Monday 25 June
Galician, Camargue. Rest Day 30km. Total 1458km.
1 puncture. Mistral Wind, not a cloud all day.
We cycled to Nimes to see if we could find English size tyres because we’ll be in trouble if we can’t. There is a Raleigh cycle shop there but it is closed on Mondays so we content ourselves with peering through the windows before partaking of a city breakfast.
It is market day and stalls are spread all over the city’s pavements preventing us from finding a spare inch to park the bikes up. In the end, as always, we find what we need. Then we continue in the hot sun with a strong wind from the north. Later we discover that this is the Mistral blowing down the Rhone.
We leave Nimes to find a different campsite for the rest day – camping sites are marked on the map but in reality, they don’t exist – at least not today. We try several, all of which are either closed or not there at all. Anger, tears and despondency. It is very hot, too hot and it is supposed to be our rest day and here we are, cycling round battling now against the mistral and being burnt in the strong sun.
At the third or fourth attempt we start to see some signs, they are taking us South, towards the sea and the Camargue. Eventually we are led to a stony, scrubby unpleasant site with the odd vine planted here and there. A man on a tractor from Bolton in a bush hat is the owner. The site is quiet- only one French caravanning couple, and the owner is upset by this. Even while speaking to us he is looking often towards the gate saying, ‘here’s someone turning up now…oh no its not’ and so on
I am so tired I feel ill and can’t think properly how to make our meal. Finally prepare something, which is eaten inside the sultry tent owing to the omnipresence of vicious giant horseflies, with the occasional blast of mistral to relieve us. The view is across two of the most inland of the Camargue lakes.
After we have eaten the cynical owner cycles over his stony ground to lend us a mallet for the tent pegs and to tell us about how to explore the Camargue. Last night I picked lavender, and now it is making a great refreshing smell inside our clothes-bundle pillows. A winey supper is followed by a gradual revival, getting used to the strange flat land we now inhabit and coming to like it.