London to Paris
April 1/10, 1997

Michael J. Ferguson

Les Publications INRS-Télécommunications, Montréal

Journal Index


1  Tuesday, April 1, Montréal
2  Wednesday, April 2, London, Heathrow
3  Thursday, April 3, Canterbury
4  Friday, April 4, Wimereux, France
5  Saturday, April 5, Forest Mostiers
6  Sunday, April 6, Beauvais
7  Monday, April 7, Bois d'Arcy
8  Tuesday, April 8, Bois d'Arcy
9  Wednesday, April 9, Paris
10  Thursday, April 10, Brands Hill
11  Maps

This trip started with a delightful surprise - Peggy had just arrived from Toronto when I got home from Nuns' Island. It was wonderful to see her, if only for an hour or so before I left. Now I am in the mausoleum that they call an airport - Mirabel. There are only three flights tonight, and one more tomorrow morning. One is Royal Air Jordan to Amman, and the other is a Canada 3000 to Gatwick. It is almost totally empty, except for two little girls screaming with delight at the LEGO table. The LEGO table was a real magnet, with all the kids on the BA flight building bridges or fences at one time or another.

I am on my way to London, and then to Paris. I am putting together a grant proposal, that needs industrial participation, which is of course BAR - or rather its current incarnation NORTEL. The proposal requires the support of NORTEL on Nuns' island and I am looking for the cooperation of NORTEL in Maidenhead, UK and NORTEL MATRA in Guyancourt (Paris). It turned out that the work in Maidenhead is only peripherally related to our proposal - translated ... they found it uninteresting, so I am going to Paris but flying to London. This trip was put together with the minimum of two weeks notice so there was no chance to change the flight.

1  Tuesday, April 1, Montréal

BA 94 is a 747 that starts in Detroit and stops in Montréal on its way to Heathrow, an acceptable situation for them but not, obviously, if the flight started in Toronto. Even with these precautions, the flight had about 100 empty seats and probably less than 1/2 of the remaining 300 got on in Montréal. I decided to move to the right side of the plane - the left, actually - so I would have a nice view of London when we arrived. CNN weather, on the WWW, for London was predicting 3 nice days of sunshine and about +16°C (60+°F) but all I saw was unrelenting cloud, and we were less than 35 minutes out of Heathrow - so much for accurate forecasts. Then, suddenly, there was a sharp slice in the cloud bank, and it stopped, first in haze, and then in clear sunshine.

For supper I broke my airplane-dinner rule and ordered beef rather than chicken. It seems that it is hard to make chicken inedible, and it may even be good, as it was on my last Swissair flight. However, beef is another story. For some unknown reason, since it was ``Beef Bourgninon, à la Parisienne'' I decided to gamble. I lost. It really was beef stew, with beef on its way to becoming leather. The wine was equally undistinguished, two California Fetzer's, a 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon and a generic Chardonnay. BA is not known for its fine wines. They did have, though, a Martell Cognac for a digestif.

2  Wednesday, April 2, London, Heathrow

Before I left Heathrow, I wanted to make a reservation on the new Chunnel Eurostar from Paris to London. I was unable to make it before I left because of Easter Monday, and the fact that Campus Voyages in Montréal had to get their tickets courriered, one day later, from Toronto. That was one day too late. British Rail has a ticket booth in Terminal 4, unknown to BA in Montréal, so there was no difficulty making the reservation. The only difficulty was the price. I had seen a price of $111.00cdn on the WWW, but their computer could only find one for about $160. I told them it was a special promotional fare, available until April 30, 1997 (probably to restore enthusiasm after the recent fire). As I was fishing out my printout, the agent came back to desk and said he had found it. The problem - it was a round trip fare, not a one way. He rewrote my ticket, with a fictitious return trip to Paris, and I was off to put my bike together.

Putting the bike together presented no real difficulties, except for a threat of immediate confiscation from a traffic warden, because I left it unattended - I had gone to make a phone call to reserve a B&B for my return. I did forget my bungy cords, in my other bike, and had to make do with straps. Later, I shall figure out how to do it right.

