Off we go … 🌏

Off we go to the the weekly market in Sainte Foy La Grande. Wantan has come with us and she knows the way so no need for a map or GPS. Apples freshly plucked from the orchard, potatoes unearthed that morning, jams potted the night before, this is truly a wonderful local market that attracts not only the best local producers but the most excited buyers for miles around. Well … that’s what the website will tell you! Not sure about the jams potted the night before and as for the excited buyers … come on! Apparently St Foy market is included in the top 100 in France. It is a good size with some interesting produce, but I doubt it is in the top 50. We still prefer the Thursday market in Javea, Spain. However, the chickens baking on the spits with that dark brown skin crisping did look appetising and beneath the rotating spits potatoes were basking in the chicken fat that dropped onto them.

We bump into Bruno. I forgot to mention that on the first night at Le Peyrail Jo’s friend Bruno turned up and joined the party. Like Ian, he also plays in a band. His english, we were told was not good, but as the evening went along he seemed to manage quite well so probably more of a confidence thing.

Further along we try to track down the stall that Sarah is looking for. Apparently the goats cheese looked good there. We find it and I hover around while Sarah and Wantan investigate the cheese. I just glance at the next stall. Homemade handbags, pursey type things and arty things. Mmm. Then all of a sudden Anneke pops up like a Jack-in-a-box. She grins like a Cheshire cat and her hair looks like she has just been in a box with Jack. She tilts her head grinning at me. Then bursts into the story (in english too) of her new business and that she is opening a new shop in Louise-Bernac on 2 June. I feign an in-depth interest as I don’t want to hurt her feelings. She is so passionate about her new venture. I am so uninterested. So convincing is my act that she suddenly disappears and reappears with one of her last leaflets. She offers it to me like it is golddust and I accept gratefully giving it my utmost attention. My forehead creases in interest. I smile at her. Its almost as though I am the only person taking interest today. Now I’m thinking that could be true. I wish her luck which I truly do, but walk away feeling like an imposter … because I was. Shit!One thing at the market that caught my eye wasn’t really part of the market at all. I was hovering again while Sarah and Wantan … SarWa… were investigating vegetables and a lady passed with one of my favourite quotes on her bright orange bag … “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life”.

It is also the Saturday that has been building up for many months so on arriving home we put the television on for the Royal Wedding. There is a time difference of an hour meaning we miss the main event. Then the FA Cup Final is on and disappointingly Chelsea beat Manchester United by a measly 1 – 0.

This evening the German airbnb guests, Robert and Barbara are arriving. They advised that they would be with us between 4 and 5 pm. I wander down to the end of the lane on a few occasions incase I can see or even hear a car, remembering the slight difficulty we had in locating the exact address. By 5:50 pm they still hadn’t arrived. We joked that they may be walking from Germany. Just before 6 pm they text to say they will be about an hour late. Still okay for a 7:30 pm meal as planned. At 6:40 pm I see 2 people go by the window. Curious I wonder if it is Jo’s guests. I open the door and they turn around. Robert and Barbara are wearing hiking gear, backpacks and holding those long handled walking sticks. Indeed they are walking and in fact walking a section of The Camino de Santiago. I welcome them in and after pleasantries show them their room. It is the main guest room with the ensuite … La Chambre as described by the painted tile hanging by a chain on the door, which announces itself with an irritating rattle every time it is swung open and closed. La Chambre has a waterbed so I ask Robert if he can swim? They both laugh .. great, they have a sense of humor. Better still they understand my personal weird humour which must be even stranger to a foreigner. The only drink they want is water. I say I’ll leave them alone to shower, freshen up and rest after their long day. I casually head towards the kitchen to grab their water and have an OMG flash in my mind. The shower! I imagine screams from hell and 2 scolded guests sat at the dinner table swathed in surgical bandages looking like the invisible man with slits for the eyes and straws coming out of their nose. I run back to La Chambre and violently knock on the door. Barbara opens it and I can hear the shower running. I give them a warning that must have sounded something like an over dramatic scene from a B Movie. She smiles and nods. Thank you again God.

They soon reappear and I take them for a quick tour and down to see Oliver who I have to wake from his sleep. You can imagine how irritated he was by that! Wantan joined us for dinner and it was a good evening. Sarah has been mulling over a menu for the past few days as Barbara is vegetarian. In the end she opted for an eggplant parmigiana which was delicious. We learned that Robert and Barbara were late due to the fact they started out in Germany that morning via train, but there was a French train strike which caused the delay. They have walked sections of the Camino in sequence over the last 8 years, but this trip may be their last as it takes longer to reach their starting point each time. The Camino is known in English as the Way of St James.  All Camino pilgrimage routes lead to Santiago de Compostela as this is where the remains of St James, (Santiago), were discovered in the ninth century. There are a number of official routes, but the spirit of the pilgrimage is that it can start from your front door step. The official routes are tailored to service the pilgrim with rest stops and accommodation . The diehards who walk the last 100 kms …this is all many people do… will receive an official passport from the pilgrim’s office where they start their pilgrimage. You get your first stamp and after that, you will produce it every time you arrive at an albergue or hostel. On payment of your accommodation, the passport is stamped to prove that you stayed the night in a specific hamlet, village, town or city. Your pilgrim’s passport is a document that identifies you as a pilgrim, and provides proof that you have walked, cycled or ridden on horseback, the required distance to gain your “Compostela”… the certificate of accomplishment. This is not taken lightly and there are many rules and regulations introduced by the Camino officials.

I have read a few books on personal pilgrimages along the Camino and they mostly feature stories of meetings with strangers, ill fitting walking shoes and smelly feet with blisters.

I asked Robert and Barbara if they had a Camino passport … just to make conversation. It was met with huge enthusiasm. Barbara rushed to the bedroom to get theirs and said that they wanted a stamp for their stay tonight. Bugger. The chances of Jo having an official stamp were zero. I felt a bit embarrassed for them and mumbled something about asking Jo. So I did text Jo and as expected didn’t receive a reply. In the morning I explained, but they were fine about it and just asked Sarah to sign and date a section of the Passport. Of course what they didn’t realise is the absolutel importance of that signature and the power it carries. I’m certain it will gain them access to wherever they want to go.

So we had a good conversation over dinner. Both Barbara and Robert are chemical scientists working for the same large german company, BASF, near their home town in Ellerstadt. Both their sons work there too. In a nutshell Robert finds ways to produce paint cheaper and Barbara works in pigmentation. ..yawn… After dinner we cleared the table and while doing so Barbara picked up one of the 3 or 4 guitars lying around. She started tuning it and played ‘The Sound of Silence”. I can’t remember the conversation, but “Stairway to Heaven “was mentioned so she started playing that. Talented lady!

Sunday

Breakfast for Robert and Barbara and then they set off early for the next leg … ha…of their walk.

Sarah is at the gym. I am working at the laptop and hear a roar. Gervaise calls in on his Triumph Bandit wearing his leather armour and a Meatloaf T-Shirt. He knows his way around and so makes us coffee and we sit out on the veranda for a chat.

The day trickles by. One of the things with living out of a suitcase is always having to settle, unsettle and then resettle. Sometimes it can take longer to settle than at other times. Occasionally we don’t quite settle at all. In Le Peyrail we are still in the settling phase, but we do get more sorted as Sarah cleans as she goes. Well, guess that settles that!

Sarah plans dinner, but Wantan says she is cooking something with potatoes because we said we liked them. Did I mention to her I like champagne? So we are delightfully served with some sort of shredded potato dish in a hot spice accompanied by rice with peas, corn and ham with a hint of ginger.

The end of another day … where do they go?!

Until next time 🌏

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