The building next to where I camped last night was the clubhouse of the Association Chalossaise des Biberons Landais – the Biberons Social Club. By the look of the club mascot represented by a painting outside the building, the place is just an excuse to get on the grog.

The sky cleared today to a light blue, more pleasant than the grey ceiling under which I’ve been walking these past couple of days.

I made good time to Amou, about 11km from last night’s stop. The first bar I came to I got more iPad charging done while having a hot chocolate and drying out my tent
on a nearby hedge. I then moved onto the next bar about 200 metres up the street, via the patisserie where I had mint tea and got the iPad charged some more.

I love the relaxed lifestyle to be found in a lot of places, Amou being one of them. People just stroll into a bar or cafe, have drink while chatting, reading the paper, or glancing at the TV, and then leave. It’s a part of everyday life, it’s just what is done. I find this aspect of French life very attractive. I see so much merit in their attitude towards alcohol. It seems that no big deal is made of it. Alcohol is readily available in supermarkets or the local store. I have not yet seen a drunk person in either Italy or France. Alcohol seems to be so well integrated into life here it’s no more of an event than eating a croissant or having a coffee.

If you were traveling through this part of France you might put a meal at the Hotel du Commercial on your list of things to do. It’s built on a bend of the road that leads into the village. So often I’ve seen a road bend occupied by a bar or restaurant which makes it a very attractive location. I don’t know why, but that’s how it appears. Driving into Manou from then south you would pass under a short avenue of very old Plane trees, the oldest I’ve seen so far by the girth of their trunks. This
leads you to a bridge over a river that passes alongside the village. Beyond the bridge on both sides of the road are wooded areas with bench seats and places to walk and park, and then you come to a small open area on one side of which is the Commercial Hotel. It’s such a pretty couple of hundred metres. You couldn’t help but like it. However, you have to keep in mind that I’m seeing this as a walker from where you get a much more intimate view of the world than you would in a motor car.

Before leaving Manou I visited the church and lit a long candle for my friend Naomi.
The length of the candle represented my intention that she have a long life free of the threat of cancer.

From Manou I moved onto Tilh, another 8km down the road. It was 3.00pm and the only shop in the village was closed until four. I decided that the front of the church in the shade under its portico was the place for me to eat and wait for the shop to open. Before unpacking my backpack I went into the church for a little quiet time, although quiet time could have been had outside on the streets of Tilh which were deathly still. In the church I sat and closed my eyes and experienced one of those
beautiful light shows. I thought that it happened because I had gone from a very bright day into a darkened building, but later on after being in the bright light for over an hour I re-entered the church but it did not happen again. I saw sparkling, bright mauves and whites in random, ever-changing shapes, something like looking at live blood under a microscope. It lasted about a minute and then faded until it disappeared. It was one of those experiences that I wanted to go on and on. There was such beauty in what I was seeing.

After eating on the church steps I returned to the church, lay my forearms on the
pew in front of me, lay my forehead on my forearms and went to sleep for half an hour. I then did my shopping, wrote up some blog notes by which time it was 5.30 pm. It was such an enjoyable few hours in Tilh.

On the front of the church at Tilh was a reference to the year 1600 and St Vincent de Paul. 1600 was the year he was ordained a priest. Apparently he was appointed parish priest of Tilh but, it seems, never took up the appointment. While on the internet I saw one of those quirky bits of history that tickle my fancy. This one was
about St. Vincent de Paul, who, on his way back from Marseille in 1605 was kidnaped by Turkish pirates, taken to Tunis, and sold into slavery. After converting his owner to Christianity he escaped in 1607. Now if this is true (I did read it on Wukpedia) it must be one of the earliest recorded accounts of the Stockholm Syndrome in reverse.

The other thing that caught my eye today was at an intersection a kilometre or so out of Tilh where a crucifix had been erected. Now I’ve seen a lot of roadside crucifixes these past few days with almost life sized Christs nailed to them. The eyecatcher about this one was an advertisement at its foot for the local Tilh pizza
business. This particular operator will need all the help he can get because as of 2007 the population of Tilh was just 817, hardly enough to sustain a pizza parlour.

After Tilh I only had another 4km to walk and as I was reaching that point an absolute ripper of a campsite came into view. I’m in a mowed, grassed area about 50m x 40m with a woodland behind me, a corn crop to my front, and a creek to one side. You know what they say in real estate: it’s all about location.

And all of this would be completely meaningless were it why do my parents not let me play videogames on weekdays even if i finish homework not for the fact that this one still kills at a party