28 May.. more from Les Landes

28 May.. more from Les Landes

Dear Humphrey

Tonight (Monday) I am sharing a two bedded bunk room with a young Parisian Moroccan who was in bed when I arrived at 6.30 and apart from asking me when I was planning to leave only to tell me he was going at 5.30 am, has said nothing and has only risen from his bed to roll one of his own and smoke it. I am wondering what’s in the tobacco or alternatively I am checking to see their are no prayer mats facing south east.

This happy encounter has arisen after a long and tortuous walk over 9 hours along mile after mile of dead straight roads or tracks through a vast expanse of pine forest. It would no doubt be of great interest to the Forestry Commission involving huge areas of clear felling and replanting using enormous machinery and vast stacks of unsawn timber either on trucks or on the side of the road.

And so it has been for the last three days or so since leaving Bordeaux but not without incident.

i last wrote when sharing a dormitory with a lovely French couple who had been kind enough to share their supper. As I finished my letter I believe I mentioned the lady’s snoring potential. Well it proved considerable. I discreetly searched out my ear plugs as husband was still very much awake. The night was by no means calm and when getting up the next morning the dear man asked tentatively if I had a good night. Lying I said ‘yes’ and then headed off at high speed to catch the ferry across the Gironde to head for another gite d’etape in Pian Medoc run by some charming nuns, one Irish and the other Spanish. Passed through Margaux on way there and checked out the price of some fine wines … £1200 a bottle but sadly no room in my back pack. Got caught in a storm and sheltered in Château Senejac. The gite this time was already occupied  by a bavorous threesome. Two women who were heading to Bordeaux to catch a train home and a man who was suffering badly from shin splints. Pleasant enough that evening but at 5.30 am they all three were getting up and for an hour and a half conducted a full scale breakfast party notwithstanding my telling them after a long while to shut up. Eventually they left as did I a while later. On my way in to Bordeaux on the outskirts I managed to avoid yet another horrific down pour by taking refuge in a Pharmacy. Those who know France will have observed that every village or town however small all have at least one pharmacy and ofte more. The French must all be total hypochondriacs. At this point I am ashamed to say I decided to have done with the rain and catch a bus in to Bordeaux. (Anyone who wants a refund let me know!) That took some doing because no-one could understand what I wanted until I learned they are pronounced ‘bewse’. Sitting comfortably on the bewse I spied with mixed emotions the three bedraggled and very wet companions from the night before. … ‘serve them right’ and total humiliation but more of the former than the latter.

Really enjoyed Bordeaux. It is a great and very buzzy chique  city with lots going on including a huge food fair where I got my supper.  I put myself up in a lovely little hotel. Bought some new boots. And was highly impressed by its cathedral and keen to get my pilgrims passport stamped there. The stamp in French is called,rather awkwardly for us English, ‘a tampon’, and so you can imagine the reaction of an American tourist whom I mistook for one of the Cathedral staff when I asked where I might find a tampon! He said ‘jeez that’s the first time I have ever been asked that! ‘

Since Bordeaux it has been hard and solitary work and will continue to be for the next three days. The first night out of the city in Barp my host who ran the local Pizza Hut put me up in a converted garden shed. Amazingly they had managed fit a bed a shower and a loo in to it as well as all their keep fit equipment but no room for a basin. This was the first time I have had to clean my teeth in a shower. The large good looking Labrador who shared the artificial turf with me outside the shed was also keen to make his mark which fortunately I noticed before treading in it.

I stayed last night in  town called Muret, which looks a bit like an American one horse town.  Pleased to arrive there in good time but somewhat perplexed when the first person I saw was an elderly lady wielding a rifle. Unsure as to whether to proceed or dive for cover, she turned and saw me and in gest (as I hoped) I threw my hands up causing the doves at which she was apparently targeting to fly off!

It’s getting late now and my mobile is about to tell me it’s  had enough I.e needs charging and my Moroccan friend is restless!

Lots of love

your friend and master

 

23 May and more news from France!

23 May and more news from France!

Dear Humphrey,

Hope all well at home. I hear there has been a lot of wedding planning and much progress made in my absence. Your mistress is doing an amazing job in my absence and probably better off without me!

