Paris Stage 21

What a day! Not sure where to start…

John and I got up early yesterday in Le Mans and took an hour train ride into Paris for the final stage of the Tour de France. (I’m glad the new royal baby didn’t over shadow yesterday’s events lol! Congrats Kate and Will! Closer to my Aunt Nora’s birthday I believe than mine so no money coming my way!) It was a gorgeous day to be in Paris, much better than when we went in February brrrrr. It was an evening finish this year so we had lots of time to walk around and eat macaroons by the Seine, too yum…

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We also spent some time in Jardin du Luxembourg. It was lovely with so many people out and about. The little lake in front was adorable with children playing with the sailboats that you could rent for 2 euros, just John’s thing…

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There was even a Highschool orchestra playing in the gazebo…lovely…

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Outside the garden gates L’Equipe newspaper had put up a whole set of stunning blown up photos of past Tour stages, it was fabulous…

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Then off to the race. We headed for the the Place de Concorde just before the bend to the Champs Élysées. It was shady there and a wall to sit and stand on, so perfect! You have to walk by the Louvre of course first…

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We also just had to get our photo at Norway corner…

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We were a tad too early but we did get a good spot. There is always something to see as the caravan comes in before the race. We each snagged a green PMU sprint jersey shirt too that they were giving out free to the crowd so that was cool. The atmosphere was electric. We tried to get as many pictures as we could but once the race started it’s hard to get good ones as they whiz past!…

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As you can see Team Sky lead the way for the first lap with their leader and winner Christopher Froome…

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Overall it was so great to see them go around so many times. It’s definitely worth the effort of getting there. I’m totally gutted that Mark Cavendish didn’t win the sprint finish but at least I did pick him out of the pack. You really have to look as they do go by amazingly fast. I also picked out some of my other favourite riders…Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and the new best young rider from Columbia! It’s fun to catch a glimpse in person.

It was a late night when we got back to our hotel in Paris near the train station (by the way if you are looking for a decently priced and standard/modern/clean/know what you are going to get hotel in Europe try a Mercure. We’ve stayed at a few now in different cities and they have always been totally modern and fine for a couple of nights). This morning we got up at 6 to get our train back to Le Mans at 7. Tired now!

We had a full day today going to the Canadian Juno Beach centre (I’ll write about that soon) and tomorrow we are off to Jersey to cuddle Lady Fia and see her mummy’s home. Can’t wait.

Vive Le Tour 2013

Yeah! It’s the first day of the Tour de France. To me that means school is over and three weeks of sports viewing will begin. It’s also the 100th anniversary of this event, AMAZING! I absolutely love watching the tour. I love the commentary and seeing the French countryside. It also inspires me to get out on my bike more too, many will know I fancy myself a tour rider!

It might actually force me to get some knitting done amidst my latest sewing frenzy…

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I’ve been working on these countess mitts as a present. See here for a post I have previously done on the pattern and the pair mom knit for me.

Last year John and I were on holiday in France in the summer and were able to see the Tour go through the town of Auch. This year it works out that we will be there again at the time of the final stage. I’m very excited to think that we are going to be on the Champs-Élysées for the final stage on the 100th year. An iconic sporting finish, I can’t wait!

2 Sunny Days

I’m happy to report that my rant about the horrible weather worked. (Well, only for the weekend because now it’s cold and raining again.) I’m sure I had something to do with it though! Regardless, it inspired a nice long cycling ride with John through the Chiltern Hills to a nice coffee at a great little cycling repair/cafe in Redbourn that we found recently called The Hub…

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We were finally able to have a sunny picnic too…

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John has been wanting to take me to Hampstead Heath which is a large green space north of London. It was a beautiful day and it seemed everyone was out eating ice cream, including John…

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In Hampstead we also found a lovely National Trust property called Fenton House. The gardens are still maintained as they would have been and there is an amazing collection of harpsichords, porcelain figures and needlework inside…

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(According to the talkative Trust volunteer, behind me is a house owned by director Ridley Scott who only comes to stay a few weeks a year.)

The house also boasted one of the best views of London, to be seen from a tiny balcony that I braved for pictures…

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I was also quite taken by these lovely chairs…

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On the way home we just had to stop to take a picture of this field near our house…

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Lovely!

Sunflowers and Lunch

After the excitement of the Tour we took it easy yesterday and went for a bike ride to have lunch in a very pretty village about 20km away. It was stunning. There were sunflower fields everywhere. See if you can spot us!…

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It’s nice to feel that you have earned your feed! We ate on a patio over looking another church stop on this pilgrimage walking route…

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And again aren’t the shutters perfect!…

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We finished the day with a cheese crepe and a chocolate banana and cream one for dessert. It is so relaxing in the south west of France. It is peak summer season but hardly any people about, perfect!

It’s my birthday today so we are going for a swim and to a nice pizza places for dinner! Happy birthday to me…having the sun out is present enough!

Confession!

RIP my gorgeous Dutch bike…remember…

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Soooooo I was pretty excited to get this bike. I ordered it online from Dutchie.co.uk and I promised John that I had researched my choice well, and I DID, I DID!!! But alas, Harpenden turned out to have many many many more hills than I first thought. I could get up the hills in the this heavy beast of a bike, and looked good doing it, but it was a struggle. I felt incredibly guilty for not anticipating this that I forced myself on more than 1 uncomfortable ride.

Finally, I got up the courage to talk to John about it and we decided that I should try and sell it and then get a new one…well he decided I should sell it first. I on the other hand already had my eye back on one of my original choices, the Trek Allant. Really, you can’t go wrong with a Trek right! I posted my old but still brand new Dutchie on a Preloved items website and finally it sold. I delivered it today. It was bitter sweet. Sad to let it go but glad to have the money to put towards the other bike. Which of course I’ve had awhile now. There is no way I could have waited so long and ordered the Trek about a month ago. It came in sooner than expected and I’ve been happily riding the hills for a few weeks now with all my groceries in tow.

Check it!…

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A young teenaged girl named Holly got my bike today and I hope she will be happy with it, it was practically brand new after all!

Happy Mother’s Day

My mom is the best!…

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Today was a bit random. Last week I heard about a cycle race called Cycletta. Cycling is very popular in the UK and Cycletta are cycling events to get women more into the sport. I decided to enter and am glad I did. It turned out to be the 2nd sunny day in almost 2 months and the course was breathtaking. There were all ability levels present so all felt comfortable. It was also very well organised and marshalled. It started at the Woburn abbey about 40min away. It was a 40km ride and I was surprised that I rode so hard for not having cycled in about 2 mths. I had a slow start talking to some people I met along the way at the beginning but managed 1hr and 40 min and actually came in 45th out of 500. I think I should probably train for the next Olympics now lol!!!

The start was at 9:00 and looked a bit chaotic!…

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John got a pic of me off to a good start…

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We got to ride around the deer park on a road that is normally closed to public access. It was fantastically gorgeous! John said at one point after I’d already started that bikers had to stop to let deer cross the road, really! John got some good pics of the initial part of the route…

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At the finish, yeah!…(They had free massages and hairdressers to fix our helmet head at the end, cool eh!)

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Oooooo participation medal…

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Luckily, I used my cycling app to track the route so that John and I can come back and do it together. He was wonderful to come and cheer me on!