Manosque to 2km East of La Begude – May 24

Two hours of climbing in 25 degree heat is enough to ruin a fresh, clean shirt. Such was the walk out of Manosque this morning. It was an 11.00am start after recharging my internet connection and looking for a cybercafe.

As I climbed away from Manosque the views became spectacular. One view I had was over a deep, wide valley where I counted six mountain ranges from the far edge of the valley to the horizon. In some areas I could still see the impact of logging. Scrubland has replaced the trees. Then there are the very small lots, usually by the sides of the road, which are used to grow hay.

At my first break I looked out over a couple of these lots. I had just begun to descend the mountain I had been climbing for over two hours. What a choice it turned out to be to stop where I did looking at one lot with its bailed hay, another with its hay waiting to be bailed, and all with hills in the background. I was sitting in the shade of a tree with these fields bathed in sunlight. I felt so at peace with where I was.

Around 3.00pm a breeze picked up. It cooled me a little, but by the time I reached
the valley floor the wind seemed to have some heat in it. The countryside I saw
today was in such contrast to a couple of days ago, and in remarkable contrast to just five days ago. The changing nature of the landscape is one of the things that has made this journey so special. Now there are big, wide valleys with lines and clusters of dark green tree tops contrasting with the patchworks of maturing light green crops.

Later in the day I was shielded from the sun by rows of trees growing quite close to
the edge of the roadway. I like the way the grass grows right up to the edge of the bitumen and how some interest is taken to mow a strip of it about a metre wide.

What about the odds of this happening: I turrned off one road onto another and had about 8km to reach Cereste. Not far ahead of me I saw a man in a grassy drain. These drains are everywhere. There was no water in this one. He began to climb out as I got close to him. As I got alongside he stumbled and used me to regain his balance. Any number of reasons could have put me either 10 metres in front or behind him as he climbed from the drain, but I was in the right the when he
stumbled. Now think of this: here I am walking from Rome to Santiago and he stumbled just as I was passing. Not a coincidence.

It was such a welcoming walk into Cereste. For about 2km out of town and leading right into town there was an avenue of maple trees. They’ve been there a while with trunks more than 80cm in diameter. In Cereste I resupplied with food and water and then looked around for a spot to have dinner. There it was on the main road. A fountain with a semi-circular, knee high stone wall around one side. A perfect seat. I looked at the running water while I ate. It was a very public place but no passer by
seemed to mind.

When leaving Cereste there was a massively long and deep gorge with a sheer face to one side. What was amazing were the hundreds of very tall trees reaching from the floor of the gorge up into the sky. It was around 7.00pm when I stopped to take in this spectacle. I could hear the birdlife singing away below me.

I planned to walk another 6km after dinner and stop near La Begude but sometimes gifts just present themselves and can’t be turned down. After I’d done about 4km
there to one side of the road was a picnic areas with mowed grass, tables and rubbish bins. Perfect for the night. As I was completing writing up my notes for this blog I was sitting at one of the tables. My tent was all set up for the night. It was 9.35pm and there was just enough light to complete my writing. That’s because at that distance your eye couldn’t resolve the two headlights into two distinct sources of light

Le Val-d’Asse to Manosque – May 23

Today was one of those days where I just wanted to get to where I was headed, Manosque, and attend to some personal affairs in a city which looked large enough for me to be able to do them.

When I awoke at around 6.45am with the sun shining onto my tent and beckoning me to start my day, the sky could not have looked more different to what it was twelve hours before. It was a beautiful pale blue and such a contrast with the angry grey and black that it was the previous night. The morning sun made it a little easier to pack up a very wet tent. I’ve been on then road now for nearly eight weeks and during that time the weather has really not inconvenienced me. There have been a
few wet days and some quite cold nights but the gear I’m carrying has enabled me to cope well with these conditions. I’m grateful I’ve been able to keep dry and warm, when needed.

The French seem to have the same attitude as the Italians to street signs which indicate how far it is to the next town: a rough guess is o’kay. They are certainly at odds with the satellite navigation. Take today as typifying my point. My satellite navigation told me a distance to Manosque from my campsite. I commenced walking and had done between two and three kilometres by the time I reached an
intersection where a street sign said I still had the same distance to go as when I commenced to walk. It can be dispiriting.

I mentioned yesterday about a lack of fences around crops. What I failed to tell you was the French love of electric fences. They seem to be used very extensively, even judiciously. A week or so back I saw a small herd of cattle eating out a corridor of grass about 7m wide up the width of a paddock. The corridor had been determined by electric fences. They certainly have a deterrent value. Yesterday I was reluctant to throw my wet shirt over one when I stopped for a break.

Not much caught my interest for the first 15km of today’s walk. I had about 5km of climbing and descending a mountain. Done that before. But about 5km from Manosque there is an area devoted entirely to intensive fruit farming. There are a large number of lots and each of them is covered, presumably to keep out scavengers like bats and birds, and each lot is irrigated from overhead. It looks a massive undertaking.

Just beyond this farming on the approach to Manosque development begins. It’s
always tempting to settle for the first hotel I see. Today I walked past three and that took some doing. I’m glad I did because I ended up in the old quarter of town where I have a hotel room with it’s own entrance. Not that this makes the room more special but it does give extra privacy.

I have to wait around tomorrow morning until my mobile and internet provider opens its store at 9.30am to sort out a couple of problems that were created by the man in Barcelonnette who sold ne the SIM cards and failed to credit my phone with a��25 when he said he did. Such are the vagaries of international travel.

A perfect their forum vision is characterized by a resolution of 0

Camping la Celestine to Le Val-d’Asse – May 22

As I commenced to write up my notes for this blog I was inside my tent, it was around 6.45pm, I had been in the tent for half an hour, and the rain was coming down. The clouds were building all afternoon. The far off thunder got closer and put on a spectacular sound show. The rain felt like it could stay for the night but after forty five minutes had fizzled to a few drops and then stopped.

I had my first food break in the shade of some trees while my shirt and sox dried in the sun. There was a gentle, cool breeze sweeping over where I stopped. I then did something I haven’t done before. I stretched out and went to sleep. The sound of a slowing motor cycle woke me. It sped up as I rolled to one side and looked in it’s direction.

I walked 25km today. By the end I’d had enough after nearly eight hours on the
road. My campsite is within a few metres of the road on a thick grassy patch with trees to one side. The stoney base under the grass will make for good drainage of the rain water. When I arrived the grass was standing tall. I stamped down an area big enough to raise my tent so that after I’d finished it looked like an alien craft had landed there.

I stopped in La Begude for a cold sparkling mineral water. The last 17km from there
was on the quietest of one lane country roads. La Begude was the last place to get water until I found a public fountain at Brunet where I resupplied for tomorrow. There would not have been more than a dozen cars and a handful of cyclists on this road. Early on I saw a few lavender farms and as the valley open up more land was give over to grain crops like wheet and oats. There was one crop I didn’t recognize at first until I took a closer look. Beans. Not the climbing type I’m used to seeing, but
plants growing over a metre tall with a large number of branches all sprouting beans. Some of the grain crops must have gone in early because they looked like they’ll be ready for harvesting in a month or so. Irrigation is used quite extensively. Crops come right to the edge of the road. There are no fences. The French are unlike the Italians who seem to fence in everything. No fences provide a sense of spaciousness. There was so much green interspersed occasionally with patches of yellow.

I look forward to a short walk and a hotel room in Manosque tomorrow.

Bigne-les-Bains to Camping la Celestine – May 21

There’s guidance and there’s common sense and sometimes the two don’t coincide. While in Barcelonnette I planned my route from there for the following seven days. I made a particular note of the road numbers out of Digne. Today when I got to a major road intersection I saw one of the arteries marked as N85. My reaction was to check my notes. I did this and saw I had written references to roads N85 and N1085. I thought, “Oh, they must drop the one zero.”. But the note did say to take the N85, which I did. What I failed to put in my notes was the fact that there are two N85′s out of Digne. Of course, I should have been on the other N85, an entirely different road. It wasn’t until I had my first food break about an hour and a half later that I discovered my mistake and chastised myself for my stupidity.

These occurrences rarely turn out for the worse, like having to retrace my steps. I found a new way which took me to Camping la Celestine, a caravan/camping ground on my ‘new route’ which was still a respectable 17km from Digne. I can pick up my previously planned route in a couple of days time. Tonight I have a beautifully shaded, green grassed tent site among the trees, hot shower, and a table on which to type this blog, versus the uncertainty of what would be available to me in the place I’d previously planned to stay. My glass is always half full.

Camping la Celestine is a massive caravan/camping ground but there are very few people around at the moment? The French holiday ‘season’ does not commence until the beginning of July by which time I hope to have reached Spain. The proprietor told me because it wasn’t the holiday season he didn’t stock bottled mineral water. He recommended the tap water which I’ve been drinking.

Walking the bitumen roads has really taken a toll on my boots, particularly the heels. I thought I’d be able to do the entire walk in the same pair. I probably will but by
the time I reach Santiago they will be well and truly shot.

It was quite a leisurely walk today. After my food break I stopped again an hour later
in Mezel for a mineral waternat a garden bar which overlooked a luscious green valley. I was there more than half an hour. It then only took me another hour to reach the camping ground. The countryside is flattening out. More is now under farming. I expect to be camping again tomorrow night.

What I get some pleasure from is thinking about the contrasts I’ve experienced on
this journey like sleeping in a sheeted, made up bed in a hotel room, or sliding into a sleeping bag in my tent; eating food taken from my backpack while sitting alone on the ground, or sitting in a restaurant choosing food from a menu while glancing at other people’s selections; and going without a shower, or standing under a hotel shower letting my body rejoice at the feeling of hot water flowing over it at the end of a hard day’s walk.

