It doesn't do its thing by halves
This winding path,
It never ends.
And when at last,
It seems that now its peak has passed,
This winding path,
It still ascends.
I left town and followed a gently ascending path along the river bank, the rushing water to my left. When I ventured into the bush for personal reasons, an unfortunate encounter with nettles left me tingling all day. It's a strange sensation -- not painful really, but as if a slight electric current is running across your skin.
Suddenly the path took off to the right up the hill. Up and up it went, and every time I came to a fork where one path levelled out, it was always the other I had to take, onward and upward. Ultreia!
But then, relief, as I reached the top and continued west across rolling fields and down to the village of Saint-Victor-Rouzaud. Here, I ate the cold duck Patrick had given me for lunch.
And them, up again, this time on the road which wound its way around the contours of the hill, but ever upwards, a longer climb and higher than this morning's, but manageable because it was a slighter gradient.
It is mainly pasture on the heights, with sheep and cows and horses. I watched the cows swishing their tails. What a useful and flexible appendage! The flies were bothering them, and their tails were in constant motion, swinging back and forth to cover their legs, but flicking higher as well, and coming to rest on their backs before falling down again.
I walked down into the village of Montegut-Plantaurel and on to Sabarthes, and then along the road to my lodgings.
I am staying tonight in a caravan at the Chateau de la Hille. The caravan cost 12 €, the evening meal, 23 €. Even with aperitif and digestif, the meal was not quite up to scratch. It was duck, of course, but not up to Patrick's standard. The desert was a dry tart, and not at all to my taste. The host and hostess were quite charming, and made a practice of joining their guests for the aperative and desert. This was unfortunate.
The other guests were an English couple with a second residence in France, near Capestang on the canal. He spoke a very halting French of the kind that is kind that is sometimes spoken by Shakespeare's low characters in the comedies ("Mon-sewer," etc.) "Our French is junk," he said. I didn't disagree. And when the host and hostess joined us, the Englishman had stories to tell which would have lasted a long time in English, but took an eternity in French. I left as soon as I politely could.
I'm not being unkind here. I'm simply telling it how it was. If I tried to learn Italian or Spanish at their age, I would speak it the same way. And they were not the kind of English who live in cultural enclaves. In fact, they made it very clear that they did not mix with their fellow countrymen in their community, but with the French. He spoke of how they all come together at community events.
"The French love each other," he said. "We (the English) hate each other."
The Chateau de la Hille had been a children's orphanage during the war, "A happy place," he told me, unlike some other children's refuges. They were off tomorrow to visit a museum on the subject.