Port de Caen
Photography by Alex Moran
Like many coastal cities, heavy industry has been receding in Caen for many years. Some of these sites have been snapped up by commercial development, many more abandoned, it’s incredible to see how relentlessly nature reclaims them, creating rich green pockets, like accidental parks scattered around the centre of the city.
Bruno of CCN, our unstoppable guide around this city helped us find some of these fascinating places and somehow persuaded city authorities to allow us to stage our first French sharing of Walking Stories in a dramatic wasteland in the heart of Caen’s industrial port.
By Bruno Humberto
the morning was slightly moist. a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm held the morning light. the forecast was a fiction – not even a stormy south west wind would prevent the group from departing, since the idea was already cycling in the iris of each ones imagination.
and one by one they arrived with more or less geared up means of movement, rain coats, breathable jackets, well packed panniers that extended the horizontality of their cycles.
yes, there were definitely maps and some kind of predictable distance.
also some cyclists came and didn’t cycle and that was fine, they stay at the departure point which once was their finishing line. others came to wave and to witness the beginning of an action that already started months before, after a meal, inside the train from London to Brighton, inside the pages of an old notebook, matured in walks in the countryside of North Spain, settled in conversations in the most unpredictable places. and a few came to rehearse a bigger journey towards a decisive encounter.
the departure is somehow an encounter of people with the same direction, utterly heterogeneous in their sense of direction.
the southern coast is a cold desert in May.
in portuguese the word coast is the the same for back, but in the plural -“costas” (as body part). so we can never be with our coasts against the coast, since we might not be able to anticipate the possible ephemeral cholera of the sea.
Cycling with the wind pushing against the shoulders is an enduring exercise that makes you wonder about the fragility of some sailing boats in the open ocean. And you know that that the sheltered train cabins are leading to the same direction, but that there are no rails or stations in the bike drive. you can only perceive the landscape, and the roads help to frame, with more or less signalisation or traffic.
there were as always three types of cyclists. the ones that stay together and find a single rhythm, negotiating small distances. the ones that detach themselves to the front, challenging the rhythm and opening the dangers of the road and the ones that stay behind closing the landscape. Everyone is the three cyclists.
leaving the Downs on the right, the coast in the back (be aware), we lead to the countryside fiction, a part of the country that has a distinct time from the littoral. If the countryside would speak, it would say: “are you staying? in a couple of months the apple trees will be generous”. the coast would say: “when are you leaving, did you just arrive?”
Portsmouth is a port and a city and many hidden landscapes that are only accessible through the act of being lost. the entrances of the town are 7, but only two are accessible at first glance. we decided to take the smallest ferry in the world to cross the smallest distance to the peninsula. luckily enough the tides were in our favour as the day was breaking apart and the tired legs were screaming in the last miles. the port is an invitation to depart, but you need to find the right boat. the cycle stories began by the water and was not limited by it, since everyone seems to hold a wooden boat disguised as a bike.
the cycling on film …