On a day we arrived at the Seine, and in the distance I saw a beautiful draft horse pulling a wagon in the direction of a sluice. Actually I had to go the other direction but I decided to follow it to a resting place. Somewhat further, I suddenly saw a roulotte. I met Romuald and Solveig and their 2 children. They also used to travel with horse and cart, and now they do a lot with horse- and donkeytraction: managing nature reserves, collecting vegetable leftovers in the cities, educational/ecological tours with horse and cart, picking up children to go to school (the donkeys were then the backpacks), haying,….. That day they made a tour around a nature reserve next to the Seine.
I settled my cart a little bit further for the afternoon, and would follow them later at home, a small km further. There arrived, I wanted to put my cart with the horses in the meadow, but it was a risky attempt. A little reckless as I was (and sometimes still are), I decided to try to drive into it, I hit the gate and thought I had again a hole in the cart, luckily this was not the case, but the shaft (tube between the horses) was really bended. Actually the damage wasn’t that bad, but the shaft had to be bended back. We stayed there for a couple of days, it was cozy and the shaft was straightened with the help of several friends and neighbors. The night before the departure we decided to pull out the cart with a tractor to prevent more damage, but… also the tractor bended the shaft (on a different place and less serious than the time before). But luckily it was repaired the next day by Oliver, the neighbor/friend, and we could leave. That day we had to cross the Seine, there were not a lot of bridges so I had to go a whole while on the route national.. I think I never had such a big traffic jam behind the cart, and I secretly enjoyed the gang of cars that had to follow my rhythm for a while
The next day there was again a nice spot at a small river.
Hupla the next day again on the road and I felt like it
The next couple of days we went again forwards every day, and it went well! Normandie is a lot nicer dan Picardie, in Normandie there are more hills and instead of the gigantic industrial agriculture as far as you can see, there is still “bocage”: little forests alternate with hedged meadows and small agriculture. I go from hill to valley and from valley to hill, and after every hill there is another horizon with, yes, another valley with a nice river Everywhere nice meetings, and we get zucchinis and plums where everyone at the moment has enough of it, I think!
Femke who colors wool with onion peels.
I got food again for the horses
Wahaaah, French fries party, my first French fries since leaving Belgian ground, with tasty fresh harvested potatoes.
On the last day that Femke was there, we decided we wanted to stop early on a nice place, which was harder to find than we thought. This was for now the hardest day to find a spot I think, we kept on going further with the cart. It was too hot, I was tired and the horses too. But in the end we were rewarded and we could stay in a beautiful park of a castle. For the first time I was in place where I could try to go into the water with the horses. However it wasn’t a deep stream, it wa still a special moment. Ilja had no problems with it and soon stood in the stream. But Wodan, the robust guy with the small heart had not as much faith in it, but after half an hour of turning around and trying, he was finally with his feet in the cool water, and we could go for a walk with the horses in the stream.
The next day I left again alone, Femke travelled with me in total for 3 weeks. It was very nice to travel some time with someone! Whole the summer there was a perfect balance between visitors and travelling on my own. Always when I left on my own, I knew the next visitor would arrive 1 or 1,5 week later. After the summer months, I think I will travel more on my own. Or anyway being the only human, on the boat, of course I still have 2 dogs and 2 horses as company.
That afternoon I was welcomed by Odille in Bernay, and her Dutch visitors. I stayed there for a couple of days. I could do my laundry, eat every day tasty meals, helped in the garden,… It was a place where I felt immediately welcome and at home. It felt good to come to rest for a while. Previous Sunday, I drove further to Broglie, where there was a spot reserved for my on a book market/ flea market/ braderie in the theme of “bohemian” and Django Reinhart. A day with a lot of conservations!
So on Monday I wanted to leave again, But one of Ilja’s irons was a little loose. It was anyway about time for new irons, so I decided to search for a blacksmith. It seemed not to be that simple, I had to make about 12 phone calls before one would do it. I stayed at my spot on the market until yesterday the mayor of the village asked my friendly to leave . So I jumped on my bike and found a beautiful meadow of 2 friendly old people where I could wait with the horses and dogs on the blacksmith, who would arrive the next day. It is still exciting! The 2nd time the horses get irons, and this time without hoof stable…
One more small fact: in the mean time we did a little more than 700km