Distance: 34.5 km – Elevation +340 m -300 m
Weather: Sunny intervals. Temperature: High 18 degrees
It was a bright clear morning as I found my way through the back streets of Fargniers to find my way to the route that I would be taking today. A route that would take me through Beautor, Deuillet, Bertaucourt Epourdom, Missancourt, St Nicolas Aux Bois, and on to my destination of Suzy.
I passed what I thought was a man tending a grounded canal boat
But first impressions can be deceptive- it was in fact just half a boat – a facade -behind which were recycling bins!
I moved on and missed a turn on the outskirts of Deuillet and found myself walking past this fire-ravaged shell of a building on the edge of the Saint Gobain forest.
A dog was barking from the ruined first floor and someone was still living in a tiny section of the property. It was all a bit weird and a touch scary – it reminded me of those isolated locations you might come across in an American horror movie. It was at this point I realised I was on the wrong road, so I beat a hasty retreat to pick up my way again.
Much of today’s walking was on metalled roads but they were mostly free of traffic and the countryside was full of colour.
and the off road route too.
Walking through Bertaucourt Epourdom I was unexpectedly greeted by a very happy wee dog, wagging its tail as I bent to stroke and pat its smooth coat.
The dog’s owner seemed happy when I complimented him on his friendly and well-behaved dog and instructed the dog to sit as I took a photo.
Now just a little about French dogs. I would say the majority of dogs in France are kept as guard dogs, either chained or allowed to run free in yards or gardens. They come in all types and sizes from a Jack Russell to a giant bull mastiff or wolfhound. Inevitably as you pass they bark and some are quite aggressive and try desperately to get to you through the fence that is your only defense. The Jack Russell will jump at least three times its own height in an attempt to get to you by surmounting the fence, the Alsatian will do a continual circular, chase tail dance in total frustration because it knows it cannot do anything other than bark whilst the Bull Mastiff ( whom I am pleased is unable to jump three times its height) simply uses brute force to pound the fence. Most dogs have an uncanny sense of hearing and pre-warn you of their presence, but some are more sneaky and wait until you reach their territory before they surprise you with their presence. This morning as I walked out of the town one such sneaky dog launched itself at the fence and made me sort of ” jump out of my skin, just at the same time as a young woman passed who burst into laughter at my reaction.
I had only seen one other dog standing unattended at the entrance to a house and that was a Doberman who looked more frightened of me than I was of the dog, but I decided discretion was the better part of valour and crossed the road. So today was a pleasant surprise to be happily greeted by the wee dog.
The countryside began to change and I found myself walking through woods and forests as I approached St Nicolas Aux Bois. It was close to midday and I was thinking I was ready to eat when I came across the second surprise of the day – a gastronomical delight in the middle of nowhere – the ” Mexico” restaurant. It seemed deserted but according to the notice outside, today it opened at 12 noon – it was just past noon so I went inside and spent a pleasant hour eating and relaxing before resuming my walk.
I had originally planned to stay in Laon, but the reason for going to Suzy was this
My abode for the night.