Somewhat against the clock, Jackie sped me to Southampton airport early this morning for a trip to Sigoules. The reason for the haste was that once again there had been a problem with the on-line check-in and I anticipated the same difficulties as last time when, because my surname had been registered as JohnKnight, the airport machine had been unable to read my passport. In the event there was no queue and a polite young woman saw me through immediately.
In the lounge I overheard a conversation between three people I initially thought must be Dutch. One turned out to be a Geordie, one a Liverpudlian, and the third from Northern Ireland. My confusion was compounded in the boarding queue where I entered into an exchange with a gentleman with a Scots accent who claimed to be Australian and was wearing an American T-shirt. My difficulties with the local French parlance almost paled into insignificance.
Only almost, because I spent a couple of hours with Saufiene and his team, and I really needed his English to help me understand the others. The now customary champagne was produced, but Saufiene did not partake because he is observing Ramadan. He cannot eat, drink, or smoke until sunset, which, in France at this time is not until 10 p.m. It is a long fast for him.
Apparently my next door neighbours are so impressed with the painting Renov Conseil 24 have undertaken at the front of the house, that they want similar work carried out on their property.
IMG_9301IMG_9304My flight was uneventful. We had a smooth crossing above the clouds, and the landing, implemented by a female captain, was the gentlest I have experienced.
Sandrine, of Taxi Eymetois, met me at Bergerac airport and drove me to rue St Jacques, where the builders were in attendance.
This may be the last post I can publish in the next day or two, because my Kensington universal charger does not fit my new HP laptop.
I am also having trouble uploading photographs, so they may have to follow later too. Otherwise everything is hunky dory.
PS. 11th July 2014
I have now sorted out a bit of garbling that was done with this post. My technical problems were compounded by a very intermittent signal in Le Code Bar where I was working on it.

Sole Survivor

Yesterday’s mid-day meal at Le Code Bar consisted of a noodle soup, ham salad, and plentiful roast chicken and chips followed by a Paris-Brest dessert, of which a welcome second helping was, with a smile, placed on my table by Fred as I worked on my blog post.
Later, I watched Prime Suspect Two. The first production had dealt with sexism. This one has racism as its sub-plot. It is as tense a well-acted and directed drama as its predecessor. I then began reading ‘Keeping the World Away’ by Margaret Forster.
This morning I undertook a bit more clearing up. A wasps’ nest had been found in the attic and eradicated by Renov Conseil 24. With a dustpan and brush I transferred the corpses to the garden. Like the survivor of a massacre protected by a screen of deceased comrades, the largest of all the vespas staggered from the heap and crawled towards the lip of the pan. I gave it its chance on the earth outside.wasps I do hope it doesn’t create another  home inside.
On leaving the house to make my farewells at Le Code Bar, I met a two year old and his grandmother. I had some difficulty in communicating with the little boy who was dragging his cart over the steps to No 6. Grandma spoke clear northern French so there was no problem there. I explained that I had equal difficulty understanding such small children in England. She identified with this, saying it wasn’t easy for her either.
The ATM at Credit Agricole told me it couldn’t give me any money and I should contact my bank. I had only attempted to withdraw 20 euros to pay for my taxi. There was plenty in my account and I had entered the correct PIN. Taxi Eymetois would, I know, have been happy to wait until next time, but that wasn’t the point.
I telephoned Barclays in Paris. I have previously written that they transferred my account from Bergerac without telling me. This time I was told that my card had been blocked in September. The very helpful woman who spoke to me did not know the reason for this, but she freed the account and told me I could use the card again from tomorrow morning. When I explained that that would be too late, she was most apologetic, but could do know more.  As I said to her, thank goodness Taxi Eymetois have become friends.
It is because I came away in September with enough euros to see me through until today that this was the first time I had attempted to withdraw cash on this trip. Had I done so earlier in the week, one day’s delay would have been manageable. Having relaxed after resolving this problem, I drew out 20 euros with my NatWest card. The transfer fee on such a small sum will be minimal, but I had opened the French account in order to avoid such supplements. Unfortunately my English bank does not operate in France.
Sandrine arrived early to collect me and drive me to Bergerac Airport. When I told her the tale of the card she said, as I knew she would, that I should have waited to pay them next time. The plane journey went smoothly and Jackie was waiting at Southampton to drive me home.
My iMac happily accepted my Sandisk photos and I was able to upload them to the last week’s posts.
This evening Jackie and I dined at Curry Garden in Ringwood, and enjoyed the usual good food and efficient, friendly, service. We both drank Kingfisher.