I was finally ready to go at about 12:30pm. Getting out of Terminal 4 was my next challenge. It is being renovated, and I am not going directly into London. My maps are detailed, showing lots of streets, but no names. All navigating is by dead reckoning. In addition, the highways, A???? and B???? seemed to be signposted only at intersections where you turn, giving no assurance that you are actually on the correct route. The rest of the afternoon was spent being continually lost in London's undistinguished southern suburbs. My compass was my only assurance that I was going approximately in the right direction. Even that was misleading when the road made small corrections to avoid obstacles such as a palace. I rode around Hampton Court Palace, but decided not to go in. My destination for today is Canterbury, and I didn't want to delay. I was also, unsuccessfully looking for some place to buy groceries. Until I got to Kingston on Thames, the largest stores I saw were tiny tobacconists, and the ubiquitous, Fish and Chips and Chinese Food shops - all closed because it was early afternoon. Kingston on Thames has a large, busy, pedestrian market zone where I was able to get my bananas and some, very expensive, camping gas, the latter with great difficulty. I wanted the gas in case I had to camp tonight.

After many more wrong turns, I finally made it to Croyden, a fairly large town. It was almost 6:00pm and I had only gone 25 miles. It was time to take a train to Canterbury. Croyden looked as though it was on the mainline to Canterbury, but it was not. All you could do from Croyden was go to London. Bromley was the place for a line to Canterbury. There was a bicycle route to Bromley so I followed it. Unfortunately there is a Bromley North and Bromley South, separated by about six miles or so. I didn't know this at the time, didn't realise where I should be going, and ended up in Bromley North where all the trains go to London. After some more convoluted directions from some helpful strangers, ``Let me think about what is the best way from here.'', I found the Bromley South station. I arrived at about 7:05pm, made it to the ticket agent by 7:15, and at 7:17, was bouncing down the stairs with my bike to catch the 7:21 to Faversham, changing to Canterbury.

Darkness really fell at about 7:45pm and it was pitch dark when I arrived in Canterbury. My choice of B&B was the Tudor House. While looking at a tourist map outside the station, two girls asked if I needed help. I said yes, and they directed me towards the Tudor Tavern, which was perhaps, the place I wanted. I had trouble finding the Tudor Tavern so I hauled out my guides to find the address of the Tudor House It was 6 Best Lane. I asked several people where Best Lane was but none of them knew. At the Tudor Tavern, I was directed just outside the Westgate. All I had to do was follow High Street until I got there. unfortunately, High Street was actually called Parade, in this part of town, so I missed it. It later, quite mysteriously, changed to St. Peter's just before it got to the Westgate. The lane at the Westgate was North and not Best. I was redirected back up High, where I discovered St. Peter's and finally found Best, and the Tudor House with No Vacancy. Just as I was about to look for my second choice, the London House on London St., the couple that owned the pub at the end of the lane suggested that I stay at the Kingsbridge Villa across the street. They had one room left so that's where I am.

3  Thursday, April 3, Canterbury

It looks like another beautiful day. I think I shall spend the morning wandering around Canterbury, and then go off to Dover. Depending on ferry schedules, I will either stay, or cross to Boulogne sur Mer.

Unfortunately I didn't get to Dover. Again I got lost - I didn't make all the right turns (``left'' turns actually) and ended up in Folkstone instead. In Canterbury when I asked for some directions to Dover I was told, ``I don't know from here, and I don't think you can ride a bike there.'' The main road is the A2 that is effectively a motorway. There is another road that runs parallel for a while, but then angles off. To get back to a more or less parallel road, you must go through the center of a small village. I missed the left turn into the village and ended up on a road that was south and east of Folkstone.

Kent, from Canterbury to Folkstone/Dover, is very pretty rolling hills with farms nestled in the valleys. The daffodils were every where, even planted in neat rows parallel to the highway. It is lambing time. In the first field, it looked as if the farmer managed to get a headstart on his neighbours - the lambs there were about a third the size of the ewes, and starting to look darkish. In later flocks, the lambs were tiny, white, and looking as though they had just learned to stand up.

