Thursday, July 25th

Still at the Gite de Presbetiere, breakfast. Today is an auspicious day, as it's the 'Fête de Saint Jacque', or the Day of Saint James. If Christmas celebrated James instead, today would be Christmas.

Between Espasot and Marsolan, and the signs at this junction of roads is confusing. The 'do not go this way' signpost has been ripped out of the ground, and the 'this way' sign that's nailed to a tree is ambiguous to say the least. Time to make a decision. I think I'll keep on straight. Not turn.

Yep, right choice.

Marsolan, on the steps of the iron cross. The eglise is just over there. So is the sound of a chainsaw.

Have to re-read Knulp, by Herman Hesse. The hat, the stick, the man in black, is apparently very Knulp-ish. I know I've already read it, but that was years ago, and I can't remember a single detail of the story, other that that he dies in the end.

a little later
Met the 'famous' pilgrim, who yesterday, was rumoured to be passing through Lectoure, and who the Lectourians where preparing to welcome. Turned out to be a pugnacious little man, walking back from Compostelle, after already having walked there. Trying to do it for free. Refusing to spend any money, expecting people to just offer him food and shelter. Apparently, he found that easy enough to do in Spain, but difficult in France, and he's raging against the groups who book the gites in advance and who carry next to no baggage, but have transported it ahead. I think his name is Jean-Francois. He's getting quite agitated about something, banging the ground with his stick to emphasize certain points, again and again.
Maybe I could become a professional pilgrim too. But, non, just the once will be enough.

Saint Germain. A 13th century chapel.
There's a column capital inside the chapel, on the left behind the altar that's quite Celtic, all swirly lines and a ferocious face. Dates back to 1210, but the original was destroyed in a flood in 1769, but rebuilt in the 18th century. Thus endeth the lesson.
Following 3 others, Celementine, St Francis and Assisi, who seem to have a way with dogs, and who have maps. St Francis talks continually to Clementine, about what I have no idea, but probably a detailed account of War and Peace.

There's a museum of 'preservatifs' here. But I just can't bring myself to go there.

This is a big town, and the main entrance to the Cathedral is being restored. Scaffolding up about four or five levels, with workmen doing something on each.

Would've liked a look around inside, maybe later, when I can get into tourist mode, whenever that may be. At the moment, we're waiting outside the Eglise Saint Jacques, waiting for someone,or something, to do with where to stay the night. Priorities, I guess. Saint Francis has a packet of Casse-Gôute biscuits, sharing them around, and people, old people, are bringing flowers into the church. Today must be this church's big day.

left the others, to be a tourist for awhile. It's pouring rain, so I intend to stay in this bar, drinking this Cafe Grande, until it eases up a little. Nelly Furtado is on the TV.

Found the gite, have a bed. Have no idea about tomorrow. Whatever happens, happens.

Condom is a nice town, the cathedral dominates it, naturally, it's typically Gothic, huge, soaring windows. Surrounded by the town, much of which is genuinely old, some of which is renovated, some of which is fairly ordinary, by French standards. Sought out the usual places, bought a new diary, a postcard, which I've decided to keep rather than send. The joke of the name wears thin after a few seconds.

Apparently we're having a Saint Jacques Day Feast. The others, Saint Francis, Assisi, Joe and Clementine are buying the food for it, at the Petit Casino, and the local speciality is canard, duck, so whatever, it could be interesting. And, the fact that Condom is the 500km mark is also to be celebrated.

The walking today was good. Long, but good. I was 9kms down the track before I knew it. Stopped at Marsolan to make a phone call. By the time I was finished, the others were already there, so we moved on together. Sometimes being alone is the best, sometimes having company is better, sometime's I'm in company when I'd rather be alone. Today, I would have preferred to be alone. Whatever.

Walking through farmlands mostly, so much so that you tend to ignore the surroundings. Ploughed under fields lose their interest after a while, and you begin to think of stuff, and god knows where it comes from, weird stuff, home stuff, why am I like I am stuff, and what should I do about it stuff, and I'm waiting for the answers to hit, to make themselves known; sometimes a line from some song gets itself on a loop, sometimes totally meaningless phrases, not even English, but French sounding, are on the loop. I'm wondering if this is some kind of block, when I start thinking about stuff, something else kicks in and says "do not go there."

Now U2 are on the TV, Lemon.

Met Clementine at the laundromat. All our stuff has been washed. My trousers are clean again. A little damp despite three goes in the tumble dryers, but clean. At the moment, I'm getting about Condom in my basketball shorts. Yes, I feel vaguely stupid. Particularly as it's still raining.

On the way back, we call in at the Mairie, converted cloisters, the arches, the details in the ceiling, that Clementine spins under. I could have watched that for a long time. The open ceiling in the centre, a stage set up for what may have been a concert, or will be later. Maybe it's the Saint Jacques Day gig.

image taken from

I'm pissed again. I think it's the glass of red wine before tea that did it, then the one during tea, then the small one that kind of finishes off the bottle.

And bejaysus, that was before the Armagnac, the other regional specialty. At the pub, the big one near the eglise, a plan hatched, to walk separately in the morning, then meeting at the D254 sometime between 10:30 and 11:00, to take the variant, the unmarked route, that should take 4kms off the distance to Eauze. 4kms mightn't seem much, an hour's walking, but 29kms is psychologically better than 33.
Mainly talking with Joe, discussing favourite Rolling Stones songs. Midnight Rambler. Jumping Jack Flash.