|The Apprentice and the Bent Boat|
"Jings! that last one was a bit grim, was it not ? Did you never just go out on your bike to enjoy yourself ?"
Of course I did, most of the time actually. So what you're saying is, can we not get something a bit more uplifting to cheer us up in this dreich ( a fine old Scots word meaning cold, wet, windy and grey, all at once ! ) winter time ? Will I tell you about the ride that the Apprentice and myself did a few years ago ? Sunshine, French scenery at it's best, tailwinds only, good food and not a clock to be seen, how about that ?
|Wild flowers in August.|
|Alexis Maneyrol Monument|
|René Leduc and R-16|
"What's that monument thing ? Was he some sort of hero ?" This was the monument in the village of Frossay to Alexis Maneyrol. He was one of the first, but certainly not the last of a long line of pioneering aviators from Pays de Retz. The tradition continues today with the huge Airbus factories in St Nazaire and Nantes. When you look into it, it's amazing what aeronautical development was done in this quiet rural area. René Leduc ( not the René Leduc who developed the ram-jet engine ! ) was a disciple of Alexis Maneyrol , broke speed and altitude records with his revolutionary design of light aircraft and was born in our town of St Pere en Retz. He was also involved, near the end of his life, with the development of ULM's ( Ultra Light aircraft ) and a local flying club specialising in these fascinating machines is very popular. Hardly a week goes past here without you seeing something unusual in the sky, an Airbus Beluga so big it looks like it's breaking the laws of physics or a Flying Flea that looks like breaking the laws of common sense ! And there's so much wartime stuff too. Only last year the Mairie organised a memorial for the crew of a WW2 Lancaster, the remains of which had just been unearthed by a farmer clearing some woodland. During WW1 there was a huge American/French Airship base at Paimboeuf . They were used primarily against WW1 German U boats. This site is well worth a look, it's in French but the photos are great and Google will translate it for you if you want. Recommended !
|Cordemais Power Station on north bank of the Loire|
|A nice Bob Jackson Curly Legend at West Locks|
|Abbey at Buzay|
|Concrete Barges !|
|Erwin Wurms strikes again !|
By this time we were at the locks which let boats back into the Loire and the end of the canal. But the boat here really took the biscuit ! Check the photo, it's almost impossible to describe ! It's a sort of sculpture by Erwin Wurms who also does models of American cars made from cushions. But it made us smile !
The light breeze that we'd cycled into now seemed to have picked up a little, but it was on our backs,
So then we got that sensation of just not being aware of the pedals at all. We seemed to just float back along the other bank. Even when we approached Frossay and had to climb up to where we first noticed the Alexis Maneyrol monument the breeze was worth another gear. Back through the vineyards and through the fields of wild flowers a fine long freewheel, last wee drag up to the level crossing and we're on the road for home. Both feeling just fine ! Have you ever noticed how easy it is to describe unpleasant, painful sensations but how you can be at a loss for words to describe truly joyful experiences ?
|The Apprentice with Decathlon MTB|
You could get spiritual at these times.... but people would talk, so you just say " Aye, another braw day on the bike, wife, is that my tea ?"