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English Channel Traverse

Posted by on Oct 7, 03:20 PM
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Mont St MichelleIt is an amusing coincidence and a sad truth that I write this just days before we again cross the English Channel on our return to France. As these words and pictures are smattered into Campout MSMcyberspace I enjoy a classic Clint Eastwood film in the flat of our friends from Washington.

CargoLate August, 2009: A delightful day in Lisieux with nos amis (Clémence, Marine, and Alphabet the Cat) was spent sampling wine, foie gras, and some impeccable cheeses. We made our Colorsway up to the coast and pedaled through some fine small towns over the course of the week. None of the beaches were anything to write home about, being mostly of the rocky variety, but Normandythere were some dramatic Tree Sanctuarycliffs to add visual value. One night we camped atop one of these, right on the edge, near a large statue of the Blessed Virgin. The feast of the Assumption was only a day or two away and lines of people climbed the narrow trail up to our perch with lit candles as a in veneration of the Holy Patroness of France.

…a full plate of fries, salad, and minced, raw beef steak!

BeerWe rode through Bulogne-sur-Mer and then spun our way inland and into the evening on Assumption Day and finally made our hosts’ house well into the evening. Mr. and Mrs. Lenain Alain & Rolandimmediately impressed me with their kindness and hospitality. They live in a quiet little town in the Pas-de-Calais region, in a very fine house with some land for their donkeys and enormous dogs. This kind couple fixed some fine meals that week and helped us to imbibe the sights and culture of the area. We toured the local ceramics museum and also spent an entire day at a World War II museum that was formerly an armored missile bunker and launch station for the CampingGermans. Another night we had “steak tartare” at one one of the local restaurants – a full plate of fries, salad, and Stonehengeminced, raw beef steak! It was tasty to eat but I have to admit to feeling a slightly non-buoyant for the subsequent twenty-four hours.

It was very difficult to leave the comfortable home of our new friends, but it was Hayhengenow or never for the side trip into the British Isles. I had experienced a foreboding of the dismal weather that I expected envelope us for the coming weeks. Still, the day was quite cheerful as BedtimeAlain accompanied us on the ride up to Calais. We crossed to Dover and lost each other in the ferry-traffic-chaos that ensued. When Randall and I finally met again in the town of Dover we began our ride in the direction of London. Over the next several days we failed to find a homestay in London and decided to continue on to Bristol instead. The roads, all but the very smallest farm roads, were busy. Busy is an understatement. Beach in WalesCrammed. The roads were inundated with flying vehicles and the drivers had no time to lose. Southern England made my memories of Pennsylvania roads seem tame in comparison. Also, the people as a whole were quite cold, infrequently rude, and many of the children foul-mouthed and obnoxious. Of course there were some exceptions. Our host in Bristol, Mark, was one of these. He is also a cyclist so we had an Irish Coastlineimmediate bond and I enjoyed our brief stay in Bristol very much! We had spent an afternoon at Stonehenge on the way over, which, I have to say, was less impressive than I had expected. That evening Randall slept high atop a Hayhenge and I in a grove of trees on a bed of ivy.

Our Lady of the RosaryAfter Bristol came the hilly roads of Wales. Traffic was slightly lighter and the scenery was more lush and green. We finally boarded the ferry to Rosslare, Ireland near the end of the week. Luckily neither of us were prone to seasickness for the voyage was rough! Ireland, with its open and rural countrysides, warm citizens and damp-cold weather was more than welcoming and we pedaled into the night, toward Cork. For the next day and a half the green coastline was made up of small cliffs and very reminiscent of parts of the northern California coast. It was hilly and exhausting but we arrived in Cork right on schedule Sunday morning, drenched to the bone from the first rains of the day. We visited Our Lady of the Rosary church for mass and then off, through the rain, to a warm retreat from the elements.


  1. Wow – that’s bravery – climbing up and then sleeping upon a haystack!

    Nice pics.

    Rachel W · Oct 7, 04:15 PM · #

  2. We so enjoy reading about your adventures. Sounds like you two are having a wonderful time! I plan to share your latest adventures at the Daughters’ meeting on Saturday. Prayers continue…
    Love, Jeff and DeAnn Olson, Freeland WA

    — Jeff and DeAnn Olson · Oct 8, 01:42 PM · #

  3. It took awhile to finally be caught up in reading all of your blogs. Really, after spending a few days in the hospital room and staring at blah painted walls and equipment, reading about your adventures and looking through the beautiful pics have been refreshing to the worn-out mind and puffy eyes. Thanks for your prayers… and we pray for you too… please welcome into the world, our little princess, Teresita-Marie Majella. Please give our hellos to our dear priests in London.

    — DJ and JD in KS · Oct 8, 10:44 PM · #

  4. Yes, I agree Stonehenge is somewhat of a disappointment… you are not the first to say so…The haystack, er, I mean hayhenge was much more impressive. O I can sympathize with the ferry ride to Rosslare Harbor. A friend and I tried that Feb of 2008 and it was very rough…we were both seasick. Somehow Ireland was very rewarding for that experience…tho I will never try to ferry across in the winter again…

    — Laura · Oct 13, 08:19 PM · #

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