We left an hour later today, at 8:20, after a breakfast with the familiar friendly faces of last night. It was providential to have a placemat in front of me that was an information map of the surrounding area as I could pretend to study it whilst trying to formulate the next comment/question for my breakfast companions (Geoff just gives it a go but I seem to have a bit more pride at stake . . . )
We lasted barely 10 minutes without our ponchos and soon entered very misty territory indeed. The weather matched our sad mood at the news of the death of our very good friend, Graham Brogden, in Palmerston North, NZ. He was such an influential person in our lives and we loved him, and his wife Robin, dearly. We also felt so sad for the family and friends of 7-mth-old baby Huon, in Melbourne, who also died recently after a valiant struggle with a difficult-to-diagnose illness. Our love and prayers are with all those who mourn and for our colleague, Keren, as she takes Huon's funeral on Friday - such a hard task for Keren as Huey is not only a baby, but also a relative.
We wanted a brief walk today of 10 kms in order to explore the historic pilgrim town of Conques for the remainder of the day. This town, perched on the mountainside, was a major sacred site along the Le Puy route for medieval pilgrims and has an imposing 8th/11th century abbey at its heart which is now a UNESCO heritage site. Visitors leave their cars outside town and wander around on foot. Yes, it's touristy, but so unforgettably beautiful that it makes you want to take your shoes off and only whisper if necessary. It's a treasure of a place that produces Aha! exclamations at every turn. It's been fun bumping into a few more familiar faces here from previous gites.
We're staying in the gite communal which is very cosy with perfectly adequate facilities. There was no one there to greet us, just an honesty box for the tariff and some general instructions.
Lunch was a regional platter, the French version of a Ploughman's Lunch, with a bowl of the local speciality - aligot - in the centre. This warm stringy cheese dish (potato/cheese/garlic puree) is absolutely delicious and much applauded.
Geoff says we're only going to take 'purple cow' photos from now on. After all, we don't want to get home and wonder what that 508th stone village church was all about. Problem is, a hay bale isn't really a 'purple cow' moment for me.
We loved the 6pm vespers just now in the Abbey (dedicated to Sainte Foy - St Faith - of the 4th century). The Abbey is stark & enormous but with a worshipful ambience. Our dinner guests from last evening were going to be sleeping in it tonight.
The rain is expected to stop over the weekend so perhaps we need to have ponchos at the ready for the 6th day.
C'est la Vie
Geoff & Lyn