Sunday 17 June 1984
Villefranche du Perigord, Dordogne, Aquitaine. 38km. Total 924km
More green wooded country unfolds to keep us cool. Well graded long hills with many pink orchids growing along the way. Fields of grain grow with scabious pale or dark, poppies or campions all thick along the edges. I think that this is how green England should be.
Monpazier has a famous bastide that we have read about so stop there for breakfast and enjoy a friendly bar with men drinking early morning wines. Walk up the old streets, to the covered market place and buy cheese for supper. Just after Villefranche, Guy has difficulty engaging gear, and discovers that the tensioning spring inside the derailleur is broken. A serious breakdown – there is absolutely no way to mend it. All we can do is freewheel and pedal slowly down to the campsite at Villefranche which fortunately is very close.
A deserted and shut terraced site is there, taps and toilets working. We pitch on a terrace overlooking a small valley with houses and fields and trees spread up the hillside and walk into town to see about cycle shops. After talking to a few people, and over a map in a café outside, we decide that tomorrow we will make our way to Fumel, the nearest big town, and thence to Villeneuve if that doesn’t work.
Guy has taken links out of his chain, bypassing the derailleur so now he has got a fixed gear. We have become steadily more despondent, no shops are open, so there is a very small supper, and we are beginning to be a bit fed up of such miserable meals. Yesterday’s was pretty awful too. Its also close and far too hot; I heard village locals exclaiming about the heat.
For a while this afternoon we sat under the airy arches of a large café bar, watching young Sunday people razzing up in their cars and fooling around in the bar. Now at 6, we’re sitting stifling in the shade of a tree, being gruff and fed up. After writing all this, I was cheered by reading back through my diary – all the good times. We walked back to our bar for leisurely wines and coffees as the sun sank and grew cooler. In the night I could see purple sky with flying bats, and hear final cuckoos out over the valley.