Not long now

Two months, TWO MONTHS (!) since I last blogged. And here is an update on my forlorn hope plants.

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Haven’t they done well? Marvellous what a transplant, some intermittent watering and lots of neglect will do.

I’ve had a lot of ideas for blogs, mostly they come when I am out running or walking ie not at a computer. I am not sure how interesting my musings at home are but I know, don’t I? – that writing about trips away are popular with readers.

And we have another one planned.

Last year Helen and I did Our Long Walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostella. On the way we met a number of people who had begun the walk further back along The Way. Some had begun at Vezelay, some at Le Puy en Velay and one from Haarlem – rather alarmingly she had left her family on 1st March and was making her way to Santiago – this was late May. They added a lot to our experience and all said that the walk through France was worth doing. And that the food was better.

So this year Helen and I are attempting to walk from Le Puy which I think is in Auvergne to SJPP in the Basque country. It’s another 500 miles and through some beautiful country side in SW France. We said last year we would do this but now, now we have to make good on our promise. We have the kit, we have the tickets, we have the guidebooks.IMG_3937

There’s nothing like the sainted Brierley this year. We enjoyed his guidebook at many levels. His relief maps and tips were useful and his opinions and honest spirituality were a good starting point. He was the ‘Learn from Me’ parent and we were rebellious adolescents: we enjoyed disagreeing with him and I personally defaced his publication with smart remarks. “Oh really Mr Brierley, 18 km with no shelter and no water is sublime on the meseta. Really? You should get out more.”  (I heard a marvellous quote this morning on radio 4, that a mother’s place is in the wrong. So true.) But like a parent he earned our grudging respect, so much so that I have bought three of the same guidebook for different purposes. One I lost because I left the hostel before dawn and didn’t check my kit properly. One for snipping up, scrap booking and defacing. And one to read and show.

This year’s guides are sterile in comparison. Heavy on the maps and a tad clinical and, alarmingly, Miam Miam Dodo ( Yum Yum Bye Byes) is in French. Both of us have some French and are hoping the total immersion experience will bring all that vocabulary flooding back. But none of this gets any easier as we age. I will celebrate my 55th birthday on this walk and find reaching for the correct English word like feeling into the back of dark cupboard feeling pretty certain there’s a useful pair of shoes in there, but being unable to lay my hands on them instantly. So heaven only knows what it will be like in French.

I made a list of all the words we learned in Spanish last year and it runs to around 150, maybe more. So as I went with five: “Dos cervesas por favor – Gracias” – I am hoping the ratio of improvement will be similar, as actually deep down, very deep in a wardrobe of my brain which may back onto Narnia, I know a lot of vocabulary and indeed some grammar. I’ll let you know.

It’s a strange feeling this year. Last time I was nervous and many things were complete unknowns. This time we have more idea. We have honed our kit list and acquired those important merino base layers. And our thermals bought in the hellhole which is Carrion Regardless are coming with us. And Helen has done lot of snoring research and bought some industrial ear plugs.

I don’t feel so nervous.  The walking will be fun, mostly and that’s the bit I really like. The stages are graded by difficulty green, orange and red. There are three red days.

The food should be better  – could it be worse? And the accommodation will be French. Say no more. I’ll let you know.

 

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