Last wrote when in St Jean d’Angely since when there has been more drama of which much more in a minute. I got lost going out of St J.. lost my sense of direction and found myself going north and so had to retrace my steps back through the centre no doubt much to the puzzlement of the early morning crowd. After that and recovering my rhythm (very important for covering distance) I had a lovely mornings walk meeting up with Maxus a carpenter ( formerly sound engineer) from Paris. He travels fast! We came across the annual soap cart racing track, downhill and then towed back to the top. Lots of fun being had. Lunch at a picnic site where Maxus proceeded to cook himself lentils and boiled eggs etc and I left him after consuming my usual ham sandwich, tomato and an orange for desert ( Best moment of the day)

I had reserved a ‘chambred’hote’ ( a French B&B) and my hostess, whom for reasons which become apparent, I will just call V came and collected me as they lived a short distance off the route. We arrived at a very nice house in a lovely garden. My quarters were in an adjacent building and very comfortable. I had tea in the garden with both V and her husband.  He had just won through to the finals of the local tennis competition and was clearly a serious player having been to Rafa’s tennis school. He was very proud of his garden but a little troubled by ‘Les taupes’. But the only instrument with which he had to tackle them appeared to be a trowel and apparently no traps. I was in the process of referring him to Chris Boone but as things turned I never did.

After the usual routine of washing both clothes and self,  and then down loading some music and a book, I made ready for dinner which I was told would be with them. The bar b q was light in the pool house and then I was told he would not be joining us as he was feeling unwell.. too much sun and tennis. After a ‘pineau’ ( cognac aperitif.. very good specialty of the area) or two, we ( V and I ) finished our starter and the main course being burnt sausages and duck.. clearly her mind was on other things… was served. She went to check on husband and returned to say he was not at all well and ( as I understood it as she spoke very fast French) she was calling the doctor and possibly an ambulance. As I sat there wondering whether I should be attending the bedside, trying to recall how you identify a stroke, eating the dinner or frankly not being there at all, she eventually returned. Again it was hard for me to follow but the general gist was that she had concluded he was fine and just making an unnecessary fuss. But then it went further and again as I understood the drift of it she was saying how fed up with him she was, too much work,  not enough attention, no holidays, too many moves. She was obviously not very happy. Hard to know how to handle it all (a) when not sure precisely what said and (b) certainly incapable of giving advice in French! So after dinner, thinking was no more than just a bad night, I made polite excuses, said I am sure it will be better in the morning and off to bed.

Well how wrong I was! By the time I went down for breakfast he had left apparently to prepare for the final. V then kindly undertook to show me the main sights of Saintes, a really lovely small city and well worth a visit. Eventually and rather late for my liking I headed off to Pons about 29 ks off. A pretty uneventful day although long and hot and eventually arrived at my new b&b which V had kindly introduced me to run by Ingrid a friend of hers who had been an opera singer. I was greeted by Oliver the husband who showed to a very comfortable room, produced a cup of tea and an ice pack for the ankle.

Once again having run through the usual routine, I prepared for the dinner. I came down and had a look round Ingrid’s lovely garden and then who should appear but V! This time things had clearly got worse. There was much reference to husband having a ‘coeur noir. At first I thought this might have been a medical term and appeared duly concerned about his health until she then showed me a text from him saying he was not coming home tonight and spending with night with ‘une amie’. Again I was ‘lost for words’ in more ways than one! There was reference to avocats and having to go back to work. Really truly tragic story but she was at the angry stage and so no consolation needed. Any way Ingrid appeared to be handling the situation and giving her sound advice.

One wonderful interlude to the evening was Ingrid’s singing and her three dogs really joining in as the chorus. One for Britais’s Got talent definitely.

An interesting evening. Breakfast the following morning V was still there. More conversation over breakfast but distracted when Ingrid asked me if I voted Brexit. ‘No’ I said proudly.. wrong answer as she is a leading Frexiteer!

This time I made good my escape earlier to head for Mirambeau. Moving into big vineyard country now but where there was grain I noticed it was beginning to ripen.

During the day I had taken the precaution of booking in to a monastery / presbytery overnight as an antidote to my previous two! Pere Jean a priest just over from The Congo was my host and cooked me dinner and produced a delicious bottle of wine. Charming man with a brother in the US and six sisters still in the Congo. He said he had heard of a recent outbreak of Ebola there but still confined to a region. Otherwise all was relatively calm there.