Orlaith & Sam's footUp early this morning, Orlaith is still wary of me, although she was tempted to peep out from the shelter of her Dad’s legs. When I opened the kitchen bin to add a firmly wrapped up disposable nappy, I found half the contents of the spice rack posted in there.
I hadn’t used my printer yesterday, but somehow it kept turning itself on. It did the same this morning. The button is 50 centimetres from the ground. Any ideas?
I had a smooth journey to Sigoules by my usual method. Sandrine was Taxi Eymetois’s driver waiting at Bergerac to drive me to rue St Jacques where Saufiene and Stefan  attended with Champagne on the kitchen table. We had a long chat after which I watched Skyfall in which Daniel Craig starred as the implausibly indestructible James Bond. Judy Dench was a magnificent M and Javier Bardem a convincing villain. While the hero created noisy mayhem on the screen there was a clattering from within the house which was certainly not part of the film. Investigation revealed a folding chair which had fallen from its resting place in the back corridor.
I dined on cornflakes and repaired to le Code Bar where I was welcomed by David and Fred. Graham was also there. David was very appreciative of the call from Mike Kindred alerting him to the scam. Fred said Mike’s French was very good.

Able Assignments To The Rescue

18th May 2013

Country Rock at Le Code Bar

A heavy deluge and a distant thunderstorm beset us yesterday afternoon and throughout the night.  Intermittent rain and strong, cold, winds persisted today, so it is just as well that I continued cleaning, tidying, and hanging pictures.

After this I amused myself writing out a bilingual snagging list.  I suppose the need for one was inevitable.  Thierry is yet to return to finish off and the unlit back corridor, completed after 9 p.m., is less than brilliant.

What needs to be done here is nothing compared to that required by Beauchamp Lodge Settlement in the early 1990s.  As Chairman I had a real problem on my hands.  The charity had been forced to sell the beautiful early nineteenth century building in Little Venice it had occupied until then because we did not have, and could not raise the £500,000 required to bring it back to a safe standard.Distracted from the music

The Greater London Council had owned the building and let it to us for a peppercorn rent.  Through the intervention of Councillor Anne Mallinson, later to become mayor, we had been able to buy the building at less than market rate; sell it for a greater sum; and buy a far less salubrious terraced building on the north  side of Regents Canal further west along Harrow Road.

Much work was required to make this address fit for our purposes and ready for occupation.  A firm was engaged to carry out the work, and a deadline set.  Nothing was done for weeks.  Promises were made and excuses given.  Progress was minimal.  Six weeks before we were due to move in I sacked the building company.

What to do next?  No-one wants to complete major works which have been fiddled about with by a predecessor.  Least of all Michael, whose policy is never to touch another builder’s snagging, and who didn’t relish the two hour drive to North London, before and after each day’s work.  Nevertheless he, Matthew, and the rest of the Able Assignments team came to the rescue and did me proud.  We were able to move in on time and they continued the refurbishment with little inconvenience to the activities of the charity.

