The case of Mikael versus Trump (and Mikael's wife) - A country hidden by a large dog - CycleBlaze

August 10, 2019

The case of Mikael versus Trump (and Mikael's wife)

Seurre to Soissons-surNacey

You have been warned
Heart 1 Comment 0

"I COULDN'T believe Trump could tweet such rubbish," Mikael says with a smile. "And then I subscribed and I saw that, yes, he really does."

Mikael is German. He holds up fingers to show how many years to retirement, looks at them and realises that one hand isn't enough.

We have met beside the Rhône-Rhine canal at an old lockhouse from which a sweet woman in her late 50s rushes out at the sight of every passing cyclist. She sells drinks, although not at a price to provide luxury and sloth, and tells all who pass that they're welcome to loll on the grass whether they buy or not.

We and our French friends gallop off in all directions
Heart 0 Comment 0

There's another German here as well, a bulky man anxious to get to Spain "because people there speak English." The inference, of course, is that everyone in France should learn German or English to save him the trouble of learning French, but we let it pass.

Mikael ignores him. He has arrived on a black mountain bike without luggage. His wife is riding the other way and this is where they're supposed to meet, so Mikael buys an ice cream and chats.

"I'm with the army," he tells us, "but I'm not in the army. I'm a conscientious objector so I work as an almoner, a sort of social worker, to support soldiers and counsel them."

We talk of Trump and Boris Johnson and how two great nations could come to be led by buffoons and why the British should want to leave the European Union. But his mind is elsewhere. His wife is late and he's worried. He tries ringing but there's no answer. So he sends a text message, which he agrees is harder in German because the words are so long.

Finally he gets through and it turns out they have crossed on the canal path and that she is now in a village back in the other direction. We sense there's trouble in store and Mikael puts his helmet on again, waves goodbye and pedals with some urgency back in the direction he has come.

We spent the rest of our break chatting with three French riders we had met at breakfast time at the campground.

Mikael's wife passed this way unseen... and now he's in trouble
Heart 1 Comment 0

Our meeting was one of the few memorable events today, although one was to see people waiting for a wedding, dressed in unfamiliar formal clothes so that the men looked like bouncers and bookies and the women wore dresses that would have looked better on a sofa.


A note should you move to France... don't live near a church or a town hall.

Here, as in most European countries, you can't get married in a church. Marriages are not religious affairs and they're conducted at town halls by the mayor as representative of the state. You can, of course, go to a church before or afterwards for a blessing or whatever else you arrange and, even in a largely atheist country, many people do.

And why shouldn't you live near a church or a town hall? Because the tradition is that the congregation will drive from one to the other with their hand on the horn of their car. So live near neither... or arrange to be elsewhere on Saturdays.


Anyway, after a pleasant if unremarkable day, we are camping in a field of grass between two villages. The countryside is largely flat, which makes it easy to find a place for the night. The other fields are full of maize or cows, neither of which will complain at out presence.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 0