I finally got myself out of StGilles.
As much as I enjoyed looking after the guys, it was impossible for me to get my own preparation done. Somehow nearly two months passed and all I had done was cook, bake scones, wash dishes and order some things on the Internet.
Carlos has been doing a lot of Bricolage on the place, his latest masterpiece the stairs are a great improvement on the previous owners solution. I started serving coffee for the guys around 17:30 which was a good way for them to finish their day, but it was two hours out of my day that I didn’t have and have to give up on it, though it was great for a couple of weeks. I started with scones, then experimented with a few fancy pastry creations, rice pudding and short bread etc. It stuck me one day while asking Carlos if he wanted another Coffee that I should call it “Café Carlos”.
Café Carlos culminated in a visit from Nicolas boss (es). Heike whom I already knew, an Architectural Archaeologist has worked on StGilles Abbey for ten years or more now. Andreas her bidey-in is something else. In addition to being the foremost authority in the region on old stones & structures, in his free time built his own Harpsichord. He also loves Scotland, speaks Gaelic significantly better than I do, not to mention his English in which he can adopt various accents and he plays the bagpipes.
Heike & Andreas had missed the Haggis, Neeps & Taties from the week before, so I made some scones and Café Carlos rocked out to traditional Scottish tunes. Quite an aficionado Andreas prefers Ceòl Mór “Great Music”, plays extremely well and has a bagpipe collection that is about as staggering as his knowledge of the history of the instrument.
Sadly I do not have a picture of Heike, she & Patrick are hiding on the right. of this picture. This is Nicolas and a “friend” – not to be confused with his friend from Arles and definitely not to be confused with the one from Le Mans. As you can see, she was somewhat uncertain how she should respond to a German bloke strolling around the kitchen playing the bagpipes.
Eventually though I headed off to Marseilles where I have been the last week or so. After two days of very little, I have been working very hard on logistics, information gathering and planning.
I will be here until the beginning of next week when I will leave, following Via Domitia to the Italian Border, this will be a tough start, cold and into the still snowy Alps, but I need the exercise.
From there to Torino and then following Via Francigena to Rome. Where I will head through the center of the country towards Palermo or Brindisi where I will take a ferry to Tunis or Albania. I am working on an alternate route via Albania, Macedonia & Greece but prefer to stick with Tunisia -> Container Ship -> Egypt -> Jordan.
Before things got bad in Libya I sent an email to George Galloway looking for some help with getting a longer transit Visa for Libya, but he didn’t deem me important enough to warrant a reply. Im certain had I been a handsome red headed woman of Polish extraction I would have more chance, but I would be the last to fault him for that, Meow.
The cycle to Marseilles was interesting, I was sad to be leaving the Camargue and it was the first test of my click-stand, an alternative to a kick-stand which did not go as well as I expected, – the bike fell over! and there was the wind.
The cycle down to St Maries-del-al-mer went well, especially as it was my first day and so badly packed, it took me about 2hrs but I was content. However, I was supposed to be in Port St Louis du-rhone at 16:00 and did not have time to hang about, so after a very quick sandwich I headed east.
The southerly wind from Etang de Vaccares was tough, there had been moments on the road here, but heading East in the open was hard going.
I posted a video on YouTube to give you an idea “Its not windy Nicole”.
What the maps or pictures do not show is how bleak it is after Phare de la Gacholle.
It would be an ideal location to film vintage Tom Baker Dr Who, bleak, grey brown, utterly devoid of any sign of life. I kept expecting the route I was following to disappear as the path was repeatedly blocked by huge boulders, the red lines on the map. That or some Aliens in dodgy latex suits to emerge from the grey salty earth, grab me and transport me to their Spaceship. If there is ever a French version of “Mad Max” it will be set here.
Im sorry now that I took no pictures, at the time I was trying very hard to be in St Louis de Rhone for 16:00 and the wind was Triumphant & Victorious in my defeat.
I took a gamble and followed the shortest route that was at times barley there. Once I had crossed the five barriers in the narrow strip of sand, I joined a network of rough roads amongst what looked like salt pans., where I had my first interesting encounters.
The first was a large black Range Rover travelling at significant speed with a rather serious looking guy at the wheel. I fully expect there was at least once corpse in the boot and he was either on his way to dispose of it or pick-up a boat load of Libyan refugees or drugs.
Not long before I reach the tertiary road, a bloke in a Porsche Boxster, his passenger a strikingly beautiful black woman wearing a collection bright gossamer scarves, alive in the wind around her head, as though a collection of coloured snakes were writhing around her.
He was looking for something, probably some romantic viewpoint to watch the other guy tipping dead bodies into the sunset and most certainly leverage to add his own viper to the mix, but I was at that point approaching two hours late, utterly frozen, so a little selfishly acted the dumb tourist and said I didn’t know.