Sunday, 15 June 2008
We had worn all our clothes to bed but were still cold in the night. We should have worn our socks as well.
In the morning we collected a plateful of cherries from the adjoining site to improve our muesli, and while we were munching, we formed the idea of having a day off in this splendid place. We felt slightly the worse for wear after yesterday’s vicissitudes and my blisters needed looking after.
The first thing was coffee at the camping bar, accompanied by a pleasant chat with the young barman, who was from Aix-en-Provence.
Then we wandered back towards the bridge, through a hillside of olives, and found the centre of the village, which was further up the slope away from the river. We had not got that far yesterday.
The village was on a knife-edged spur and was more substantial than we expected, with three bars, a war memorial, a supermarket, two boulangeries and various other shops.
The rising main street was lined with plane trees, not too badly hacked, and there were crevasse-like lanes branching haphazardly off it.
Another round of coffee, this time with croissants, gave us the strength to explore some of these lanes.
The old village above was beautiful, with little squares, staircases, flower boxes and sudden views from archways.
Beyond the houses a dusty path continued up the ridge towards two half-ruined towers that we had seen from below.
Here Keith began to feel the familiar pain in the kidney that had plagued him for years and had just been pronounced cured, after an operation. This was a worry to say the least, and he decided to sit down at a corner of the track and wait for me to finish the ascent.
The two towers were one above the other and seemed to be joined by the remains of a wall, like a sort of Great Wall of China transported to Provence.
On my way down I lost the track a little and managed to arrive back at the houses without seeing Keith, who was still waiting at the same place. I assumed he had become bored and retired to the village, but when I got there he was not to be seen, so I went up again and there he was.
It had occurred to him that I was taking a long time, but he was preoccupied with his unwelcome pain.
Back at the camping ground, we had a late lunch under the olive tree, followed by a rest in the tent. It was too cold to be outside. Later we went over to the bar for a glass of rosé and in due course we walked a few steps and sat down again in the restaurant section.
We had the customary cleansing salad to start with, then Keith had an enormous pasta carbonara and I had the plat du jour again. This time it was a delicious poulet farci.