We have had a busy few days. If you hadn’t already guessed, we are next to a river, in the Gorges du Tarn, in Southern France. Now that S has rested she had regained her equilibrium and is quite liking our shady spot with not far to go, if you need to go . . . so to speak. So, we are signed up for multiple activities of the outdoors nature. First up was canoeing down the R. Tarn. Now, regular reader will know from a previous blog that I have a portable kettle drum for just such an eventuality, and maintain a constant rhythm to keep S on stoke. Alas, we fatally opted for the mixed paddle approach, so steering was a lottery, as was making headway or generally pointing in the right direction. Here you can see S directing the canoe by unaccountably looking in the opposite direction – luckily there is no sound recording for this part of the blog . . .
So, further down the river, it was with some trepidation that we approached a sign which was less than encouraging in its portent . . .
It turns out that this was a warning that we were approaching the weir that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD WE PASS – so we made land tout suite, glad of our Deliverance, but without the duelling banjo and ‘little pig’ episode . . .
Not satisfied with our close shave, S decided that the next adventure would be a ‘walk’. I agreed, of course; what could be nicer than a stroll along the banks of the river, stopping perhaps for a cold beer of glass of vin blanc. So we purchased a 1E pamphlet from the tourist office with a 11 km randonee marked on it. Off we set, with the first few km living up to expectations, and I was looking forward to the appearance of the first hostelry. But then the path started to rise upwards, through the trees, wending its way back and forth, roots seemingly snaking out to trip us and rocks under foot that threatened to turn an ankle at every step. Up we went, and up and up, sometimes scrabbling on all fours, sometimes leaping from rock to rock next to precipitous drops; passing natives bent double with loaded packs and Sherpas shatterd by their efforts. At one point we passed a goat which I swear was shaking its head in amazement as if to say ‘bloody idiots’. So, with the last drop of water squeezed out of all four SIS cycling bottles we crested the rim of the gorge, up where the vultures wheeled on thermals high above the river which ran like a silver thread far below . . .
Having eaten our meagre rations we set off on the second half of the ‘walk’. Now, regular readers will know, from previous adventures, that fortune smiles on the brave and thus it was this time. Not 100 yards down the road appeared an arrowed sign nailed to the wall which said ‘Tap 40 m’, with a little picture of a tap next to it in case you were in any doubt. And, lo’ so it appeared at the designated spot.Needless to say, we fell on our faces in this oasis and drunk our fill of the glorious nectar – well, filled up our plastic SIS bottles. It turned out that this was just as well, because 10 km later, we staggered into a bar in Les Vignes after trying and failing to stick to the route which was variously non-existent, barred with electric fencing, or treacherously steep like the ascent. We walked down the road in the 35 C heat (take note, reader, that Akubra hats really are very, very good), until we staggered into the bar in Les Vignes like Mills and Syms in Ice Cold in Alex . . . and didn’t the beer taste just as good.