Days 16 - 21
Bizarrely I sit writing this latest blog whilst sat in a bar in Saint-Cere (what’s bizarre about me being in a bar I hear you cynics crying), whilst my wife Liz and best mate Barry (who is over supporting me logistically) have gone off for a walk!
We have had a wonderful afternoon together as we’ve also had a visit from Hattie and George, who have travelled about four times the distance in England and France in four days (in a car) that I have done in almost four weeks. I always knew that they were going to try to get over here to see me, but they have gone so far out of their way I can’t thank them enough. It will definitely provide a bit more energy in my tank as I continue towards Barcelona.
I have missed a rest-day blog update and have therefore completed six walking days (two three-day stints) since the last one. My trip continued from the lakes of Douadic down towards Limoges itself. John and I moved our base from Tours to Limoges as I began the first of the two stints which saw me pass all of my halfway milestones; total number of miles walking and trip total (including the sea) and miles in France. I had always known that Limoges would mark this point and it was with reserved satisfaction that I reached this middle point. Reserved was my mind-set in that I was aware that there was still a massive walk in front of me and I knew that I must not get ahead of myself and I continue to keep this thought in the front of my mind.
As I thought Limoges also marked the change in landscape. Gone are the days of the flat mind-bending expanse of the previous three weeks; albeit with an odd rolling-hill day thrown in. Suddenly, (can anything be sudden on a walk?) I see real hills around me; and their big sisters and brothers can be glimpsed in the distance to the west and east as the tree-lines allow. Now, instead of completely uninterrupted views to the beginning of the sky I have valleys and rivers below me or tree-covered slopes surrounding me in a palette of every green the eye can receive. Whilst in Limoges I get my regular weekly phone call from BBC Radio Suffolk to appear (can you appear on a radio show?) on the Lesley Dolphin show. Lesley and Matt Marvel have been so supportive and interested in what I am doing and why I am doing it and I’m so grateful for the opportunity of promoting it through them.
As I pass through this part of France, I become aware again of my lack of fairly-recent history as I stumble upon memorials to French-resistance fighters who were executed by the Nazi SS. I had always imagined through my Hollywood based knowledge, that most of the resistance cause was fought in the north of France; and had not really considered how much of this took place in the southern-part overseen by the Vichy government. John, on his travels had found his way to Oradour-sur-Glane which is a village just north of Limoges which was destroyed; and all its’ inhabitants massacred in 1944 by a company of the Waffen SS. The village was left as it was on the orders of General de Gaulle as a memorial to those lost. Barry, who joined me later also visited this place and both my friends have said what a tragically-mesmerising place this is and what a senseless act took place it is a place where people should visit. Whilst it is clear where the responsibility lies for this particular act; for me it serves as a stark demonstration of what any group of humans who consider themselves superior to others can do! Simply, it is terrible.
As I moved on through Limousin I see my first vineyard and then orchards, the weather progresses from clear bright skies to early summer sun and the shorts are out! Brive-la-Galliard is the next town of significant size and the day after I see the first sign welcoming me, personally of course to le Sud de France. I am making progress; I know I am, and I’ve allowed myself a panned-out view on google maps to see it – there is still a long way to go David!
So here we are, just across the Dordogne and ready to go on the next stint.
I’m just over £10,000 now and thank you to everyone who has donated, and to everyone else please give just a little bit, it really does count for so much if you can. Do it now!