Tonight I am in gite near Blaye with a lovely couple who cooked me dinner. Unfortunately I think we have a snorer. Need to find my ear plugs. Tomorrow is a long day..35 ks to just outside Bordeaux. This time in a nunnery!  Will be  crossing the Gironde in a ferry and walking  through an expensive wine list!

Humphrey, every garden and farm I pass by there is always a dog to ‘greet’ me. I am never quite sure whether they are friend or foe. Nor, I suspect, are they of me! Almost always they are the other side of a fence but not so on one occasion yesterday when I had this dachshund snapping at my heels!

Enough for now. Be a good boy and look after mum and Cocoa, who I hear was put most of the night last weekend and they needed you to find him.

with love

your friend and master

PS.. some photographs of  the last few days

Exit from Pons and escape!
Saintes
More of Saintes
The journey to do
Ingrid and Oliver
Pete Jean

19 May A tribute to Phil

19 May A tribute to Phil

Dear Humphrey,

Here I am in St Jean d’Angely after 20 days walking from Mont St Michel and 38 days from Daisy Farm. My new guide tells me I have 16 days to the Pyrenees and it takes about 4 weeks after that to Compostela. So not far off halfway…but I must not get ahead of myself!

This letter will be mostly about the extra-ordinary night I spent two nights ago in Beauvoir sr Niort. I had had an uneventful walk from Niort and thought I was fixed up for the night at some camping site. Having circumnavigated the village (large) at least twice and found the only likely place I dared to ring the bell and was met with what appeared to be a friendly Labrador. But the moment I put any foot out of line he became very ‘defensive’.. quite right too. Well it turned out this was not the place and they had no room any way and the place I had booked was 20 miles back in the direction I had just come.

I then discovered the only other likely bed might have been in what called itself misleadingly, as it turned out, L’Auberge de Voyageurs,. Dejectedly I retired to the only cafe in town where the wonderful barman started ringing round to see what he could find with no luck until Guillaume  local builder appeared and said he had a friend nearby who would put me up… did I mind a ‘dry toilet’ . Well this was the first clue as to what I was in for. ‘He leads a very simple life’ says G. Beggars can’t be choosers so off I went with G.. quite a little drive wondering how I was going to get back in the morning. ‘Don’t worry’ says G ‘I am sure he will drive you’. When we arrived we let ourselves in to I can only describe as a 19 century hovel. .. looking round I could see a number of possible places I might be invited to sleep, none of which filled me any sense of comfort.

We went round the back where we found my host Phil , as he was introduced, in his back yard fixing his Alllen Scythe in preparation for a mornings work in the vineyard. Well immediately he cleaned off the grease from his hands and proceeded enthusiastically to offer some of his home brewed beer.. actually very good. Well his neighbour must have a nose for these things because he appeared almost instantaneously. Lot of talking and a bit of drinking and when that bottle was finished we started on the dandelion wine and at the same time a bowl of nuts ( walnuts I think) but very black and aged were produced and crushed and we were all invited to pick at these. During the course of conversation the idea of driving me back to my start point cropped up but Phil said he would not be going there until midday.. why did I not spend the morning with him in the vineyard? Well I came up with some feeble excuse like I had to be in the next place to ensure I did not find myself in the same situation with no bed and that was 32 kms away. Things were not looking good when the other two left after two more bottles of dandelion wine!

Phil returned to fixing his Allen Scythe and then showed me to my room which turned out to be two flights of very dodgy stairs up to the attic where in were two beds, one without any bed clothes and one with but certainly not made up and goodness who or what had been in it last. Phil went to shake out the duvet and was instantly covered in a cloud of feathers, remarking this was strange as it had never been like this before! Quite when was the last time was not clear. I choose the unmade bed and a blanket.

On the way down he was busy explaining the light switch system ( unlikely to have passed any inspection) and asking me to switch off all lights when not in use. I said ‘of course’ and made some mention of the cost. Well this was the wrong and the right remark because he said it was nothing to do with the cost and then gave a half French half English lecture on the dangers of nuclear energy and our misuse of power. I was happy to oblige as I hardly dared touch any switches.

