Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Day 39. Another Milestone
This stone marks the boundary between the Orne and Calvados departements in Normandy. Calvados is the last of the many departements that I have walked through in France. It contains Caen and Ouistreham, our ferry port, so this is clear evidence that we are getting somewhere.
When I saw the marker, I had just left Mėnil-Hermei, where I had hoped to find a café-bar, having been disappointed in Rabondanges. As these were the only two villages I was passing through today, my hopes were high, as Mėnil-Hermei was the bigger of the two. My hopes were even higher when I spotted a boulangerie. I went in, ordered a croissant, and asked if there was a bar. The answer was no. It seemed that I would eat my croissant while walking along, and that my legs would not get the rest they were seeking.
But the woman said, “Did you want a coffee? I can make you one.” Asked me if I took milk and/or sugar, left customers waiting in the shop while she went off to make the coffee. Clearly didn’t have any cups there, because the coffee came in one of those glass jars that prefabricated desserts sometimes come in. I asked if there was a seat anywhere in the village. She got her husband to take a chair outside for me (it was a tiny shop). Then she said the coffee was a gift. How kind was that? I was really knocked out. The price of a coffee will go into our collecting tin for Pancreatic Cancer research, as does the “cost” of any act of kindness like this.
One of the customers was an old man, who came out with his bread, prepared to mount his trail bike, and was asking me about my walk. I think I should stop being surprised that somebody I have categorised as “old” is actually younger than me.
We are in a campsite between St Philbert-sur-Orne and Mėnil-Hubert-sur-Orne. Today’s walk was only 21 kms, with climbs of 788 metres. I have been taking it a bit slowly today as I have a slight injury in my left knee. I have a known problem with my right knee – the injury which stopped me running, but have not had a problem with the left one before. I think I know what caused it. The roads have a very sharp camber in the last metre or so at each side. Of course that is where I walk, generally on the left side, facing the approaching traffic. This means that my left leg is constantly striving to be longer than the right (it is best to alternate sides to avoid this problem, but the interests of safety are paramount), like a haggis. Result, misery. The problem came on yesterday as I came down a very steep descent into Putanges-pont-Ėcrepin. It didn’t bother me a lot while walking and doesn’t seem to be any worse than it was when I started out this morning.
No complaints about the weather. It started out a bit cool, but was clearly going to warm up as soon as the sun started to climb. And it did. The flies have been a bit of a nuisance, but they have probably been waiting for months for a bit of warm weather so they could harass a walker, and I just happened to be handy.