Category Archives: The long walk

17th May

A huge thankyou to all who have donated to our cause so far.
I have refrained from.taking pictures of the towns & buildings because so many of the shots of the beautiful old buildings would be ruined by modern signs & cars blocking the views & completely ruin the memories. But if interested, please ‘Google’ the places & look at photos online

Ok I’m having a few days of laziness staying with a lovely couple, & their 4 dogs, near Civray, and exploring a little of the local area.
Thankyou Chris & Ann.

Yesterday we went for a ‘normal’ dog walk. I felt so much taller without a rucksack on my back. Syd nominated himself as personal trainer to the four, and ran & ran with them all in hot pursuit.
Later we are going a meet various animal rescues, at their annual book sale & then on to, (hopefully), replace my rucksack. Which despite being marketed for the job it’s doing is beginning to fall apart. 

I am hoping to get the pictures off my camera later so will post some here.

On a more serous front – after several somewhat dangerous days of road walking. I’m taking Anne’s offer to drive me past the next stretch of the same seriously, & for the sake of our safety, Syd & i will miss out a stretch of road when we set off again. I hope folk won’t think we are cheating. A friend has said it’s not’s assistance, and downright sensible, after all what good are we splattered on a road in France! So  that’s the view we are taking.

13th May part two

We have turned into cowards, last night I met a lovely French / Portuguese family. I stopped to ask I’d the campsite a few km down the road ( not the direction I needed to go in if shut), was open. The heavens opened AGAIN, & they kindly invited us in to shelter from the rain storm & called the campsite to check. We  made very welcome by this lovely family. They called the campsite & booked us in, arranging that the owner would meet us at 6pm. They enjoyed looking at the website & blog, & i believe made a donation.
When the rain didn’t let up, they even called a friend to run us to the campsite,  ( which turned out to be over 6km further on not the 200m ( 4 x 50m the family believed).
On arrival I discovered that somewhere down the line translation went awol & they told the owner we wanted a chalet – Syd made a very quick executive decision that he wasn’t keen to erect a sopping wet tent in the rain AGAIN, & then sleep in it, so we let the error remain (apparently no tents accepted till June 1st anyway),  so we would have had to walk off & find a tent sized spot elsewhere.


Notice blue sky – temporary judging by the clouds I can see heading this way fast!

May be the best 50€ we spend, & as I’ve only paid for one night in a campsite so far, (€2.50), not bad.
So for one night & untill 11am tomorrow, yes we are having a lie in,  we have a roof, heaters, a bed, sofa,  space to dry everything – but it seems no water- so bang goes a hot shower & washing some clothes.  The owner put the boiler on, but seems she forgot to turn the water on, nothing is coming from the taps 🙁 unless it only works when the water is hot?
Oh well can’t have it all. We do have enough drinking water with us. Look how content Syd is!


Right off to ask the neighbours if they know how to make the water come on…wonder what language they speak?

13th May

Well more adventures en route,
I mentioned we walked a few days with a pilgrim & her donkey. Well in Parthenay we had to walk through a doorway in the city wall into a monestry courtyard (now part museum). Well the donkey didn’t fit!  She got stuck, her panniers were just too wide. Caused no end of hilarity getting her free, unloading & repacking the other side.
But it was the very elderly Nun who came out that got my admiration, a little boy of i guess 4 years old was trying to tease Syd & the Donkey, by making silly noises at them very close to their faces. She gave him hell. Even funnier was her great big black biker boots sticking out from under her habit.

Today we are back on our own, having gone our separate ways. Syd & his friend will miss each other


Now just leaving Chamdeniers-st-dennis. Syd & i are now changing our route for a more direct one. Blow walking an extra 60km for the fun of it!
So we are heading for St-Maixen-l’Ecole, I hope to find a camping spot around there.
Then we head for
La Mothe-St-heray, 

That will do for now, but any.expats out there with a spare room for a night. Or who can help chargingbthe phone, with picking up dog food please get in touch my mobile no is:- 07976538588
text is best & will call back

May 10th

We have some great walking days & seen some lovely countryside. The old buildings are amazing & the height of some of the town walls is incredible.


The weather hasn’t been as sunny, but at least that means it’s not too hot walking. Syd continues to love our new lifestyle, especially the swimming multiple times a day. I must admit though I do get a bit anxious when the dog food gets low, about finding a place to get more. I could really do with a few contacts to pick up food & meet us with it.
We met up with a real pilgrim, with a real live donkey, yesterday & have enjoyed walking together. Syd & Pepita, the donkey have struck up a friendship ( apparently Pepita doesn’t like dogs, so Syd is honoured.
We took turns holding each others, animals to visit a shop in Airvault, Syd howled until I returned, many people from the village ran to see what was going on- & laughed when they saw the greeting I got. I’ d only been to buy a couple of maps.
We did generally create quite a stir going through tiny narrow streets, many people had their front doors open so had a bit of a shock seeing us go past. One man had to be called to move his motorbike so we could get past, his wife said he called her nuts when she said to move the bike, a donkey can’t get past! Oh & his Staffie ran out to see us, wow what a handsome, cuddly blue boy he was

We had some fun & got very wet persuading Pepita to cross rivers & bridges. Syd gallantly swam to & fro & beside her to show it was safe. He also removed, by diving to the bottom, all snake & serpent  resembling sticks to make the crossings safe.
On the high bridge (20′ high) he was off lead, he chose to walk right beside her, at her very slow reluctant donkey pace, demonstrating that the river monster wouldn’t snatch her through the gaps in the slats. I’m so proud of my boy.
I’m afraid pictures are on my camera, I will upload them when I can.
Keeping the phone, camera  & my Kindle charged remains a challenge, hence my occasional silences.
Today we have set up camp for the night in Saint Loup de Thouet in Deux-Sevres.
Tomorrow?  Who knows, another day,  another adventure.

