Monday, 26 July 2010

Getting off the beach? Grisain back to Narbonne

First proper lie in of the trip and the two remaining med men wake up dreading the trip back in predicted 26mph south easterly wind. Flat out pushing north over the lagoon roads, we managed 7 mph. Arriving in Narbonne, we buy tarps to bag bikes up with on sunday and gorge on doughnuts and french fruit tart in the supermarket car-park, before getting a good deal from the office de Tourisme on a 2 star spot called the Hotel Du Midi.

Narbonne is a small but elegant city, full of decayed but grand buildings, adorned with bas-relief sculpture, incredible wrought iron railings and balconies. After dropping out bags off, we set off for a rare cultural trip around the hotel de ville buildings, including a great show of Algerian influenced French painting. For the first time we feel like tourists, with no pressure to complete mileage.

Worried about making fools of ourselves dismantling our bikes at the station tomorrow, we practice in the garage of the hotel, alarming the desk clerk by whacking James's pedal with a length of 3 by 3 he finds in a corner. Our front rear mudguards go in the trash, as do our front pannier racks and in Mikes case, bags. James later bins a whole packed bin bag of detritus from his bags, including his sleeping bag (£4.99 at Halfords ) and sleeping mat. Perversely, he keeps his rancid gloves.

later in the evening, after pizza in the square opposite the remains of the original Roman highway - the Via Domitia - we drop into the cathedral square to take in a bizarre open air art-jazz performance by a Belgian/Spanish/French combo called 'Basic Borg'. Entertaining and exciting at times, but super-twee, meandering and just plain irritating in others. When the Bjork-esque lead vocalist strated twittering sweetly about the beautiful bird which had just flown down to her table, Mike owned up that he couldnt take any more. Beaten by James Winston Penny in the coveted but rare 'King of the pretentious avante garde jazz appreciation' category. Jeff, you did well to escape this one.