Next dinner.. I was invited to stir a pot of unidentifiable food except for one large aubergine skin while Phil engaged on the telephone. Actually whatever it was it tasted not at all bad. I think his mother had something to do with it. She lives 20 ks away and there was mention of a girl friend in Paris who might had something to do with aubergine. ‘When she last here?’ I enquirer discreetly but got no decipherable answer.  Over dinner an idea had occurred to him, which when he told me immediately reminded me of the look on my dad’s face when he discovered a number of us would be home for a weekend in late spring or so. This was about moving the now not ridden semi wild horses from their winter quarters to the summer pastures. This was a distance of a mile or so down the busy A134. This required a team of us to open and close gates and if unlucky to be asked to hang on to one or more of these horses. If I was to say that on one occasion I saw Lawrence Godfrey suspended between two horses his feet not touching the ground for the entire distance covered at some speed, you will have some idea of what this involved. Now Phil had decided this was an opportunity to move his bee hives and the deal was that if I could help him with this he would be able to drop me off.

At this point desert was served.. basically a pot of goats milk yoghurt. I tucked in to mine and was halfway through it when he said to me ( in his usual half French half English) this was something he had made three years ago! At which point he burst out laughing at the look on my face!.. saying sorry he meant three hours ago!

Phil was the most delightful charming and enthusiastic guy. He was obviously very bright and had chosen to drop out. He was living the real good life. ‘Rien est perdu’ .. nothing is thrown away. Everything stored neatly for another occasion and always willing to share everything. He ran an open house.. all are welcome and one man stayed for four years! Probably the last person to sleep in the bed!

He refused to allow me to wash up. You are my guest for 24 hours. Before bed we had to wedge some sponge foam in to the aperture on the hives to trap the bees inside while asleep. You can imagine how pleased they were going to be when they woke up! So we agreed an early start before the sun was up would be a good idea!

Amazingly after I had put thoughts of mice possibly rats and electricity shortages to the back of my mind , I had a really good nights sleep but waking early. Phil had laid up breakfast. He managed only on what was left of the nuts and like a little squirrel prized a whole bowlful of nuts from what looked to me like a load of spent shells.

Time to transport the bees. He took me over to hive and asked me to listen to the activity inside. It was pretty clear to me they were all very much awake and annoyed at not being able to get out. First they had to be lifted and placed carefully in a very little trailer which we did straining every sinew to be as gentle as possible. Then we set off at least 4ks down a very bumpy track. By this time I was thinking they would be hugely pissed off! We arrived at the site which was the other side of a thorn thicket through which I realise we were expected to carry the hives. Well having cleared the sight with two of his very ancient hand scythes, the time came for the final move. ‘Don’t trip’ says Phil ‘this is very dangerous ‘ . I hardly needed telling. We got the hives in place and I then scrammed not waiting for the removal of the sponge and expecting to see my friend disappear in a cloud of angry bees and not knowing what to do if he did.  All was well!

Phill dropped me off in town and gave me his address (and I gave him mine!) saying anytime I wanted to drop by the door is always open. What a lovely man.

My friend and host

You will have had enough of me by now. And it’s time to find something to eat.

with lots of love

your friend and master

16 May

16 May

Dear Humphrey

I am in the fine city of Niort (well worth a visit) although most of the population seem to be training for a marathon.. runners everywhere.. little wonder as it has some lovely parks running along the Sevre Niortaise river. Also it has one huge Castle built by our Henry 11 and Richard the Lionheart. We were’nt Brexiteers in those days! Any way just had an average pasta dinner and sitting here with some ice pack around the ankle. It is ok walking but not so good when I stop. Anyway thought I would give it some respect and ice it and hit it with anti inflammatories. That it is any fit state at all is due entirely to Sarah McDonald who did something magic to it when we were in Ireland.

