Day 141-143: Autumn arrives!

So having had to change our plans yesterday – those grapes just don’t wait! – and with a change in the weather bringing a day of on-off showers, today was spent planning our last couple of weeks on la grande aventure, relaxing and drinking lots of coffee as the temperature seems to have dropped below 20 degrees! The time has really flown by and with the ferry now booked, our return to normality seems ever closer 😦

The last leg of the journey will take us west to the food loving towns of Bilbao and San Sebastian in Spain and the surf meccas of Biarritz and Hossegor in France, before heading up the west coast of France to our ferry at Calais. Being very much the end of the tourist season, the options for campsites are a lot lower, but we hope that this also means that we’ll find plenty of nice quiet spots by the coast, and also quieter towns, with less of the crazy crowds that we have witnessed during the peak season!

As is only right with a Sunday we rose a little later than normal, enjoying a lazy breakfast before heading off to Lac du Salagou. Even though it is only about 30 minutes from GUB’s house, we had not yet managed to see it over the years of visiting, so today was the day!

We’d seen photos of the lake on nice bright summer’s days, however today was a more overcast autumn day, so it was not quite as pretty as it maybe could be, however it did give me the chance to check out more options for riding as there are a number of different routes, both around the lake and in the surrounding hills – more exploring for me then……ah well!!

Stopping for a brief coffee and what we thought would be a little sandwich, but turned out to be half a baguette, we went for a little wander by the water front and looked at the collection of old gurney bikes that had arrived in the main car park as part of a round-lake rally. These old bikes looked like they would be more suited to very gentle flat roads rather than the undulating and narrow roads around the lake, but at least one rider had the sense to bring an old motorcross bike instead!

Back in the car, and the last stop of the day was the nearby town of Clermont-l’Herault. When we drove from the Alps last time we went by a route that we didn’t know and ended up driving through the town when we’d normally skip around the outskirts. We were pleasantly surprised by it and felt that it was worth a proper visit, so parking up we set about seeing what it was about. Being a Sunday most shops were closed however the centre was quite pretty, with a large square that would be packed with stalls on market day – definitely a place to revisit when it is at it’s bustling best.

A quiet night followed as we were once again due to work in the fields in the morning.

Our alarms rang all too soon in the morning and another day of work started as the sun rose over the hills. We were now getting toward the end of the vendange and there was an air of urgency about our fellow workers as the weather was looking a little uncertain, so we needed to pick as much as possible before it turned. A solid four hours of picking later, with stiff backs and hands covered in grape juice, we had finished the first day of the last week of the vendange season and although conversation with our French and Spanish colleagues is a little limited, it will be strange when the time comes to say goodbye!

You may have figured out by now that our travels have often revolved around food, so as not to break with this tradition a large risotto was planned for the evening. Armed with the shopping list, Blaise and GUB headed off to the supermarket leaving me behind to continue planning and blog writing. Arriving back with everything needed for the risotto, I set about getting dinner underway. The plan was for a chorizo and chicken risotto and soon discovered that the chorizo chosen was just about the hottest that I’ve ever tasted – excellent!!

With stomachs rumbling, the anti-cook rice was finally done, some 20 minutes after the cooking instructions suggested and we sat down to eat. Fortunately the chorizo had calmed a little and it was pretty good!! With tummies now full, beds called after another fun-packed day on la grande aventure!!

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