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Day 22 - Cadillac for Hobson
March 24, 2010                                        Langon to Cadillac                                       9 miles
Below: this type of gate is a very common control gate for water used on and near the canals here. I think they're called sluice gates. The inset shows a rack and pinion arrangement, mechanically-advantaged to allow multiple turns of the handle to raise the heavy gate without much effort. A ratchet stops the gate from dropping. This is probably an example of a simple engineering concept that's been in effective use for a couple of hundred years. The hardware itself may have been replaced by rebuilds to pretty-well the original design.
Sluice gate
Some hikers say that it's better to hike for half a day than to take an entire rest day. I agree with that. It's a treat to arrive early, not fatigued - and still feel you've accomplished something.

When you consider you can take two half-days for the same mileage impact as one rest day, then the two half days win by an, err, country mile.

This is analogous to rest breaks. it's better to take two short ones than one long one. The restorative effect rolls off after the first two minutes. Today there were seriously adequate benches to sit on in  Preignac, and seriously poor ones - though they existed - at Barsac. I scarcely sat on a grass bank all day. I walked on the N113 mainly, but was able to get off it and on to a farm track about a mile before reaching and crossing the Garonne bridge at Cadillac.  Expecting to find that the Daniel Détrée at Cadillac was a B&B, I was pleased to find it was a hotel and of the old school.

These old hotels have often had only a 1960s modernizing, but that still leaves you with adequate plumbing and heat. The ceilings may be as high as the room is long or wide, which implies that the ceiling may be 11 ft or so rather than that the room is cramped. The lighting might be ugly. There'll likely have been an attempt at replacing old wood windows with double-paned plastic ones, still leaving the wood shutters. They'll also have upgraded the power outlets, probably leaving you with more than the just-one that I've sometimes found at  newly-built hotels. A television, probably not a flat-screen, but at least with a remote, will be mounted on a wall. Pricing will be reasonable, with most of the revenue generated by the restaurant which sometimes is a hangout for the locals. This place fits that template, and is perfectly clean, comfortable and equipped.

The impact of the European Union on its mermber countries has been immense. Europe really is trending towards being one country. The French have been enthusiastic proponents and leaders, though it's brought some strange and even comical impacts. English is more accepted in France than it used to be, not because of England but because of all the other countries that use English. In a hotel context, many notices are now in French, English and German. Products that sell across the frontierless E.U. may, however, be labeled in as many as twelve languages (my hotel soap package for example) - and that's quite an accomplishment considering that the soap is half the size of a business card, and almost as thin.

Meanwhile, France still has a love-hate relationship with the U.S. and with things Anglo. The hate has definitely been moderated with Obama in power, while the love persists pretty well unchanged. Modern communications and economics move us inexorably towards a single society anyway. If you drive a car to work instead of working in the same village as you live, aren't you going to want to abandon a two-hour lunch break so as to get home earlier? On your way home, mightn't you find it convenient to buy a take-out pizza? Thus, traditional restaurants are being slowly supplanted by McDonald's and its French fast-food equivalents, not to mention an explosion of pizzerias.

It was great weather. It wasn't cold when I left Langon at 7.30 am, and it wasn't too warm when I got to Cadillac at noon. Between the two, the vineyards were abundant again. On the west side of the Garonne between Langon and Bordeaux, it seems that Graves and Sauternes are the main types of wine. Numerous wineries exist, and winery visits are possible at some time of year. I will try to report what's grown on the east side of the Garonne tomorrow when I head north on that side.

Hobson behaved himself for once, and I felt sorry that I'd invited him to go for a boat ride in the pictured-below boat yesterday. He deserves better, and I'll look out for a better boat for next time.
Hobson's skiff
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