Monday, October 6, 2008

We Just Wanted To Walk!

On Saturday we were supposed to be going for an organised walk. Our friend Valerie had invited us across to her village of Bugarach to take part in the Course des Cimes. This is a 17 kms mountain race which we have previously done as runners, before we became more sedate. It seems there is a walking version, which covers only the last 10 kms – the walkers are bussed to the starting point.

Well, it’s a bit of a short walk for us these days, but we haven’t seen Valerie for a while and we thought it would make a bit of a change to walk with other people. So we said we were up for it.

Saturday morning at Chalabre market, we were sitting there, munching and drinking our breakfast and reading the Independent, French Midi version, not the UK paper. An item in there about the Course des Cimes said that to enter, one had to produce a medical certificate or a club membership card. We know this is the case if you want to run, because we have been there. By the way, to get a club membership card, you have to produce a medical certificate.

Not having either of these pieces of documentation available, we didn’t go to the walk. Valerie says the paper was wrong, but clearly somebody’s right hand didn’t know what somebody else’s left hand was doing. We didn’t want to spend over an hour driving to Bugarach on the off-chance that we might be dealt with by the wrong hand.

And it was plausible. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if we did need a medical in order to go for a walk. It has to be admitted that France is a very bureaucratic country. But so are a number of other countries of which we have experience. Italy and Cyprus spring to mind. Britain is fast catching up.

We recently found out that you have to jump through the same hoop in order to learn to dance! Always eager to introduce variety into our exercise, we went along to a line-dancing class. We have always been impressed by how much line-dancers seem to enjoy what they are doing – they stay on the floor for hours on end.

I have to admit that I was not very good at it. I’m sure I could get the hang of it over time, but it was all going a bit fast for me – I don’t mean the dances, I mean the teaching, the moving on from demonstration, to trying it yourself, to assuming you have got it, to learning something else.

But what put us off going again was the bureaucracy. If we wanted to become regulars, we had to produce the following:

1.Medical certificate
2.Name and number of insurance
3,Two copies(each) of photographic identification
4.Stamped addressed envelopes
5.Completed application forms
6.Signing up fee
7.Fees for first trimester

Can I remind you we just wanted to dance!

No comments: