This was the view where I stopped for a break during a 50km bike ride in Charente-Maritime in France. It was a dull day, overcast and windy. The poppies glowed like beacons and warmed our souls. Trying to capture their beauty and the drama of all that red on the camera was near impossible. Every field of wheat on that cycle journey was spattered with scarlet - a flashing blur of visual heat.
I ended the day exhausted with a slice of the most divine Dundee cake - after 1900 calories of pedalling I could afford it!
It was delicious - especially washed down with a mug of Yorkshire Gold tea (I have to confess, we take that out to France as French tea is..... just not tea as we know it and I cannot do without my 'proper brew')
Charente Maritime is in the south west of France - just above Bordeaux and extends up the Atlantic coast as far as La Rochelle. It generally has a balmy climate with hours of sunshine per year not far behind the departments that skirt the Mediterranean. Unlike the Côte d'Azur, the ocean here is tidal and often rough and rarely gets above about 22 degrees Centigrade (72F). Great for surfing - but best with a wetsuit! It's a lost corner of France really. Very quiet and peaceful. Full of crumbling old stone villages - houses with scruffy faded shutters and terracotta tiled rooftops. Blessed with varied landscapes of rolling countryside and flat, flat marshlands. Nothing happens very fast here, there's hardly any traffic and the locals are friendly once you tune in to their distinctive accent. The local wines cannot compete with the Big Brother Bordeaux and so they are used to make Cognac and a speciality aperitif Pineau des Charentes.