At Elham, I decided to cut across the hills, ridges really, to get to the ``main?'' road to Folkstone. These roads were single lane, but paved, and managed to go straight up the sides of the ridges. Even with my new very low gearing, I barely made it up some of them. This area is evidently used for military exercises, with some roads specifically off limits and others restricted to vehicles less than one tonne. Some of the fields were also, temporarily, off limits - ``lambing season''. This section was some of the prettiest so far.

I arrived in Folkstone at about 3:30pm and dropped down the cliffs to the shore to get the ferry to Boulogne sur Mer. I had just missed one and had to wait until 6:00pm. Folkstone is a ``beach'' town without a beach. It is full of stuff shops and has its own amusement park by the harbour. The Old High Street is one lane, cutting up the side of the cliff to the upper plateau of the town. It is half souvenir ``stuff'' shops, the occasional restaurant, and the rest shuttered. A little sad. There was more evidence of prosperity up on top ... but not too much.

The ferry is a high-speed catamaran, that makes the trip in one hour. I was the center of attention before I left, with my overloaded bike and my cup that hangs down from my fanny pack. A little kid, seeing my dayglow green leggings and yellow bicycle jacket asked ``Are you a clown?''. I replied, ``On occasion''. My one way ticket cost 28 pounds. Everybody else seemed to be going on a French Flyer round trip ticket for 2 pounds, that was intended to get them to spend lots of money in the duty-free shop. Apparently there are day trip tickets that cost much much less than I paid but I didn't know to ask, and the ticket agent did not volunteer. My normal one way ticket was so rare she couldn't even figure out how to get it into the computer.

We arrived in Boulogne sur Mer about one-half hour before sunset and I started north towards Wimereux to find my campground. I didn't remember that it was Camping Moulin Wibert, and went several kilometers beyond to Wimereux. All was not lost though. Wimereux has a municipal campground, dull and trailer parkish, but with an outstanding bathhouse. Its only defect was that the shower water was too hot - instant in and out. The bathhouse does have power, a bench, and a sink counter that is almost write height. This is where I am now - writing. My neighbours are a couple from Australia, with a borrowed tent, a foreign car (it has an F on its license), and a dismay that they have to drive on the wrong (right?) side of the road.

4  Friday, April 4, Wimereux, France

The breeze that obstructed my tent raising last night has become near gale force. It is clear though - should be an interesting day.

The wind died down considerably just before I left -- which was rather late because I had packed my trip computer away in the pocket of my down vest and couldn't find it. I still couldn't find the Camping Moulin Wibert on my way back - perhaps it doesn't exist. I do prefer touring in France to England - I don't think I was lost at all during the day. It is so nice to have the roads marked, and to have those numbers on the map. It was also nice to have drivers go around you rather than through you as they tend to do in England. The Pas de Calais countryside through here is pleasant and rolling - not packed with much excitement. Lunch, though was a delight. The D115 going south from Nesles was quiet and pleasant, but curved back to the coast away from my next intermediate stop, the fortified town of Montreuil Sur Mer. At Turme. I took the D148E, one lane really, to Boul de Haut, and then the D147E to the N1. The N1 was wide, fast, and full of trucks - not entirely pleasant. I examined my map and discovered that the D147E ran to the D127, that not only ran parallel to the N1 but was marked as ``scenic''. It ran its whole length, by a small stream. In Inxent, it became the main road1 of town. It was here that I stopped to have lunch, on a park bench, listening to the 5m wide stream, 5m away. Lunch was a baguette with Normandy butter, a little wine, and a banana and some trail mix for desert.

Montreuil Sur Mer on the Fortified City Trail was a little disappointing. The walls looked as though they might stop only a totally undetermined invader, and the town was a little too modern for my liking. In fact, there is only one building left from the 16th century.