We must have had a removal firm to transport our furniture, files, and other equipment, but for some reason I only remember the moving of one desk.  The Settlement’s original and subsequent homes were about a mile apart.  In drizzling rain, Roderick Graham, a debt counsellor, and I carried this piece from one to the other.  The next day I had a cataract operation in Nottingham.Solo slot

This afternoon I began reading Susan Hill’s ‘The Service of Clouds’ before Maggie and Mike collected me and drove me to their home in Eymet where we tried a new Indian takeaway restaurant.  Poppy’s produced quite the best curry I have tasted in France.  The proprietors are an English couple, the woman of which cooks the food before your very eyes.  A limited menu is rapidly and superbly produced.  The phal was very much to my liking.  With it I drank an excellent Chateau Laville Bertou reserve minervois 2010.  I chose it because it bore the tag Reflets de France, and I have found that whatever the product this is always a very reliable label.  Not only that.  I couldn’t find any Kingfisher.

Dana, Sandrine’s husband who has joined the family concern drove me back to Sigoules where I was entertained for an hour or so by Jamie and the Crazy Hearts; the drummer barely discernible in a corner behind three guitarists, one being the energetic lead singer who announced the numbers in French and sang in his native English; performing a Country Rock concert in Le Code Bar. Country Rock at Le Code Bar (2) Having eaten with the Kindreds, I declined the barbecue that was on offer.

She Snatched My Wallet

‘De Sa Grande Amie’ is a short rondeau by Clement Marot, which I read before Lydie arrived to take me to Bergerac airport for my return to England.  It was easy to read.

My driver’s cough was worse than sometimes, but she was her usual cheerful self.  This sexagenarian woman is a stalwart character, full of fortitude, and is as wide as she is short.  She insists on placing my bag in the car herself and opens my door for me like the true chauffeuse she is.  She is absolutely reliable and always punctual.  We share much fun conversation, and she is a great teacher of her language.

The youngish woman checking us through security at the airport was so curt and brusque that I stopped speaking in French, or at all, and gave her a long, cool, stare. This was after she’d ushered me to a chair to take my shoes off, snatched my wallet out of my hand, thrown it into one of the plastic trays, and summoned the next person before she’d finished with me.  I had to retrieve the wallet to extract the passport she was demanding.  She appeared not to realise that that might have been the reason I was opening it anyway.  The elderly woman who answered the summons was expected to take off her shoes standing up, as there was only one chair.  There was actually no need for any hurry.  We were early, there was only one further customer in the queue, and I was moving briskly enough, having gone through all the motions, like taking off my belt, without being instructed to.  ‘Ok’, she said, in response to my look, her face betraying no emotion.  I did not reply.  It takes quite a lot for me to respond in such a manner.

Bergerac from planeUntil we approached England there was a clear view to the land or sea below. Only then did clouds obscure our vision.  Swimming pools in gardens around Bergerac airport seemed to reflect the wing of the plane as I watched them reduce in size as we rose. River Dordogne from planeThe river Dordogne, from which this part of Acquitaine takes its name, wound its way through the landscape. Hampshire fields from plane By the time we were descending towards Southampton and looking down on the fields of Hampshire, the temperature had dropped a few degrees, and as Jackie drove me to Minstead, I noticed that the wild flowers in the hedgerows were some way behind the French ones in their development.  Light rain spattered the windscreen as we parked at Castle Malwood Lodge.

As has become traditional, there being a dearth of Indian restaurants in France, we just had to go out for a curry on my return.  This meant a visit to Lyndhurst’s ‘Passage to India’ for a good meal and a glass each of Kingfisher.


Last night Lydie arrived on time to collect Bill and me and return us to Sigoules.  She and I had our usual debate about what she should be paid.  She always charges less than appears on the clock and I always give her a little more, which is still less than other companies charge.  This figure has not changed in five years.  Recoiling in mock horror when I said there was to be no argument about it, she exclaimed, a twinkle in her eye, that I was ‘so masterful’.

Keen to finish, against the odds, today, the builders, who normally arrive at 9 a.m., let themselves in with the key I had given them yesterday, well before 8, catching me in bed with ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and a cafetiere.  I thanked them for having taken my dead washing machine and old ironing board to the dump yesterday.

A fragment of ‘La complainte’ (The lament) which I read this morning was the next Rutebeuf poem in Sofiene’s book.

