Yesterday we spent all day in Le Puy-en-Velay. It's an amazing city and well worth a visit if you in this part of France. I think I've taken another 100 photos - there is so much to snap. We also visited the Hotel Dieu - possibly the worst museum in France I've ever been too. The interactive digital displays, brand new this year, often didn't work or when they did were dreadful. For a modern museum there was zero multi-language support. Even the static non-multi media displays were dreadful, someone spent a lot of money on bling and no substance.
This morning we said good-buy to Le Puy and caught the train back to Brioude. Just one night here as it's a better staring point to get back to Paris in the morning. Brioude is a bit like Le Puy only much smaller. The Cathedral is the larges Romanesque Cathedral in the region and very pretty - much better than the one back in Le Puy.
Yesterday was our final day walking with Mignonne. It was another beautiful day and was a fine day for a walk. Our only issue were the poor quality of the IGN 1:25000 maps. The region we've been walking in isn't popular with walkers, we saw no other walkers on any of our walks and it's clear than IGN haven't bothered with the maps - there are paths on the ground not on the map and vice-a-versa and paths in the wrong place. Without a GPS or a baring it can be very confusing. Thankfully yesterday was fine and dry and bearings were easy to take.
When we got back we unloaded our companion for the last time and crashed out for a rest. In the evening we debriefed our donkey owner about the route - we were the first to do this version and he took copious notes.
Today we woke nice and early, packed our stuff and went to find Mignonne to say goodbye. She was in a field with her family but she responded to us when we shouted her name. You can get really attached to a donkey very quickly - they are quite smart and very friendly. The taxi collected us and we were dropped of at the station with about 60 seconds to spare for our train to Le Puy.
We arrived at Ley Puy around lunch time and made our way to our B&B in the heart of the old city. After dropping our stuff of we went out to take pictures - it's a very pretty city so lots to photograph. Tonight we'll forage for food in a restaurant instead of a hedgerow!
Pictures are now appearing in an album in my Picassa account.
Yesterday was a bit eventful. When we awoke we discovered our donkey had gone AWOL again! However we quickly located her as she had gone into an adjoining paddock to play with the donkey in it. We left Saint-Arcons-d'Allier without any significant delay and set off on the short walk to Chavaniac-Lafayette, birthplace of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette.
By about ten-thirty in the morning the nice sunshine had left us and it had clouded over quite a bit. Around eleven the heavens opened. We took refuge under some trees and had an early lunch in the hope that the storm would pass. It didn't. We were getting cold so at around mid-day we set off through the rain - however the path down the hill had turned into a raging torrent of mud. Mignonne our donkey wasn't best pleased with all the mud, but went down the hill with great skill.
By early afternoon the storm had stopped and after some banana Soreen we felt much better. About 1 km from our goal we had to descend to cross a valley floor, however this time the bottom wasn't as dry on previous days, it was a raging torrent, and half way across the bridge Mignonne lost her nerve and ended up in the river. With some coaxing we got her out and we were forced to make a 2 km detour to the town. She had some small injuries but otherwise seemed to be okay.
We then had a long wait to get into the gite, when we all got rather cold. Yesterday wasn't the best day I've had but we all ended it okay.
Good news today, we checked on Mignonne and she was okay, no lasting injuries and she was happy to see us. Todays walk is the penultimate day and went pretty uneventful and we arrived in the village of Allègre on time. It's yet another nice town and the owner of the gite it a donkey owner, so lots of donkey books and stuff in the place
Tomorrow is our last day with our donkey.
Yesterday started well enough. We were up and ready to stroll but when we got to the paddock that contained our donkey, she wasn't there! We then spent an hour looking all over the place to find her. We've still no idea what happened to her, but she was fine. We had another longish walk, but arrived in Chilhac without any problems. One village before Chilhac the heavens opened and we took refuge in a farmer's barn with his hens. By the time we arrived at Chilhac it had stopped raining and we had a very pleasant evening in yet another pretty village.
Today started better than yesterday, our donkey was where we left her! Another long day as we walked to Saint-Arcons-d'Allier. It's a very strange sort of village this one. It's perched on top of yet another mighty peak and was apparently almost abandoned in the 70s. It was taken over and turned into a giant hotel, basically almost all the houses in the village are actually hotel rooms. It's a bit Disney but very pretty. We're staying in a vast but thankfully almost empty gite on the edge of the village - it's a bit cheaper than the €250 per night fee of the cheapest hotel "room".
Yesterday was our first day walking with our donkey. She is called Mignonne and is very nice and well behaved. The walk was a short stroll from Berbezit to Frugières-le-Pin. It was a rather hot day and we ran out of water - unlike last time we did this we didn't find much potable water in the little villages. At the gite we played Pétanque with the staff and the other guests.
Today was a longer walk and in pretty hot conditions. However we had plenty of water with us and arrived at the camp site in Villeneuve-d'Allier okay if a little tired and dusty. The camp site is okay - not as nice as yesterday's gite. Our donkey walks well - very fast up and down hill.
It's holiday time!
Yesterday we took the train up to London to catch the Eurostar to Paris. We got a lift to the station, which was good as it was pouring down at the time, and had an uneventful trip to London. The Eurostar was fine except for some annoying kids in the seat behind us. Their mother was obviously unable to cope with them and had pretty much given up with them - she looked exhausted.
Today we tool the Ter to Brioude via Clermont-Ferrand. Then we went by Taxi to the Gite where we start the donkey trek tomorrow.
I've been busy making plum jams this month. A few weeks ago I jammed up wild plum and green gages, yesterday it was Normandy Mirabelles and green gages (plus a few ripe ones from our tree).
As usual it's the normal Miot method: 700 g sugar + 200 ml water + half the juice of a frozen and defrosted lemon heated until it boils, into which you tip 1 kg of your fruit and return to the boil. It produces a slightly softer jam than is typical in the UK, but the fruit doesn't get over cooked and the flavour is excellent.
We now have six jars of Mirabelle and eight jars of green gage jam to add to the wild plum jams and jellies. Slightly better yields than last year: Mirabelle Jam and Gage Jam and we still have only collected a few of our own gages.
Last week I installed the Linux 3.0.0 kernel image on my Debian Wheezy/Testing system. After a reboot, it started normally and X came up with out a problem. The following day when I booted it started okay but went into a kernel-panic when X started. I rebooted in safe/single user mode and it was okay when I manually started X, but it goes into kernel-panic whenever X starts from boot.
I've tried booting several times and with both the radeon or the fglrx graphics driver and it makes no difference, kernel panic on automatic start of X. The older 2.6.39 kernel is perfectly okay, though the fglrx graphics driver from AMD/ATI makes the PC unusually slow at the moment, so I currently use the open source radeon driver.