By sebrose

Drying out

It starts raining before dawn. I wake to the feel of specks of water on my face. I don’t think it’s water leaking in, rather condensation being sprayed by raindrops hitting the tent. Nonetheless, it leads to water pooling in the corners of the tent.

I shelter in the relative dryness until midday, when the rain seems to lessen. There’s a gîte d’étape near Cereste that responds to my calls, so that’s where I’m headed.

It’s grey and drizzling all the way. At times the wind picks up, but I’m never cold and only my lower legs and feet get wet - fashionably attired as I am in a bright red, plastic cycling cape.

The going is relatively easy, lots of metalled roads, low hills. The worst of it is the tracks that have got claggy in the wet.

I pass through Oppedette, an ancient village clinging to a hill. Then it’s agricultural land until Cereste. The rain gets heavier as I arrive, so I shelter at a tea house in the edge of town, where they make their own biscuits. Bizarre to be choosing from a menu of teas in France, which the serve, naturally, without milk.

I buy ingredients at the Super-U next door, before completing the final journey to Zla Florentine. Olivier, the host, is a grizzled, older man. I’m the only person in the gîte tonight, so my €15 gets me the whole two storey place.

I hang my wet stuff in all available spaces, have a hot shower, cook up an aubergine/pepper stew, and recharge my batteries. A bottle of Côtes de Rhône disappears - much of it into the stew.

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