Thursday January 15 2015 29 km past Souterre

Vertrek vanmorgen in La Souterre
Leaving this morning in Souterre

Rain predicted for today. And what do we get? Hazy sunshine, dry, 9 degrees C. One gets what one deserves. Cozy, extensive breakfast with the three ladies. All three of them came from the Champagne region in the North of France. So did my landlady , but now she lives here, while two colleagues from her former work are visiting her. All will help painting to decorate this appartment a little. Wether I wanted to stay and help. Rather not so. They wanted to give me 5 E for Mama Alice, but I found that somewhat cumbersome.
We went up and down again through this beautiful region. Like mostly during  the last few days we walked constantly on very quiet roads through beautiful hamlets. Tosca mostly could run freely and, despite spending her night outside under a canopy, she ran again incessantly. I walked 29 km. So Tosca covered at least 50 km. Indestructible. She is my example and I figure: like his dog, is his boss.

Bread mold makes penicillin? In a lovely village, of which I don’t know the name anymore because my road books have been packed for an early morning departure, I saw a sign “ouvert café” . It is an already late departure right now, so who cares about still fifteen minutes extra? While I enter a living room, which was decorated as a café, a blond lady with a pronounced English accent wants to serve me. She turned out to be Scottish, married to a Frenchman. Oh, I say, my sister Lil is also married to a Frenchman. So right away we had some common things to chat about, now in English.

Inside cafetaria

Hey, she says, the horse is walking down the street. Well, in this hamlet that didn’t bother much, but I nevertheless rushed out to secure the transfer circuit again. I’ll come back to empty my coffee and to pay, I shouted to her, because she might think I’ m sneeking away because of the high price: 3 E per cup.

Leon and Tosca tied to a bench in the village square

It little further, in a meadow, I found Leon back

I took a few pictures, among others, of the in fact surpringly all slate roofs.

Much used colours in this region

In remembrance of the resistance during 2nd WW

Father and daughter who gave me food for my horse. Sister of her is married to a Dutchman in Dordrecht

A horseman with whom I had a chat 

Suddenly a text message: Lilian !!! That can only be good news.  Lil, a sister-in-law  living in France, helps me find a shelter. The other Lil, my own daughter, is expecting a baby.  Sister-in-law Lil had booked something for me for Sunday. Quite a relief again. Now still something for Saturday night. During walking I got a text message from apatient asking for advice about prostate complaints. Suddenly a car stops: so where is your journey going? (in French then). Wait, I'll first tie up Tos and Leon. We had a little chat in the middle of the road with a man and his marriageable daughter. The father told about his other daughter, who is married to a Dutchman and lives in Dordrecht. Well, nice, I hope. After a few minutes I continue again. The same car returns after 10 minutes. I have come to bring you a bag of concentrate for your horse, he said. Pretty nice, huh. I drag his daughter out of the car for a selfie with Leon and me. Too late? 
About the same again happens after a while. A man working in front of his house adresses me about my horse Leon and he asks where I am going. Well, I say, finding shelter is the real problem. Come on, he says, and shows me his stables. Place enough. Photo. Yeah, but I already have a place to stay for tonight, I say. Well, at least come and have a look at my palominos (is a horse breed). Well, I can afford that delay.The man proudly shows his palominos. There are a lot of machines in the stable: sawing machine, drilling, wood splitting device. In the place where you go to you should ask for the vet "Paul", he says. Paul has horses and his wife works for the municipality. He can shelter your horse. I'll give you Paul's phone nr. As I continue I am reminded of what some tourists in South Limburg say: it is beautiful here, but there is no water, actually there is nothing. When I regard this remote spot, very beautiful, but also very quiet and isolated. And then I muse. Where you live is the center of the world. the elder English lady, at dinner yesterday, said she was in a choir, teaching English to a group that had meanwhile become friends, was in a environmental club, she was at the gym, and she never wanted to leave France any more. It is livable everywhere.                                 It was getting colder, started to trickle a bit, strong wind, bleak, uncanny. Would the agreement be true? Am I not late? 
At dusk I arrived at the agreed address of a municipal building at a large lake. A teacher from the municipality took me to the building, also suited for pilgrims . In the meantime the clock was approaching 6 and it was almost dark. Your horse is allowed in the garden of a man in the village. I'll give you his number. I say: I guess at the veterinarian's? Yes indeed. Oh, I already have Paul's number, I answered. But here at the building is plenty of grass. I'll leave Leon here. OK. I am lodged beautifully here at the edge of a lake, but that beauty is of no use when it is dark, cold and raining. There is nothing to eat in this town and I only have a meal for trekkers: spagetti, good for 2 servings, it says. I could eat at least two, maybe 4 servings. This is hardly anough for a sick chicken. Luckily I had some pieces of stale bread for Leon left in my bag. It was moldy, but hunger makes raw beans sweet. Besides, doesn't the bread fungus produce penicillin? I help myself think so. So boy, chew that bite away.

A few days ago I wrote about my father-in-law, who in the 2nd world war worked a few years in a Japanese prisoner's camp in slave labor at the Pakan Barou railway, which, by the way, never came into use. If a Japanese capo was not paying attention, he would slip into the jungle to catch bushmeat: a bird, rat, whatever. Those who were disgusted with it died first. I'm not that far yet, but those were wise lessons. One more week and then my lovely wife and her wonderful girlfriend wil join me for a while. I hope it won't be too cold, because freezing weather has been predicted. I desperately need to go to bed now. Murrege is' ne nujen daag oe de muus nog nuuks a gedoe hant (heard in Vijlen): tomorrow will be another day, not yet touched by the mice.

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