Playing the Harmonica

The sun returned accompanied by a few clouds that didn’t appear too threatening. Time to go shopping, refill the tank (still over half full following our short hop up to Damvix) with precious diesel, and to look for some wi-fi capability. Since Mike & Linda seem to shop at a "Super U" in Magné near Niort, which might just have a McDonalds, we decided to try there.

The Super U was on the way into Magné and we had arrived just in time for the lunchtime closure of la caisse so no chance of buying diesel for the next two hours. We wanted to get the shopping last so as to get  it back to refrigeration quickly, so we continued into Niort in search of wi-fi. Having driven almost all the way around Niort seeing no signs advertising McDonalds, we just happened to stumble across one. it was also within a hundred metres of an Esso Express, just about the one automated fuel station that does take UK money cards. Excellent, we filled up, went into McDonalds, bought an ice cream for you-know-who and two espressos, sat down and found the McWiFi to be McBroken – McBlast!

Another laptop man told Carol that it usually worked but wasn’t today. Then a cheery McDonalds McEmployee came and asked us if the wi-fi (apparently pronounced "wee-fee" in French) was working. "Non", we replied, and went off to do our shopping.

On the way into Super U, we bumped into a couple Carol had met at our first campsite in Huisseau-sur-Cosson. Small world! Signs were looking good for a rare barbecue and the Super U had some good looking sardines. We usually do barbecued sardines for lunch but, since time was marching on (2:30 PM), we thought we’d save them for the evening and munch cold sausages for lunch.

Back at Damvix, another English couple pitched up having been down in the Gers region, just above the Pyrenees. They related stories of storms and cold weather. They’d met people fleeing Spain, even, where it seems the weather has been similarly pathetic, except right down in the south. Considering our various conversations with people, we have done reasonably well, it seems.

Canalside house in Arcais We went for an 18-mile pedal to work up an appetite and to let the few clouds clear up for the evening. Harmonicas ready to be played Finally, the travelling Weber got unpacked and fired up ready for a swift grilling of sardines. The technique with sardines is to cook them whole; head, guts, the lot. Then you pick them up with one hand holding the head while the other holds the tail, and move them from side to side teasing the flesh straight of the bones with your teeth. This side-to-side motion with the hands either side of the mouth is why the Portuguese refer to eating sardines as "playing the harmonica". How colourful!

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