Today was a big test of the leg, a 30 km walk. I got up early and set off at 8. A nice, mostly countryside walk until, after an Aldi stop to get taboule and pastries, i walked through roubaix, the first scruffy looking place id seen in france. I walked along a canal for a bit and then had a sit down, just as a bloke and his scary looking dog appeared.
We got talking and he asked me to wait while he fetched 2 mates whose english was better than his. These were white moroccan najib, belgian pierre and portuguese tomas. They asked where i stayed and i mentioned wild camping. They said that was a bad idea in roubaix. They never actually said what the problem was but they all agreed roubaix was a shithole. Then najib pulled out a crocodile dundee knife and i wondered if they were in fact the problem.
But they all seemed nice and Tomas quickly decided i needed a beer for my walk.
We walked along the canal 15 mins to a bar. Najib tightrope walked a narrow concrete fence. Pierre’s confidence in speaking english was much better than his actual english. He spoke in a low mumble but gave lots of knowing nods so it was easy to know when to nod. What i learned was that he’d spent 5 yrs in the foreign legion although i dont think we ever got to the bottom of why. He also been to wales which involved some drug smuggling (by him or his mate?) and a local female tv news journalist.
We reached the bar where najibs dog instantly attacked a much smaller pooch who yelped painfully but leapt into his owner’s arms for safety.
The lads were bigging me up to the waiter, telling him how far I’d walked. He just looked at me unsmiling and tapped two fingers to his temple, a sign of madness.
During the beer (they all had vodka and lemonade) tomas mentioned he was leaving tomorrow to start his new job in albufuera, living in a €5000 a month house. Seems like a party house where stag and hen dos go and live it up organised by tomas. Did that include hookers and coke?
I continued on my way and, with tender feet, made it back to Belgium and to the campsite, where the checkin procedure involved another free beer.
Later on i met frenchman philippe, just retired, and trying out cycle touring. He’d worked at a schoola and complained about the amount of paperwork. Same as uk then.
Distance today (km) 30, total 973