Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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01/05/05: On the Waterfront

The morning's ride took us to two cemeteries from the Second World War, one Allied, one Axis. While the German gravestones listed only rank, name and dates, the British included regimental crests, verses and ages; many of the fallen were my age, many more were younger.

The motto which hit home for me was a standard piece of ABAB doggerel which the dead man's parents had personalised by adding 'To Our Dennis' at the start and 'From Mam and Dad' at the end. I was also greatly moved by the simplicity of this tribute to a Canadian airman:
Il était bon fils et bon frère.
Son coeur fut brave, sa vie trop brève.*
A soldier of the 1939-1945 war

More great roads, including a stretch of coastline, brought us to Honfleur for lunch. The town is very pretty, very French and very popular with bikers - to the extent that when leaving I worried I might get attached to the wrong party by mistake.

I would have liked a chance to poke around the shops and churches, but John and Jen needed to get back and put the dinner on and there were more miles to cover.


My confidence took a knock in the afternoon when I bottled out of an overtake then messed up a major-to-minor junction, but I felt better after a coffee stop and completed the day in style, waving at the crowds we passed through in advance of a cycle rally and swishing up the gravel path to the B&B.

I love France. I've been there so often that it's comfortably familiar, but there's always something new to discover. I love being able to order omelette and chips in a restaurant in the knowledge not only that it counts as authentic local cuisine, but that it will be a really good omelette and chips. I love having enough of the language to manage a shaky conversation and make the odd joke. I love how the French dress their children, and how much they adore their dogs. And now, I also love their rolling, winding, so often empty roads, the way drivers pull right in to the verge to allow overtakes, and the leg-shake with which bikers acknowledge this courtesy.

I just wish there weren't quite so many insects, or that they weren't so attracted to my visor.

* He was a good son and a good brother. His heart was brave, his life too brief.

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Tags: bikes, hols, scooters

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