Days 37, 38, 39 but not 40

I'm actually writing on day 40, but as will soon be clear it's been a busy few days.

The first day of the week was the expected inevitable come down after our unexpectedly easy ride on the Loire. It rained. A lot.

The previous night had become a classic rest day. We ate, we chilled, we ate some more and then the fun started. We had gone looking for a free concert. Then we found that the concert had moved. and then we somehow ended up getting a lift from two accommodating locals having accidentally followed them to their car. We then listened to a flamboyant frenchman and his accordionist, percussionist and guitarist before sloping off to bed at around midnight.

So its day 37 and I went for a pretty sleepy early morning run, taking in one last look at Dôle... And then the rain started.

But 5 weeks in and Jimmy's pessimistic foresight is now contagious. Last week was good so we knew this week would be a fucker. So we ignored the drips during breakfast. We swapped paddling positions regularly during the morning showers. We accepted that the rain would undoubtedly stop while we sheltered for lunch. And finally it rained all afternoon.

Although I'm sitting here moaning, the efficiency is beginning to shine through as we get closer to Germany. The day was actually mapped and planned perfectly and we ended with cooking water and equal distances in the front according to distances scrawled on my hand. By half 6 we had chosen an idyllic camping spot and it had stopped raining. Happy days.

The second day of the week set the scene for our paddling on the Doubs. Awkward locks they may be... But the forest filled valleys, mountain top forts and early morning mists just about make it bearable. The Doubs and Rhone Au Rhin Canal in turn link and provide sections of canal interspersed by lake-like valleys. With heavy clouds above, we felt very lucky to get to lunch without any rain and bear witness to the spectacular scenery. The morning got even better when we sat just outside our target destination of Besançon for lunch.

I remember saying "even if it rains now we've had a good day". It then rained. After the rain, between the two of us we managed to get lost and go to a supermarket without any money... We then resorted to what was meant to be the highlight of the week - Philippe. Having pre-arranged a nights stay with Philippe through, this young Frenchman did not disappoint. Meeting us in the now pouring rain, he gave Dora a garage and your favourite canoeists a massive three course meal, two plug sockets, and two very comfy mattresses.

And so day 39 began. After a comfy nights sleep for the second time in five weeks, I went for a pretty life affirming hills session in the clouds up to a fort on the side of the Besançon loop. The plan was then to wait for Philippe's post which we had appropriated for the purpose of getting a new solar charger. 12 o'clock rolled around and the French postal service had lived up to its chilled out stereotype by delivering nothing. And so day 39's canoeing began. At 12 o'clock.

Since I had managed to break the canoe wheels,
the canoeing didn't actually start for another half hour while we carried the canoe the 388m through the Besancon tunnel. So we eventually began feeling pretty ambivalent: we'd had a great sleep, a great meal, but we were missing the all important solar charger and were now 4 hours behind where we planned to be.

Nonetheless, like the troopers we are, we carried and dragged around locks big and small but always awkward... And paddled a bit in between times. With high locks used to prevent flooding from the Doubs, we often had trouble both exiting and also entering the canal. Bearing all this in mind, it wasn't much of a surprise to see a homeowner by the final lock of the day filming us, taking pictures of us and then laughing to his guests and pointing at us. That was at 8pm. It was also Friday night at 8pm. An hour later we had made camp, eaten and planned an even longer day for no.40. We do Friday nights in style clearly.

You'll have to wait a bit longer for day 40 and our subsequent escapades. As a teaser I'll let you know that day 40 lived up to its biblical epicness and I was in a mood for most of it.