A Breath of Fresh Air

How are you? Wherever you are, undoubtedly COVID has, or is having, an impact on your life? In our little corner of SW France we’re doing ok. Life of course is far from normal, but we’ve escaped relatively mildly compared to some folks I know. I’ve not been able to work since last March when all our concerts were cancelled and my fledgling walking venture (which seemed so full of promise) never really got started. We’ve not seen our family in a year as travel restrictions prevent this, and sadly we lost Viv, Gerry’s beloved mum… mum to us all really and the best Grandma any child could ever imagine. If we felt 2020 was bad then 2021 was worse.

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Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Hand up who’s watched any of Sara Dhooma’s videos? I’ve been watching them for a few years and have been inspired by her solo globe trotting adventures. Sara has travelled, backpacked and walked in 75+ countries although her aim is not to collect destinations but rather to explore the most amazing landscapes on earth.  

She has completed many of the worlds greatest treks including Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Everest Base Camp (Nepal), and the Milford Track (New Zealand), the Kalawa Hill Tribes (Myanmar), Ciudad Perdida (Colombia), and the Chilbo Mountains (North Korea).  Her first big American long-distance trail was a 1,500-mile section on the Appalachian Trail in 2014 where she earned the trail name “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego“. She spent six epic months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 and she has also completed most of the Continental Divide Trail.

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Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

In August 2011 we spent a few days in our campervan in Hendaye; a pretty little seaside town on the border between France and Spain. Gerry had a yearning to find a fish restaurant beside the sea somewhere in Northern Spain so we headed off in search of lunch.

First we stopped for fuel on the outskirts of San Sebastian before looking on the map and choosing the area around Getaria. These were the days before google maps and smartphones so a map and a rather basic Garmin GPS were our only travel aids. I’m not sure if you remember the old GPS systems but they really weren’t great!

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A Day of Ups and Downs

Do you ever wake up with a pain in your shoulder?  I do. Last night before I went to bed I googled “why do I have pain in my shoulder when I sleep?”  Apparently, it’s common with side sleepers.  The solution is to keep your arms by your side or hug a pillow and bring your knees up together to improve your posture.  I tried this last night and slept dreadfully. I had a fitful night and woke at 4:00 and gave up, got up and made myself a cup of tea. Eventually I did go back to bed and I must have slept and although my night was restless I didn’t have any shoulder pain! 

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A Break in the Weather

Our flights to Porto were cancelled. We were due to walk the Coastal Route, then jump across at Ponte de Lima and walk on, follow the variente and then head to Santiago. Of course, like most folks, those plans came and went. I was then planning on walking the Aragones, meeting a friend at Oleron Sainte Marie and walking to Puenta la Reina. And then I planned to bus back to St Jean and meet some friends for a walk along the Camino Frances. It’s early autumn, it’s when we walk! But alas no.

To add to our tale of woe it’s been raining a lot in SW France. I spent so many days just looking out of the window thinking… we should be in x or y or z today.

But there was a break in the weather. Autumn returned. We decided to venture south and go walk for a few days. It’s not a camino. It’s not even a ‘there and back again camino‘ like we did in the Picos. It’s simply a walk. But oh what a walk!

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Autumn is Coming

It feels like, over the weekend, our Dordogne summer abruptly ended and autumn has already started; although I’m reliably informed that the sun will be back in a few days. I was also told today that, due to the odd weather this year, the French grapes are being harvested earlier than they have been since the 16th century. All is not lost though; the warm wet spring and a very hot summer means this could be a very good year for wine! And for us today, the cooler temperature and cloudy skies made for perfect walking.

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Queen Anne’s Lace and the Beautiful Dordogne

Saint Sulpice de Roumagnac Loop | 12 kms

How was your summer?  It has been really very hot here in SW France and it seems to be the norm these days that the high 30’s are expected and that perhaps one day will just push over to 40c.   We’ve also had very little rain so the garden is parched and trying to keep our ‘lockdown’ veg plot happy has been a challenge.  And yet we survived.  And as the days turn cooler and Autumn is just around the corner it’s the perfect time to find our walking shoes and get back out on the trail.

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