I stopped early, at about 4:30pm after only 85km, because my map did not show any more campgrounds for at least 100km. This campground, a private one in Forest Mostiers, not Forêt Mostiers confirms my dislike of private campgrounds. The showers will be ready next week. It is mostly semi-permanent trailers, and they turn out the lights in the washroom at midnight. This is a *** campground but it is not obvious why. Their only positive virtue is that they let me stay - perhaps they are not officially open.

5  Saturday, April 5, Forest Mostiers

I am off today to Abbeville, named after, as one might expect un abbé, but curiously pronounced as Abbville, and then on to Beauvais. Unfortunately the Municipal Campground there is not officially open - but I shall see.

Abbeville is one of the major towns in Picardy. Its cathedral has a Michelin ** rated flamboyant Gothic facade - and busy it is. This is all that is really left of the original church. The rest was flattened by German Stuka fighter-bombers during WW2, and seems to have been rebuilt in a style fonctionnaire.

There has been a change in the weather - complete cloud cover and high winds. I have trouble estimating how strong they were, but the crows were only able to fly backwards. I would guess that they were sustained at 30mph (50km/h) with gusts of 50mph (80km/h). Their effect on me was critically dependent on my direction. If I went due south or slightly west, it was a crosswind slightly at my back. If I went slightly east of south it started to hit me head on. Occasionally, it would throw me abruptly 1 to 1.5m (3 to 5 feet) across the road - right in front of traffic. On one long hill, I considered the situation so dangerous that I pushed my bike to the top. The fact that I had fallen on my elbow in the middle of the road as I tried to start up the hill did not increase my confidence.

Picardy is flat, mostly open farmland, with few towns. My Michelin guide shows no ``curiosities'' at all on this segment before I get to Beauvais. Under normal circumstances, today's ride would have been pleasant, but unexciting. Today, with complete clouds, and a continual fight against the wind, it was distressing.

One problem in France is provisioning on a Sunday - almost everything is closed. This has been small towns only and large supermarkets, such as InterMarché or Casino are rare. The large markets accept Visa for everything, so it might be possible, with my small bag of money from my last trip, for me to leave France without having to use a bank machine and overdraw my account at home. I saw advertisements for a Champion (one of the biggies that was new to me) in Poix-de-Picardie. I was a little worried about this one because I was going to arrive at about 1:30pm, and everything, except lunch, shuts down from about noon to 3 pm in France. Fortunately, this was Saturday, and the exception to the rule - they were open today ``sans interruption''. I was able to get enough for breakfast for Sunday and Monday, and some paté and a baguette for lunch and/or supper.

In Auchy, about 20 km north of Beauvais, I stopped to rest at the bottom of a hill. This was pleasant, because I had a bus stop bench that was wide enough for me and my fanny pack. It was there that I noticed my front tire had gotten soft again. There was an Elf station at the top of the hill so I rode up and pumped the tire up some more. Then it started to really leak. I have some self sealing tubes, that work fine at low pressure, but can't keep the air in at high pressure. I took the front wheel off and discovered that the patch that I had put on the tire in Kingston on Thames was leaking right in its center. I don't really know why, but there was a hole in the tire right above the patch. I decided to throw out both the tire and tube, and put on my spare Michelin. Just as I finished, the station closed for the night, the sun came out, and all the clouds were gone. The wind was still there, but this last 20+km of road was slightly west so it was a pleasant tail wind.

I arrived in Beauvais at about 7:00pm. The center of town was still full of people, and quite bustly. All French towns have large kiosk maps of the town. I found one and looked for a Youth Hostel. I couldn't find any, but discovered I was right beside the Tourist Office, and, it was open. There is no Youth Hostel in Beauvais, but they gave me a list of hotels. First I went out to the Municipal Campground. I didn't ask if it was open, because I knew, that officially it was not. When I got there, after going up a small hill that would make San Francisco proud, I discovered that it was very closed - huge locked gates and fences.

