FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Britannia, Bastille Day and Bicycling Cows

Posted in England, South Norwood by folkestonejack on July 14, 2011

A happy coincidence saw the appearance of a steam locomotive in daylight through my local station, Norwood Junction, on bastille day. The thought occurred to me (and my brother) that this would present a great opportunity to witness the occasion and then chill out in front of a tv to savour what promised to be a key stage of this year’s Tour de France. How we could not take the day off work in the circumstances!?

The spectacle of a steam locomotive through my local station is a rare event and even rarer in daylight. I think the last time I saw that happen was in the mid 1990s, though I’ve seen a couple of locomotives pass through at night in the last five years.

Britannia passes through Norwood Junction

Once the geeky bit was out of the way I headed round to my folks to watch the Tour de France. Today’s stage took the riders from Cugnaux, across the Hourquette d’Ancizan, over the Col du Tourmalet and up to the summit of Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees. The combination of a category 1 climb with two hors categorie climbs would surely re-shuffle the pack we thought. As it transpired, the answer was both yes and no. The order at the top has been shuffled but incredibly Voeckler retains the yellow jersey – for now. For us, it was compelling viewing with the valiant efforts of Geraint Thomas for much of the day and later on watching the Schlecks attacking again and again on the final climb.

One of the strange things about watching the tour is that whilst you appreciate the immense physical effort required the effect of hours watching the rolling countryside (whether that is mountain tops, zig-zagging roads or castles) often seems to be to hypnotise you into a state of complete lethargy in your armchair (at least, that’s my excuse). And where else could you get the associated amusements of, for example, a cow riding a bicyle* (as we did today)!?

Finally, getting back to Bastille day I have to say that the photos taken from the air this year at this year’s parade were truly remarkable. In particular the shots of three jets (one Rafale and two Mirages) flying over Paris were quite remarkable, in particular the three jets flying over the Arc de Triomphe and over La Defense. Quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.

*The bicycling cow was one of many creations made by French farmers in the fields adjacent to the tour to capture the eye of tv directors. My favourite this year has to be the moving bicycle created by tractors (for the wheels) and quad bikes (for the chain wheel) that appeared on stage 3 – check out this youtube clip of the bicycle made out of hay-bales and tractors.

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