Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Day 19. L'Isle-Jordain to L'Isle-Arne (32.8 kms)

19 April, 2011

Les Offices de Tourisme do a terrific job in France. Those at home probably offer good service as well, but as locals we don't benefit from them. Here, as well as telling you the sights to see, and booking ahead for you, they often manage a communiy gite which can range from historic to ultra-modern. Some even have wifi.

This was probably the best community gite I have stayed at. It is very modern with three small bedrooms. I had one to myself and a view of the lake.

I had dinner with a couple of lovely Norwegian ladies who were staying at the gite. We walked around the lake to a restaurant at a hotel called, appropriately, Hotel du Lac.

There was another couple at the gite as well, and two other people staying in the town, so there are now more people on the chemin.

This morning I walked for a while beside a railway line, and a TER whizzed by. I would like to bring the Vancouver Island Railway Commission out here to learn what they could do with the E&N.


I love trains. I like to visit little railway stations to see where the trains are coming from and going to, and I can sit for hours at a junction like Reading listening to the announcements in that tone and volume that are unique to railway stations:

The train arriving at platform five is for Oxford, stopping at Goring-Streatly, Cholsey-Mouldsford and Didcot.

At French railway stations, they precede the announcements with a series of notes that resemble the beginning of Dean Martin's "Love and Marriage". Terrible song!

The smell of coal smoke is a Proustian moment for me, and takes me back to the glorious steam trains of the old WAGR, the Western Australian Government Railways, a narrow gauge system that could proudly boast it had never lost a passenger. The trains travelled so slowly that they didn't pose a threat to anyone.

I would travel up to York with my father to visit my grandfather. He lived in a little weatherboard house beside a railway line. I remember the lighting of the kerosene lamps. I can still taste the fresh green peas which grew around the well where he used to draw his water.

He was deaf, my grandfather. So was my father. And my mother. And so ...

On the train home, I would hang my head out the window and get soot in my eye. I soon learned to look out the window on the windward side.

That was the era of black snot.

Things of beauty they were, those steam locomotives, as they slowly pulled out of Perth Station, huffing and puffing smoke, and hissing steam.

After the first powerful, plain manifesto,
The black statement of pistons...

I remember being excited when they introduced a U class oil-burning steam engine. Little did I know it was the beginning of the end for the steam locos, which were gradually replaced by ugly diesels.


Today was a long but glorious day with a strong wind which heralds a change in the weather.

The wind makes waves in the wheat.

Tonight, I am staying at a farmhouse. As often happens, the loo is downstairs and the dormitory up. Since the communication between the two is by means of what is practically a Jacob's ladder, and since I am wont to pass from one to the other during the night, I will pay an extra five euros for a downstairs room to myself. Better that than a broken neck!

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