Tuesday, 17 May 2011

No Longer The Isle De Rain

We decided that a cycling holiday would be the best way to continue the recovery from the hip replacement. Nothing too strenuous mind - I didn't want to end up in A&E with a dislocation. So where better than Ile De Re in France. This little island just off La Rochelle is almost as flat as a pancake (or should I say crepe) and it is a cyclist's paradise with kilometer after kilometer of cycle tracks alongside a deep blue sea and through pleasant woodland and vineyards. We came here in July 2007 and endured two weeks of non stop rain which resulted in our renaming the island the Isle De Rain but the residents assured us that the weather we experienced then was a freak and we thought we'd give it another try.

We've been here for three days and so far the sun has been relentless resulting in sunburnt knees (wearing a long sleeved shirt and shorts they're the only bit exposed) and the planned acquisition of a hat -no I won't be posting a photo on here. 

We're staying in a lovely old town house right next to this ancient church which means we've no need for an alarm clock as the priest gets cracking with the bells at about seven thirty. It's a great location as we're only a hundred yards or so from the harbour in the photo at the top of the blog where there are scores of bars and restaurants so you can enjoy some excellent cuisine or just sit with a drink and watch the world go by - extremely entertaining.

The house is owned by an Englishwoman called Jenny.  We have not met her as she was away from the island when we arrived but she has fitted it out to a very high standard and added some lovely touches like this welcoming bunch of flowers and a delicious home made chocolate cake (that's the diet gone then). We're spending our time cycling and reading and it's a very relaxing break from the grind of retirement.

One of the biggest advantages of retirement is being able to holiday off season. Judging from the number of bars, restaurants and camping sites on the island, I imagine that Ile De Re is extremely popular in the high season but at the moment we are cycling to beach after beach like this and sharing them with just a handful of visitors and a few dozen cockle and mussel pickers who scavenge the low tide shoreline looking for the delicacies that the island is renowned for. It's also a bird watchers' haven with a huge variety of wading birds inhabiting the salt marshes that surround some of the villages.

We're off now. We're going to a shady spot to do a bit of reading. I'm just starting my fourth novel of the holiday. C'est la vie.