Presently, I am in the Hotel de la Poste, the third one I tried, with all my stuff spread out over the floor. It was 8:00pm, and getting dark, when I got all my stuff upstairs, so I put my bike in their hall downstairs, and had some Paté de Compagne, a baguette, Normandy butter, and some wine for supper.

Today I went 116km (73mi) and was actually riding (battling the wind) for 7 hours and 40 minutes.

6  Sunday, April 6, Beauvais

Beauvais is primarily known for its cathedral St. Pierre which is built like half an egg. It took 400 years (1238) to build, due to problems in funding and an architectural conception that far outstripped building techniques. As usual, it was the dome that was the problem. It is 48m (160 feet) high and covers a length of only 59m (200 feet). In fact, design changes during the construction meant that it never really did get finished.

Paris is about 80km from here, but I shall aim at Versaille instead. The day did not start out promising - total clouds and some slight showers. The showers stopped almost immediately, and the clouds burned off at about noon when I got to Pontoise, the first northern Paris suburb on my 1/50000 map. The ride to Pontoise was a delight - occasional open fields, wooded valleys, a village here and a chateau there, and no wind. Today was Sunday so I was passed by hordes of weekend bicycle racers. As I left Beauvais at 8:00am, there were several groups getting organized.

I was a little worried about the road from Beauvais to Pontoise. It was a red D915 and the only one going to Paris. My maps are quite old, and since then, the new A16 autoroute was built parallel to the D915. This removed bus, truck, and most auto traffic, making ideal for myself and all the other bicyclists out on a Sunday jaunt.

The towns of Pontoise, and neighbouring Eragny seem to be black ghettos. But these ghettos would make any American city proud - clean, well kept, small houses and large apartment buildings. Even the kids were friendly and curious. However getting out was problematical. I followed a small D road to the N184 that goes through the Forêt de St. Germain on the way to Versaille only to discover that the N184 did not allow bicycles. The road I was on crossed under the N184 and disappeared in an Industrial Park. My map was either too old or not detailed enough to show the park or a way out. A detailed map of the park at its entrance, showed a road disappearing off its edge to the south - that road actually dead ended in a large housing complex. I figured with this many people, there must be a way out. I started following my compass south until, changing roads several times, until I hit the D54, not on my map, going west. One promising note was a sign that said Versaille. It eventually did reach the N184. Here there was a sign saying ``no bicycles'' going north but nothing going south. The road even had a decent bicycle shoulder, and the occasional intersection with special instructions for bicycles.

I stopped for lunch at a windsurfers lake and fed the coots and mallards. There was a beach(?) across on the other side, but the water was an uninviting murky.

After a few more small wrong turns, and a long climb out of the Seine valley, I made it to the campground in Bois d'Arcy. It was open and the day absolutely gorgeous - bright sunshine, no clouds and low 60's F (16°C or so). My campsite is surrounded by a high hedge, has a tree at the end to lean my bike and hang my clothes to dry, is covered with tiny daisies and violets, and has an apple orchard in bloom. The daisies, sensibly, decided to close up and go to sleep as the sun was setting. I will stay here for two nights, leaving for Paris on Tuesday after my meeting.

** There has evidently been a crisis in confidence in France over what is real French bread. Not all French bread is the same. Some, especially from large grocery stores is only white bread with a crispy crust. This ersatz French bread has small, uniform holes, and no taste. Other versions are rally closer to Italian crispy white bread, large fluffy holes, and very light. The real ``Pain de tradition Française'' has large uneven holes and, a yeast taste, and some body. This real ``Pain de tradition'' now has the force of law behind it (1993) requiring a specific mix of grains and special handling of the yeast. Apparently, the French noticed the same thing that I have after touring France for 12 years - not all French bread is equal.

My 80km ride actually was 95km (60 miles).

7  Monday, April 7, Bois d'Arcy

It was bright, sunny, and cold this morning, with frost on the clover. I decided to ride in to NORTEL-MATRA. The ride was only 3km, on an obvious route - ideal. I was a day early but was able to meet my contact, Paul Stevens. He, as he had said in his messages, was tied up for the day but was able to give me some important material for my proposal. I left after having lunch with him and went back to my tent to work.

