Composed last Friday, 30th July, when still on the Brest to Nantes canal :

Having cycled exclusively along the canal for over a week now we've become accustomed to its unique rhythms and have atuned accordingly. As Luca puts it, like the wheels on the bus of the song of the same name, the canal goes “all day long” and we, in turn, if you'll excuse the pun, cycle along its designated cycling/walking/horseriding path all day long. By day it's “stilly greeny” with the serenity broken only by the comforting sound of crickets and the occasional boat gliding through. The latter and its occupants receive a very warm Bonjour, wave and a smile from Luca which is always returned. The boating fraternity seem a very pleasant lot! By day one's path is crossed by damsel flies, dragon flies (usually mating in flight) and lots and lots of butterflies.The countryside which adjoins is very agricultural; we pass field upon field of corn crops and neatly assembled hay stacks. Not a vineyard in sight in Brittany. And, joy of joys, Luca has actually witnessed first hand the farmers loading the hay upon the tractors – again to a warm smile and wave from mutually appreciative parties.

We usually leave our last campsite by 11am to arrive at the next campsite vers 6/ 7 pm and s'installer. Luca avails of the opportunity for a run around and to explore the new campsite and, especially, its playground. If he's become addicted to anything in France it's the playgrounds. While his parents have become (re)addicted to pain-au-chocolats fresh from the patisserie first thing in the morning. And, sure, while you're there, you might as well buy the auld baguette for lunch. Yummy! Dr. Atkins would turn in his grave at our French diet. But we're burning it off as we cycle - or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Having set up camp we have taken to a crepuscular stroll along le canal when said canal is literally teeming with (wild) life. Our little budding Zoologist is just loving the wildlife spotting it offers We've spotted so many otters that we've, literally, lost count. Okay we've (at least) one ulterior motive. Firstly there's an actual Zoologist in our midst, who is a keen otter spotter. But, secondly, we've been trying to get Luca to sleep earlier than nightfall. You see, our little toddler was, like the French Supermarket chain, pretty much “open” “ 8 a Huit” when we were living conventionally in Ireland. In general he had a nightly routine of bath, brushing of teeth, story and to bed by 8.00pm-ish. Whereas he is only falling to sleep as darkness falls here – i.e 10.00/ 10.30pm. Hence our (primary) motivation for canal bank walks with Luca in his pj's in his very comfy chariot which doubles up as buggy as well as a child's cycling trailer. Not that it's getting much use as a bike trailer thus far in France but more of that in another post anon. We've had a certain amount of success with our evening walk tactic - so this may become a permanent fixture during our travels. You see it's just so, so lovely to all have this time together en famille and to have the opportunity to well, grow, en famille but “Mama and Dada” now have virtually no adult time alone together as we all wake up together and go to bed together. Both Phil and I are avid and nightly readers but even that hasn't been an option open to us as we just keep our head torches off in the hope that le petit va dormir. Ever the optimists!

We're nearing the end of our vie en canal but, if our crepuscular walk tactic keeps paying dividends, and the fertile Loire Valley is as beautiful as it sounds then the future looks very promising mes amis!

P.S: I know I'm biased but he's so cute he's worth the lack of adult time - it goes without saying!

Post Post Script (literally) : A couple of days later: We met up with a lovely couple from Nottingham when we were in the campsite in Nantes who are having a back-packing holiday with their 1 year old. They were a week into their 2 week holiday having been camping first in Paris and then in Nantes. We were seated at adjoining picnic tables having our evening meal and their daughter, Molly, and Luca started playing and we struck up conversation. About 10 mins into the conversation and upon hearing we were 2 weeks into camping with a toddler Molly's Mum, Tara, asked me if we'd any tips for getting some adult time. As per above Tara.


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