The other thoughts I regularly have involve flashes of places I’ve stopped at either for the night or for a rest. They are usually places I feel good about, but no matter how
good I feel about them I invariably say to myself, “I’m glad I’m not back there.”
It was a musical sentiment of monumental hope, comfort and even joy at a do my homework for money moment when all were in short supply

Bad Salzhausen – October 20

I’ve frequently mentioned local hyperthmia but not described what it is: It’s been known for a long time that cancer cells can be damaged by heat. When cancer tissue is heated, heat shock proteins develop, initiating an immunological defence response against cancer cells. In local hyperthmia therapy cancer tissue is heated by the use of short wave irradiation at 13.56 MHz and an energy up to 150 watts. Heat penetration is about 20 cm. Temperatures higher than 42 degrees (107.6 f) can be achieved in cancer tissues. While healthy cells can tolerate this treatment, malignant cells get damaged. Local hyperthmia is not known to have any significant side effects. A single treatment session lasts one hour.

I never cease to be amazed by the stories and experiences described to me by clinic patients who come from the USA and the UK about the intolerance of their medical practitioners, particularly oncologists, to therapies that don’t fit into their own treatment paradigms which focus almost entirely upon chemotherapy and radio therapy It seems that in the USA those who control admission to the profession will move quickly to eliminate from practice anyone who was to advocate, for example, hyperthmia. It seems that in the UK the result would be the same.

In Australia, we appear to be, if not more enlightened, more tolerant of non-conventional therapies. It seems that in neither the USA nor the UK would you have a doctor currently practising conventional medicine, endorse a month of meditation in Brazil and three weeks of hyperthermia in Germany as an entirely appropriate treatment program for the management of prostate cancer and follicular lymphoma, like my GP has done for me.

If you need a laugh after reading this, google “Three Holy Men and a Bear” and read the joke. If you want to tell it to a friend, do some work on your accents.

Barles to Digne-les-Bains – May 20

I awoke not long after six. It had been a cold night during which I put on a headscarf and jumper to keep myself warm. It was cold packing up the tent. Everything was wet. My fingers froze. When I started walking it was in a pair of leather gloves. The sun had only just peeked over a nearby mountain as I left. While walking through town I saw a bar open. It was only around eight. I was surprised. I went in and ordered a hot chocolate. I noticed in the kitchen there was a fuel stove alight. The woman running the bar said I could use it to warm my hands. It took about five minutes to thaw them. After that it was so good to wrap them around a cup filled with a hot drink.

I walked beside a river all day. I felt energized by its presence. The sounds it made were very reassuring. For about half the day it was like walking at the point of an inverted triangle. Then the valley opened up. Some of the land was farmed. You don’t need much land to grow a crop. At least that’s been what I’ve seen here and in Italy. I just love the way that everyone who owns a house has a vegetable garden. The sound of cackling hens triggers in me a desire to live in the country.

I waited until I’d done about an hours walk before having breakfast. By this time the
sun was up. It would have been miserable to eat back at the cold, wet campsite. It gave me an opportunity to dry my tent. Along the way I saw some interesting stratified rock formations stretching high up the mountain sides. But the most interesting of all was what I saw on the outskirts of Digne. At first I thought it was a charcoal coloured concrete face they’d put on the side of the hill to prevent slides which had been reinforced with old car tyres. I then saw an information plaque which had a description of the site in English. The circular objects I had seen were
ammonites. Around 200 million years ago the entire area around Digne was under water. About 1500 ammonites at this site fell to the oceanh floor and over time
sediment settled on and preserved them. Several tens of millions of years later when
the Alpes were pushed up parts of the ocean floor were overturned resulting in what you see today. You could get close enough to touch them, but I didn’t. Fascinating stuff!

At my second food stop my view was of the river as it emerged between two intersecting mountain sides. I watched as it meandered towards me. Just below where I was sitting was a tiny rapid providing a minature white water display as I ate.

You know those big, metallic, chunky keys they give you at hotels so you don’t walk
away with them on your pocket. I managed to walk away with one from the hotel I stayed at in Solonnet. When I got to Digne I posted it to the hotel. One less thing to carry. The other thing I needed to do when I got here was to get out of the clothes I’d been wearing for four days. One reason for staying in hotels is so I can wash my clothes. Putting on clean clothes is nearly as good as taking off my backpack at the end of the day. One you put on and the other you take off. They both bring joy.

I didn’t drink a lot of water while on the walk today. I only just had enough to make it to Digne. My body was so in need of hydration not long after arriving I drank a 1.25lt of water and at dinner tonight I drank another litre. While I’ve bee typing this blog another half lite has disappeared. Where does it all go? However technically, this number may not be applicable since a 20/20 vision is accorded to people with a retina resolution as high as 1 arcmin

Selonnet to Barles – 19 May

As I commenced to write up my notes for the day the rain started again. It’s about 6.30pm and I’ve been in my tent for about half an hour sheltering from the rain and settling in for the night. I think I’ve said it before- there is something cosy and secure about being in a small tent. I’ve felt it each time I’ve camped.

Today I truly walked with nature. I saw beautiful valleys and rivers running over rocky ledges. I walked country lanes and roads carved out of the sides of mountains. I crossed old stone bridges and passed sheer rock faces that dropped to the edge of the roadway, and I could smell the pine as I walked by forests. What an amazing journey to experience this in one day.

For the second day in a row my right leg was well behaved, but I did a lot of visualisations and imagery to keep it that way by using all the available energy to heal a sore spot, or pain, or discomfort as it appeared. It was soon gone. Yes, trust in the process.

As I walked from Solonnet towards Seyne I saw a sign for a camping ground. It was the ground I’d intended to stay last night. Nothing of note registered with me. I then came to an intersection where there was another sign for the same ground. The
thought then occurred to me that I may not have to go in(to) Seyne today. I decided to take this alternative route which ended up saving me about a kilometre of walking. Now there is more to this than some random thought just appearing in my mind. There is guidance happening here. I have been guided by my guide many times on this journey. I won’t go into details now, but in the near future I will do a separate blog about my guide and when we first had contact. Suffice it is to say that they are there for everyone. You just have to believe ithe process

I was considering today how well I eat while on the road. Yes, I did go off track for a while in Italy, but take my 11.00am meal as representative: ryvita type biscuits with
tomato, stuffed olives, banana, walnuts, almonds, and the most beautiful big, soft prunes I bought at the Saturday markets in Barcelonnette. Or tonight when I had lettuce, tomato, white beans and tuna in olive oil, all dressed with balsamic vinegar, followed by walnuts, almonds, prunes and raisins for desert.

There were times in today’s walk when it was quite cool, especially when I descended into a valley after midday. Prior to that I had a good couple of hours of steep climbing and it’s hard to keep cool when you’re doing that. The rain threatened
around one but it didn’t amount to much. I was surprised to see a restaurant/bar in Auzet so I stopped for a baguette and mineral water. Soon after I did the rain came down, but not for long. By the time I got back on the road it was dry again.

I’m camping in a small paddock tonight. I have a row of bushes behind me to give visual protection from the roadway. To one side about 40 metres away is a stone house. As I walked past it a little earlier I noticed the driveway covered with weeds and all the shutters closed. No ones been there for a while. The idea is to select a location where my presence is not obvious and tonight’s campsite is one of those.

I took my breaks today and my body feels all the better for them.

There were those who supported the war on terror and there were those who the business opposed it

Le Louzet to Selonnet – May 18

I must be in Seyne. Or at least I was for a short time today. Seyne looked to be a pleasant town from high up as I approached it a little after 3.00pm, but finding the only hotel closed altered my perspective somewhat. For about 10km before Seyne I’d walked in on and off light rain. Never before have I seen such big, dark cloud formations that never amount to much. If appearances were anything to go by, with all the thunder and lightning, you’d think they’d deliver a torrent of water, but they never seem to do that, which was fortunate for me. When I found the hotel closed I enquired at a local cafe and was told it opened at 5.00pm. Heartened by this news I parked myself outside the cafe with my dripping gear, ordered a drink and waited.

It is often just an expectation that keeps us bouyed, but a soon to visit reality can change that. Come five o’clock I headed to the hotel to find it still closed. There was a telephone number handwritten on paper and stuck to the window. I called the number only to find out the hotel would remain closed. Earlier when I first discovered the hotel closed a man on the street told me there was one about 3km down the road. The only problem was that ‘down the road’ took me on a different road back in the direction from which I’d come, but I went that way anyway. The three k’s turned into four but I eventually found a place for the night. By this time it
was well after six o’clock.

I just don’t get it. In Le Louzet where I stayed the previous night there were three hotels in a village of about half a dozen buildings and a dog. Seyne looked like Gotham City by comparison.

Most of the day was spent climbing. I didn’t expect this because I was leaving the valley. When I changed roads around eleven thirty I headed back into the snow country, not that there was any snow around, but places like Saint-Jean are ski
villages that look like they can’t wait for winter to return. Their appearance is quite forlorn with very few people around, quiet, closed shops, for sale signs on apartments, and bitumen instead of snow or sleet. The arrival of snow energises these villages waking them from their summer slumber.

This morning I met a couple of young men from Paris who had slept by the side of the road in a stone shelter. They were on their way to Barcelonnette with backpacks. One spoke English. He asked about my journey. When I told him, his first response was to ask me if I had been in the military. He thought it would be dangerous to be
traveling alone, but I assured him it was not. I must say that at no time have I felt under threat. There have been times when I’ve felt a little uncertain about my situation, but nothing that could deter me.

You would have thought I had a different right leg today compared with yesterday. Thanks for all that healing energy everyone sent me. During today I didn’t have the breaks from walking I normally do. Firstly, I didn’t feel like a food break, and after the rain started there was no where I could take shelter, so I kept going. This was a
mistake. My body knows what it likes and it most certainly knows what it doesn’t
like. It doesn’t like to be pushed for six hours with just twenty minutes off like was today’s effort. I must respect what it is telling me, irrespective of the conditions.