Although much warmer today, rain looked likely when I set off to walk the loop that turns off the Thenac road at the wooden signpost beside it.  I therefore wore an unbuttoned raincoat.  Referring to the long-running (1971 – 2003) and oft-repeated formulaic American detective series starring Peter Falk, ‘ah! Columbo!’ cried Thierry.

Adopting the role, I turned around as I opened the front door, raised my hand, and said ‘just one more thing…..’.  Picking up the theme, ‘my wife…..’ replied a smiling Thierry.  For those who are not familiar with this TV production, these were two of the eponymous character’s stock phrases used when he was about to ask an apparently innocent, yet incisive, question, or make a deceptively perceptive observation.  It must be nigh on forty years since I last saw an episode.

Sigoules outskirts

No doubt waiting for the sun’s rays to filter through the blinds that were the surrounding trees, the wild flowers mentioned in previous recent posts still dipped their heads in slumber, not yet having stirred and stretched their petals.  They hadn’t been roused by intruders.  It didn’t rain, yet I was pretty moist on my return, after which I made a start on tidying up the garden.

Lunch at Le Code Bar consisted of my favourite, onion soup; coarse pate, avocado, melon and gherkins; and the tenderest thick slices of roast pork with mixed pasta.  The biscuit based soft chocolate mousse that followed lay in its usual pool of creme anglaise which was piped with threads of light and dark brown sauce producing an artistic kaleidoscopic effect when disturbed.

On The Plane

Before setting off by my usual transport methods to Sigoules this morning I left Flo a note granting her permission to use my chair, my computer, and my house keys for the rest of her stay.  I trust she felt honoured.  We are very pleased that she will keep her Grannie company whilst I am away.

A gentleman much larger than me sat beside me on the aisle seat in the plane.  Actually that one had been allocated to me.  I tactfully asked him to rise so I could sit in the more cramped window seat.  Discretion seemed to be called for.  In fact he was very friendly and, as soon as was permitted, moved up to the front where he could spread himself across two empty spaces.  I quipped that one of us had to go and since he was bigger than me it had to be him.  The airline are very relaxed about people changing seats but it has to be after we are on the move.

A Welsh family sat behind me and, gazing down on the patchwork quilt of fields and model houses rapidly diminishing as we rose into the clouds, a small boy asked his grandfather if that were the whole of Wales beneath him.  ‘That’s England’, was the reply.  ‘Is it the whole of England?’ asked the lad.  It wasn’t.  The interrogation ended there.  Thinking of Malachi’s ‘why?’ game, I was rather relieved.  It could have gone on a long time.

I was rather intrigued by a couple in front of me.  A slender and beautiful young woman, when not reading Caitlin Moran or playing with her iPod, or whatever it was, fondly rested her head on the shoulder of her chunky grey-haired male companion.  I did my my best to convince myself that this was a father and daughter.  A wedding ring and certain tender aspects of behaviour soon suggested otherwise.

Suppressing thoughts about lucky dogs I persevered with ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger, which I had chosen as light relief after ploughing through Wordsworth’s biography.  An explicit scen involving a ghost and her grieving lover didn’t help much.

It was 7 degrees and raining when we touched down in Bergerac twenty minutes late.  Sandrine was waiting patiently to drive me to Sigoules.  Trees in leaf and blossom provided evidence that it has recently been as warm as twenty degrees.  In order that there should be no misunderstanding about the correct day of my return trip (see post of 5th February) I handed my driver a print-out of my flight details.  All I have to do now is remember it.

Lichen Sigoules war memorialAfter I’d settled in I had a stroll round the village where lichen thrives on the trees in the war memorial garden.  A late lunch of boiled eggs, baguette, and an orange was to follow.

A warm welcome awaited me in Le Code Bar this evening.  They are still not opening the restaurant in the evening so I settled for a complimentary bowl of olives to accompany my Stella.

