The question of where to go for a late summer holiday reared its head, I was opting for a bit of cycling somewhere and Kaye was wanting a break with family and new grandson so by way of a compromise we decided on taking two weeks to get to a family holiday at Vilamoura in Portugal by way of cycling day rides in France and Spain with the hope that if Kaye enjoyed it we could try a cycling holiday next year. The basic planning consisted of booking the first couple of nights accommodation at Pornic and then literally taking it a day at a time.
With an overnight ferry crossing booked from Portsmouth to St Malo we loaded bikes and luggage in the Land Rover and joined the rush hour traffic.
Arriving at Portsmouth we took our place for the very British pursuit of queueing, my eyes were quickly drawn to the row next door, empty apart from two elderly cycle tourists with Bromptons, bedecked head to foot in dayglo yellow including full panniers front and back and bar bags. They certainly were not your archetypal bike tourists but Bromptons seem to attract a certain type of pedaller.
Once aboard the MV Bretagne we found our cabin and retired to the bar for a spot of people watching. Trying to get a drink was no easy feat with the surly French staff and the overweight French lorry drivers club blockading the bar. They were joined by we presume an angling club as most were in either camouflage clothing from head to toe or Tee shirts advertising bait suppliers, Bills Baits and Maggots-R-Us are not fashion statements to the majority but obviously cut the mustard when carping. The excitement was too much so after discovering that we would be in St Malo before the free Wi-Fi connected we retired but not before hearing the “Allo Allo” style briefings from the ships PA advising that “in event of an emergency a light will flash for ear-ring impaired people” followed by the call to Mrs Smith that “the dogs are in the kennel” We were sure it was a secret message for the French resistance fighters.
The dawn landing at St Malo gave us just enough time for a coffee and the company of the angling society who all needed a bottle of coke with the full English breakfast eaten to the accompaniment of various bodily noises that seemed to entertain the group.
With customs and border control cleared we engaged Kayes’ new purchase Tommy Tom Tom and his constant verbal prompting found us in Pornic in just over two hours and no disagreements with Kaye about the route.
After finding the hotel we walked the town, the harbour and quay side restaurants and buildings are enchanting. A privately owned chateau sits at the entrance to the town which is also houses an English telephone box with working phone, another one to add to my sad collection. Old yawls and smacks seemed to be part of a cultural weekend with artists sketching and painting them as they languished on the beach at low water. This gathering of culture also sparked much revelry between boat owners and spectators. We felt obliged and at least try to enter into the spirit so joined the French tradition of coffee and cake.
The day ended with beer, pizza and a bit of route planning for a 45 mile circumnavigation of Pornic on Sunday if we can get past the patisserie without stopping.