Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Day 8. June 13, 2014. Omps to Marseillette. 23 kms

Roll out the barrel
We'll have a barrel of fun

I was delighted to wake up to find that the Liberals had won the election in Ontario. They won because Ontarians respect their leader, a woman who wouldn't be leader in many countries in the world because she is gay. In a few, she wouldn't even be alive. The Conservatives lost because their leader couldn't do his sums. The NDP never had a chance because their platform was almost the same as the Liberals, and they had forced an unnecessary election in the hope of gaining power. 

I should give you a brief summary of Canadian politics so that you can understand what is going on at next year's federal election. At the federal level, we have the same three parties: the Regressive Conservatives, the Excessive Liberals, and the Aggressive National Democratic Party (NDP).

The Regressive Conservatives used to be called the Progressive Conservatives but were taken over by reactionaries who don't believe in climate change. Some of them believe that the world was created 6,000 years ago. A few believe the world is flat, but their leader tries to keep them out of sight.Their domestic policy is to win votes by appealing to Canadians' self interest. Their foreign policy is to win the votes of immigrants who have ties with foreign countries. Under the Regressive Conservatives, Canada has lost its position of respect in the world.

The Liberals are the Natural Governing Party of Canada but have fallen onto hard times after funding scandals and a couple of idealistic but unpopular leaders. They will win the next election, because they have a handsome young Trudeau at the helm, and because Canadiians, who are basically decent people, are coming to their senses and realizing that Regressives are destroying the country.

The National Democratic Party was the party of Principle in Canada until they sensed a real prospect of forming a government. They used to be to be a Socialist party but now they are trying to replace the Liberals in the centre. Their leader is the most competent of the three, but he looks like a Bolshevik and refuses to shave his beard. They won't win. Appearances are important in Canadian politics.

With that unbiassed little primer you should be able to follow what's happening in the next election.

I continue to investigate the plight of the plane tree. The proprietor at my chambre d'hôtes this morning  told me that the plane trees were dying because of a fungus in the water of the canal. A group of people at the next table where I drank a coffee at La Redout said it was the result of some bug brought over by Americans in munitions boxes during the war. I will continue to investigate.

In any case it is very sad. Like the elms which have disappeared all over Europe, the platane is a noble tree which provides shade all over southern Europe, and especially in les grandes places where they link their branches together to form a green canopy overhead.

Every so often I come to a lock. Next to it is always a substantial stone building rather resembling a French rural railway station. People mill about on the platform as they wait for the water level to rise or fall. As I entered a lock just before Marseillette, I was startled by a whirring of machines beside me. To my right was a mechanical garden with cycles and sewing machines and rods and wheels and cylinders and connecting rods, and even a dog who peed, all in motion, and all presided over by a stark-naked wooden woman on a bicycle, the whole affair being set off by a motion detector which sensed the movement of passers by. This was the dynamic exhibit. Further on was a stationary display of metallic figures of various shapes and sizes. I didn't linger though. I was put off by the unfriendly signs which indicated, No toilets! No drinking water!

At least half of the people I meet along the towpath are Anglophones. Most are riding the canal in groups. As I arrived at Marseiilette, I met a Queensland couple on bicycles. We shared stories about our previous experiences in France and commiserated about the heat (like Perth, he said), and talked about the gentillesse of the French people. These were very different Queenslanders from Old Alf, with whom I taught in Townsville 40 years ago, who, at his retirement party, in response to my asking if he were going to travel overseas in his retirement, said (Australian accent required here):

Australia's the best country in the world, mate. Why would I want to go overseas?

The Belgian host at the B&B a couple of nights ago had given me a card for a gite at Marseillette. Unfortunately it was a couple of miles out of town but I trudged out anyway. Eventually I came upon a sign which said Gite Beauvoir 300m. I decided to test my theory that the French always underestimate distances. I noted the distance on my GPS and walked for 300 metres. I had arrived at another sign for Gite Beauvoir. I followed it. Three hundred metres later I arrived at the gite.

It was worth it. For 20€ I have a room to myself in an old wine barrel. My sleep tonight will be lightly oaked, with a touch of tannin.


  1. Hi Chas ... really enjoying your reports (and occasional rant, like the one today) from your current trip. I get your posts promptly via Feedly. I would have loved to have experienced the mechanical garden.

  2. We walked the Canal du Midi two years ago, taking it all the way to Toulouse where we rejoined the Chermin de Arles. So your blog is a great reminder. The trees are dying because of a virus in the roots, and they will eventually all be cut down and replaced with a different variety. So sad. Bon Chermin!