Walking slowly through France - 230km done, 300 to go


There is a rhythm to our days. We rise. We walk. A cafe is a bonus. The countryside is beautiful. Wild flowers and vineyards give way to rolling hills, sunshine gives way to rain. But it’s the people and the world we live in that fascinate me.


Dinner one evening with a couple, he Italian, she Flemish, with our French Algerian cuisiniere. We talk about faith, Trump and Brexit in my broken French. Our host at the B&B has one Catalan grandfather and one Basque (as well as a magnificent moustache). The great European experiment! C’est un melange, they say.

The next night we stay with a German couple, another wonderful chef. He is giving up on the French and returning to Germany as the French never turn up as arranged! A marriage made in ...?

And then a young English couple who moved to Carcassonne. He’s now very grateful for an Irish parent and that their 18 month old was born in France. 

Yet as I read a novel set in occupied Nazi France, I reflect. It’s a mess - Europe. It’s not the ideal I believed in when I voted to join as a young man. It’s overladen with bureaucracy and senseless rules. But what is the alternative? Are we really better off on our own?

And then the kindness and the warmth of the hospitality surprise me. What happened to the French disdain for foreigners?


I’ve lost my addiction to The Times and today’s news; but even here Trump’s attempts to destroy the Western Alliance send a shiver down my spine. Have we forgotten the lessons of history? My father turns in his grave.

It was our generation that voted for Brexit I’m ashamed to say. What world are we leaving for our 6 grandchildren? Isn’t it better that we live with uncomfortable compromises than with a certainty and nationalism that isolates and separates? 

just a few thoughts as we walk slowly across France .....