Saturday, 30 October 2010

Randautomne the 2nd walk

Tradition dictates that in the Sunday evening, the weary revellers adjourn to R and J’s house to eat up all the leftover food and drink what remains of the liquid refreshments. It was still only mid afternoon, so there was time to fit in another walk. There was a choice of visiting a church (uphill walk), or visiting a spring which has very iron-rich water (level walk). Our official walk organiser obviously wanted to do the uphill walk, but the majority did not. So he disappeared for the rest of the afternoon.
J, having the local knowledge led the way along the metalled road. A minute or two later, we were in open countryside, with a river running nearby to our right.
Like most communities, this one still has its public wash house, with its 2 large rectangular basins full of water.
This one was in very good condition but I doubt that it is used at all today.
A bit further on the river branched. The smaller of the two branches flowed at a brisk pace towards us, and lead to an “old” mill house which is still occupied either as a summer holiday home or full time. The water roared down two sloping channels, disappearing right under the house.
The gradient of the road had started to increase ever so slightly.This lead to complaints from some of the walkers who had been promised a level walk, but with nowhere else to go we all continued onwards.
The next building of note was a small electricity generating station, taking advantage of the fast flowing river nearby.
There was a strong temptation to ask “are we nearly there yet?” as we trudged on in the sunshine, admiring the mountains in the distance.
The cows are back down from the mountains, and we witnessed 50+ white cattle trooping into a field.
Eventually we reached a house by the side of the road with the information we were waiting for.
A car had whizzed past us earlier at speed, and it was parked up waiting for us. Yes the 80 and 88 year old tearaways had arrived.
Unfortunately lulled into a false sense of security, I had taken off my walking boots and put on my trainers for the advertised “short walk”.
We sploshed along a boggy river bank path, before coming to a bridge made from rotting railway sleepers which enabled us to cross to the other side.
Then it was across a muddy field, a 4 foot wide muddy stream, a bit more muddy field, through a gate and there it was in all it’s glory. The fontaine ferrugineuse.
I had expected some kind of ornate fountain, similar to those seen in most French communities.
This fountain is just water trickling out along a piece of stone or metal which jutted out from a stone wall, and thence wound its way along the ground in a reddish brown smear.
The lack of a formal fountain did not seem to bother my fellow choristers. They had brought along a few empty plastic bottles and proceeded to fill them from the fountain. Most of us ventured a few mouthfuls. It tasted faintly metallic, but not unpleasantly so. As I write this we are all still alive.
We retraced our route, back to the village and eventually there were 18 of us at J and R’s house for the onion soup that she had made and the leftovers.
We all crammed into the kitchen whilst the onion soup was cooked or gratained in the oven. The cooking was delayed while J waited for the dishwasher to finish. If she switched on the cooker at the same time it would have blown the electrics.
We had had a whip round for J and R and she was presented with a big bouquet of flowers and I think that R received some bottles of wine.
J was outraged, she would never invite us back again, she was not expecting anything from us. The president told her that this was tough, as we would not be taking the presents back. J burst into floods of tears...... Ooh la la!
I had always thought that onion soup was a thin liquid with bits of onion in it. This soup looked like bread and butter pudding. As well as onions etc it also had lots of quartered slices of bread in it, it had almost no juice at all. It was very tasty though.

one of the soups

I could only manage one ladle full, still being completely full after the lunch. I did manage a half glass of real champagne of course. I have been trying to lose weight by eating smaller portions and I just can’t eat much at a time these days.
The rest of the choir members had no such problems, ate their soup and then started on the pizzas, apple tarts, etc etc.
Where do they put it all?

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