Normally for Easter the family and I are on our boat, if we are really lucky, sailing, but more often than not, making the final preparations ready for her to be launched into the water. Last year, knowing that 2014 was going to be a 'different' year for us, we worked on Brimble long and hard and spent many hours, days, weekends, labouring on her. Our boat is old, small, well used and loved and it was time she was given a little TLC. Last year we sailed her across to Norway, ready to embark on another exciting adventure, we do like to get some miles under her belt and she seems to love it. This meant then, that we were boat free this year for Easter and rather than taking it easy, this family as always had a mad cap idea... "Let's cycle to Paris," my husband and his good friend decided. "Let's take the boys with us too!" (they are 14 and 12) Thinking nothing of it, we spouses agreed and said if they did it , we would come along as support vehicles. I knew I should have believed them back before Christmas when this was suggested. Although it was not until about three weeks before Easter, that I truly believed it would happen, as suddenly cycles were brought out and a few bike rides took place. My son completed his first 25 mile cycle just three weeks before the intended long cycle from tower to Tower, that being the Tower of London to the Eiffel Tower in just three days!! A total of something like 300 miles!! Padded shorts were bought, my husband and son cycled from Oxfordshire to London the week before Easter to have the bikes 'in situ' and ready for Good Friday. The night before departure, they were joined by the other father and son combination and we 'girls', two mothers and three daughters wondered how the long week end would pan out...
The chaps left London on Good Friday at about 6am, allowing the girl team in cars to leave at a more decent 8am, for a rendezvous at Leeds Castle at 10 am. A quick refuel of drinks and snacks and they cycled off again, to meet us at Le Shuttle. Here we are, all cycles loaded onto the two cars to be transported to France.
A little time for amusement is always allowed! Here the youngest member was asked to pose with a miserable face, think she managed quite well!
On French soil and off they set again. Next stop a hotel for the night!
This hotel was a French 'Fawlty towers' and we loved it. An old converted watermill.
Rooms with views too
Dining room flooring...
A firm French favourite with us, hot chocolate for breakfast from large bowls. Note t-shirt, my daughter was official map reader in our car, she has a sense of humour!
Always time to stop for cakes...
As we were following the cycle route it meant we were driving on the small roads and not motorways, it was such a great way to see northern France and all it's lovely villages and architecture. We already would like to visit again. So much to feast all the senses on.
Each day we drove ahead to a picnic spot and set up an al fresco lunch. Despite the very mixed bag of weather we experienced during our three days of following the cycle route, we were always lucky at lunch time.
We even managed to celebrate Easter Sunday in style with a picnic with Easter crackers and paper hats and a great egg hunt in the countryside. Below are sweets, French Easter style!
We brought the homemade Simnel Easter cake from home and it managed to survive in one piece!
We even had decorated hard boiled eggs for Easter.
We did not need to encourage the children to hunt for the eggs, they rushed around as fast as could be, the older ones being somewhat competitive!
The chaps really enjoyed the cycling, but I think we were all surprised at how many hills there were. Every time I drove up a hill, I felt for them and was incredibly glad I was in the car!
We obviously had some time to spare and so managed some culture and history lessons and visited parts of the Somme area and thought of all those soldiers who gave up their lives. Below are what remain of the many trenches, I was very surprised to see how close the British front line was to the German front line.
Over the years the trenches have lost about two foot in depth, but it still was a great visual and small glimpse of how it would have been.
We stopped in many villages and made mental notes to revisit.
Late in the afternoon on Easter Sunday the support team arrived in Paris, donned on their pink support clothes, kindly sent to us by my wonderful friend Rosie (aka Tulip bulb provider to my garden lady, see previous post: http://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/tons-of-tulips-on-sunny-day.html )
...and finally in the early evening the amazing cyclists rode into Paris and arrived at the Eiffel Tower having ridden around the Arc de Triomphe on all those cobble stones after having cycled three hundred miles in three days, think they were a little tender at that point. Which is perhaps why after completing what they set out to do they walked the 700m to the hotel we had booked for the night. We are so very proud of them. They said they would do it and they did.
View of Paris from the hotel room...
Easter Monday and time to return to the UK
A snug fit in the car on the journey home and we needed now to fit the bikes on board!
We had a fantastic Easter, it seems so long ago now,
but I hope you did too ♥