Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm Walking, Yes Indeed I'm Walking

Today I walked the 30 kms from Limoux to home again. When I did this two weeks ago it was after a visit to the dentist - same again today. Two weeks ago I accidentally picked the hottest day of the year - today was a fine day but the temperature stayed in the twenties. And, cunningly, in between the two walks I spent 6 days in Italy, where the temperature was over 35 degrees with very high humidity. So today it didn't seem so hot.

I still managed to arrive home weighing 2 kg less than when I got up this morning, despite breakfast, lunch, a cup of tea, two cups of coffee and a litre of water. The loss is all water, of course. I will have to watch that - all my athletic life I have been told I do not drink enough. I have survived, but I have never done a 70-day event before.

I noticed last time that there is now a cafe in Bouri├Ęge, at 12 or 13 kms into the walk. This is new. Today I stopped for a coffee. I took this outside, where two men and a woman were at one of the tables. I sat at the other. I was immediatedly engaged in conversation by one of the men.

"Where do you come from?"

"England," I said.

"Good answer, but ..." It was now clear he meant where had I come from today.

"Limoux".

"And you go to?"

"Puivert". He goggled. Gitane in one hand, glass of beer in the other. Not a distance man, then.

"Why, why do you walk?" said Erik, for this was he.

I explained that I liked walking. Further questioning elicited my plans for VBW. He leapt to his feet and shook my hand. This is not the first time I have had this reaction. How unlike the home life of our own sad commenter on my blog!

Erik turned to the other man and woman and told them what I intended to do. The other man said, "A pied?" (on foot?). I confessed that this was true. He whistled. The woman whistled too. Erik said she was a perroquet (parrot). The second man told me "Congratulations". Casting aside for a moment my egocentric infection, I pointed out that it was a little early for congratulation - so far it was only a plan.

"You'll be doing this at 70 years? What's your secret, then?" says Erik. He held up the fag and the drink. "You don't smoke or drink?" I admitted I didn't smoke and that I had never had a glass of beer in my life, but that I do drink wine with food.

I had finished my coffee and was ready to go. The traiteur's (butcher's) van arrived, directly in front of our tables. The other three and the people from the bar hurried to the van. What would these small French villages do without the traiteur and other mobile shops?

I was saying goodbye and walking away when the traiteur opened up the side of the van and the meat caught my eye. I told Erik that if I did have a secret, maybe it was that I was a vegetarian. "Ah, I understand," he said, tapping the side of his nose.

Last time I did this walk I could find no shade to stop and eat my lunch. Now the sun has moved on south and there was the occasional patch of shadow. I found one which included a bridge with low walls where I could sit, feet in the road (once again very little traffic after the first few kilometres), while I took out my sandwiches. This was very appropriate - I had a bridge at each end of me - my visits to the dentist recently have been because I had to have one of my front teeth removed because of an abscess which had eaten away the bone - I have for some weeks been porting a temporary bridge instead and today I had the definitif version fitted.

My sandwiches were magnificent. Avocado, humous and tomato. Before we left for Limoux at 8 this morning, Gay made the humous, she had already made the bread, and she had grown the tomatoes herself. Only the avocado was shop-bought. Watch this space, she can turn her hand to anything.

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