Saturday 24 September 2022

Pizza Night!

Saturday 24 September 2022

Nido's parked up on a free aire in the village of Écouché.  Now if you've paid attention or have been sad enough to read all of my blogs, you'll know that we've stayed on the Écouché aire already this trip.  The thing is, I didn't know - I'd forgotten!  I picked this aire because it said there's a great pizza van with a wood oven that's in the village on a Saturday night.  I'd completely forgotten that this is the village where we found the 'pizza from the hole in the wall' machine.  It wasn't until we started to pull in to the aire this afternoon that I realised where we were - old age and poor short-term memory is really hitting home right now!  Still, it's a lovely spot and we liked it last time in the hot sunshine; it's not so bad today even in heavy rain.

When I last blogged we were staying in the small village of Le Guédeniau. We liked it so much the decision was made to stop for a little longer, before moving on.  So yesterday morning, I went off for a bike ride whilst Cathy had a bit of a lie-in and a relaxed breakfast before giving the van a really good internal clean, repacking the bench storage and cupboards, ready for a bit of shopping before we return home.

I had no real plan for my bike ride, apart from perhaps an 18-20 mile loop, hopefully with a café stop on the way.  All started well, although the café I wanted to use was inaccessible due to market day and I didn't find another.  About an hour or so into the ride I consulted Google Maps and started on my route back to the van, or so I thought.  After another half an hour I started to suspect I wasn't heading in the right direction; I'd been cycling through thick forest for some time and the road signs weren't what I expected. So I consulted Google Maps again, clicked on the aire and found I had been heading in completely the wrong direction.  I was about 1.5 hours cycling from the van.  There wasn't much I could do about it apart from turn around and follow the Google Maps voice on the phone.  On the return trip I came across a very large field of what looked like cannabis, but was no doubt hemp (I've no idea how to tell them apart though!). With about 10km to go, I was starting to bonk - I hadn't eaten since breakfast and only had a bottle of water, so the cycle back to the van was a bit slow!  In the end I cycled for just over 3 hours, covering 40 miles.  Still, I enjoyed the spin and saw some lovely places in the countryside.  Cathy had some lunch waiting for me and we sat outside enjoying the warm sunshine.  Bike stowed, me washed and changed, we headed off - albeit later in the day then usual - to our next stop.

This brought us to the town of Noyen-sur-Sarthe and a free park-up at 'Le Port' essentially a small marina on the river Sarthe, just below a railway bridge carrying the fast SCNF trains.  On the way in we spied a pizza shop, so at the allotted opening time I walked up to order.  We've not eaten out at all so far on this trip - not even a bag of chips.  So it was with a sad heart that I walked back to let Cathy know the pizza joint was closed until the end of the month!  Junk food will have to wait for another day.

This morning it was overcast with spit-spots of rain but still quite warm.  The 122km journey to Écouché went quickly enough, including a stop at a Total fuel station that was actually open; they've had a sale on fuel for a couple of weeks, pricing 20c per litre lower than other garages, but have been sold out and closed, so haven't sold any fuel at a all!  But this one was open so even though I had just over half a tank of diesel, I brimmed it up with cheap fuel.

We parked up in the aire at one end with our door facing the grass and were soon joined by a couple of other vans.  Later three huge French motorhomes turned up, all getting out to - one at a time - try and direct each other into the remaining spaces - lots of handwaving and arm spinning to the poor unfortunate driver! One A class (double our length) parked so close to us that they couldn't open their habitation door!  I had a little room to my left so I shuffled my van over as much as I could (ie not by much!), still they were grateful and smiles all around. 

The rain continued and I didn't fancy a wet walk out along the main road to find a pizza van that might not be there. So it was time to try out the pizza in the wall machine.  There were eighteen different types.  I chose two from the touchscreen, paid with a contactless card and three minutes later they popped out of the 'letter' pizza box!  To celebrate I bought a bottle of red wine from the boucherie (a butcher that sells wine - winner!) and enjoyed my first glass for about two months.  The pizzas were actually very good - hot and tasty - and we enjoyed our takeaway treat as the rain continued to fall.  There's warning of heavy rain on the north French coast tonight.  We have a couple of days until we arrive there, but I suspect our extended summer is done...but the shorts are staying on!

I was only supposed to do 18 miles!

Cannabis or hemp....?

Le Port at Noyen-sur-Sarthe

This was after I moved left 4 feet!

Les pizzas sont arrivées!

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