Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Day 2 Saint-Gilles-le-Gard to Gallargues-le-Montuex

2 April, 2011

Apologies to those of you who are receiving these posts by email. I intended merely to send you a link in case you were interested, not to plonk myself in your inbox.

Less bitumen today. I was happy to walk along some minor roads and farm lanes.

Usually les grandes randonnees follow roads and vehicle tracks, whereas in England the national trails follow the public footpaths. No other country seems to have the same ancient pedestrian rights of way joining villages. Not to mention the bridle paths. Why did these not develop in Europe? There are so many words for different kinds of walking in English. Trudging, plodding, staggering, lumbering, ambling, etc. (I do all of these.) Is there a connection between the abundance of public footpaths and the rich vocabulary of walking? Has walking become part of the English character because of these public footpaths? It certainly features in the literature. Mr. Earnshaw walked 50 miles to fetch the baby Heathcliff. Angel Clare and his mates were on a walking tour when he sees Tess for the first time. And Mr Gardiner is happy to take a ten-mile turn around Pemberly. Is there as much walking in French literature?

At a bar in Vauvert I was served coffee in a cup with a hollow underneath which fitted over a mound in the saucer. How effective for shaky hands!

French kissing puzzles me. When greeting or parting. the French will kiss each other once, twice, thrice or four times on the cheeks. Sometimes it depends on the region, but often other factors come into play as well. I watched a woman arrive at the bar and greet her friends or acquaintances. She went around the table giving four kisses to each person. Then she came to the last and gave him only three. What was different about him to merit one kiss less?

In Le Puy two years ago I watched several individuals in turn approach others already seated at the table. The first woman kissed one person twice and then shook hands with the rest of the group. The next woman kissed one person once and the rest three times. The third kissed everyone twice. How does it work?

After Vauvert I was threatened by three dogs. I told them I love dogs but that made them worse. I had to walk backwards for a hundred yards lest they nip me in the calves. I could have done with a couple of walkers' poles. These were not the first aggressive dogs I've encountered in France.

Then I walked by another French phenomenon: the cinder block wall topped with broken glass. Along the top of a stretch of wall 200 yards long, some one had painstakingly embedded in cement about 4,000 pieces of broken bottles, jagged edges up. And what was inside? All I could see were rusty old vehicles.

In contrast, I saw my first poppy today. Just one. And lots of beautiful iris.

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