Tomorrow I will have to retrace the last 4km I did this evening to get back onto the road that will take me further south. I must be getting soft: walking an extra 4km to search out a hotel instead of raising the tent in the rain on wet, soaked ground. But I’ll continue to indulge myself this way.
The only americans in the middle, green day might have argued, were those who were too writing a college paper fixed on their own petty and materialistic affairs to care one way or the other

Barcelonnette to Le Louzet – May 17

What do you say when things fall into place? “I feel blessed”. Today I obtained a new internet and mobile phone service provider for France. Things weren’t going at all well because of a mutual lack of understanding between me and the shop owner. Enter Jacques and Catherine Charvet, a French couple from a nearby village who learned their English in Dubai and who have holidayed on the eastern seaboard of Autralia. Jacques, seeing my difficulty, began interpreting and before too long I got the services I wanted. But their kindness did not stop there. Jacques called my new mobile number to see if it was working and thereby leaving his number. This gesture was accompanied by an offer to help with the internet connection because there was going to be a delay with it and that delay might go beyond midday when the shop
closed. All I needed to do was call his mobile. I was to return at 11.45am for the
shop owner to try to get the connection completed. At the appointed time I was about to enter the shop when up walked Jacques and Catherine saying that they came back in case the shop owner had not been able to get the service connected. Such generosity overwhelms me. I’d earlier given them one of my flyers and invited them to have a look at my website. They may very well be reading about themselves in the next few hours.

In an account I wrote about how I came to walk the last eleven days with Anette and Denis on my pilgrimage in 2008 from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de
Compostela, I spoke about how occurrences like what occurred today are not coincidences. It might seem to some to be the convergence of two seemingly unrelated events that cause a particular outcome, but my view is that there is a greater force operating that puts people in the same place at the same time for a reason. Sometimes that reason is not obvious at the time. Today I needed help and I received it.

As I was leaving Barcelonnette I bought some glucosamine from a pharmacy. On my way out of the shop I saw a set of electronic scales. I was wearing my backpack. I
hopped on without my walking poles. 102.9kg. The last time I weighed myself in boots and walking clothes I was 75kg. So work out for yourself the weight of my pack and what I had in my pockets. Frightening. No wonder my legs are complaining.

Today’s walk, 20km, was a benign one: easy going road, not too much traffic, mountains on either side and to my front as I descended the valley, and the ever present river. There were times when I looked at the rapids, pictured myself in a
canoe, and imagined the course I would choose. I crashed into rocks a few time.
One thing I did have to contend with, and I didn’t imagine this, was a westerly wind which blew in my direction for about the first three hours of walking.

This area is something of a summer playground for canoeing, kayaking, rafting, paint ball and karting. There were numerous places advising one or more of these activities. Also, there are a lot more camping grounds than I saw in Italy, but none far enough along today’s path for me to be able to use. What do you get at a three star camping ground?

Around 5.00pm the sky darkened and there was more than a hint of rain. I expected to camp tonight, not having seen any sign of a hotel on Google maps. And what do you know? I walked into Le louzet about half an hour earlier than expected (I must have walked a little faster today) and there stood a hotel. As I was unpacking down came the rain. Not heavy, but enough to have been a nuisance had I been setting up camp. As I sat in the hotel bar around 7.45pm writing up my notes, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and down came the rain again. Today’s second blessing: being where I am and not in my tent.

I don’t want to go on and on each day about my crook right leg and take up more lines of type than Tony Lockett’s groin, but it did misbehave again. Despite this, it still helped get me 20km and it will get me to Santiago de Compostela, especially if it gets a mention in your prayers and meditations. Please, keep the energy rolling in. Gerne schreibe ich hausarbeit to aber auch kurzgeschichten und texte zu den verschiedensten themen

Barcelonnette – 16 May

I felt a little restless today. I wanted to get back on the road although my leg was telling me it wasn’t ready. I’m not sure how it will go tomorrow, but I’m hoping the problem will iron itself out with some walking. This has been my experience up to now, however I’ll be starting out with more uncertainty than ever before, but with faith that those who are overseeing my journey will look after me.

I have got to get a new 3G internet, and mobile telephone service provider because the one I was using in Italy can’t be used in France. The internet literally stopped at the border. Fortunately Wi-Fi is generally available, although I’ve been to one hotel that didn’t have it. Some towns provide it as a public service. It’ll be a late start tomorrow because the only shop that provides this service was closed today.

It’s been one if thise days thats just drifted by. I lay on a bench seat in Place Emanuel outside my hotel, cap over my face, enjoying the warmth of the sun while wrapped in enough clothes for an Australian winter’s day. You can tell a local: they’re the ones in T-shirts, but not all of them are hardy types. Place Emanuel has erected in it a monument, described as a ‘modest’ one, commemorating the part played by the people of Barcelonnette and the valley for their part in the ‘intrepid defense of public liberty’. Very French.

Early this evening I went to a public internet point to download a document and to send bunch of photographs to the Gawler Foundation for uploading onto the website. The man who owned the business did what was necessary to send the photos. He charged me a very modest a��5 for the job. When I think it’s appropriate I hand over a copy of my brochure, which I did to Maz (not sure how he spells his name) who was speaking with me in English. He read it and we briefly chatted about the walk. He then handed me back my a��5 saying it was his donation. He searched for a word in English to describe what I was doing and then told me it was a noble thing. I thanked him for his generosity. These moments make what I’m doing all the more worthwhile. Holiday is a pummeling punk-rocker aimed squarely at president george w

Barcelonnette – May 15

I’ve decided to have an extra day in Barcelonnette so I won’t leave here until Tuesday morning. I needed more time for my leg to heal but I think it will require some nursing for a while yet. There are only two physical healing methods available to me on the walk: rest and massage. I also work on myself energetically, particularly when I’m walking and need immediate relief, like last Friday. I’ve been using, what I call the universal energy, for healing since my first Camino by visualising it being directed through a funnel onto the are of my body in need of attention. I remember the relief it gave my badly blistered feet on my first Camino in 2007. Visualisation is a very powerful healing tool. I’ve demonstrated its effectiveness by the success I’ve had with my lymphoma.

Barcelonnette is a very likeable town surrounded by the Alpes. Today as I walked one of its many narrow streets I looked up and saw a patch of white capped mountain between the buildings at the end of the street. You get these glimpses everywhere in town. It’s the main town between here and the Italian border and I suspect for some distance south of here down the valley. The town has quite a number of hotel, lots of restaurants, and a prosperous looking retail street.

Yesterday the Chauval Blanc (White Horse) Society was celebrating 100 years of
doing I don’t know what, in the street outside the Chauval Blanc Hotel. People were dressed in period costume. The women were conspicuous in their bonnets. The men didn’t seem to make as much effort.

Restaurant food here is more expensive than in Italy. It’s an effort to get a simple salad with just lettuce and tomato, the sort of thing you pay a��3.50 for in Italy. Here, the French want to add, and add and add ingredients and sauces. I ate a rarity today: a multi-grained baguette. I had it with some Atlantic salmon, followed by a peach and strawberries. Simple, but delicious. I noticed that today’s fruit came from
Spain. In Italy I remember only eating local produce.

The French appear to observe Sunday as a day of rest. Only a few shops were open, and only for the morning. In the short space of time I’ve been in France I’ve seen a number of monuments dedicated to WWII. Twice now I’ve seen life sized representations of Christ on the cross mounted by the side of the road, whereas in Italy the Madonna appears to be the most revered religious figure.

Today I did quite a lot of planning of the route between here and the Spanish border. It’ll take me at least until the end of June to get there. It looks like six out of the next seven days will be camping and only one of those days in a camping ground. It’s a good way of balancing the budget after more than a week of sleeping in hotels.

I forgot to mention in an earlier blog that my journey through Italy was around 800km. France will be about a 1,000km, and I haven’t bothered to look at Spain. That can wait until I’m close by.

reasons why i couldn’t do my homework

La Condamine-Chatelard to Barcelonnette – May 14

If you read yesterday’s blog you will know of my concern about paying the hotel bill. Consequently, I did not eat breakfast at the hotel, instead eating left overs I had carried for a couple of days- lentils, olives and three day old bread roll. I’ve been very strict on myself about not throwing away food. Surprisingly, it was quite tasty. That is, if you don’t mind lentils for breakfast.

I started to walk shortly after 8.00am. It was going to be a short walk of around 13km to Barcelonnette, but before I had gone too far I knew I was going to have a problem with my right leg. Normally, and there have always been a couple of issues with my right leg when I set out each day, any problem that presents itself disappears after I’ve been walking a few hundred metres. Not today. My right leg
was letting me know it needed a good rest. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been considering taking two nights in Barcelonnette, and that’s hiow it’s turned out.

La Condamine sits at around 1,300 metres so it was a cool start to the day, particularly because the sun was hidden behind a mountain for about the first hour. It was a beautiful walk with the Alps to the east of me, another line of mountains to the west, and some flat ground in between. To my left as I descended was a ‘white water’ river. Actually the water isn’t clear like I saw the last few days in Italy, but a milky, light caramel colour. I noticed a couple positions where canoes could be launched. The scenery was nothing like I’ve experienced before. Truly awesome.

I passed through Jausiers, a pretty town where I got some cash from an ATM. The villages I’ve so far seen in France leave me with a different sense of space. The French ones seem to take up more space than their Italian counterparts. One thing I noticed immediately was when motorists moved to their left to make way for me, they used their indicators to warn of their intending change. Not so in Italy where there were thousands of cars passed me.