Covered a few miles since I last wrote and with Anna Kasket’s help been busy on social media and Norfolk Radio trying to promote the interests of the unpaid carers. I have plenty of time to think these things through and do the calculations. Do you know there are 7 million unpaid carers ( not including your mistress,  as dog carers don’t count) and based on the value for money delivered by them in Norfolk ( 100,000 saving the NHS and Social Services 1.6 bn a year) saving the government £112 bn a year. There is a lovely lady who follows me on Twitter called Katy Styles whose husband has Motor Neuron Disease and she was asked to give evidence to Parliament about her lot.. that was two years ago and the Goverment have still to produce a strategy on acknowledging and supporting these hidden heroes. You would have thought £112 bn was worth a strategy! She has a petition out which needs signatures https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/209717

See if you can get lots of people to sign it. It’s a ‘no brainer’.

So what of life on the walk? I walk a lot on on metalled Farm tracks, very minor roads ( on which unlike UK there is hardly any traffic) and some pedestrians only tracks .. one today reminded a bit of Dorset

Reminder of times gone by

There is a barking dog behind every fence and sometimes they are huge causing me to keep checking behind me to see if like you they can clear their fence. There are banks of wild flowers and hanging wisteria. There is a cuckoo in every wood and some red squirrels. Along the rivers and I have followed a few there are endless little holdings.. sort of allotments where presumably the owners come to to escape and do a bit of fishing. Some are better kept than others but all are locked and each has its own loo! There are some big farms, big fields and expensive kit interspersed with some more modest cattle and dairy holdings.

I mentioned rivers which sometimes one is required to cross. Usually there is a bridge, some dodgier than others and I am always suspicious of those where some of the planks have been repaired which suggest some might now been in need of repair! However I encountered one set of stepping stones

The stepping stone challenge

At first sight this looked ok even with a 11 kg pack. A third of the way across I negotiated one tricky jump and continued on until I came on this

The farther stone was a good deal higher than the one I was on. The log did not look as though it was staying there for too long and would certainly not if I trod on it! I was thinking to myself it would be awfully wet not to try but then again I would get very wet if I did. After a careful risk assessment I decided discretion prevail over stupidity and turned around only to have to renegotiate the first awkward   step. All’s well that ends well and I found a way round.

I have  seen no other pilgrims yet although I am soon to join the Route from Paris and Tours. Lots of bikers and runners. The saddest thing is that all the villages, small and medium size French towns are dead. Parthenay in particular had all its shops up for sale. The only active businesses are the odd boulangerie and the estate agents. The super markets have taken the life out of these beautiful historic places. Even the Office of Tourism was closed in Parthenay!

I have been hosted by some lovely people in interesting houses. In P the entrance to the place looked like something out of Dickens but behind the  decrepit  front door were the most charming couple in a sixteenth century apartment with all mod cons.

I think I have said enough. St Jean d’Angely on Saturday, the Gironde by this time next week and Bordeaux by the following weekend. Helluva a long way to go for a bottle of wine!

Here are some other random photographs..

An interesting church
A grand chateau
A hole in wall I could hardly get through.. ‘camel: eye of a needle’?
A possible Pilgrim travelling somewhat lighter

lots of love

your friend and master

11 May

11 May

Dear Humphrey,

Here we are in Montreuil-Bellay nearly a third of the way into my journey and so far everything holding up pretty well although I cannot deny being pretty pooped at the end of every day.

The early mornings are best, walking through woodland listening to the dawn chorus, neighing horses and friendly frogs.. the reptiles not the people. France seems to have a lot in every stretch of water and they make a wonderfully friendly noise. Cocoa would love them! And of course there is always the attentive and fiercely protective dog around every corner. Here are two:

The guard dogs

We have passed through some lovely country; left behind the dairy farms and the hay cutting and now seeing a lot of vineyards (it’s called the Loire) and also some big farms.

We have visited Angers where they house a huge tapestry called the Apocalypse. It’s really huge and I cannot think what the artist was ‘on’ when he designed it…multi headed dragons and multi headed dogs.. and at one point ten men in a bed! Think we will be better off with the Bayeux tapestry.

Getting out of Angers was a little frustrating. In order to ensure the walkers have an agreeable journey they tend to route one around the industrial bits. But in the case of Angers it was a long way west and east and not a lot of South which is the way I really want to go!

