Funny bunnies and wild camping

It was a chilly night camping at Annet S-Marne but not so cold that I had to get out of sleeping bag for an extra layer. We were both showered with ice exiting tent as we touched the canopy while the sun was shining in a way I had forgotten the sun can shine. On day 10 we quickly warmed up and discarded layers and my feet became actually warm. My kit has served me well with the exception of my toes and probably enhanced by poor circulation.
Stopping for lunch in an historical city, Meaux we came across a tourist information office on the right side of what appeared to be a fortress. With my arm waving (and an aid that could speak “a little” english were discovered we could cycle along a canal in roughly the direction we are headed……not really bothered as long as it crosses the champagne region.
Purchasing baguette, gloriously spoonable cheese……I had planned in grabbing some Brie as its made here, but the cheese I just had to have was too ripe to say no, and other sandwich provisions we put off lunch till we hit the canal. (Oh dear……writing this I just remember the remainder of the cheese is probably running all over the insides of Li’s pannier!)
Lunch washed down with a beer, I though Li had had too much as I heard her exclaim something about “funny bunnies”. Slamming on the breaks thinking I was going to miss something of the magnitude of Alice in wonderland ……I had enjoyed the same quantity of beer….we discovered some grazing otters on the field across the canal. There was also a litter(?) of four young ones that didn’t stick around with my squealing and running up and down the bank…….I had never seen an otter before. We rode until 8.20 in the evening and saw more otters than people along the canal.
It was the first day that I rode in front for long stretches, and on discussions of where to stay, I urged we push on just another 10 km or so. Secretly I wanted to see more otters even if it meant rushing towards my fears of the dark, somewhat balanced by the thrill of wild camping.
As the light wained and the canal mirrored the surrounding forrest as the headwind abated, this ride of 65 km became one of the most beautiful, peaceful and easy rides of my life. (Not so far from anywhere as the zig zag of the water ways evident when passed sign stating Paris only 90km away and we had cycled 135km.)
We pitched our tent in a dip on the bend of the canal to be out of view from the non existent pedestrians. As my imagination went wild I calmed myself to with beauty of the stars, and the relative silence and the freedom I felt. Woken in the middle of the night by a distant sound we thought may be wild pigs, even that did not alarm me for long and I think at the age of 42, I may just about be….no longer afraid of the dark.

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