Monday, September 27, 2010

Steve Jobs To Launch Apple iCar

You read it here first! Apple are secretly testing this innovative new car, moving out of their electronics comfort zone and into transport, on their way to taking over the world.

The car's provenance is revealed by the distinctive Apple logo perched provocatively on its derriere. It's heritage is clear - simple but functional, eye-catching design.

Test runs in France are almost complete. The vehicle is expected to go on sale soon, after the usual spectacular launch by Steve Jobs. Prices are yet to be revealed but are expected, as with Apple computers, to be at least twice those of the competition.

One month ago the temperature in these parts was 42 degrees celsius. This morning it was 7 degrees and snow has appeared on the visible Pyrenees.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


We have been in Italy for a few days. The first picture was taken there. Double-click to make the picture bigger. What's that all about?

The second was taken during my walk from Quillan this morning. At this time of the year the valleys are frequently full of mist. It is a photographer's paradise. The views from higher up, for instance, at 600 metres before we descended to 290 at Quillan, which was totally mistbound, are spectacular. This one was taken just above Ginoles, when I had walked up and out of the mist. By the time I got to the top, the sun had completely burned the white stuff away.

Thanks to Gill Nurse, who was the first to spot that my fund-raising has reached £8,000. And thanks to Kathleen Howard, who made the donation which achieved that. Both ladies I have never met, but who are followers of my blog and of VBW.

The other day I mentioned in the blog that if somebody made a donation of £46.60, this would achieve the £8,000. Kathleen obliged. So Gay suggests that I point out that if somebody were to make a donation of £1,000 (and it would not be the first of that amount) the fund would jump to £9,000. Go for it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book-Keeping, Book Writing

The fund is now even closer to having raised £8,000, against the original target of £7,000.

Donations are still trickling in, although I continue to be amazed at the number of people who promised me, unasked, that they would donate, but who have not yet done so.

One donation of a mere £46.60 will bring the total up to the next thousand.

In the meantime, I go full steam ahead with writing the book which will hopefully raise much more money for the same cause.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Fine Example Of The Plonk-It Seat

Today, for the first time since VBW finished, I walked home from Quillan market to Puivert. Gay and I recently discovered a new, off-road variant for the first leg of the walk, from Quillan to Ginoles.

Along that fine section, there are several examples of what I referred to in my blog here during the walk as "plonk-it seats". These are few and far between on the pedestrian highways and byways of France, but Nebias is particularly well served and its example should be followed by the rest of the country.

The seat pictured in the second picture, with its fine view over Ginoles, has a plaque which shows that it was placed there in memory of Hazel Gough-Roberts, who always loved Ginoles.

Maybe this is the way to go. In the absence of a Plonk-it organisation, seats for weary travellers could be provided all over France, at strategic point and junctions on the Grandes Randonnees system by individual benefactors, in memory of their loved ones.

Please don't think I am mocking the idea of sponsoring a seat as a memorial. I think it is a splendid thing to do. In fact at one stage I had the idea of doing my walk to raise funds for such a seat in memory of Gaile, but the project expanded into the idea of raising funds for Pancreatic Cancer research.

Speaking of which, the fund is still open and stands very near to £8,000 against the original £7,000 target. You could be the one to push it over the next thousand.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Speedy Gonzales and Vic's Big Book

You would be amazed what is contained within the belly of this tiny creature.

After some debate with myself about the effort involved, I am now working on the book of the walk.

Speedy Gonzales here holds the backup of the raw materials and the beginnings of the first draft. During the walk I not only kept the blog, which many people have urged me to convert into a book. I also dictated, as I walked along, my instant thoughts into a tiny recorder, transcribed each evening, which amounted to 1500-2000 words per day.

This, together with much background material contained in the pre-walk bulk of the blog, I hope to bring together into a readable work.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vic's Big Walk Maps for Sale

Time to try to recover some of the enormous costs of the expedition.

We were horrified, but not too surprised, to find that we had lost 11,000 Euros on V-Force One, a vehicle we used for only 3 months. Many people thought it was supplied to us by one of our sponsors, but not so. We had to buy it and now we have sold it.

We used a large number of maps during the walk and of course they could be useful to somebody else.

These are the maps, with footpaths and Grandes Randonnees clearly visible, which I used while walking through France as part of my epic walk (as seen on TV) from the Pyrenees to Blackpool to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

The maps are all in excellent condition. They have my route marked on them in yellow highlighter and possibly some written notations. But otherwise they are unused. I was unable to use them en route because of my vision problems. They were only used for pre-planning my journey.

They are from the IGN Serie Bleue Cartes de Randonnee series, Lots of detail, 1 cm = 250 metres. I can sell them individually or, as a pack, they would get you from Mirepoix in the Ariege to Caen/Ouistreham in Normandy. The normal price is from 8 Eruos to over 10 Euros. I am selling them for 4.00 Euros each, including postage within Europe.