Also we have to share these routes with bicyclists and as France seems to be on one permanent holiday (they have had three public holidays already this month with one more to go! ) there are a lot of them. As both Geoff and I are a little hard of hearing, we tend to be constantly mown down. We have discussed possible solutions. There is extensive scope on G’s back pack which is huge and in which he carries his lap top and we thought of a placard ‘Two deaf  English men.. Attention svp’ Or rear view mirrors attached to our hats/ heads in some way. All other suggestions welcome.

Very Sadly Geoff leaves tomorrow. He has been a great fillip and organises all places to stay and where to eat. He is an expert on tripadvisor. I will miss following this:

Rear view of GP

Back to the gite d’etape tomorrow

Our accommodation last night requires some explanation. GP had identified a chateau belonging to a Shaun Trenchard and ever curious he had booked us in there to discover whether they be related to his great friends (also wel known to me) the Trenchards. Such was his expectation of style and elegance, GP had to remove his black pants (of a size and the which Mike Tysonwould be pleased wear) from the drying line on the back of his pack before we arrived. We had also identified what appeared to be shortcut to the Chateau through a wood to its rear. We were prevented from so doing by a huge wall which GP was keen to find a way through. Thankfully I persuaded him it would be better to arrive by the front gate. I mention this because we subsequently discovered that the principal business of our hosts was raising wild boar 🐗 behind this wall! 

On arrival st front gate (shut) we brushed ourselves down ready to meet the undoubtedly stylish chatelaine or staff! One thing which alerted me to the fact that might not be as we anticipated was a row of marigolds planted in a line to each side of the  solid steel gate. Our intercom call to the house was answered by a cheerful voice and the gate was soon opened by a youngish girl woman called Beatrice dressed in jeans and a T shirt who we slowly discovered was our hostess and that her husband Shaun was back in England doing we were not sure what but amongst a number of his other interests was being in a rock band and at some point during the evening we were treated to some of his music.

We were not in fact staying in the chateau which itself was falling down and owned by another, but in the stable block which had been refurbished very stylishly at ENORMOUS expense to house boar shooting parties. Beatrice was extremely attentive and keen to show us the boars in the boar pen. One of her dogs only had three legs, a victim of an attack.  To our horror Beatrice leapt in to the pen armed only with large stick in order to drive them out of the cover. Later she was to inform us on one occasion she had been pinned to the fence by a wounded boar which Shaun then shot. We were treated to a video of Shaun in his absence Putin like stripped to the waist with shaven head splitting rows of three foot Long logs with one blow of an axe seemingly in an attempt to get him in to the Guinness Book of Records. Another photograph we saw of our absent host showed him in combat kit, dark glasses armed with a very large semi automatic rifle. Clearly not a man to upset and by this time GP was thinking no relation to his friends!

The whole set up just did not stack up. The very expensive decor tastefully done, Beatrice the local girl from the suwho now married to this Putinesque character and she did all the housework, cooking, etc for these large house parties in addition to feeding the boar and overseeing the man drilling the maize crop who later joined us to tidy up the cold boar sausages and mashed potatoes we were served for dinner! And also share in the bottle of wine we had ordered.

Any way dear Humph I am probably boring you but it was a memorable and extraordinary evening. Our room, suffice it to say, was very comfortable.

Finally you should know what wonderful support and encouragement I am getting from the Carer groups on twitter and elsewhere. To hear about how what I am doing gives them an opportunity to spread the word about what they are doing and the challenges they face.. is humbling . The more followers we can encourage to learn about it all the better. In a way that is more important than the money raised. But both are key.

With lots of love

your friend and master

 

7 May

7 May

Dear Humphrey

Having just read my last post, which sounded a bit downbeat (true!), I thought I should  let you know that we had a good day yesterday and have just spent a night in a very comfortable chambred’hote. Our hostess is very attentive and gave us a delicious supper while her poor husband outside was chained to a mower cutting the grass. When we asked her whether he could join us, she said certainly not! and it was clear she had no plans for supper for him. After all it was Sunday night. Apparently he has only recently been allowed a ride on mower. Having said all that he has done a great job and it is a beautiful house with a view across a river to and old mill.