8  Tuesday, April 8, Bois d'Arcy

Today I had my real meetings - I think they went reasonably well, and I got pledges of cooperation, and much important information.

I left for Paris at about 2:30pm, in absolutely wonderful weather. I passed Versaille, with throngs of tourists - no inclination to join them, and arrived in Paris (Porte de St. Cloud) at about 4:00pm after 20+ km of rather easy riding. This ``main'' route to Versaille snakes its way through valleys rather than going straight over hills as I did to get there.

It is truly ``April in Paris'' - the sun is bright and warm, the cafés are full. and the streets are crowded. I stopped for about half an hour in front of the Au Père Tranquille Café in Les Halles and watched a clown harass the pedestrians as they went by. He thought about it with me, but couldn't make it work in the length of time I took to pass. The café crowd was loving him, with a growing standby crowd, including me, sitting and standing across the street. The funk of the day was a very proper, banker type, who waved and pushed off the clown, and then stopped to compound his disgrace by addressing the café audience. His reward was a hearty round of boos for his poor sportsmanship.

After some questions for directions, I finally found the Jules Ferry Youth Hostel. It is quite pleasant and not as all as sterile as the d'Artagnan that I stayed in on my last trip to Paris. I got the last bed, and the other hostel is full. David, from London, was quite curious about my bike as he had just ridden from London too. After I unloaded my bike, and carried all the stuff up to the fourth floor - I thought I would be in shape for this sort of thing from my skiing but no such luck - I joined him for a Belgium Leffe beer at a pub around the corner. Later we were joined by his two roommates, Hans from Norway, and Damon from Argentina. This was Damon's first time in Europe and he was determined to see those things that were famous at home - the Moulin Rouge and the ferry from Calais to Dover.

** David's Horror Story of the day: While bicycling in Prague, he left his bike, locked up, but not to a post, with a Kryptonite lock, at the front of a department store in full view of the security guards. When he came back, the entire bike had been carried off. There are now gangs of thieves, groups of five to ten, in most East European cities. David thinks the security guard tipped them off. He was understandably distressed, and was absolutely paranoid about theft for over six months.

I have a roommate, but he has still not appeared. Today was a very pleasant 25+ km (15 miles).

9  Wednesday, April 9, Paris

In fact I have five Chinese roommates, and they all appeared at about midnight. They were speaking Chinese so I don't have any idea of their nationality, and I left before they woke up.

It looks as though it will be a another beautiful day - I will even pack my jacket before I get on the Eurostar. I still don't know for certain whether I shall have to pack my bike, but I shall arrive early enough to do so if necessary. The Gare du Nord is only about one km from here.

It was necessary to pack and fold my bike - however, I don't need to unpack my saddle bags and pack so putting it back together again at Waterloo should be easier. I now have a baggage cart overfull of stuff - at least I have a cart.

The Eurostar was a very smooth, comfortable three hours to London. The channel crossing took 33 min rather than its normal 20 min because there is still one section of track closed for repairs. Fortunately, their track signaling was sufficient that we did not have to challenge any other Eurostar for this section. Early communication protocols were designed, usually with unfortunate errors, for trains. The countryside was not inspiring, especially the flatlands north of Paris on the way to Calais. I didn't even notice the occasional river valley that was so obvious on my bike.

We waited outside Waterloo station for about five minutes for the London/Paris Eurostar to leave - perhaps we were early. England may be part of the European Community, where there are no borders, but they insist on full immigration procedures, at Waterloo International Station, when you come in from France on the Eurostar. Is someone going to jump on the train in mid-channel?

London was soaking up the sun - as were all the Londoners. A London tabloid had a full page article ``Desert England - Where are the April Showers?'' As far as I could tell, no one in London cared, and I am delighted. I crossed the Thames on Westminster Bridge, and passed down by Westminster Hall - also known as the Parliament Buildings, on one side and Westminster Abbey on the other to stop for lunch at Victoria Tower Gardens, a small park on the Thames beside Westminster Hall. My day old French bread fed the pigeons while I munched on my fresh, ``Italian'' baguette that I had bought this morning in Paris. A major problem for couples in the park was whether they should worship the sun or each other.