I arrived in Barcelonnette around 11.15am, booked into the first hotel I saw (a product of having looked on the internet) only to be told that my room would not be available until 3.00pm. This was a good opportunity to take a look around. The main street was packed with Saturday morning shoppers. I found markets in a nearby car park where I bought dried fruit and nuts to satisfy my sweet tooth. There were two stalls selling beds and mattresses all set up on the roadway. I like the colour and movement in these places: the displays of meat, fruit and vegetables, cheeses, spices, honey, jams, bread and tarts. Soon after the markets I settled into a cafe in
the square behind my hotel intending to do some work with my iPad after eating.

I headed to the hotel shortly before 1.00pm only to find the doors locked and a message saying they would open again at 3.00pm. I just love the way (in an ironical sense) that you are not given the full story when you register. For instance, I had a camping ground operator walk fifty metres with me to show me the location of the shower block but omitted to say anything about the showers being operated by discs which were available at reception counter we had just left. I only found this out after I got to the shower and could not work out how to operate it. I now make a point of
asking if there is wi-fi, is breakfast included and what time does it start. My experience is that if you don’t ask for this information it’s very, vey rarely volunteered. Today was a typical example by not being told that the doors would be locked for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.

I did use the time well: I went to the local church and sat without disturbance for about 45 minutes while I did a meditation and then went to this massively large supermarket. Sometimes these towns really surprise me with what they have available. I sniffed out a laundromat and wrote up my notes while I waited for my
clothes which really needed a bit of rough and tumble after six weeks of hand washing, and in the case of some clothes, never having been washed on this trip.

We had some rain this afternoon. I hope it rains itself out before I get going again on Monday. A few days ago I was told about a snow forecast for Sunday on the higher peaks. From Barcelonnette I head west for a couple of days before turning south again. This should keep me away from any cool winds that might blow off any fresh snow.
On their 7th release, american idiot, green day served up a concept album airing out all the anger, sadness, and frustration of a decade lost entirely to war

Villagio Primavera to La Condamine-Chatelard – May 13 – Arrivederci Italia

Around 8.00am the sun crested a nearby mountain and my hotel room lit up. Shortly after 9.00am when I left the hotel the air was still and the temperature around 17 degrees. Bersezio was just a couple of kilometres away. A sign said it lay at 1625 metres. From there it was a gentle climb to Argentera at 1700 metres.

I’d only been walking for about 20 minutes when a man in a ute pulled up and asked me if I was a pilgrim. When I said yes he lifted from his chest a cross/sword of St James worn on a chain around his neck. He told me he had done the walk to Santiago de Compostela using a route through Arles, one which I intend to use, in part. The St James cross is a well known symbol of the Camino. I have one clipped to the headband of my hat. Galicia province in Spain, of which Santiago de Compostela is the capital, is famous for its Santiago tart, an almond based pastry served as a sweet. It is dusted with icing sugar in such a way as to leave an outline of the cross on it.

From Bersezio I made my way to Argentera which was deathly quiet. It wasn’t until I was half way through town that I noticed someone for the first time, three men doing some stone masonry. As I was leaving Argentera I noticed a man cutting grass with a wipper-snipper (the much loved garden tool used in preference to a lawn mower) and for no reason apparent to me, stopped work, walked towards his ute lifting his protective mask as he did so. It was then that I realised it was the same man I had spoken with earlier. He went to the cabin of his ute, got out something, came up to me and handed me a disc with the most recognizable symbol of the Camino on it. This is the outline of a scallop shell in yellow on a blue background. I put it in the headband of my hat, but will later sew it onto my pack. It is quite big and in my hat band I looked a bit like the Mad Hatter.

After Argentera I did some very serious climbing through a series of ten U-turns. Over not a very long distance I probably climbed more than 250 metres. Then came the sign ‘Francia 1 km’. A little beyond this sign was a restaurant/bar. I stopped just before it, sat on a grassy area, and being the sentimentalist I am, had my last meal in Italy. The view I had of the mountain in front of me was like a green mat on which someone had thrown dollops of white paint. I was at 2,000 metres and the compressed snow at this height strongly resists the urging of the sun to melt.

While I was eating, a woman pulled at the restaurant carpark, came over to me and began a conversation about a musical project she had developed and hoped to take on the road in July. A moving orchestral piece. If I understood correctly, she had previously done one from Burgos, a large city through which the Camino Frances passes, to St Jean Pied de Port, where many people, including myself three times, start their Camino. I gave her a copy of my flyer and I got Josette’s email details and those for the proposed tour which translate as ‘music and peace’. Don’t you just love the way people’s paths cross, as mine did today on two occasions.

It didn’t take long after lunch to reach France. There was a sign. That was it. As I looked down into the L’Ubaye Valley the sky was darkening as storm clouds gathered. From the French border it was downhill all the way, literally and in some senses, figuratively. I was on the outskirts of Larche when the rain started. I made it to some cover. I had a choice: go back 100 metres to an albergue or press on to Meyronnes in the rain. I decided to walk on. In a way I thought it would be fun. The rain was only light and I hadn’t experienced any rain walking for over a month. Also, there is a sense of defiance by walking in the rain.

There were some spectacular land formations as I descended the valley. I saw dozens of small, short legged, light brown furry animals with bushy tails playing on the patches of unmelted snow and occasionally darting into a nearby burrow. My destination was Meyronnes but when I arrived, tired and cold there was no hotel and I definitely was not going to pitch a tent. I had no choice but to keep walking. When I reached La Condamine-Chatelard I’d covered a little over 30 kms since setting out today. I found a room at the Hotel Midi, one of the oldest hotels in the universe. There was nothing in this town. The fact that it had a hotel was very surprising.

My decision to stay at this hotel reinforced an important lesson for me, one that I didn’t note before walking in the door. That is, take time, even a minute, to think through the consequences. I was so fixated on getting off my feet I did not consider how I was going to pay for it. I had paid cash at my last two hotels. There was no ATM on today’s travels. I was running low on money and two of the three credit cards I am carrying I had not been able to use because I didn’t have PIN’s for them. So I worried about this all night, needlessly as it turned out. As I was leaving I handed one of the two ‘unusable’ cards to the woman in charge and said “No PIN,
sign”. She didn’t seem at all fussed. After a short time out rolled the script for me to sign. In Italy the same card had been rejected by many places because I could not supply a PIN when all that is needed, as I saw today, is to leave the card in the slot and after a while it bypasses the PIN requirement. (Because I am posting this blog a day late I am able to tell you the end to this story.)

Today I ended up doing about 8km more than planned and my dodgy right leg was telling me it was very, very unhappy. I’ll see what tomorrow brings. Dressing down the presidential administration and the american people who allowed it to run roughshod over their rights, the green day of 2005 is a pretty far cry from the dookie-hucking jokesters of a decade prior

Vinadio to Villaggio Primavera – May 12

What a pleasant surprise it was to come down from my room this morning to find a breakfast table set for just me, the only guest for the night, with a vase of fresh flowers, bowl of fruit, and Continental breakfast food, all on a white tablecloth. Also on the table was a computer printout with the details of a hotel at Bersezio. Last night I asked Eliana if she knew of one, and she did not, but had taken the trouble to find one for me. I thought this very considerate. I hope other travelers are fortunate enough to find the Piccolo Hotel as I did and get to enjoy the hospitality of Eliana and Luciano.

As I left Vinadio and looked up towards the mountains I was in awe of what I could see. I felt like I could easily dissolve into tiny particles and be absorbed into them. As I walked along the sun was warming my back and the air being pushed up from the river below had a sharp, crisp coolness about it. I spoke yesterday about bringing on the climbing. That didn’t take long to eventuate, although it was a steady climb – nothing too radical.

As I reached my first crest I could see Sambuco ahead of me. Here, the road
flattened a little to give me an easy walk to the Sambuco turnoff where I set myself up to eat, dry my shirt and sox, and write up my notes, as has been my practice. From where I ate I could see the intersecting lines created by the sides of the mountains as they descended into the valley. These mountain sides were full of tall, dark green trees growing upright as they assiduously clung to the step slopes. Nearby was a single house and I wondered how deep in snow it would be in the middle of winter. I had seen some photographs back at Vinadio of the 2008 snow in the village. Quite a winter it must have been.

There was some more tough climbing between Sambuco and Pietraporzio. In Pietraporzio the river ran in front of the village. A lock had been made to hold some water in a minature lake on one edge of which was a children’s playground where
dozens of children were out enjoying the warmth of the beautiful sunny day. There was a small hydroelectric plant on the edge of of town with a pipe threading its way part way up the side of a very steep mountain where it disappeared. It made me wonder just how much water must there must be in these mountains with it flowing out every minute of every day.

While walking I did some visualizing using the river as a source of healing energy directing it into my prostate. To me, these rivers are constantly speaking of energy and healing.

Just before the next village of Pontebernado, which had its sign spelt in both Italian and French, there was a short, but even steeper section of road where the trucks were going down in gears. When I have to go down a gear it just means pushing harder on my walking poles as their tips come into contact with the ground. I thought it would be interesting to do a mindfulness exercise involving my walking poles. In doing it I became acutely aware of the drive I get when I use them. The full weight of my backpack is on my legs as each of them comes into contact with the ground, but as each begins to drive me forward the poles engage simultaneously with the
ground taking weight from my legs. And this has been so for every step I taken on this journey.

Between Pontebernado and Pinado there is an 830 metre long tunnel, about 500 metres of which is fully enclosed. For the whole of this 500m I was the only one in the tunnel. No cars. No one but me. It felt quite weird. After the tunnel I stopped for an hour about 30 metres off the road by a large boulder. I thought it would be a good place to do a meditation until a farmer came along with chainsaw and proceeded to cut logs from some fallen trees. He was very friendly waving to me on his arrival and saying goodbye as I left. The view from this spot was a joy. In fact, today has
been a day of awesome views.