Sadly, I have forgotten the battery charger for my camera so I will have to be very parsimonious with new photographs until the juice runs out, and supplement them with some I made earlier.

Surprisingly Picturesque

Although I have been unable to confirm the nationality of a gang of childhood friends from the early 1950s, my recollection is that it was ‘the Czechs’ we did battle with in those days.  For some reason Jackie and I got talking about this over coffee this morning.  Refugee families had been housed in a large Victorian terrace in Worple Road.  Somewhere nearby was a bomb site.  My gang and a similar group of the incomers engaged in mock warfare.  There were strict rules and no-one was ever hurt.  On this patch of weed-covered rubble and debris each nationality built a den out of corrugated iron, wooden beams, old sinks, cisterns, and whatever else was available.  We then hurled bricks and bits of concrete at each other’s structures until one collapsed, after which the winners crowed a bit, then we all shook hands and went home.  It was absolutely forbidden to throw a missile at another boy.  Language was a bit of a problem, but we managed to communicate rules and intent.  There had not been enough postwar time for these sites to have been fully cleared, and they were most attractive playgrounds, no doubt full of enough hazards to have horrified today’s parents.

Four days ago, when Lydie was driving me to Bergerac airport, she described the beauty of morning mist rising from the local frosty fields on clear sunny days.  In particular she had seen a scene where the tops of trees seemed to be emerging from a sea of water.  As Jackie drove me to Southampton Parkway railway station for my London lunch date with Norman, we saw a similar phenomenon beside the M27.

On the train I was amused to hear a most original ring tone on the mobile phone of the man opposite.  It was, in his little girl’s voice, ‘Dad, Dad, come on Dad, your phone’s ringing’.  Yesterday Jackie had explained the significance of Charlie and Carlos in a TV auction programme, as being a jocular distinction between two men named Charles.  So when the steward on board announced that there were two at-seat trollies in service, Peter being in charge of the rear five coaches, and Pedro of the front five, I had an idea what might be going on.  When Peter arrived at my seat I asked him if this were so.  He laughed and said he ‘couldn’t remember his name so [he] made something up’.

From Waterloo I walked my usual route to Green Park, where I boarded a Jubilee Line train to Neasden. Love hearts and London Eye 2.13 Helium-filled love hearts hanging from the avenue of naked trees approaching the London Eye were juxtaposed with that wheel’s capsules, just one of which seemed to reflect their colour.

Westminster Pier 2.13Cruise vessels were filling with passengers at Westminster Pier where, for Norman’s 70th birthday celebrations I had boarded one with Jessica, and last year, for his 80th, with Jackie.

Boadicea 2.13This year’s tourists are now becoming difficult to negotiate in this iconic area of London.

Goose basking 2.13In St James’s Park a slumbering goose had claimed a soporific shaft of sunlight.

On the tube a standing young man, plugged into one mobile device, peered down at that of a seated young woman who appeared to be scanning her messages.  The rest of us were treated to a high volume African telephone conversation, the slightly robotic voice emanating from the mobile being even louder than that of our softer-spoken fellow traveller.  On the return journey this effort was completely outbellowed by two Chinese men sitting on opposite sides of the carriage and several seats apart.  Another African was loudly engaged in a telephone conversation, but at least he hadn’t got his device on hands-free mode.

St Mary's church Willesden graveyard 2.13Having some time to spare I attempted to visit St Mary’s church, Willesden.  Unfortunately, as is almost invariably the case in London churches now, the doors were all locked.  I walked around the graveyard which was tidied up a few years ago.  A stone tablet by a gathered-up collection of gravestones proclaims this fact.  Although there are a very few memorials to more recent interments, most of those there are Victorian.  The land is virtually an open-air museum of a long-gone section of nineteenth century London.  With the church itself, which is rather older, a surprisingly picturesque scene greets anyone venturing off the High Road at Church End.  From Neasden station one walks past a very gritty area dominated on each side by scrap metal dealers and waste skip depots; sorry-looking terraces of rented accommodation; a busy garage whose customers often cause hold-ups as they queue to enter; then ugly 60s office buildings and slightly more recent council estates; rubbish everywhere, including the front of the graveyard; rusted benches surrounded by dog-ends; cracked, broken, and sunken paving stones; parking meters; and the often nose-to-tail queues of London traffic belching out exhaust fumes.  It is all very sordid and I usually walk past the church feeling sorry for it. St Mary's church Willesden 2.13 Today I was rewarded for taking a closer look.

