The V.S.B



Next year will be a VSB for me- a Very Significant Birthday. Now I know, I know… it’s only a number; you’re only as old as you feel blah, blah, blah; you don’t look a day over thirty (I’m sure somebody said that…), but let’s be honest, it’s a Very Significant number. I mean, it’s half a century, that’s got to count for something, right?  If I drank fifty bottles of wine or ate fifty bars of chocolate people would sit up and stare. Admittedly because I’d resemble a paralytic hippopotamus, but that’s besides the point. It’s a BIG number, and that’s that.

So, what’s a girl to do? Obviously it’s got to be something significant because I’m only doing this once. After next year all birthdays will be cancelled – in number only you understand, I shall still expect cards and gifts. I’ve considered all sorts of things: from extravagant holidays to lavish parties; from balloon rides to bungee jumping; from running a marathon to cycling across Africa with a group of equally bonkers ladies. But I’ve decided I want to do the two things I love best (apart from cooking)- cycle and spend time with Alpha Male. So the decision has been made: we’re going to cycle down France from La Manche to La Mediteranėe.

The inspiration for this trip was a book that Santa brought last christmas, entitled France enFrance en Velo Velo, which for those of you who don’t speak French, translates to France on a Bike.

All of it.

From the top to the bottom.

And so Operation VSB has commenced.

When I originally mentioned a certain bag as a birthday gift, I was actually referring to one of the Mulberry variety; now we are talking bike panniers instead.

My thoughts of swanning into a swanky local establishment, resplendent in sequinned frock and stiletto sandals have turned more to thoughts of shorts with padded gussets and a good sturdy pair of cycling shoes.

A coordinated set of Gucci luggage, complete with matching vanity bag, has been eschewed in favour of a bag the size of the average plastic carrier, with a tube of SPF50 and some chamois cream (if you have to ask about that, DON’T. Just google it. It’s a cycling thing that nobody talks about in polite society).

‘Are you quite mad?’ I hear you ask. Quite possibly.

routeIt’s a journey of some 1000 miles across 19 of France’s regional Departements. It will encompass beaches, rivers and rolling hills. And mountains – oh how I’m looking forward to those….But it will all be taken at a steady pace, quite unlike our Sunday bike rides here that leave me unable to move until Tuesday. We’re planning to take three weeks to complete it, and yes, I am expecting a 5 star hotel in Nice for at least four nights at the end of it. The days will involve morning coffee at roadside cafes with at least five croissants; long lazy lunches grazing our way through baguettes and Brie, washed down with cheap local plonk; and each day will culminate in a different bed in a different village with the biggest, most calorific dinner I can find.

AlphaMale did raise the ugly subject of camping at one point in our discussions,  but that very foolish idea has been well and truly shelved. I have explained that I am envisaging a hot bath, sprung mattress and a ceiling fan at the very least each night, complete with a door that closes, as opposed to a zip that zips. Rest assured, there will be no camping.

But still there are questions to be answered.

Will I make it? I hope so, it’s a long walk home.

Will AlphaMale & I still be speaking at the end of it? I expect so – I generally talk and he pretends to listen, so apart from the mountainous regions (where oxygen may be diverted to assist breathing), normal service should continue.

Will there be a blog along the way? You’ll just have to wait and see, although I think I can feel A Postcard From France coming on…