Tony, Tim, Betsy & Ray's (not forgetting Geoff) 2014 Camino

GR65 (France), GR11 & Camino del Norte (Spain)

Of frogs and misericords....

A noisy and entertaining colony of little green frogs in a ditch and, at last, some interesting misericords in the cathedral in Aire-sur-Adour. PS. Why isn't the opposite of pertinent impertinent?!


30.05.14 Friday Nogarro to Aire sur l'Adour. The really well run and designed gite comunale in Nogarre provides us with an excellent rose wine to go with dinner (rice salad with chicken carried all day) and the grass at the back is fine. The cars go home from the race track at a sensible hour and the frogs take over, more of them later, they went about their business in a pool over the fence loudly and we hope with great enjoyment. We are probably first off in tje morning and no one overtakes us! But we see familiar faces waiting for us when we arrive in Aire sur l Adour. Thus confirminng our suspicions that Claudine the baggargist (camino term for a motorised organised bagge mover, to further along the route) or others have been shifting persons over the muddier sections of the route. We retain the moral and historic high ground but have met people following and enjoying the route by various means and it is great to see so many diverse people from different nations with a common interest. The usual vinyards , corn fields and stained glass windows in little churches pass in a blur of mud and tarmac until on the outskirts of A sur l'A we meet all the frogs from last night, in a ditch. The new version of the old "mad as a box of frogs" is ;"Loud as a ditch of frogs" Hopefully one with a better picture of the organs of sound will post it shortly. The promised rain arrives in large gobbets and in between we shop for food for today and tomorrow and have a look at the local cathedral. Quite active and being carefuly restored. The campsite by the Ardour is excellent and Tims fish stew is appreciated by all. We gorge ourselves having bought food as the thought of carrying it all is depressing


29.05.14 Thursday. Eauze to Nogarro. At last a free night! To our way of thinking this is not a night off, but a camping site where no one comes to collect money but the toilets and showers are functioning. Not only that but a large supermarket about 300m away and a boulangerie on route in the morning and the only thing wrong is the weather. Which may be why no one showed to collect our euros, or possibly being national holiday today it was poets day yesterday. On the way out of town Tim spots by accident the water cistern built by a doctor and mayor of the town in 1870 Ray had been looking out for this as it was in the guidebook. Tim as ever oblivious, some nice old stone carving on it. We also discover that Jeanne d ' Albrecht who lived in the bar we visited was the mother of Henry IV of France an important figure in the religious wars of France. Many vinyards and fields plus one or two muddy patches later we arrive in Nogarro after a brief coffee stop and two pain au chocolat to refuel Betsy in Manciet. No really interesting wildlife but the lunch stop in a short sunny period provided an excellent drying rack for the tents. 23km 300m up 400m down.


28.05.14 Wednesday. Montreal to Eause. A good night sleep for all including the 3 frenchmen sharing our dormitory we hope. General opinion was we were marginally ahead on the ronflement. We are on the road at 8.15 down the zig zag path at the back of the church. The paths are drying afyer no rain in the night and the walking is easy compared with the last few days. A disused railway track and we are cruising after zig zaging again though rows of vines scattered across the fertile countryside. We heard no cuckoo yesterday and only one in the distance today. With the end of May the old rhyme seems to be correct. However we have heard occasional hoppoes poop pooping away. We arrive in Eause via the flood exit from the campsite it seems a bit deserted but there is more or less hot water in the toilet block so we make or selves at home after an easy three and a half hours walk.Tony takes his new soap bought by Ray and Tim two days ago to the toilet block for a shower, remarks about exfoliation and bits of stuff in the soap are largely ignored, he needed soap it was the only single bar available the rest were triple packs and not to be carried or two thrown away. He will be really clean for the next 400km. Some serious planning for stops and food over the next two days takes place and we are of to find out what the centre of Eause is like. Quite nice, though may be not up to the claims on the sign on the railway track into town. It starts to rain there is a bar at hand in a 15th C building previously owned by Jeanne d' Albrecht we may find out who she was later. The Leclerc supermarche on the way back alows us to spend more time indoors and we get back to our tents laden with food for the next two days. The campsite is nomonally open, painting and cleaning are in progress we wonder if anyone will bother to come out in the rain to collect our euros. Clothes are festoonef about our small tents and cooking tonight will be in the toilet block. Tim's lamb and two beans with the rosemary pickef yestetday from outside the church in Montreal. 16km 300 m up and down