6th May

We had a difficult couple of days. Got lost having been sent off down the wrong side of the river. Ran down the phone battery looking at maps to create an alternate route, and ended up doing an extra 15 miles or so to get back to the river without walking along any major roads. Got our first blisters too. But we did it!

Then couldn’t find anywhere to charge the phone so we’re incommunicado, causing a few worries to those at home, sorry about that.
Knowing there was a lock ahead with a restaurant I decided we would eat there – however the Frebch waitress. Informed us at 2:10 that they had finished!  ok fair enough. Can I just buy a drink?
Yes she said go & sit overthere & i will come for your order. – An hour later we were still waiting, Sitting in the sun wasn’t so bad, but I decided to go & remind Her- I was told again to go & wait. After another half hour I left passed off, I now wouldn’t reach the next lock( which had electricity & might charge my phone in time). I don’t think the ‘witch’ ( that’s the polite version), liked dogs/English /hikers. Oh well another 24 hours until i could charge the phone. But if that’s my only worry, well life must be good.

Shortly after that I met Alec & Kate, who had been farming in the area for 20years. Now retired they kindly took us home. Fed us. Put us up over night, took us to buy dog food for Syd, to add to the chops Kate had cooked for him. Then set us back on the river.

Syd & i had a lovely birthday picnic, sat by a lock under some beautiful flowering chestnut trees in glorious sunshine.

We finished the day meeting Diane, a friends cousin & going back to her house for a night in the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. Thankyou Diane, Andy, Furlong & Lucy, the cats, and of course the 3 bold chickens.

Life is good.

1st May

Yesterday was, glorious, just like summer. We had a lovely day walking along the old railway path & really peaceful.

Made some new friends

We found a lovely spot to camp

Climbing the hill in Mayenne in search of coffee almost killed us both though, I don’t know why but when the ground surface changes it’s very tough on the calf muscles & makes my feet hurt – especially when it’s to a road surface.


The going has been tough today. We are walking along the river towards Laval, it rained hard in the night & its soaked the fine gravel path. It’s been like walking on soft sand. Add to that dodging fisherman & cyclists, trying to shelter from heavy rain showers & find good fishermen free swimming spots for Syd,  has meant we’ve only done about 18 km today.

That Syd is just so handsome

More new pals, this pair really did like Syd, it was kisses all round.

We stopped at a sort of a community cafe, with showers etc too. They offered me the bathroom to sleep in tonight as more heavy rain is likely. An odd bedroom, but it’s warm, dry & has lockable door. I could have used the open fronted barn, but as it’s a tiled floor I can’t pitch the tent & it would be a trifle exposed. I’ve used that to dry the tent. The lovely people have made me a glass.of coffee for the morning & are bringing me a fresh baguette, local cheese & tomatoes in the morning.

29th April

After passport (Syd’s ) hassles, can’t be fixed here so having to get a new one sent out, we start walking again tomorrow.

This is our approximate route   through France. 
Subject to some variation here and there. 
I’m aiming to pick up the grande randonnee 36 around
Saumur and cross the pyrenees into  Spain on the Mediterranean side.

Le Horps 
Périgueux ( planning to visit the Twilight refuge near here).
Cahors (place to stay at Moissac)
Albi ( place to stay at Castanet)

Bourg-Madame (Spain)

Route to Valencia to be decided

25th April

Syd & I are enjoying our break in France.
We have a vets appointment on Monday to sort out the problems with his Pet Passport before we continue. Due to the date he was microchipped having been completed as ‘ prior to vaccination’ I was advised at Portsmouth by the customs official (who had to make some calls before letting us through), that as it stands Syd won’t be allowed back into the UK, which also means I can’t return!
It seems sensible to rectify this prior to continuing our adventure. Hopefully the vet can fill it in properly. Sign.& stamp & all be ok.

23rd April

wpid-dsc_0233.jpgOn our way to the next stage of our journey.
We are waiting to board the ferry at Portsmouth.  Bound for Caen, from there we go to my friends home in Le Horps, we will start walking again from there after the weekend.
I’ve bought a big map of France so that I can work.out the finer details of our route.


19th April

Yesterday was another tough day, but the scenery was lovely, very tame. Or should I say ‘cultivated’, compared to some of the countryside we have come through, & almost all off road which was nice. Lots off off lead for Syd too, which went down nicely. A late finish, but a huge thank you to Linda, & her lovely family for a smashing nights hospitality.

We have done it! The pilgrim route we tried to follow was so poorly marked, we followed the roads & hence took the shortest routes.

Here we are overlooking Portsmouth.

We will walk down to the Station & have a surprise weekend visit to my folks in Crowborough