Claude walked with us for the first few kilometres this morning to point us in the right direction. We made a reasonably early start after a sumptuous breakfast. Marie made our picnic lunch (ham & cheese baguette). Later, she was waiting with her car in the middle of a wheat field to bring Claude back home and to wish us well. We said our farewells and headed off, bearing east-south east.
My feet felt back to normal after the rest day, and all the treatment, and I walked normally without grimacing. Could my feet problems be behind me now that I have NOK cream (never too late to learn)?
We followed a country road and arrived at a village with an impressive florist. Next door the bakery was closed because it’s Wednesday and Madame has to look after her children; French schools close on Wednesdays. However we found a bar and I tried my luck once more by ordering a large coffee with milk. In times gone by, this would get you a large bowl or cup of coffee full of steaming hot milk. Today I received a double espresso with 2 plastic shots of long life creme. These bars have all the gear but no idea how to use it.
But luck was with us. The next village had a sweet shop/news agent which doubled as a bar. Paul and I ordered a beer and ate our picnic. The couple in charge were charming and were obviously pleased to finally meet a real life pilgrim, despite living on the Via Francigena. I shall make a point of photographing these nice places for the benefit of future pilgrims who might be reading these words.
We were heading for Bruay-la-Buissiere for no reason except it is 32Km on the way to Arras. Paul had secured our hotel “Le Cottage” on Booking.com and we were pleased to get “the last room at this price”. 48 Euro. Our little country road had turned into a busy highway as we approached the town and I led the way along the hard shoulder wearing my bright orange fluorescent vest in the hope that it might sufficiently distract a driver from his mobile phone. An old Renault honked and someone waved a hand in support of this month’s pilgrims.
We were relieved to reach Le Cottage. The young receptionist is probably fresh from a hotel management course because she is also the waitress and probably the cook and chambermaid as well. And plenty of rooms are still available on Booking.com.
Our room has a hot shower and 2 beds joined together in holy matrimony.
From here it’s a long way to Arras, it’s a long way to go. So the question is, “can we get there tomorrow, me with my trench foot and Paul making a fair impression of General Patton whenever we come face to face with the French. It’s a question that many generals must have asked in the two world wars. Nowadays you’d find it hard to imagine there was anything worth fighting for in these parts. But then you see the cemeteries…
Delightful water feature
There are no seats in France so here is the pilgrim’s rest spot, rain shelter and accommodation.
This extravagant florist was open but next door…
…the bakery was closed
The owner of this house went mad with boredom