As I passed beyond Pinado there was a long, straight stretch ahead of me. I’d calculated I had another 3km to go to get to Bersezio, my intended top, when on my left about half way up the straight appeared the hotel I’d been given the details about at Vinadio. Naturally, I stopped and am now tucked away in a warm hotel with cold wind blowing outside. I’ve got the package deal tonight – room, dinner and breakfast for a��50. It’s been a great day and I look forward to crossing into France tomorrow to commence the next phase, of what has been for me an amazing
journey. So let’s convert that to inches to see how small a pixel the human eye can resolve at a distance of one foot 12 inches / 3438 0

Tetto Colombero to Vinadio – May 11

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

Chiusa di Pesio to Tetto Colombero – May 10

I awoke to a beautiful sunny morning. The first temperature I saw was 19 degrees. Very pleasant for walking. The next I saw much later in the day was 29 degrees. I didn’t believe it. It didn’t feel right.

Before I left the hotel I had a conversations with one of the managers about what I was doing in Italy. I have had this type of conversation numerous times and it never ceases to amaze me how everyone knows about Santiago de Compostela. Also, when they find out I am on foot they can be most effusive with their compliments. The last two mornings my story has become the topic of conversation at the breakfast bar. On my way out of the hotel the middle aged woman who served breakfast, and who
doubles as a room cleaner, came up to me, shook my hand and wished me a good journey. I love moments like these when I realise what I am doing has touched someone else.

Today on the road a man in his car started tooting the horn of his car. As he drove by he was looking in my direction, smiling, and madly waving. It was like he knew me. I returned his smile and wave. Moments like this bring me joy and warm my heart.

I was surprised how just a short distance from Chiusa di Pesio it opened up into flat farming land. Such a contrast with yesterday. It was like two worlds. I imagined the road into France to be a continuous climb through mountainous country. This has not been the case.

I had my first break around midday at Boves in a park next to a cemetery. If building monuments is evidence of respect for the dead, then Italians are very respectful. I’ve witnessed the same respect by the Spanish. I’ve seen reminders of
this respect along the way by the roadside, where people, obviously killed in motor vehicle accidents, have had monuments erected in their memory. These aren’t your white cross with a few flowers. They are usually made of marble with an inlaid inscription and photograph of the deceased. I usually take a look at them. Regrettably, too many I’ve seen are for young men. Things aren’t so different in Italy to what they are in Australia.

I had an interesting experience yesterday on my way into Chiusa di Pesio. On my left was a small valley with steep inclines to both sides. On my right was a house
with a barking dog. Now I know I’ve gone on a bit about barking dogs, but this was different. It was a big dog and did those timed barks. You know the ones where they give it all they’ve got, pause, and then go again. In between one bark and the next I was hearing the echo of the first bark in the valley.

Tonight I’m not where I thought I’d be. There was only one hotel in Borgo San Dalmazzo, my original destination, but when I arrived the ‘For Sale’ notice on the dust covered door and the yellowing envelopes in the letterbox suggested it had not been a hotel for some time. But as good fortune would have it just 2.5km down the
road in the direction I have to walk tomorrow, I found a great hotel with a splendid restaurant where I’ve just eaten a delicious meal (in keeping with vegan principles).

I’ve shopped and am geared up for a 25km trip tomorrow. My plans just change from day to day. Nothing is set in concrete on a trip like this. I’m enjoying my attitude towards flexibility and adaptability.
Obviously, more than a few listeners shared green day’s anger

Vicoforte to Chiusa di Pesio – May 9

It rained during the night. I didn’t hear a thing during my long, undisturbed sleep. I woke to an overcast day. When I left to walk it was 13 degrees and I didn’t get up a sweat until I’d done about 10km, such was the coolness of the morning.

I visited the Sanctuario before leaving. I took some photographs but they didn’t turn out to be of such good quality because the lighting in the building was out. Even with the lack of lighting it still loked a place of rare beauty.

I haven’t taken many wrong turns but I managed two today putting on an extra half hour of walking. My original intention was to go just 12km and stop for the night at
Roccaforte Mondovi because I had a few things to do on the internet and I neded the time to do them. My Google maps showed this town to have to have three hotels. There were none.

When we walk a journey like I am walking a lot is about the mind – how determined and fixed it can be one minute, and then how flexible it can be in accommodating a sudden changes of circumstances. My focus when I set out this morning was that I
only had 12km to do and my attitude to the walk was locked into that distance. However, when I realized there were no hotels in Roccaforte Mondovi I was presented with a choice of camping there or moving on a further 7km to where I am tonight. The choice seemed easy, I adjusted my thinking and moved on.

I am now in the snow country. While i was walking I tried to imagine the lush green fields and hills blanketed with snow. It was quite difficult. The feel of this country is that it is geared up for winter activities and that spring and summer are mere respites from what those cold, short days bring with them. I am one of just three
guests at the hotel which was closed when I arrived a bit after 4.00pm. I wandered around a little, bought some supplies from a small shop, and was about to head out of town to find a campsite when I noticed the doors opened. I ventured out of the hotel around 8.30pm for a walk. It was very cold, which made my decision to sleep indoors seem like a sound one. However, there are still quite a few more days in the mountains and I shudder to think of what cool nights they may bring.

Chiusa di Pesio is at the base of a valley. It sits at 595m. Up the valley the peaks reach more than 2,400m. The rivers and streams are flowing with the run-off from
the melting snow. In town yesterday I saw a man with fishing rod taking on his quarry around a weir that is built near a bridge crossing into town. No luck for him.

I’ve chosen 20km walks until I reach Barcelonnete in France. Looking at the map at least two or three of them will be camping. Not a hotel in sight. I hope to be surprised. This means that to a more average eye, pixels smaller than this are unresolved

Priero to Vicoforte – May 8

Sometime we are fortunate to just stumble upon places where there is something of significance. Today was one of those days when I decided I had to walk further than originally planned to put myself in a town where the was a hotel, having had two night’s of camping and feeling like I needed a shower, and a need to wash some clothes. More about this later.

I was awake early, around six, beating the sunsrise over the nearby hill. It was a cool start to the day. I like to take my time in the mornings, as much as is needed to do what has to be done and to do what I choose to do. This morning I got my photo descriptions up to date. Which reminds me while in Albissola Marina I sent
about 250 photos to the Gawler Foundation, some of which will find their way onto
the website, probably on the Media page where there are some already.

Last night didn’t go so well. I don’t know what it is about old buildings. Whether I’m inside them or on the outside like last night I never seem to sleep well. Last night’s choice was at the rear of a disused church on the outskirts of Priero. It must have something to do with the energy of these places. I never have the same problem if I have open space around me.

The other reason for not sleeping well was the pain from osteoarthritis (OA) in one of
my knees which needed a pain killer to get some relief. It was a timely reminder to me about my diet. OA is an inflammatory condition and I have been eating plenty of inflammatory foods like cheese and sugary pastries. Too much Omega 6 in these foods, and definitely not enough of the anti-inflammatory Omega 3′s in my current diet. At home I get my Omega 3′s from eating a vegan diet which includes soy products and flaxseed oil. Try getting those in Italy. Not only are what I’ve been eating bad for OA they are bad for cancer for the same reason. My body has told me
to change or suffer, so I’m off them as of today. On the way through Ceva I called into a pharmacy and stocked up on Omega 3 capsules and some other vitamins.

I’ve slightly changed my path to get to the French border: I’m now not going through
Cuneo, but south of it.

I took a food break around 11.30am and it was nearly one o’clock before I got going
again. From then on it was tough going. The temperature had to be in the mid 20′s all afternoon. I’ve come to a view about long straight roads: they’re an excellent way of building mental toughness, particularly on days like today when I had several of them and also because of he heat. After commencing to walk following my 11.30am
break I decided that I wouldn’t stop for an hour and a half no mater how I felt.

On this journey I’ve avoided placing arbitrary conditions upon myself like walking so
many kilometres per hour or reaching a place by a certain time. So why set an arbitrary walking period today? After all, it wasn’t a long time to walk without a break. The answer is simple. When I do it there is a voice in my head which challenges me to not achieve my objective. It says things like, ‘Why not take a break now?’, or ‘It looks like a good spot up ahead to stop’. Ignoring the voice is from where mental toughness is derived.

What a beautiful sight it was today to look up and see snow capped mountains ahead of me. I know I don’t have to cross them but I wonder how close I’ll get before turning south in France. The answer to this musing is not far off.

And finally for today’s treasure, the Sanctuario di Vicoforte. I’m in Vicoforte tonight in a hotel directly opposite the sanctuary. The outside of the sanctuary is imposing, but
the splendor of the inside is to behold. The sanctuary was once a place of pilgrimage. It has the largest elliptical cupola in the word measuring some 36 metres in diameter with some 6,000 square metres of frescoes. There is a central altar where a mass was being conducted when I visited around six o’clock. I wasn’t aware this place existed before today, but I’m so pleased I made a change of plans that put me here.
If you have average eyesight, the picture will look just fine

Carcare Camping to Priero – May 7

Isn’t it great when everything you’re looking for you find. It happened to me this morning when in Carcare I found a bar where I could have a cup of tea and a supermarket to stock up on supplies. Now these may seem fairly mundane but when you’re doing what I am those things we mostly take for granted take on a much greater significance.

