The (second) Battle of Poitiers was a decisive victory for the English against the French. It followed on from the Battle of Crecy ten years before and was followed by Agincourt. Darren had already visited Crecy and Agincourt and just needed the Poitiers one to make up the set.
It took a bit of electronic flim-flammery but find it we did and we read the French account on little information boards and trod over a small field were I reckoned the French stopped for tea on the eve of the battle. Or cognac.
The sun shone down on us which was a bit of a luxury given the appalling morning we’d had. John and I were up at our usual early hour, preparing to go and buy breakfast when the heavens opened and drowned everything stupid enough to be out. Except for the otter that John spotted swimming in the canal, generally ignoring the rain falling on it’s head.
So, as quietly as possible, we forgot about buying croissants and instead, lifted the anchor on board, untied the ropes, started the engine and headed down towards our final wet destination.
According to the others we weren’t quiet at all and managed to wake them up with all the clunking and bashing and high pitched engine screeching.
Meanwhile, John strapped himself to the wheel upstairs as the rain bucketed down. He was wrapped in his weatherproof poncho, just his face and hands poking out as he tried to steer us through the squalls and falling leaves.
We reached our first lock long before it was due to open so we tied up to a pontoon and waited only to be beaten to the lock by another boat that had managed to sneak up behind us and not understand queuing in the slightest. Still, rather than catch them up, board and slaughter them, we just putted along at our own slow pace until we reached La Mas, where we had started.
For unexplained but happy reasons, the rain stopped as we docked and tied off and unpacked the boat back into the two cars. Then, after a short detour back to the Lovaduck Super U so Darren and Lorna could buy a couple of cases of the Buzet red wine they are very much in love with, we started heading for Poitiers, the next stop on our magical adventure.
We were actually heading for the Abbey at Nouaille which is quite near the battlefield and just outside Poitiers. The abbey was witness to the battle and still retains an air of historic observance as it sits by a stream, contemplating the stupidity of humans.
Having left the cars and wandered around only to discover that Google claimed the battlefield was actually a few kilometres away, we returned to the cars and drove on, down twisty narrow lanes until we found it.
At least the rain had stopped and, it seemed, gone for good. A little earlier we’d stopped for lunch at a rest stop and while it was a bit chilly in the shade and the furniture was damp, at least it was sunny.
By the time we reached the field of battle, the day was hot and bright.
But we couldn’t hang around basking in the nation’s past glories for too long (or should I say a campaign of the few on horses profiting from the deaths of the many on the ground) and headed into Poitiers where our beds for the night awaited us.
The beds were a bit hard to find given the hotel has the smallest and most indistinct signage in the world. Still, we eventually managed to get in and settled and we all had showers. The best showers we’d had for a week. We then wandered up to the main square to find somewhere to eat.
And we eventually found a fantastic restaurant. I was very happy with my cod and chorizo and we even had a sancerre. Life is beautiful.
The most beautiful thing though was the big double bed in a room where you couldn’t touch the ceiling and when you flushed the toilet it didn’t sound like a car crusher. Utter, utter bliss.