At Last!

Here is the news at 11.19 Monday and this is Ted Franklin reading it. (Not in dinner dress – sorry)
The mobile is just too tricky so here I am at St Jean Pied de Port at an internet cafe.
It has been very hot and I have been very sticky, tho not today as I just stayed in a very nice campsite with showers.
Previously I have been wild camping on mountain tops surrounded by horses, with bells on and occasionally goats, with bells on. Once, and I hope only once, I was surrounded, at 3.30 am by some creepy guy who eventually wandered off, we hoped, (my daughter Louise was with me for the first few days). We both lay there silent as could be till he/she had gone. “Did you hear that?” I whispered, “Yes” she replied. There was no sleeping after that so we got up, un-pitched the tent and other gear in the pitch black and walked on up the road desperately searching for the small red and white GR10 route signs with a wind-up head torch. Daylight eventually dawned as we stumbled along somewhere east of SarĂ© right on the border with Spain.
Yesterday, or it may have been the day before, Louise caught a bus to Bayonne and thence Blighty and I walked up a hill, 1200+ metres, against a tide of lycra-clad hill runners in the blistering heat (There seems to be no other kind). It took six hours to do what the book says can be done in four. The vultures are a pretty impressive size when you are up level with them. I particularly didn’t like the way they were looking at me by the end of the day. Especially as on-board water supplies started at 2.5 litres and went down to .5 by the middle of the section on the Iparla Ridge as I camped four miles from the next known water hole. It was actually quite scary, I felt like Lawrence of Arabia but without a camel for immoral support.
Yesterday I had to stop and ask a frightened old french lady what day it was. “Dimanche” she replied before scurrying off to find sanctury in a nearby church. It’s like that after a day or three on the GR10 – no sense of direction. The signage is pretty good but after a mile uphill, with no red and white stripes in sight, you do begin to wonder if you missed a vital turning.
Today, the book says, is an easy one so I am hanging out at St Jean, waiting for the temperature to ease before starting the next, uphill, section.
Oh yes, another walker passed me on the hills yesterday as I collapsed my tent. We exchanged ‘Bonjours” and five hours later I met him again at St Ettienne de Bigorray. In dodgy French I asked if he was doing the GR10 and he said he was and we had a pleasent, if slow, chat for 10 mins before I noticed that his French was hardly better than mine. “Et vous Francais?” I asked. “Non”, il dit, “Je suis Anglais”. Bloody typical! Tho he is from Sheffield. I rest my defense. We passed and repassed each other throughout the next 12 hours. Being as how he is only about 22 I guess he is at the Med as you read this.
Well, must be on my way, only 5 weeks and a bit to go. Pix may follow later if my solar charger behaves. Pip pip for now from the south of France;


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