Breakfast was in the price of the hotel and what a breakfast it was. You have to love a country that has doughnuts and chocolate biscuits for breakfast, washed down with apple juice and coffee. As my fitbit told me I had burned 6000 calories the day before I felt no guilt in scoffing the lot. Back at the room I pumped up the rear tyre again and a little in the front before setting off. I was surprised not to have woken with cramp during the night and even more surprised not to have been too saddle sore. I checked myself with that thought, its only day two, the pain will come. The satnav guided me to the local village and through the middle of the market before following some lovely open country roads with little or no traffic.
I must have been about an hour in, cycling along in the countryside when I saw a walled building ahead. As I got closer it looked like some form of monument. It turned out to be the Dud Corner Cemetary at Loos. It is set atop a hill in a beautiful area of France. I stopped and walked around the grounds. Its a British Commonwealth Cemetary dedicated to the 20,000 British soldiers who gave their lives in the first world war to liberate that area. My over riding thought was, ‘if you have relatives burried in the many many war graves throughout France and the surrounding area, you can be sure that their graves are well tended and cared for’. It really is the case, further on in my travels I visited several others all equally well placed and well kept. I have said for many years that I will visit my grandads grave in Belgium and now I am sure it will happen next year.
I pedalled on with the wonderful Google maps directing me through more and more fields, rough tracks and muddy paths. I made the decission that I would somehow change the settings to make for easier riding. Some of the paths were littered with rocks and broken glass. I spent a lot of time walking. Then it was back to canal tow paths as I headed roughly south. The canal system of France was the initial backbone of the countries intrastructure develloped between 1642 and 1966 it links North to South and East to West by joining rivers in what is described as a relatively flat land. What is certain is that on a sunny day it makes for some lovely views.
As the evening rolled in I started looking for a place to stop for the night. I selected a budget Formula1 motel just 6km away from my location at ??. Those 6km seemed to last forever, I ended up walking most of it because the trail was so rough and by now Satans saddle had ruined me. On arrival the place was closed and a note on the door said check in at the Ibis hotel next door. I went to reception and being a polite chap I held the door for a guy who was then in front of me to book in. He was a Brit and wanted a discount on the price for the night because he couldnt book online. The poor girl behind the counter explained there was just one room left and she could not authorise a discount, eventually, like 15minutes later the bloke decided he would go outside and book online for his discount. I duly paid my minimal price for the much cheaper lodge next door and set off to get settled. In the lodge the code to access my room failed to work. I went back to the girl who said she would come over and help. It was no use and only served to give her even more work when she got back as customers continued to arrive. I sat patiently just wanting to get into my room. The Brit came back in and accepted he couldnt get a discount and he would take the room at full price, however by that time someone else had booked it online and the hotel was full. He had, what can only be described as a bit of a melt down, demanding a room, which clearly she could not do. He really did put her through the mill but all to no avail as he had to go and find another hotel. With all the commotion she had clearly forgotten me and so when she was free I appproached her again. The poor girl was so apologetic, but to me it didnt matter, other than I was starting to smell bad. She arranged another room for me. Whilst this was happening another couple arrived but the Ibis was full, they asked to see a room in the lodge. The girl was so busy she couldnt possibly give up any more time to walk over to the lodge again, so I offered to show them around. The result was that they didnt like the place and left, but I got a free meal and drinks from the receptionist as a thankyou for patience and helping out.