Le Plessis

Our lunch break yesterday Arrived just as we passed a rural ‘gite’ run by a charming lady who had been busy attending her lovely garden. She was delighted to allow us to use her garden for our ‘pique nique’ . But as there is no such thing as a free lunch, on our way out she was keen to tell us that her granddaughter was struggling with some translation for her final exam and so for a good half hour Geoff and I struggled to make some sense of a rather strange passage about photography and geometry

Our lunchtime hostess

As I write this early in the morning, the dawn chorus  is active with one particularly voluble cuckoo competing with a pigeon.

If you are interested in buildings and castles here Is a view of Pouancé taken when I was on my knees . When you get through or around the commercial environs the French medieval towns and buildings are wonderfully preserved.

Pouancé

soon time for our breakfast. Hopefully our ‘lawn mowing’ host will be allowed one!

Hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend. I hear it has been very hot. Have you found a pool of water to lie in.

Looks like ‘another bl..day beautiful day’ here to day! Just 15 miles to our next b&b

lots of love

your friend and master

 

5 May

5 May

Dear Humphrey

I am exhausted! We had a very long hot walk today and it looks like we have another one tomorrow. I am with Geoff Probert now. Remember we went to stay with him in his lovely house in Suffolk and you ran off at the end of the day. Not an unfamiliar story!

GP joined me now three days ago and has been great company. He has been very helpful booking places to stay but we decided that the one he has booked for tomorrow is too far away and so I found one I thought was  little closer. He then cancelled his booking only for us to discover I had just booked us in to the same place! Such is our state at the moment.

My ankle has been much better or at least was until we entered a farm yard today and some large Labrador took objection and came for us causing me to jump out of his way. It is a bit sore as a result.

Otherwise we have been walking through some beautiful country quite a lot on little  roads with some excursions on to tracks. Yesterday we went most of the day on a disused railway track .. very easy walking and today was perhaps pay back time.

Anyway onwards we go. Hope all is well at home. Give my love to mum

your friend and very tired master

2 May

2 May

Dear Humphrey

First of all I see you too have blog https://humphreybagge.wordpress.com/  Thankyou so much for your first post and I am sorry to hear Coco is trespassing on your territory. I am sure Mum will be back soon to let him out.

Meanwhile back in France I have completed the third day. The journey started with a pretty horrendous time at Mont St Michel in something of a storm. 

A lot people running with nowhere to go. However having left the coast on a very desolate and deserted track on the coastline I headed inland, the weather improved and I reached my first stop in Saint James.. yes there are a lot of places with that name on this route. There are very few ( in fact no other) pelerin (pilgrims) on the route so far and the only other companions appear very curious as to what on earth I am up to

My first night I spent in what is called. ‘Chambre D’hote’ and I was provided with an apartment with a choice of three beds a bath and a shower all for 20 euros. Dinner was laid on for 14 of us.. 4 courses .. what generosity. All the others were travelling by car and the conversation (all in French of course) appeared to be about how they got lost trying to find Mont St Michel and the guest house. My only contribution was to say it was easier on foot!

Day 2 was a lovely day.. not too long.. sunny and beautiful country. Again a lot of curious animals but no others! The route is well marked and it always of great comfort to see

this on the odd lamp post. It occurred to me that of course this is something very familiar to you!

Day 2 ended in a ‘gite d’etape ‘ a local community hostel. Having not prewarned I called a number and the wonderful Roland abandoned his day off and came and opened the place up. Once again I had the place to myself .. only a choice of 14 beds and two showers and the kitchen to myself all for 11 euros! Then Roland scuttled off to find me some food and a bottle of wine. There are some wonderfully community spirited people here. Also I have noticed they are all very positive about greeting one with a handshake. I was sitting in a cafe this morning and the owner came in and took the trouble to come over and shake my hand.

Today I have had a bit of rain.. got lost a little.. but arrived in Fougeres a medieval fortified town by lunch having left my gite at 7 after a very cold night. I have had a very radical haircut as they say it is going to get warm. So don’t get surprised by the new look. Gordon Ramsay might even try it! I have been warned of the reports in the UK press of a plague of deadly mosquitoes lurking in the south. So lots to look forward to. I have been joined this evening my fellow past High  Sheriff of Suffolk Geoffrey Probert who arrived drenched from head to foot. Good start! We progress together for the next week or so starting with a ‘grande etape ‘ of 34 kilometres.

Keep blogging. Missing you all. ..

your friend and master