I had about five long, straight, uphill sections of road to negotiate between the outskirts of Carcare and Millesimo. This type of walking is very testing mentally, still, but I have got a lot better than what I was like at the beginning. There are ways I’ve learned to deal with it. They are simple, but effective techniques. There are a
number of phrases I use like: ‘I’ll get there when I get there’, or ‘However long it takes is what it takes’, or ‘Just take it a step at a time’. You’ll notice that these phrases are designed to keep me in present time. I’ve learned that there is no point in concerning myself about how long it’s going to take to get somewhere or how far away some place is. But the main technique is to simply look at the road about one metre in front of me and keep focussed on it. This then becomes a walking
meditation. Of course I look up from time to time to take in the countryside around me, and importantly to check the line being taken by oncoming cars.

I stopped to eat on the outskirts of Millesimo where I watched speckled backed ducks with green heads swimming the river. A couple ventured on shore and were met by a very territorial white fellow who chased them away and followed them into the water for about three metres to make sure they got the message. It was a location of contrasts: there was the river to my right and to my left in the near distance three layers of the Autostrada. Millesimo was just packing up after it’s Saturday street markets. The main street was closed and motorists diverted with specially located traffic lights.

From Millesimo to Montezemolo it was a continuous climb. Montezemolo sits at 754 metres according to a sign on a building where lots of motorcyclists gathered. Obviously Saturday is a big day for them to be out riding, and most of them in full leathers. The cyclists were also out in force. I passed one group of at least forty riders.

I’ve finished up in Priero after a downhill walk of about five kilometres. This brings me to the second rule of mountain road walking: today’s downhill becomes
tomorrow’s uphill. I found a public park (rare in my travels) with a number of bench seats and tables near a small cafe. Not sure if the tables belonged to the park or the cafe I bought a bottle of water to justify sitting at one. There I made and ate dinner. I’m carrying Japanese green tea, mug and diffuser. The cafe owner was more than happy to supply me with hot water. I offered to pay, but he like all the others to whom I’ve made the same offer, refused.

As I post today’s wanderings it’s going on for 7.00pm, my pack is ready to go, and I’ll soon leave my bench seat and table and head out of town to find a camping spot for
the night. I should be in my sleeping bag by eight o’clock.

The third do my homework detect more information single off of american idiot, holiday peaked at 19 on the billboard hot 100 and topped both the hot modern rock tracks and hot mainstream rock tracks charts

Albissola Marina to Carcare Campsite – May 6

The day didn’t start all that well. I put on my backpack in readiness to leave the hotel when I realized my water bladder had a leak. It carries the main water supply, about 2.5 litres. I did some repairs with sticking plaster but this only stemmed the flow. I persisted with it in this condition until I reached Savona, just a few kilometres down the road, when I placed the bladder in a couple of cliplock bags. This has provided a temporary solution, but I’ll need to replace it. I know someone who is coming to France and with whom I am going to catch up in a few weeks time. I’ll ask him to bring one over.

As I arrived in Savona the was a parade in support of some politician in an upcoming election. There were plenty of frustrated motorists giving their car horns a decent workout.

After clearing Savona I had a steady climb for about three hours. I’m not sure of the altitude here where I am tonight but it got cooler earlier than when I was on the coast. It was quite an uneventful walk today. Both sides of the road were filled with lush green trees so I should be grateful for being able to walk through a rich source of energy even though I was disturbed all of the way with a constant stream of traffic.

I never appreciate how big an ocean liner is until I get really close to one as I was today when I passed alongside (40m away) the ‘Costa Magica’ berthed in Savona Harbour. They are quite awesome when you look from the waterline up the side of the ship. It made me think of how daring a raid it was all those years ago when high jackers took over the Italian liner the ‘Archile Lauro’, and how undaunted Somali pirates appear to be when they take on large merchant vessels from very small craft.

When I was about 1.5km from Carcare I saw a motorhome camping area with no one in it and the whole area unattended by anyone taking fees. There was a sizable grassed area perfect for my tent. I set up there for the night. There is a toilet facility better than the last two camping grounds I’ve been to, with paper hand towels an liquid soap. I’ve kicked a goal finding this place.

One of the great things about camping is being able to get an early night. I’ll be asleep by 8.30pm. After I ate and set up the tent I walked a few hundred metres back in the direction from which I’d walked this afternoon, found a bar and had a pot
of tea. You always get asked if you want lemon when you order tea. What is this practice?

Today I stopped at a little place called Cadivona for a five minute rest. About 10 metres opposite was a church. Near the front of the church was a panel with writing on it. I took a look and to my surprise it had a short history of the church in English, as well as Italian. It told the story how people who lived in the area in the early 1600′s set up a chapel because it was too far to travel elsewhere to worship. It was precise in saying that on the 5 April 1623 permission was sought from the Bishop of
Savona to pray at the chapel. Apparently the good bishop was not one to be rushed into making a decision because permission didn’t come until the 16 January 1625. It became an unofficial parish in 1627 but did not obtain official status until 18 September 1797. What were they doing at St. Anna’s for that 170 years?

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A Day in Albissola Marina – May 5

Albissola Marina has quite a long artistic history, particularly in ceramics. I wonder why it came to be such a place. (I’ve resisted looking it up on the Internet.). I photographed an ageing sign over a door which proclaimed the ‘Alba Docilia of G A Rosello was founded in 1919. Everywhere you go ceramics are ever present: street signs, a war memorial, and decorating the walls of a subway under the main road.

Along the beachfront there are a series of panels describing the work of a particular artist having some connection with this place. We are told, for example, that some of these artists spent time in Paris ‘rubbing elbows’ (not shoulders) with the likes of Miro, Chagall, Leger, Matisse, Braque and Picasso. An impressive list. Many who
worked here were influenced by the surrealist movement. On each panel there is a picture and short description of a typical work of the named artist.

La Casa dell’arte was a ceramics factory whose Director in the 1920′s was Giovanni Battista de Salvo, whose name might be known to some readers, as might the name Antonio Sabatelli whose impressionistic style is said to have been influenced by his contact with Camus and Satre in Paris in the late 1940′s. (They don’t mind dropping names.). There are numerous artisan studios, some with their own galleries. The tradition continues.

Along the beachfront the theme colours are blue and white. Most of the beachfront is privately ‘owned’. These areas are occupied by small ‘resorts’ that provide a restaurant, change cubicles, deck chairs and umbrellas. Intermittently there are 50m wide strips where the public can go and don’t have to pay for the privilege. Also, the sand in this area is of a much lighter colour than anything I’ve seen so far.

A few of my hours in the late morning and early afternoon were spent on personal affairs at an internet cafe where I was able go to print documents and fax them to
Australia. Internet cafes are as rare as naturally blonde Italians. I’ve seen just three in the last 600km, at Pisa, Genova and here.

Well, my legs are rested although they’ll need constant maintenance to get me through. It’s very challenging to carry next to no medical supplies and largely rely upon my own initiative to solve problems on a daily basis. On this type of journey we become our own healer, counsellor and companion. There isn’t anyone to go to, not even for reassurance. Being resourceful is the key, but keeping well is crucial. I feel blessed to be on this journey and to experience the challenges it offers. It’s fortifying to know I’ve come this far rather than daunting to know now far I have to go.

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La Vesima to Albissola Marina – May 4

It’s official! When I’m not carrying food but a tank full of water my backpack weighs in at 18kg. With food it’s around 20kg. I had a weigh-in this morning at the camping/caravan park where I stayed last night. And I figure I’ve lost about 7kg bodyweight so far on the walk.

Today I passed through the prettiest town yet on this journey. The entrance into Arenzano was a series of boardwalks and carefully paved walkways, and avenues of trees. The beaches were colourful with their lemon, blue and white and red and white change sheds with umbrellas and deck chairs to match. The further south-west I go along the Mediterranean coast the more sophisticated have become the seaside
resorts. It appears like a lot of effort has gone into presenting the beaches with excellent facilities for the sun worshipers who, surprisingly, are few in number at present.

I took my first food break leaning against a palm tree in a park by the sea which was less than a stone’s throw away. When walking along these beachfront pathways lots of possible stop locations present themselves. It becomes a matter of instinct to press on in the hope of a better spot. So far I’ve not been disappointed when I’ve decided to continue on looking for a little nirvana.

I love the way building facades around windows, doors and on corners are painted three dimensionally to give the impression that they are cement rendered with adornments. I recently saw a building with a solid wall painted to look like it had shutter windows on all three stories with some of the shutters open.

Between Arenzano and Cogoleto I walked through a series of tunnels that probably were once used by a train but which now are dedicated solely for the use of walkers and cyclists. There was very little of today’s walk which was not on a dedicated
pathway. There was just little road walking mid way through the day. Although I’m used to it there is always a nervous feeling when I’m rounding a blind corner facing the direction of but not being able to see the oncoming traffic. Sometimes drivers get such a start when they see me I witness their sudden change of line through a corner. It’s a little tougher on motor cycles to correct their line. There’s been a few curses from them, but there is no safer way of negotiating the roadway.

Varazze, about 10km from where I am tonight, is another of those impressive beachfront towns. It has a very large harbour with hundreds upon hundreds of
moored boats just sitting there being bleached by the sun. In one sense it struck me
as being such a wasteful sight. But Varazzze at its south-western end did have what looked like a mini botanical garden with carefully laid out plots in which were growing different varieties of grasses, shrubs and trees.

I faced a quite strong northerly wind from about late morning until my arrival into Albissola Marina. Just next door is the town of Albissola Superior, but it didn’t look the way it is named. Albissola Marina is very interesting. A walk around this afternoon revealed a number of art galleries and ceramic shops. I watched through open windows of two potters studios as they went about their work. It seems
incongrous that a seaside town should have this type of influence. The walls of the restaurant I ate at tonight were covered with paintings and ceramics. The art influence spreads beyond the galleries.

