Last night was funny because our pilgrim from La Chamba turned up in just as bad a condition such that she seemed to be able to barely walk, yet she had completed 25 kms. We were surprised to see her and greeted her so warmly that Monsieur Jolly (real name!) thought she was our best friend and took her into our Petite Gîte, instead of the Grand Gîte. Karen felt so sorry for her that she offered up her lower bunk.
The parish Gîte.
We all shared a meal together, Cup of soup, bread and French cheese, peanuts, the pilgrims tinned mackerel and chocolate! How is that for a French meal? Another pilgrim had also arrived with his dog and a barrow. I got talking to him while I washed our coffee cups. He was a social worker who had been made redundant and had decided to walk from Strasbourg to Santiago with his dog to think about his next path. He has dreadlocks and a big plug in his ear but is the nicest kindest person. His name was Robin. We had a great discussion about the choices life offers and about Australia. Lots of French people want to go to New Zealand but they don’t know much about Australia. He was also concerned about Corinne (the pilgrim) and offered her medical help. He only walks as far as his dog wants to go. Then he stops. Anyway we all toddled off to bed and Corrine settled in and snored! She is a big girl, and will lose a lot of weight on this trip. We can’t fault her determination but we all felt concerned about her ability to walk. She could barely put her foot down.
Next morning we woke very early in order to get to our next town. Karen had not slept well due to Corinne’s snoring, I had only noticed it occasionally through the night. Corrine had told us Tuesday was also a holiday for Victory in Europe day as well as Thursday (Ascension Day). Our hopes of finding two coffee stops on the way were dashed!
We set off with rolling thunder on our heels all the way. Our first stop was an historic village of Montarcher where we were able to see a panoramic view of the Alps and mountains we were going to cross.
As we walked the thunder rolled ever closer, but we arrived in Estivareilles and joy of joys we found a boulangerie that sold not only coffee but some groceries. Our maxim of a ‘bird in the hand’ has proved useful because we thought we may not get any dinner due to the holiday. I carried the can of lentils, Karen the pasta, and Andy the can of ratatouille. This town had a memorial to the men who had died in the resistance. We have seen lots of wreaths laid at memorials but this is the first we have seen to the fighters in the resistance.
While having our coffee at the boulangerie it started to hail and rain. The woman was so sympathetic and good natured we waited till the worst had passed and we were kitted out.
This is Peter in all his glory looking like a post box or the hunchback of Notre Dame! Soon after we left and the rain abated such that we then stopped to remover rain gear. A passer by stopped to chat with us and then a farmer appeared at the farm across the road. He backed his tractor into the driveway, jumped out and opened the barn to let out the cows. They then followed the farmer, now back in his tractor, down the road. One farm dog bringing up the rear. We could here some mooing still and sure enough a lone cow appeared out the door of the barn. We joked she had been doing her nails or texting! But a little three legged black farm dog rushed up and barked and barked at her so she returned to the barn!
We followed the cows until they seemed to disappear but when we went over the hill I could see them in a paddock behind the forest. Later we saw more cows with rather ugly spiky rings in their noses. Apparently it stops them biting each other! They look like punks to me. Cows are so curious they follow us all the time.
It was a great walk through the forest and valleys till we arrived in Valprivas where we stayed in the community Gîte. It was a very modern building but as we were the only people there it felt a bit weird. We were reassured that if Corinne turned up she would be in her own space but she never did appear.
The bar was open here and the owner had budgies who were singing and twittering. The phone and internet coverage in these towns is pretty poor and even the bar didn’t have wifi so I have had to stock pile my posts.