A treatise on stirring up trouble - A country hidden by a large dog - CycleBlaze

July 30, 2019

A treatise on stirring up trouble

St-Hippolyte to Navacelles

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I HAVE a friend who insists he likes riding through vineyards. When I ask what he finds attractive about straight lines that defy any sense or beauty of nature, he just smacks his lips and says "Yum-yum!"

It is impossible to get sense out of some people.

Of course, it doesn't help that I don't like wine. It's good for cleaning old lamps or a bike chain but I have no wish to drink it. And because I don't like it, I have a prickly resistance to people who do and who insist that it's not just a drink like any other.

A friend in London gives talks about wine. He told me once that the whole sickly mess - not his assessment - was subjected to a magical process called remuage. I told him that remuage just meant stirring, the sort of thing you'd do to a bucket of cement.

No, he insisted, it was something far more mystical. So I told him that remuer la merde was French for stirring the shit, which didn't strike me as mystical at all. He didn't write back.


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I went riding once with a group of Americans and assorted Europeans. For one American, it was his first time out of North America and he was much taken by France's door knockers. He took photos of dozens and went on and on about all the knockers he'd fondled. The joke wore a bit thin and two of the girls took his camera into the shower and took photos of their own knockers. Knowing that he'd have to explain them to his wife.


There hasn't been a lot of traffic but what little there's been has suggested that we're in the way. That has worsened the bad mood that I'm feeling about riding across the grain, from south to north when all the hills go east to west.

I'm dehydrated and I had a siesta. Not that it's unusual that I have a siesta, during which time the Lovely and Uncomplaining Mrs Woodland makes daisy chains or whatever it is that she does as I snore melodiously.

In the end she feels as tired with the day as I do and we start looking for somewhere to camp. Two attempts fail and we ride a dispiriting distance to the next village. There, there's a bed-and-breakfast at which a huge placard invites our attendance. I oblige by calling the number but there's no answer. And in the end we pitch beside the back gate of the village cemetery.

We're perfectly happy here. It's just that I enjoy grumbling.

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