I may have a rest day tomorrow. I’m nursing a crook right knee at present. I’ve had soreness in it for a couple of days now. I’m sure I know what the problem is and I’ve been working on it, but it might just need a day of rest and there won’t be a better this side of the French border to rest than Albissola Marina. Older and wiser, green day remained no less faithful to the punk my homework do not finish and reading ethos that made them famous

Genoa to La Vesima – May 3

What a joy was the first hour or so walk out of Genoa this morning negotiating narrow streets some less than 2m wide and full of shops and life. What surprises me is how so many small businesses survive selling the same product or service, but they appear to do just that. It’s so fascinating just looking into the windows as I pass and observing what people are doing.

Then came the not so pleasant part of the walk, sometimes near the Autostrade, always beside a busy main road, past desperate looking buildings, and with the day’s temperature going up as the day unfolded.

Within this period was the highlight of my day when, by prearrangement at 11.15am, I telephoned my cancer support group which was having its meeting in Sydney. I was told who was there and where they were in the room and so I was able to visualise their faces, and hear their voices as we were on loudspeaker. We talked for about a half hour. I forgot to mention it to them but earlier I had stopped at a church and lit a candle for the group, as well as another candle for all those in the world who are presently suffering. When I set off again after our conversation I was
bursting with energy and didn’t stop for my one and only food break today, for some time.

I love to see the way old people just gather and chat. In about the middle of the afternoon I pulled into the town square at Voltri, a small town but one which had a feel of life about it. There were a number of bench seats. I took one of them for about 10 minutes. I was soon joined by a man. The other seats were occupied by men and women. Some only stayed a couple of minutes and then moved on. Some got a hand wave as they passed by. It seemed most were there shading from the 31
degree heat.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how well the older people get around over the ever present rough surfaced footpaths. Most of them don’t use walking sticks and a majority are women.

The last few kilometres of today’s walk was along a pathway well away from the road which hugged the ocean edge. In one section I was fascinated by a sound coming from the beach which was made up of pitch black colored stones, oval shaped, about 10cm in length. As the water was receding over the stones it made a loud crackling
sound. I’ve been intrigued by the various surfaces that make up the beaches. Yesterday I saw one made of small stones of a maroon colour, but mostly the beaches are light to dark grey with some surfaces sand like and the others the size of gravel. There were a lot of beachgoers out today. I wondered now it must feel to be lying on these rough surfaces, unlike any thing I know in Australia.

Yesterday I saw the ‘classic’ seat cover. It was on the driver’s seat. You will no doubt be familiar with the Penguin Classics series all done in the same style in orange, black and cream colours. The seat cover looked like a book cover. And the
title – ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my body doesn’t like any more than 5-6 hours of walking- preferably 5 than 6. I see no reason to punish myself by attempting longer hours when I’ve no time restriction on finishing.

Tomorrow will be my last day on the coast before I turn inland towards Cuneo. I won’t see the ocean again until I reach the Bay of Biscay between Irun, in France and San Sebastian in Spain, and that’s some time away.

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Academic Achievement

Anyone who has read my story from the website will know that last year I completed a Masters Degree in International Law. The degree was awarded on the 29 March 2011, the day I left Australia to commence my walk. On the 27 April I was notified by the University of New South Wales Law School that l had been named in the Dean’s List of Excellence in Academic Performance for achieving first place in Law of Armed Conflict, one of the subjects I did for the degree. There will be an awards ceremony on May 5, but because I am doing what I’m doing I won’t be able to make it. I’ve sent my apologies to the Dean and to Dr. Emily Crawford who taught the subject.

Telling you about the award is the perfect segue to share with you a little of my history. All my life I have suffered from a lack of confidence in my intellectual ability. I can trace this to influences from my childhood. My mother was one of ten children and my father one of seven. None of them went to university, nor did any of their children, my 35 cousins. If you count my four siblings I was the first of forty offspring to attend. We were all working class families. Now being working class didn’t, not even in the early 1960′s, prevent someone from attending university, but prevailing attitudes, and certainty attitudes within my family strongly mitigated
against it.

Dad left school when he was nine years old and mum was not much older. With that history it is easy for me to understand why they thought education of their children was an obligation imposed upon them by the State, and not a means by which their children could escape working class poverty. I was never encouraged to read. Why should my parents do that when the importance of reading had not been their experience. Attitudes like these change when the next generation come to realise the need for change.

The view did exist that I should do better than mum and dad. However, for them this meant getting a white collar job like a bank clerk, or a blue collar job like at apprentice. I chose the latter at age 15. There was also an overarching view, widely held in the economic and social stratum to which I belonged that although we should do better than our parents we should not aspire towards a goal beyond that stratum. So going to university was absurd. No one ever did that. Had I suggested it dad would have told me to give up my ‘high and mighty’ ideas. ‘High and mighty’ was a derogatory term he used to describe better educated or wealthy people, or those who
in his opinion thought they were better than they actually were. In other words i was told not to aspire and also I didn’t really have the ability anyway. I should add that there was something of an economic imperative for me to leave school when I did,
earn an income, and contribute some of that income to the family finances.

This issue about attitudes, both personal and cultural, is deserving of much more comment than I have space to give it here. But I hope what I have said helps to put in context the lack of confidence I spoke about at the beginning of this piece.

I want to add a couple of anecdotes which come from my time in the army and which for me highlight the point I am making. At the end of recruit training and before we were assigned to a corps which was to be our pathway for the following two years, I was asked which corps I would like to go to. I answered, “The Intelligence Corps”. After they picked themselves up off the floor from laughing I was told that I would be good in the infantry. (After all, why else were we conscripted but to create a supply of soldiers for combat.)

The second anecdote is one that I have a chuckle about each time it comes to mind.
One of my Vietnam Veteran mates from my platoon said to me at an Anzac Day reunion a few years ago, “How come you’re so smart now and you were as dumb as us back in Vietnam? to which I replied, “Larry, we were all smart then only we never had the opportunity to show it.”

When I received the email I mentioned at the beginning I had to read it several times out of disbelief. I thought they’d made a mistake in sending it to me. See what I mean? I suppose the award helps but I feel sure nothing can entirely remove those encultured beliefs that stem from very early on in my life.

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Recco to Genova – May 2

Reaching Genova is a milestone because it’s the most northerly point I’ll travel in Italy. My next major city, Cuneo, is due west and about 140km from Genova. From there it’s over the mountain pass into France.

It was quite an easy walk today with gentle rises and falls and the Mediterranean at times just metres to my left. I had my first and only break about two and a half hours into the day having completed around 11km. I sat near the ocean which was a pencil line on the horizon. There was a small child’s fair ground behind me – lots of laughter and smiles. There was an old man sitting to my left just enjoying the gentle sun. For most of the time we had the ocean front to ourselves. I enjoyed being able to walk on footpaths the whole of the way. From Recco to Genova is continuous housing. One community, which often gets its name from the name of a town, merges with the next. The Genova community commences about 10km from the city centre.

For most of the morning I’ve been re-writing in my mind another blog I’ll be posting later on tonight. I did a written draft of it a few days ago – wasn’t satisfied. My recent university studies reinforced the benefit of re-writing until you get it right. I hope it reads that way.

I found a pension in Piazza Colombo, just 50 metres for Via 20 September, a very main street with lots of shopping. Just near where I’m staying there is a market with literally dozens of stalls selling just fruit and vegetables. I’ve stocked up for
tomorrow’s walk, also getting some more cheese and bread – staples. I bought the most delicious half kilo of strawberries for a��2.50 and ate the lot while writing up my notes. I love the emphasis in Italy on fresh produce.

Genova is one big bustling city. Pity I’m not here longer to take a look around but even staying an extra day would not be anywhere near enough, and besides, I want to maintain the rhythm of walking. Looking at a map of the city I notice there are 11 churches, one of which has just been ringing it’s bells. After it finished letting us know it was 7.00pm it went on to play a tune. Unusual. I also noticed it has 42
palaces on the UNESCO world heritage list, if I’m reading the map correctly.

I feel like I’ve completed a significant part of my journey although it is only around 600km that I’ve walked. I’m so looking forward to crossing into France, but first there’s tomorrow’s walk which should see me in a camping ground tomorrow night. He viewed the song’s unrelenting optimism as a counterpoint to the negative themes that typically wove their way buy web sites into his songs and as an antidote to the inherently negative vibes of the time

Chiavari to Recco – May 1

You guessed it. Another morning of climbing to rise up from the sea. On the outskirts of Chiavari I came across a church, not a particularly extraordinary occurrence, but one which had frescos (I’m not sure if they were really painted on wet plaster surfaces) adorning all the ceilings, a second alter below the main one, above which was a giant dome. I dropped my pack, lit a candle for all those people who are suffering in this world, as sat in quiet contemplation for a few minutes. It occurred to me as I set off to walk that although Italy is recognised as a Catholic/Christian country, I’ve not yet seen a mosque or a synagogue. Where do you go in Italy to practice a different religious tradition to Christianity?

I had my first break looking down on the centre of Zoagli with a church tower and its tolling bells directly opposite me. The further west I go the more beautiful these towns get. They are all built on the sides of mountains which run all the way to the sea and have as much development as possible squeezed into what level land is
available near the water’s edge. Looking up at the mountain I could see houses dotted all about. I wondered why someone would choose such a location. The cost of building must be significantly more than on level ground, but I guess it’s a question of land availability. The thing recommending their location would be the fabulous views to be had down into the valley below and out to the sea, but surprisingly a large
number of them had no balcony from which they might take advantage of this aspect of their location. Curious!

Leaving Zogali I saw the mountain in front of me and contemplated how long it would take to climb. Blessings come in different forms. Not far ahead was a tunnel cutting through that mountain. But that was the only respite from the up and down terrain which continued for the entire length of today’s walk, some 23km. Today was the fifth day of this type of walking. There is no path I’ve trod in Spain that has made the demands I’ve experienced these past five days, particularly the last three days
which have been psychologically testing with that voice suggesting that any possible physical discomfort is a good enough reason to stop for the day.

