This morning I walked one of the most serene roads of the journey so far. It was about 5km long and a country lane for most of this distance. There were trees on either side, sometimes forming an overhead canopy. Just one car went by and a couple of cyclists. Apart from them I had the road to myself. All the way the birds were singing their cheerful tunes and not far off to my right the sounds of a mountain river announced its strength and vitality.

I want to say something about drinking water. On the one day I ran out I was aware my supply was low because I had camped out the previous twoA�nights and wasn’t able to resupply. What I did that day was to stop drinking two or three mouthfuls at a time, instead taking just one mouthful, swirling it around in my mouth, and then slowly swallowing it. I became very conscious of how it cleansed my mouth and satisfied my thirst. It wasn’t until yesterday I realized that what I was doing was a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is a process whereby we create heightened awareness by taking time to notice the activity in which we are engaged. It might, for example, be putting on your shoes and sox, eating your food, or cleaning your teeth. Try it some time and you’ll see how different the activity becomes.

I looked today, as I often have, at what supports these tiny communities financially. Obviously, in this area much is geared around winter. There were two gravel processing plants, some logging, and a trout farm. I have noticed many times how there are on the outskirts of towns large warehouse type buildings which seem to be idle. Why do they build these places?

For much of the time after my food break around midday I had snow capped mountains to my left and in front of me as I made my way up the Stura Valley, which is part of the Marittime Alps. Every valley has it’s base town and today’s was Demonte, a town I passed through around 2.00pm. It has a very narrow main street but the logging trucks and semitrailers didn’t seem to have a problem negotiating it.

After leaving Demonte I moved onto another ‘country’ road far away from those maddening trucks and cars. I felt like I had this road to myself until it linked up again with the main road at Vinadio, about 11kms further on. After a steady climb onto Vinadio I stopped at the junction of the country roadA�with the main road and surveyed the area for hotel signs. Just as I was about to move off I saw one for a B & B, my first since arriving in Italy. The owners, Eliana and Luciano made me very welcome. Eliana spoke English which she had learned some time ago in England. I was able to have a conversation, at last.

After doing my shopping in the village which, extraordinarily, has three grocery stores, I was served green tea in a bone china cup and saucer, and biscuits in the sitting room. I was even asked whenA�I would like breakfast. What a delight to be paid some attention – unlike at the hotels.

On the wall of my room is a photographic map of the Stura Valley. It seems by the time I reach the FrenchA�border I’ll be around 2,000 metres. I’m looking forward to the next two days. Bring on the climbing. Truly, holiday is write an essay on my future ambition a powerful blast of protest, grimy with apocalyptic fury, consciously designed to incite, and unapologetic in its ferocity