Day 13, 17th July 2003

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Updated by Nina from the Tango cybercafe in Toulouse.

Thank you Gordon for taking it easy by the canal that day in 1953! Without you, we would never have been able to catch up and be back in sync with your journey, here in Toulouse. We have covered an incredible 1040 kilometers now (650 miles) and when we saw yesterday signs for Espagne (Spain) we knew that we are really very far South indeed.

Beautiful Bordeaux?
Photo 159. Beautiful Bordeaux?

Bordeux was a town on edge, caused by total upheaval of the road and tram systems and also Bastille Day and firework excitement. Simon said he watched a shopkeeper refuse to serve someone just because they had not said please! We sat in the Place de Gambetta (a nice choice of location) and had a jumpy con man ask for my bicycle pump. Knowing so well how much I needed it, I hesitated to risk losing it to him. But then he just grabbed it, and we ended up wrestling with it- how embarrasing. Of course, his motives were simply to divert our attention from our valuables. He must have been pretty disapointed because we did not have any!

Heading on out of town
Photo 165. Heading on out of town

We bombed out of that town as quickly as we could, stopping only for a refill of our five bottles of water, supplied to us through a hose pipe in the garden of a nice Morrocan family. We continued further along on to the sign for Camping-50 Metres which proved to be a total lie. It was more like 1000 metres and up a hill, and at one point I refused to go on because they must certainly be liars living there. I soon realised I was exhausted though, because I don't go about making strong moral judgements about strangers like that usually!

A lovely family
Photo 164. A lovely family

The farm was pretty and we were greeted by two large sisters in loud flowery work aprons. They gave us sweet desert wine and we got chatting. Simon wrote down his name and passport number for them, and when I went to do the same she said I did not need to because we were a Mr and Mrs. But we are not married, I said- 'You dont need to be married to have a little bit of a kiss and a cuddle you know' she said giggling. We all sat around gigglingly coyly before I soon felt quite awkward for only being friends with Simon.

How to clash with a tablecloth
Photo 166. How to clash with a tablecloth

They poured us another glass, and before we knew it we were soon ushered off to our field. Looking behind us I could see them setting up steaming cups of coffee for the bin men who were about to arrive, so they too could experience the tragically short-but-sweet hospitality of the two fat ladies. Do you have any hay to sleep on? like my dad had done that night, I tried to ask the farmer in French. But he fortunately just ignored what must have seemed to him like a very strange request.

A Cockrel woke us up early, and we spent most of the day being tired and trying to wake up with chocolate biscuits. The Canal de Midi is beautiful, and runs alongside a river effectively making Spain an island. We enjoyed cycling here, but we just blamed the roads for making our tyres melt and hence slowing us down. Surely it could not have been our aching muscles, saddle sores, and numb hands due to the vibration of the handlebars hindering us?!

Collecting water
Photo 150. Collecting water

We were in beautiful Agen yesterday night when I saw the lightening. We headed out of town but the wind picked up, and threw sand and leaves at our eyes. A small boy, who really should have been in bed at that hour, told us a hurricane was coming, so we headed for the hotel district of the small city. We cycled along, with the wind howling, past the church (where someone was practising eirie funeral chants on the organ) and made it to a cozy hotel in a square.

What luxury though! Soap and towels. Pillows and duvets. Knives and forks in the restaurant too (although in all honesty I could have ate the bread, tomato and ham baguette with my fingers as usual)- our ten shillings a day budget was truly blown, and it was lovely - although it all felt a bit odd after having been so scruffy for ten days. I found a roasted peanut in my bra that must have been there for at least 48 hours!!! We heard the rain pour down torrentially all night.

The next day it was cloudier than most days but luckily no rain. I was determined to catch up with my dads journey- such a big thing I had to live up to. Nothing we did had the same ring to it being fifty years on. Yesterday! We bombed it along the flat roads, and stopped only for a delicious lunch in Mossiac (and a kip on the Abbey steps before being woken up by a nun- quite surreal really).

The Abbey
Photo 239. The Abbey

The road to Toulouse was busy but we ploughed on, passing the canal afore mentioned where the lads enjoyed an afternoon with some French people, and we also saw the infamous railway marshalling yard. I quite fancied the sound of 'shunting all night' but Simon did not. We ended up sleeping in between a line of conifer trees that they had conveniently planted for us.

A night's sleep on a bed of pine needles may not sound so comfy, but we felt at home, and at one with nature. Until the articulated juggernaughts and trains carrying 20 wagons thundered past that is! A shirty wake up call where we both narked each other enough to annoy each other to get set to go in only two minutes flat, and then an hours cycle to Toulouse.

Not so much to report from here, mind. Cities can be pretty uneventful, and hey we have just spent two hours in these internet cafe voids we love so much. I'm happy though- no puntures since Sunday!

Photo 243. Toulouse