Le Puy to Condom - Day  21
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Barrachin to La Romieu - 26k

This morning the paths are a muddy mess. But with the heavy dew the ‘natural thingies’ looked impressive.

I resisted putting on waterproof trousers as the girl with the winning smile & nice legs on TV (France is a big country, therefore you get so much more on the screen) had promised me sun. I then went through a thought process, as you inevitably do when you are on your own, that reasoned would I have preferred Michael Fish and the truth. In the end I decided on a fantasy that has the girl with the winning smile, nice legs, forecasting for hazy sun, 20oC, slight wind….and that’s what actually happens.

But in the mean time it rains and I get my trousers soaked several times. The good news is my ‘bags’ dry very quickly. I realise my ankles are now a big problem, what to do about it…
I am not sure.

I arrive at the town of Lectour buy yesterdays Sunday Times and sit down for a coffee and read in a bar as a viable alternative to standing in the rain on a sea of mud. Its Monday so all the bakeries are shut, but the good news is, the bar has its own supply of croissants.
(For dunking in your coffee)

As I am about to leave (and this shows how long I have been loafing there) Elisabeth turns up preceded by a French girl we have both bumped into over the past days. I am going to take the main route, but Elisabeth is taking the variant. I really don’t know why I decided to go to La Romieu as the variant saves about 8k.

Pleasant enough town, but it was asleep. The way to Marsalan is a series of very muddy paths & tracks

In Marsalan I stop for lunch in the main square by the church, where a party of French people are just finishing off their meal (with table cloth, on a stone bench) They immediately offer me lunch, but I regretfully decline as I have a fair amount of food I am carrying I need to get rid of, and anyway I have the last bit of the last Camembert. I have turned over a new leaf and bought a bit of non smelly (and I guess, non tasting) gorgonzola type cheese.

As the French party leave, it starts to rain, so I move my operation to a shelter built over the main street, odd, but handy. I am sure it is built to keep cool in the middle of the summer, rather than rain in April.

As I sit there I realise that either my ankles must improve or I have to stop walking.

As it is walking on Mud for the rest of the day it is not too bad. At one point I stand in a farm yard having a drink and I watch water shoot off a roof. Is southern France supposed to be like this in April?

I then turn north to my final target of the day ... the sun eventually comes out, but the mud remains.

The town has an enormous church for its size, reflecting its former importance. You are invited to buy tickets from the tourist office to look around….. Both are closed when I arrive.

As most people have the good sense to take the variant, the Gîte is inhabited by only one other guest, a Swiss man who apparently met me at Livinhac on the Lot.

The good news is Sylvie, the Gite boss, who does speak good English, will wash & dry all my cloths for four Euros, what a star. As a special treat I give her all my socks....this is my gesture towards building Anglo French relationships.

She also gives me a ticket for the restaurant for a great meal for 15Euro.

So after a quick shower (just my birthday suit tonight.) I head off and find the small town empty and mostly closed, but I find a bar and sit in the sun and finishing off my Sunday Times.

Wandering to the restaurant I hand in my ticket and the food arrives. A big plate of mixed stuff…. A few slices of salmon quiche, cold meats plus other unidentified goodies. I am then asked how I would like my Magre of Canard cooked  this arrives with vegetables and layered potatoes. The whole lot is finished off with a chocolate mousse that is as smooth as silk. A good end to a muddy and somewhat uncomfortable day.