Today’s plan was to follow the GR footpath to Guines, a breathtaking 26Km. My head and body were keen but my feet overruled and instead we walked along a little road which reduced the distance to 17Km. It was the 2nd side of an isosceles triangle which brought us almost back to Calais.
We enjoyed our first French breakfast of the journey. A tray arrived in our room containing a basket of the most delicious bread, butter and jams plus a croissant with a pot of steaming hot coffee.
After that, nurse Marie took a deep breath and tackled my feet. The left foot is not too bad at all. The remnants of a blister were dealt with by applying a wet wipe, a dry wipe and a little bandage. My right foot is putting up the fight. Lots of broken skin, a swollen toe, a couple of young vigorous blisters and a general smell of decay. Marie got to work with her medical equipment getting everything ready for our little walk today. She has phoned ahead to her cousin who is a foot specialist and is now on standby when we reach their home on Monday. My appointment is at 17.30.
Walking along the road does offer some advantages. We saw a bit of village life and stopped at a cafe. I ordered une grande tasse du cafe au lait but the cafe owner pretended not to understand and reached for an aerosol of whipped cream in the fridge. He wouldn’t take non for an answer and Claude had to come to my help. Perhaps I got the gender of the cup wrong?
A truck swung off the road into a farmyard as we approached. Claude recognised the vehicle as a kind of hearse for dead animals. I’d not really considered this problem but it reminded me of a scene in Animal Farm when one of the animals falls out of favour.
The countryside is full of surprises; it’s one of the reasons I love walking these pilgrimages. We came across a field of beautiful tiny flowers of the most delicate blue that you might find in a Laura Ashley catalogue. The flowers were swaying around in the breeze. I was mesmerised and made a short video. Claude told me it was linen. I’d never thought about the origin of linen before. You’d imagine mills populated with thousands of linen worms all over Flanders but no: linen grows in fields…
We also passed a very high tech kiosk dispensing potatoes and eggs. It protects the food from ravaging animals and the money from ravaging humans.
Our hotel in Guines, the Auberge du Colombier is pleasant, the restaurant is superb. And as you’d imagine, the car park is full of British cars. After a long journey, this is as far as you’d want to drive.