I’m not sure of tomorrow’s terrain or the days beyond Genoa before I turn inland, but I suspect it will be more of the same. Since I started walking these mountain roads I’ve learned that the number one rule is that the summit is never around the next bend.

Today I could see from the road some reallly beautiful seaside towns like Santa
Margherita Ligure and San Lorenzo della Costa but the town/city that really caught my attention was Rapallo with its beautiful harbour full of yachts and other vessels, numerous restaurants looking very busy, dozens of hotels one of which, the salmon colored Hotel Europa was a 4 star, and a car free main street. I was there around 2pm. It had a great feel and a real buzz about it.

I’m in Recco tonight, which unlike Rapallo, appears to have just one hotel. I walked around for half an hour looking for one, had given up and was on my way out of town heading towards Genoa when I saw the place I’m staying. Forget about a
camping ground, or trying to find a piece of level ground on the side of the road which isn’t someone’s front yard.

Today was another tough one. The nature of the terrain makes it slower going so the time I spend on the road is much longer. I didn’t stop until 6pm. I hope to get into Genoa much earlier tomorrow.

Hotel Europa

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East of Sestri Levante to Chiavari – April 30

We had a wild thunder storm around midnight. After the lightning came the most explosive thunder I’ve heard in some time. While it lasted, which was only for about a half hour, it was a little frightening at times. When things settled, the sound of falling rain on the outer cover of my tent reminded me of my childhood when it rained on our corrugated iron roof. There’s something quite comforting about being in a small space like a one-person tent, snuggled into a sleeping bag pulled up to my ears, lying on my back and enjoying the sounds that nature was providing.

I called my son Jesse just before leaving the camping ground. We chatted for about 10 minutes. It’s always more special to speak than email. I also called my other
children, Marlena and Vincent, both of whom were at a wedding in Victoria. I had to leave messages. They must have been having too good a time to have their phones turned on.

On the outskirts of Sestri Levante I found an oasis, which is what supermarkets have become for me. As a child I loved a banana sandwich, the very thing I made myself and ate at the edge of the supermrket carpark. Sestri Levante looks and feels like a vibrant city. It was Saturday morning and it was buzzing. There were new housing developments on the edge of the city, but less than half a kilometre from the town
centre, all done in traditional colours which I’ve spoken about before, like pink, orange, yellow and fawn, with dark green commonly used as trim. I did notice that there was not a shrub or tree in sight. All available ground was covered with either a building or paving. But it looked ‘normal’. I took a break here to check my maps. While I had my ipad out I checked my emails and felt the need to answer one from someone I know who is having prostate problems who sought some advice.

I moved on, but only for about 8km, to Chiavari, where I am tonight. I was feeling some worrying pains in my shins and thought it better to take a break as a
sensible way of managing a potential problem. It was so joyful to get into a hotel room early, shower, eat, fall onto my bed and doze off. I didn’t venture out until around seven to do some supermarket shopping for tomorrow’s walk.

About 8pm I took a look around town. The place is full of small bars which were doing good business. There are some beautiful old apartment blocks in the heart of the city and there are monuments aplenty. By the sounds of the tolling bells it also
has a number of churches. I settled into a warm corner of a seafood restaurant where I had my favorite spaghetti dish, alle vongole.

I’ll be walking the coastline for a couple of days beyond Genoa after which I will head inland to Cuneo. From there I take the mountain route across the Italian/French border. The first significant French town I will come to is Barcelonette, but that won’t be for a couple of weeks time. De autorin fjg stellt sich vor + schnellstmgliche an- jura hausarbeit schreiben und abnahmen+ stndige erreichbarkeit durch mobiles internet+ breites spektrum am themen+ gute deutsch- und kommunikationsnoten im fachabitur

Bonassola to 4km East of Sestri Levante – April 29

I’ve read of studies which demonstrated that using two walking poles enables the transfer of about 20% of load (i.e. from the backpack) to the arms and shoulders. I certainly needed that 20% today for the walk up from Bonassola. The thought is always present when you are descending into a valley that you will have to climb out of it. The climb which linked up with a secondary road had one of those rare experiences on this trip and that was to go onto a very infrequently used path for some of the way. It reminded me of walking in Spain when it led past the front door of one house and under an arch attached to another.

There was always the threat of rain. It was overcast all day, but very little of the wet
stuff fell from the sky. What did, occurred at the two hour mark so I took my break in the relative comfort of an abandoned house. A mist hung about in the valleys for most of the day. High up the road was wet but not from rain. It was one of those areas where there is always moisture in the air.

Several times on the climb in the early afternoon I stopped, looked into the valley below, enjoyed the green of the tree tops, closed my eyes, and felt the silence. The
only interruptions were birds singing their tunes, or the sound of a gentle wind swirling around me. These were treasured moments. There was very little traffic
today, but when the road I was on crossed the path of the Autostrada a couple of hundred metres below the noise from it still managed to find its way to me.

Today was a tough one climbing from sea level to 615m. The climb took 4 hours and I only managed to cover 12km in that time. When I got to Bracco I sat opposite an albergo while I checked my map. I was so tempted to give up, go in and collapse onto a bed. It was a test of my psychological strength to continue on even though
my mind was telling me to give up. I pushed on for another 8km and found a camping ground on the outskirts of Siestri Levante, where I am tonight.

Its been a slow news day. Met no one. Hardly saw anyone, and didn’t even have to contend with any quantity of cars until the very end of the day.
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High Above Corniglia to Bonassola – April 28

I didn’t realize when I stopped to make camp last night that I was just a couple of hundred metres from the top of the mountain, so it was literally all down hill today. It was an easy walk aerobically, but torrid on my knees.

Today has been a most productive one for conversations in English. It fascinates me how I recently have been describing a lack of them and today I was presented with three. First, there were Monica and Matteo, an Italian couple from the north of the country, sitting by the side of the road as I passed. Matteo looked out his down turned window and spoke. He and I talked for about 10 minutes. Monica hardly said a thing. We learned a little about each other and when he asked how far I had come I realized that the location we were speaking I was at the 500km mark. I
had only done the sums while in La Spezia.

My second conversation commenced on the outskirts of Levanto when I was asked directions by three Irish women from Galway, two sisters and their friend. I didn’t get their names. They’d been doing the Cinque Terre, had travelled to Levanto by train and were about to walk back to Monterosso al Mare, the most westerly of the five villages, where they were staying. While I was speaking about the fundraising part of my walk one of the women handed me some Euros towards my goal. I declined, handing her a leaflet and inviting all three to have a look at my website if they wanted to make a donation. I’d earlier given the Italian couple a brochure. I normally just invite people to go to the webiste where it will be obvious they can make a donation. I usually also say that I write a daily blog.

After arriving in Levanto I chose a restaurant with outside seating and which had a pasta dish I wanted to eat, in this case spaghetti alle vongoli, a dish I fell in love with in Positano on a visit there in 1987. Already sitting at the table next to mine were Dianna and Richard from Pennsylvania in the USA, who were in the area also to do the Cinque Terra. We chatted for about 45 minutes during lunch. Again, I spoke
about what I was doing, and why. They also got a copy of my brochure. I was still seated as they were leaving. Diana lent over, gave me a hug and wished me well. This friendly gesture made me think that what we say, and sometimes more importantly, how we say it, enables us to connect with people in a way that is not obvious at the time.

Today’s journey was one of panoramic views of mountains, valleys, ravines, cliffs and blue ocean dotted with some of the villages that make up the Cinque Terre which from high up look like dolls houses in pastel shades of yellow, orange, and pink.

The walk from Levanto to Bonassola was a fascinating one. I exited Levanto via a long boardwalk which led to the first of about five tunnels that connect it with my destination. The longest of the tunnels is about one kilometre and all of them are for the exclusive use of pedestrians and cyclists. The trip which I thought was going to take an hour of solid walking took just 35 minutes.

I’ve just had a beautiful meal at my hotel: a set menu of four courses and fruit for
just a��13. One of the dishes was lasagna made with bA�chamel and pesto sauces. Pesto is a specialty of this district. I’m getting used to eating a salad at the end of the meal- quite refreshing and cleansing.

Tomorrow I’ve got a 30km walk to Sestri Levante, but it won’t be an early start because breakfast doesn’t begin until 8.00am. Sometimes we just have to make sacrifices.

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Eleven Things I’ve Learned in Italy – April 28

I’ve now been on the road for a month. It’s time I shared some things I’ve learned in that time from walking, and going to restaurants and hotels. Of course, it is a little tongue in cheek.

1. Pedestrian crossings are merely advisory to drivers of an area of the road where some fool may be stupid enough to cross.

2. Italian drivers use their indicator lights sparingly for fear of blowing a light bulb.

3. It is forbidden to use a pedestrian crossing without first determining that there is
not a car to be seen in either direction.

4. Signs that indicate the distance to the next town should not be taken as gospel: they are merely a rough guess.

5. Arrows which appear to be directing you to the left or the right are really saying ‘go straight ahead’. Italians learned very early on that to point an arrow skywards to indicate straight ahead would lead to chaos.

6. Italians like talking on their mobile telephones when driving, especially truck
drivers negotiating steep downhill slopes in the Tuscan hills.

7. Adornments hanging from rear vision mirrors are compulsory, particularly a set of rosary beads.

8. Bidet’s in hotel bathrooms should only be used to do hand washing.

9. Hotel shower units are impossibly small to give Italian medical researchers the opportunity to study the effects of water on claustrophobia.

10. No conversation in a public place, like a restaurant, is ever too loud.

11. Using hands to express yourself is mandatory. When driving a motor car taking both hands off the wheel to express oneself is a most desirable skill to possess.
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