Norman provided a lunch of boiled bacon followed by jam roly-poly, accompanied by Carta Roja gran reserva 2006.

At Neasden station on the way back to Waterloo, a young woman was attaching a small black fascinator to one of her companions’ hair.  The headdress was blown out of her hand and made its way like a speedy spider scampering across the platform to be retrieved just before it descended onto the lines.  With much gaiety it was finally firmly fixed in place.

I arrived back at Southampton Parkway in time for Jackie to collect and drive me back to the lodge.


rue St Jacques from garden on corner 2.13

Last night I watched ‘La Dame En Noir’, the French version of ‘The Woman in Black’, a gothic treatment of Susan Hill’s ghost story.  Directed by James Watkins, this was beautifully and terrifyingly filmed in marvellously muted colour.  In order not to spoil it for future viewers I will simply say that Daniel Radcliffe is superb in the lead role, as is the supporting cast, especially Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer.  Hearing dubbed French supplemented by subtitles in that language I was able to follow it well enough.  Afterwards I watched it in English.  The actors’ voices were then much more part of the performances.

I’m a pretty tough cookie when it comes to the supernatural, but, even on second viewing, I lost count of the number of times a shiver ran up the back of my neck and tugged at my facial muscles.  The last film scene that had that effect on me was the revelation of Norman Bates’ mother in Psycho.  That was in my teens.

6 rue St Jacques through disused garden gate 2.13Except for the climb back into Sigoules, my walk today was comparatively flat.  On the D17 towards Monbos a woman from the boulangerie was delivering bread to homes on the outskirts.  I took a right turn to Le Bricoty, right again to the Cuneges road and finally right into my village.  The two tracks off the main roads are heavily pock-marked with various materials providing in-fill.

It was just as well that I returned as the church clock was striking noon, for Sandrine was waiting outside to take me to the airport.  ‘It’s Tuesday the twelfth’, said I.  Once again confusion had arisen when booking with her mother last Friday.  Tuesday is ‘mardi’; noon is ‘midi’ or ‘douze heures’; the twelfth is ‘douze’.  Sandrine was perfectly relaxed and most amused.  As she speaks perfect English I said: ‘Lost in translation again’.  We parted with ‘Mardi douze [at] midi [or] douze heures’ from me, and a good shared laugh.

Soup 2.13Pizza slice 2.13Frangipane tart 2.13Yesterday’s soup in Le Code Bar was even better the next day.  This was followed by a large slice of delicate pizza.  The sweet was a toothsome frangipane tart.  Unfortunately I managed to lose the photograph I took of the main course, so I will have to paint a pastoral picture.  This was a beautifully presented terrace of tender duck breast medallions lying at the foot a glistening rocky hillock of dressed pasta garnished with cheese.  The usual lettuce leaves provided a deciduous foliage, and what could be seen of the huge chromium oval platter was a surrounding lake.  Once again I was full to bursting.  Stuffed for the next twenty four hours.

After lunch the fierce wind and I chased last autumn’s maple leaves around the garden.  Since neither I nor my neighbours have such trees I’ve no idea where they are coming from.