In more or less South to North order, they are:

2246 O. Mirepoix
2245 O Castelnaudary
2244 O Revel, St Felix-Lauragais
168 Toulouse Pamiers (this one 1 cm = 1 km)
2240 O Gaillac
2142 E Rabastens
2141 E Montricoux
2140 E St Antonin Noble Val
2139 E Limogne en Quercy
2138OT Cahors, St Cirq Lapopie, Vallees du Lot et du Cele
2137 O Labastide Murat
2136 ET Rocamadour Padirac
2036 ET Sarlat Souillac, Vallee de la Dordogne
1936 ET Les Eyzies, Vallee de la Dordogne et de la Vezere
1935 E Thenon
1934 E Excideuil
1934 O Perigueux
1833 E Nontron
1832 E Piegut Pluviers
1933 O St Pardoux la Riviere
1932 O St Mathieu
1931 ESt Junien
1931 O Rochechouart
1831 E Exideuil (Charente)
1830 E Confolens
1829 E L’Isle Jourdain (Vienne)
1828 E Persac
1928 O Montmorillon
1928 E Lathus St Remy
1927 E La Trimouille
1927 O St Savin (Vienne)
1926 E Le Blanc
1926 O Pleumartin La Roche Posay
1925 O Le Grand Pressigny
1825 E Chatellerault (Est)
1824 E Ste Maure de Touraine
1724 E Richelieu
1824 O L’Ile Bouchard
1823 O Langeais, Azay le Rideau
1723 E Chinon, Rigny-Usse
1723 O Bougueil, Fontevraud-l’Abbaye
1623 E Saumur
1722 O Noyant
1721 O Le Lude
1721 E Chateau la Valliere
1720 T Foret de Berce, Chateau du Loir
1819 O Montfort le Gesnois
1719 E Le Mans
1718 E Ballon
1718 O Beaumont sur Sarthe
1618 OT Foret de Sille le Guillaume
1617 E St Pierre de Nids, Alpes Mancelles
1616 ET Foret D’Ecouves, Alencon, PNR Normandie-Maine
1615 E Argentan
1614 O Falaise
1615 O Putanges Pont Ecrepin
1514 E Clecy, Suisse Normande
1513 Thury Harcourt
1612 OT Caen Ouistreham
106 Caen Cherbourg Octeville (this one also is 1 cm = 1 km)

Other maps in the Serie Bleue which we did not use are:

1825 E Chatellerault (Est) (duplicate)
1926 E Le Blanc (duplicate)
1823 O Langeais , Azay le Rideau (duplicate)
1830 E Confolens (duplicate)
2343 ET Castres, Le Sidobre , PNR du Haut-Languedoc

I also have:

903 (this is a map of the whole of France, showing the huge network of Grandes Randonnees)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Keeping Promises

I am constantly amazed by the kindness of people in general and our local villagers in particular.

Many Puivertains became caught up in the atmosphere of my Big Walk. And several of them have donated.

Perhaps I should explain that the French are not nearly so wealthy as the British. If you are British, you may not feel wealthy, but in general you are much, much more well off than French citoyens, especially those in a poor, remote area like this with little employment. I have heard it said that the French regard the British much as we viewed the Americans for so long after the war - as far, far better off than we were, with access to so many more things.

On top of that, I believe it is not nearly so normal in France to give money to charity, especially when it comes to sponsoring somebody for a sporting event or other achievement.

That is why I am so knocked out with the financial support given, through me, to Pancreatic Cancer UK. And I have to say there has been no suggestion of reticence because this is a British charity. I am sure they realise that the hoped-for results from the research we are helping to fund will benefit the people of the world, not just the UK.

Gay went for a haircut the other day. Our village hairdresser is Maryse, but it is her daughter Patricia who does Gay's hair. During the walk we were surprised to receive an e-mail of support from Maryse - we didn't even know she had a computer. While Gay was having her hair powed (as my father used to say - can anybody explain that word to me?) Maryse and Patricia said they would bring us a cheque each for the fund. A few minutes ago Maryse came with the cheques, which have already been converted to sterling and paid into the fund (which now lies somewhere between 113% and 114% of the original target.

During VBW I met many people who promised to donate (and I was not asking them to do so) but who have not come good. But not one French person has failed to live up to such promises.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mighty Fallen

How are the mighty fallen! Not just this tree, supposedly diseased and dangerous, in Quillan. But also myself, Big Walker.

You may recall that I had been asked to host an "Evening with Vic Heaney", at a guest-house - also in Quillan - during which, over dinner, I would regale the attendees with tales of derring do and kilometres conquered during Vic's Big Walk for Pancreatic Cancer research.

The event had been deliberately timed in late September to fill the guest house at the beginning of what would normally be the quiet period. Unfortunately, the season is destined to remain as quiet as usual. There have been lots of hits on the web page advertising the "Evening with". Clearly I am not enough of a draw.

It is good to have a reminder, now and again, not to get too big for one's boots.