From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Day 17 - Chateau Chinon

After the warm welcomes we received everywhere we went in the South, we are finding the people of the Morvan area very cold.  The first place we stayed, La Grande Verrière, was fine - the staff of the little hotel were great, very friendly and enthusiastic, and the other village residents took a polite interest in our horses - they were in someone's back garden, after all!  Chateau Chinon, though, is a bigger town, and we've been greeted with disinterest, verging on rudeness!  We're staying in a small and dingy hotel, Le Lion d'Or, in the middle of the town, and the horses are in a large equestrian centre just outside of town.  
We arrived at the equestrian centre late on Monday evening, soaking wet, tired and frustrated after getting lost in the forest.  We were greeted with bewilderment at first - the owners were away, and we were met by what seems to be the parents of one of them, who knew nothing about our horses' arrival.  Fortunately they were able to get the owners on the phone, who told them where we should put our horses, so all was well.
We went on to our hotel and got all our gear inside, went up to our rooms, showered and presented ourselves for dinner, which was included in our room rate.  The waiter, who is one of the hotel owners, produced a carafe of water and bustled off, to get the menus, we assumed.
We sat and we waited... and waited... and waited... Attempts to catch the waiter's eye were futile, he was hell-bent on ignoring us.  After 45 minutes, we were on the verge of walking out and going to the pizza place next door, when three salads were slapped down on the table in front of us.  Anne managed to catch the waiter's attention for long enough to ask how demi-pension worked in the hotel, and he gruffly replied that it's a set menu, the chef decides.
If there's one thing the LSH dislikes, it's having no choice in what he eats - I think it must hark back to his boarding school days.  He sat with a black cloud over his head until the main course arrived, Confit de Canard, and fortunately, tasty enough to dissipate the black cloud!
Unfortunately, though, the waiter/owner's attitude didn't improve - Anne thinks he just took against us for some reason, perhaps our late arrival?  Who knows.  We can't wait to move on to our next place, hopefully we will feel a bit more welcome there.
On Tuesday morning, when we went to get the horses ready, the equestrian centre was a bit busier, there were a few people working at feeding horses, mucking out, etc.  They were completely uninterested in us.  Apart from answering our questions (where will we tie up the horses and how do we find the start of the trail), nobody spoke to us - no curiosity about the boots, no "Bonne Route" as we left.  Whatever about M le Grumpy Waiter, we were surprised that horse-people would be so unfriendly towards other horse people.
It seems that the closer we are to the big cities, Paris and Dijon, the less friendly people are.  Even drivers who pass us on the road treat us differently here.  In Provence and especially the Drôme, every driver seemed happy to see us, passers-by wished us Bonne Route and people asked us about the horses' boots.  Here, while most of the drivers slow down for the horses ok, there are no cheery smile or big waves, and only one family we passed have asked us about the boots.  The cynicism of city living has reached its tentacles out into the countryside, making us feel not exactly unwelcome, but, perhaps un-needed.
Trail Information board
Our Day 17 trek took a different format.  The LSH needed to focus on work, so we had to be independent, which meant we either rode a circular loop or we rode out on the trail, turned around and rode back.  After getting lost on Day 16 (Anne omitted to mention that we were both a bit scared at one stage!) we opted for the safer second option.  The trail markings are different here, too, no little yellow fingerpost signs, but an information board instead.  The balisage along the trails is the usual orange paint markings on trees, but they're not very well maintained and not as clear as the markings in the Drôme in particular - they definitely had the best-maintained balisage we've seem.
We started off in forest again, pine forest this time, and wound our way along through the trees.  Both horses felt great, they got plenty of good hay the night before and seemed very content in the morning - they were both lying down having a snooze when we arrived.  We are all old hands at fording streams now, and Flurry seems to be over his fear of waterfalls as he sploshed through this ford without turning a hair.
The countryside looked much prettier than the previous day - sunshine always helps.  There are blonde cows everywhere, Charolais I think.  Mostly the cattle ignore the horses, but we met a couple of herds of bullocks who got very excited.  Gigi is used to bullocks, she spends a lot of time grazing on a beef farm at home, but Flurry was a bit anxious about them, and let Gigi go in front each time.
Countryside with distant herd of blonde cows!
We met this little guy, he had escaped from his field but neither he nor his mother seemed at all concerned.  I thought he made a lovely picture, with the bluebells at the side.
We crossed our first railway... this sign was a giveaway, though...
It clearly hasn't been used for some time!

We stopped for a very meagre lunch.  It was a bank holiday here and all of the shops were closed, so we scraped out the bottom of our saddle bags and found an apple, three biscuits (in bits), four squares of chocolate and half a packet of trail mix.  We shared it out and ate overlooking a village, while the horses cropped grass beside us.
The landscape here is very reminiscent of New England, with rolling hills and neatly maintained woodlands.  Some of the village churches are also very similar, with square, painted steeples.  I'll try to get a photo of one another day.
We kept going until 3pm, and covered 13.7km.  We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the lake which we knew lay to the North, but unfortunately it was hiding behind a whole lot of trees.
There's a lake there somewhere, really!
When we turned around, at first the horses thought we were lost (again) and didn't realise we were "going home."  It's a long time since we did an "out-and-back" ride - sometime back in early March I think.  After a few km, though, they realised what was going on and speeded up noticeably.  They both remembered the route, and knew where the scary bullocks were.  There was some sort of communication going on between the horses, as each time we drew near a herd, Flurry would get tense and Gigi would stride purposefully forward and take the lead - you could almost hear her say "Don't worry, Flurry, I know how to handle these guys!"
We had one more "incident" on the way home.  We were descending a hill, Flurry in the lead as usual, when we saw something small and fluffy trotting towards us in the middle of the road.  Flurry's ears pricked, his steps slowed and his head went up as he peered at the little bundle of fur, trying to figure out what it was.  It exploded in a torrent of barking "YAP!YAP!YAP!YAP!YAP!" at which Flurry visibly relaxed "OH! It's one of THEM!" and marched forward again.  Well, the little yorkie didn't know what to do.  He was quite convinced the horses should be petrified of him and should run away, and he was sure he was very very brave, but oh, those horses were so big and unafraid!  So he trotted along slightly ahead of us, yapping the whole time, tail straight up to show how brave he was.
Eventually, his nerve failed him, he stopped barking and ran off ahead of us, tail still up as much as to say "Afraid? Me? Never!  Um, I just remembered I need to go this way after all!"
His owners were waiting in a car at the end of the road, I think they live at the top of the hill we had just come down, and it seems that they let the little guy out to have a run up the hill on his own.  He let us know what he thought about horses as we passed the car!
Here's the Everytrail map.  We covered a total of 27.4km today.
Day 17 chateau chinon at EveryTrail

1 comment:

  1. Could have sworn I'd mentioned how scary it was getting lost in the forest !