6.28pm in a place called La Hay-du-Puits, 60 kms South of Cherbourg. Not too bad for a day and a halves walk. And did I receive my request for the lake, beautiful view, two trees at least 8 feet apart and a beautiful nights sleep?
Not really no! I found a lake, but it was private. I walked further downstream and found an old cow shed in a field. I slung my hammock up between two stout posts, (not trees). Was it a beautiful view? It was ok! Did I get a beautiful night’s sleep? Not really! It was peaceful…but rather cold.
So how could I have received my request more easily? Got a proper map to start with! Lakes would have been marked. I could have made for them rather than rely on ‘chance’. A better sleeping bag could have solved the cold problem…and if I had walked another hour further, (I found this out this morning) there was a beautiful lake with toilets, wash basin, trees 8 feet apart and with a pretty good view. Morale of the story being, don’t just expect the Lord to provide your every request. You can have a great deal of input into its manifestation yourself!
Not having the correct map meant not reaching the ‘Voies verte’, the French network of very well kept foot and cycle paths, until this morning! They are great for getting from A to B by a pretty quick and very safe route. Mountain bikes are preferable to racing, as the road surface is pretty rough. However, if you are after stunning countryside views, the trek from Cherbourg to here is pretty bland. The paths are very straight as they follow some of the old railway lines. If you’ve got plenty to think about then they’re great. If you want more stimulation, either cycle it or perhaps take the far more scenic coastal route.
And about umbrellas, (from part 2). My umbrella practically disintegrated today, which didn’t help keep me dry in the recent downpour. I threw a roll of duck tape in my rucksack as I left though so tomorrow I’ll have a go at fixing it. And the relevance of umbrellas to Cherbourg is that a) they make very good, (and very expensive) ones there and b) that apparently “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” was the first full length musical in the history of the cinema. It was filmed in Cherbourg between 17th August and 17th October 1963 and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964. They are celebrating its 50th year of screening and when I get back to Cherbourg I shall go and watch it. It is a sad love story that takes place around the time of the Algerian war in 1957…
And talking of war, as I wandered down the leafy green tunnel of the ‘Voies Verte’ today I came across a small sign. You could easily miss it. It was amazing. In 1944, 40 or 50 men, women and children used to regularly come from the nearby village of Nehou at night time and hide in the tunnel under the rail track to avoid the dropping bombs. I walked down the path and there it was, a metre wide, a metre and a half tall with a curved roof to it. It was about 25 metres long and yes, could just about house 40 or 50 human beings crouched and huddled together hoping to save their lives. It brought tears to my eyes. Such a humble spot. Such a poignant story.
1944, and 2013 they’re doing it in Syria. We’ve got to change our World haven’t we?
I’ve just picked up a brochure entitled ‘The Historical Area of the Battle of Normandy’. I went sailing the other day and a young chap of 25 years told me something I definitely didn’t know. He ‘said’ that at the time of these battles in 1944 there was a total of around 2,000,000 soldiers from all nations amassed in this battle ground area. That’s incredible. I’ve got to find out if that was true, is true. I’ll try and tell you tomorrow. Thanks for reading this far!
I’m not going to request a lake tonight-just a decent place to rest my hammock would be good…and dry of course!