From there I rode north, past the Abbey and Parliament buildings into Trafalgar Square and up to Picadilly. The traffic was horrible and there seemed to be continual competition from several different drivers who wanted to occupy the same space that contained my bike, and incidentally, me. It was a moderately unsettling experience. I continued up north of Picadilly through Soho, past all the sex shops, and then across to Carnaby and west Soho. Carnaby is delightfully eccentric rather than carnal. There was the Shakespeare's Head pub, street musicians, and bizarre outfits and hair, invented in the 60s but apparently still in fashion.

From Carnaby, I went up to Oxford Circus, and then west on Oxford to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I started riding through the gardens when I was stopped by a Royal Police patrol car and told that I had to walk my bike or face a 200 pound fine. I commented that this was more than my airfare home, and could I at least ride out. They said no, but then commented ``We are leaving now.'' I decided to push, rather than ride, even with the possible hint, until I got over to a paved section where everybody was riding.

I continued out Kensington High Street on my way to Brands Hill Lodge, just west of Heathrow. At Hammersmith, I stopped to check my map to see if I should go across the partially closed Hammersmith Bridge. There a Hammersmithian asked if I needed help. He suggested that I ride along the Thames Path, by the river, on my way to Heathrow. I had plenty of time, so I did. This path had its own pubs, with tables set out, full of Hammersmithians offering a libation of ale to the sun god. It was too nice to continue, so I stopped at the Redmond, partook of some Courage, and conversation with two blokes who had just come back from South-East Asia. Again my loaded bike was the conversation opener, with them suggesting that I had ``cheated'' in taking the train back from Paris.

The path wandered back and forth, with me finally getting lost, and realizing it when I hit a bridge crossing the Thames. With some advice from a bicyclist on the bridge, I was able to get back, nearly on track. At about 5:30pm, I stopped to have some fish at a Fish and Chips and Chinese Food shop. It was the only mediocre fish that I have ever had in England. In the future, I will ignore the mixed fare shops.

Except for a minor problem of figuring out how to get off Heathrow's internal perimeter road - finally I noticed I could go around a locked gate - I made it to my B&B in Slough. In 1993, I arrived here at about 2:00am after a night time encounter with the Grand Union Canal tow path. Today my arrival was much more civilized. The room I have is tiny, slightly bigger than my tent, with a built in shower and a toilet down the hall.

10  Thursday, April 10, Brands Hill

The parking lot is totally full, with cars and a few trucks. I guess this is a popular place. Perhaps it was necessary to make reservations a week ago when I arrived.

Breakfast brought all of us together. Bacon, and egg, sausage, beans, toast, and corn flakes. I decided to avoid the beans, but that was the complete breakfast of choice of the Everest truck drivers. Everest is in the ``glazing'' business and they said it is the jets, and especially the Concorde, that keeps them in business, replacing cracked windows.

Heathrow is only about five miles away and my flight doesn't leave until 12:45pm. Its only 7:30am, so I have plenty of time to charge SAM before I leave.

We took a southern route, 53°, and arrived in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with the Strait of Belle Isle to our north - Labrador on one side and Newfoundland on the other. We then went right up the middle of the Gaspé, staying south of the St. Lawrence almost all the way home. We arrived about 25 minutes early so I was completely through customs when Virginia arrived to pick me up. After dropping Virginia off at Selwyn House, I immediately went to INRS to work on my grant - the real reason for the trip.

It has been a good trip. Except for the one day of gale-force winds, the weather has been superb. Today is no exception. I learned a lot in Paris that will be extremely useful, even if I am unable to get the immediate support that I need for the NSERC proposal.

11  Maps


1This route might seem slightly complicated, but it was really quite easy with the signs and my map - impossible in England.

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On 12 Nov 2008, 13:15.