Saturday, 16 June 2007

Pilgrimage from Septvaux to Laval-En-Laonnoise 13/06/07

Today was another great day.

We survived the bugs and managed to get off to a reasonably early start. The first town we came to had a little café so we stopped for coffee.

The main feature of town was a mental hospital so there were quite a few strange people around. As we were leaving town one of the more strange ones tried starting up a conversation with us. Since he was speaking in French we weren’t even sure he was talking to us but I muttered that I didn’t speak understand anyway as we walked past. Finding out we spoke English made him even more excited before long he had invited us in for a drink. Being good pilgrims we couldn’t refuse. All he had in the fridge was rosé rosé for morning tea it was. Antoine is his name and he is a champion. He kept us entertained and laughing for over an hour. It was great!

As we went to leave he decided he had a present for me so rushing back inside he came back with a perfect walking staff. I was very impressed. Thanks Antoine :)

The walking was really nice through these parts. We were trying to stay off the roads as much as possible but at one point we lost the track and went a bit off course. Looking at the map we should have been 2kms south. We came across an intersection with three roads heading in roughly a south direction but none of them were on our map. I have a feeling nature was trying to give us signs to avoid going down any of them but we weren’t listening. Firstly, we saw a dead crow just before the crossing, then while we were trying to decide which road to take I trod on Dan’s staff and broke it and to top it off just to make it clear a farmer came by and told us that all these roads were dead ends and “NOT TO TAKE ANY OF THEM”.

Well…we didn’t listen to any of these signs and compass in hand headed off. It wasn’t long before the road did end and we were trekking through waist high nettles. It was worse for Dan as he had shorts on but we both got pretty stung. Then we came to a stream that was about knee deep but with a muddy bottom that seemed extremely soft. Neither of us was keen to test the mud so while we were looking for a place to cross we realized that we were in a hunting lane. There were platforms set up every 50m or so. It didn’t appear to be a good place to be wandering so after about 15mins of searching for a crossing point we had to give up and head back.

This is one of the worst things that can happen to you as a pilgrim. Walking for a couple of hours and ending up back where you started. Our arms and legs were stung to the buggery and we weren’t impressed! We were also covered in ticks but luckily we managed to shake them off before they dug in.

So now we decided that we would give up on the walking trails for a while and stick to the main roads.

When we stopped for a rest at the next town Dan went to ask someone for water and before we new it we were in this wonderful little house with an amazingly friendly French family for dinner. A big thankyou to the De Clerk family. You are wonderful people.

After dinner and a few glasses of wine they offered us a place to stay but considering we hadn’t actually made it very far today we thought we should get some more kilometres under the belt before stopping.

It was around midnight before we left and five minutes after walking out the door it started pissing down with rain. It was really looking like we had made a wrong decision!

The roads aren’t very well marked in these parts so it wasn’t long before we were lost once again. Dan was keen to set up camp and wait till morning but because it was wet I was more inclined to keep walking. I found a small track which appeared to go in the right direction so Dan reluctantly followed. After a few hundred meters we were going down quite a steep hill ankle deep in mud. I was finding it all quite amusing but Dan obviously wasn’t. I think he had followed me into one too many stupid situations today because when I emerged from the track on to the main road Dan was nowhere to be seen :) He was either eaten by a Yowie or turned back.

So now it was around 2am, still looking like it was going to rain and I was all by myself. But at least I now knew where I was.

The walk ended up being quite pleasant but I was sore when I finally stopped. Still not wanting to set the tent up in the wet I managed to find shelter in the foyer of a church. I think I would have looked quite a sight if anyone had seen me but it sufficed :)

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