Chemin E – P

So many pretty towns beginning with E: Espalion, Estaing, Espeyrac. We enjoyed them, and they are indeed listed as some of the loveliest towns in France, and I remember each according to their washing arrangements. In Espeyrac we asked two elderly ladies, who had a nice little dog and were doing a wordsearch / sudoku / IQ test on a bench, if we could use their washing line. We admired their dog and appealed to their female fellow feeling.

Seems a shame to waste the lovely sunshine was their take on it. This line was in full sun and on the main road, such as it was. Lucky locals got our smalls and bigs on show for pretty much a whole afternoon. And we got our washing properly dry, (And the sun kills bugs, my microbiologist companion assured me.)

Figeac – jolly nice small town. And we stayed at a Best Western overlooking the river. It was Sunday when we arrived and I’d broken my glasses. I was squinting through the heat haze and making complex plans to have some posted on. Everything was closed. There appeared to be nothing to eat, but we found a fast food outfit which sold spinach and goat’s cheese quiche. Yum. And the next day we found a lovely optician who mended my bins for free and before 9.20 am. We called him Gerard. He was my hero that day. And I told him so. It was all Helen could do to stop me kissing him.

Food. We talked about it pretty much all the time.
France – the most visited country in the whole world.

Gerard – my hero.
Gite d’etapes. Often twinned with a chambre d’hote. Think youth hostel bed fitted out with granny’s lamps and bedding. Ok if the company/food/weather is good. Tricky if too many factors fail to deliver.
Graffiti. There was loads in Spain of variable quality but much of it was encouraging. Buen Camino. Ultraeia. Don’t stop walking. You can do it Duffy Moon. Not much in France and I missed it.

H – Humble. Reverses, small aches and pains, keep you (me) humble.

I (still) loved the walking, the simplicity, only carrying what you need, lack of distraction and being in the moment.

John and Kevin: exceptional men both. Thank you xx

Laundry – totally preoccupying. Second only to showering ourselves and checking the beds were clean. In Cajerc we found a launderette – yippee – but were defeated by the signage. Two reasonably bright women with 70 years of independent laundry experience between them managed to make the machine go but could find no way of adding powder. Couldn’t find powder even.

M is for MONSTER RAVING LOONY HOT.

N and O is for ‘normalement il y a un orage’… I had asked about the meteo – weather forecast – and this was the cafe owner’s reply. We were bewildered too. It wasn’t like we were in the tropics.

P is for Puy lentils. Dressed with oil, vinegar and onion were surprisingly good. And a welcome part of our five a day, which took some planning and finding. It made me appreciate the variety and plenty of my normal diet.

And it’s the contrast with our normal lives which speaks most when walking to Helen and me: having a week or two with few choices, no status, little chance of making this more comfortable with the outlay of a few euros. We appreciate our privilege, not because we are playing poor – we could pull out at any stage and did – but because for a few weeks we choose to simplify and see what really is necessary, and what we can do without.

Quite a lot.

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