I Guide Your Ride

Villages come and go along the routes I take, all of them full of leaning ancient houses, with shuttered windows to keep them cool in the summer. Occasionally under a shady tree there will be a card game in progress, boules possibly, and at lunchtime, if there is a bar, an old man might be slaking his thirst on a hot day.
And the fields. You have to love an old field, their shapes haven’t changed much in centuries but some are simply beautiful for no reason easy to pin down. Maybe it is the wild flowers they host with casual abandon, a mad palette of colours, maybe its the trees that form the boundaries, still, hardly moving because the Charente is not known for wastefully chucking air around.

Then there are the odd things that distract, the faded dilapidated blues of timeworn doors, the way any pot past its best cooking days becomes a miniature garden, how the pink, or is it purple, of wisteria in bloom wandering along the front of a carelessly charming house, seems determined to divert my attention from the journey ahead. And of course there are the French, who will happily listen to my halting efforts at speaking their language, always willing to wish me bon courage with my ballade de velo. For them to be courteous is normal and in over five years of living here I have only met one rude French person.