywhere!  and the insects were abundant.  we even saw a millipede!  my first ever, and it was soooo pretteh!

when it was finally time to head back, we got lost several more times, and by the time we got a puncture about 2k outside of St Martin, we gladly (if wearily) walked the rest of the way back to the hire shop.

taking inventory of my body at the end of the day, it was sunburned (even the backs of my hands – very unusual), tired, and my poor bruised and abused bottom was screaming.  even sitting on a cushion was a challenge.

however, it was a beautiful day, and we’d had a lovely time.  a perfect anniversary celebration. 🙂