I usually have two books, one in English and one in French, on the go at any one time.  On completing Marguerite Duras’ ‘Emily L’ this afternoon I was struck by several contrasts between, and one coincidence in, that and Juliet Barker’s life of Wordsworth.  The French novel is short and concise; a small format paperback with large print running to 152 pages.  The English biography is immense and dense.  It is a large format hardback comprising almost 900 pages of very small print.  Although I didn’t know it before my reading, the novel also features the life of a poet.  It will be some time before I finish the biography, so here I’ll just say a bit more about ‘Emily L.’.  The novel uses the fascinating device of what Jackie would call ‘people-watching’.  The four main characters occupy a bar overlooking the Seine.  The French narrator, falling out of love with her male companion, concentrates on an English couple clinging to love despite the woman’s destructive alcoholism.

The thoughts of the Frenchwoman and her conversation with her man, always using ‘vous’ rather than the more intimate ‘tu’, are interspersed with the words of the husband across the room.  His wife mostly looks at the floor whilst he soliloquises.  Emily is the successful poet who has lost her muse.  We learn why.  An excellent story of the sadness of dying romance, it is given pace by the brevity of the sentences.

People-watching in restaurants is clearly an universal phenomenon.  When in Le Code Bar I listen to all the voices around me, hoping to catch a few words of French.  The speakers’ confidentiality is quite safe with me.  I don’t understand enough.

A Watershed


Hellebore 2.13

It is ivy on the wall attracting my numerous noisy little avian friends, not the virginia creeper which isn’t yet foliated.  Last evening, no matter how long or how often I sat patiently waiting, camera in hand, they scarpered at my first movement.  A flurry of feathers and they were gone.  All would be quiet.  Thinking that was that I would walk back inside.  Then the rest of the flock would silently emerge from the foliage and flit away.  Sometimes a tailender would follow afterwards.  It became a game of hide and seek that I was always going to lose.

This morning, before setting off for Eymet, I worked on the garden, trimming and cutting back.  In what is no more than a small courtyard; where plants must be grown in tubs or makeshift beds merely inches deep; uninhabited for most of the year; subjected to often intense heat and long dry periods in the summer, it takes a while to discover what will survive.  This time I seem to have lost only one cistus, though its companion on the front steps has lived.  I am delighted that the hellebore I planted last summer is now in bloom.

Magpies rattled away.

It was a sunless day with light rain on and off.  I walked to Eymet via Ste. Innocence and Fonroque.  The roads were all undulating and snaking, the stretch leading to and past Ste. Innocence being predominantly uphill.  Some way past this village there is a series of steep S bends dropping down to the D933 at Fonroque.  A right turn there took me into the town, and to Maggie and Mike’s home in Chemin de la Sole, which was my goal.Shrine to Our Lady, Ste. Innocence 2.13

I passed the wayside shrine at Ste. Innocence which I described on the 8th June last year (posted on 10th).  I wasn’t adding photographs then.

This walk was something of a watershed.  The last time I made it was in 2009 when I did not know that the pain in my left leg would not go away until I had surgical intervention in the form of a replacement hip.  When I arrived at this famous Bastide town to meet my friends at a restaurant in the mediaeval square, I was completely unable to climb into the bench/table at which we were to eat.  I had to perch on one end without attempting to fold myself up in any way.  On that trip Jackie had phoned me from England to see how I was getting on.  Learning how much my leg was hurting she politely indicated that I might not be quite right in the head.  ‘It’ll be OK’, said I, ‘you just have to walk through the pain’.  Well, you see, the dictum for marathon runners hitting ‘The Wall’, that point where physiological changes make them feel like stopping, is to ‘run through the pain’.  To me it seemed like a transferable skill.  It wasn’t.

Today’s call whilst I was on the move was from Saufiene, confirming the time for tomorrow’s door measurements.  I don’t think he thought I was quite sane either, but he probably considered it a bit impolitic to say so.  For the record, I felt fine on completion of today’s challenge.  Just a bit achy in the calves.

After the usual aperitifs and nibbles Maggie served up a tasty roast chicken meal and a varied cheeseboard.  A good red wine went with it.  We then watched English television during which both Maggie and I dropped off to sleep.  Reminiscent of a Firs gawp described on 2nd June 2012.

Lydie drove me home and we shared our usual warm greetings and entertaining conversation.