27.05.14 Tuesday Condom to Montreal en Gers.. A quiet afternoon inn the campsite free of rain allows somw removal of mud from hear and general dryimg out. Rain threatens so someone is aeays on watch while others sjhop 10mins away in a large supermarket. Rain faild to materialise so with a short etape (stage) we start off late through rolling countryside which is still a little moist from yesterdays rain. We csn not get into the gite booked by Betsy yesterday until 1400 but a beer in the main square an arcaded bastide in the sun allows drying off of the dew on tents. On the way we hear a hoopoe but fail to spot him and see a green woodpecker take off. There is also a bridge built for pilgrims probably originally in 12th C but redone a couple of times. The gite de compostela in Montreal is owned by a German lady who will be off on her own Camino on the North coastal route like us but in the autumn when trade falls off. We are coming up to a part of the route with less recognised campsites and a few blank spots but the lady in the tourist office confirms that the sports stadium and gite comunale in Nogarro do allow pilgrim camping this is just as well, although the national holiday in two days when we expect to be there still may make things interesting. 16.5km 300m up and down.


26.05.15 Monday La Romieu to Condom. It started to rain as we went to bed last night it rained on and off all night and continued until 1600 today. Thus a short 15km walk became a bit of a struggle through wet and slippy mud. Good deed for the day was the pointing in the correct direction by Ray and Tim of a French couple who going the wrong way back up the GR65. We never did discover why but they were grateful when we met them outside the cathedral in Condom. While this was going on Betsy and Tony were ensconced in a delightful donativo gite having a very good cup of coffee. The others were summoned by text and joined them having just been correcting a minor navigational error themselves. In fainess to all concerned the usual very high standard of route marking had deteriorated temporarily and theads down in the rain did not help. Eventually we arrived in Condom, 3/4 shut of course it being Monday but find an excellent meal opposite the cathedral of salmon tarte salad and cassoulet. Condom cathedral quiet impressive high vaulted ceilings and lots of stonework. The other high point on a fairly dismal day was the finding by Ray in a sink on the campsite of an Emperor moth. Who was rescued and put in a quiet place by Betsy. Currently we are trying to dry tents and washing before the next downpour is due.

A short day....

Day started well with coffee and pain-au-raisin in bed (treat!) followed by a leap into action to see the very magnificent Emperor moth which Ray found in one of the sinks. Things degenerated after that with persistent light to heavy rain and paths thick with sticky heavy mud. The hospitalero at the gite where we had coffee described the mud as being clingy as a lover! We eventually arrived in Condom very wet and settled down to a good lunch before a quick look at the cathedral (misericords sadly still not up to the standard of Enville church), a pose with the musketeers and then heading for the campsite.


25.05.14 Sunday Castet Arouy to La Romieu. The tiny village of Castet has a gite communale in the old school and housed about 17 pelerin last night, evening meal is in the restaurant 25m away and breakfast in the extensive kitchen in the gite. We wake early make coffee and eat and are off by 7.15 we have 30 +km to go to La Romieu the town of the cats, there is a chance of a Double Geoffrey but it is not to be, a near miss after a valiant attempt by the whole party we arrive gasping in the town square by the colleigium of cannons at 15.15. We count stone cats and can see 9 from the bar. The town had in the medieval past a lot of cats and decided to be rid of them apart from the one hidden by a young girl. This resulted in a plague of rats and the town begging for the girl's cat to save them. They are thus immortalised in stone all over the town. Ray and Betsy visit the colleigium cloisters and climb the tower Tony and Tim shift to the campsite and claim pilgrim rates for the nights stay. As those following this blog may have realised there was a break of service for a couple of days repaired and replaced by Jane at home in Somerset, many thanks for that Jane. All the usual flora and fauna including what were probably some largecarp splashing in a plan d'eau we passed and some more of the conical purple orchids mixed with ox eye daisies in a meadow. 31km 700m up 600m down.

And now in the city of cats and canons

A long (30 km) day into La Romieu today. Last night's gite had an interesting interpretation of Digger, curiously close to Tigger! The landscape now is definitely very fertile arable with barley, sunflowers, broad beans, strawberries, corn and others but less of the cherry trees we've been seeing and enjoying for the last few days. The collegiate in La Romieu was well worth a visit but sadly the misericords have all been removed. Beautiful cloisters and a painted chapel made up for their absence.


24.05.14 Saturday Valence to Castet Arrouy. The rain holds off while we cook and eat it rains in the night but the tents are fine snd its not raining in the morning and a grand morning passing through several lovely old towns and a lot of cherry grovese several selling cherries at the path side. Coffee appears in an old town called Auvillar and later beer and we arrive early at at the gite which has a washing machine that we take full advantage of the weather is kind and most of the washing is dry by evening. We find out we could have camped at the gite for less and who knows what the snores will be like tonight we may have slept better. 26.5km 600m up 550m down. A Geoffry was recorded.