Thursday, August 25, 2005

Grins and Laughter

I seem to have spent a lot of time over the last couple of days, though especially yesterday, grinning uncontrolably or laughing like a fool.

The campsite 'band' here in Dijon play a medley of 'Hey Joe' and 'Guantanamera' grin. Which I listened to all the way through because I was waiting for my 'Steack Frites' (I love French speeling), which, when it finally arrived, was enormous grin.

An Ikea ad (of all things) in a bus stop reads 'Nous vous invitons de découvrir nos produits du tiroir' laugh. Sorry non-French speakers, I'm not even going to try to translate.

In the morning, I got to the top of the hill just south of St-Seine-l'Abbaye and could see for 10 miles or so north east and south grin. It is clearer to me now than ever it was before that landscape painting on a large scale had nothing to do with 'look how pretty this is' (even if on a Courbet-style small scale it might) and everything to do with 'hey, look what I own'. that kind of awe-inspiring bigness just doesn't fit in anything but itself. And furthermore, it's not remotely the same when you reach it by car.

A later ridge, just before descending into Dijon, I crested and felt strong wind in my hair (shut up, there's plenty; it's longer than it's been in 3 years) laugh. Then I walked down into an area called 'Folle Pensée', where I thought crazy thoughts like 'what on earth am I doing here?'

An English couple are standing in front of the goddess Sequana at the source of the Seine with their young son. The father's reading a history leaflet. The son needs to pee. The mother leads him around the outside of the grotto to where there's a nook and a grate, through which the cleaners presumably pass to clean the statue and the pool inside laugh, stifled. Minutes later, the son asks for a coin to throw into the pool to make a wish. On closing her wallet, the mother hurts her hand on the railing and drops her wallet, which teeters on the brink of falling in, a very big wish indeed laugh, badly stifled.

I walked up to a main road from a dirt track and see the sign:
Dijon 10-->
<--Troyes 140
And hyperventilate. I only left there a few days ago. Am I going that fast? I'm beginning to suspect that it may the doom of everyone who walks for pleasure to feel that they are moving too quickly.

I did have a bit of help on this leg, though I don't think it counts as hitching.

Walking hung over Sunday morning (not fun at all, but, solvitur ambulando, the hang over went away rather quickly), I was 15km on from where I'd stopped the night before. You see, I got to Bar-sur-Seine nearing dark, and finding no campsite, sat down with a beer on a terasse to decide a field and a hotel. But the people at the next table, locals, students home for the holidays, adopted me. Several beers and a trip to the crèperie later, I got a lift with them 15km further south to Courteron to the soirée they were headed for, where there was much grinning and laughter to go with the quantities of great champagne drunk. I even got to see the cellar, as this was the home of a small-scale champagne label. Most fantastic, though, was the great company. So thanks again to the Bourguignons/Bar-sur-Seine/Courteron crew, you were all amazing, even more so if you've bothered to read this far.

And the meal I had the next day in Grancey-sur-Ource thanks to octogenarian Roger Perrier of the Association Française de Randonée Pédestre (French Walkers' Association) will have to wait, as it's getting late and I need to go buy some fancy mustard.


Blogger Spark said...

Hey Secret Agent Arthur

Tis truly great yr walk to Rome. Greetings from a group of fellow anarchitects currently holding a weekly Tea Party every Sunday 12 Noon in Parliament Square where we are forging a new Peoples Commons. Unlike our MPs we the people welcome the space hijackers (anyone for cricket?) so if any of them are reading this please come and play - we are the People's Commons!

Will you be visiting the Pope? If so please pass on my best wishes and encourage him to follow in his namedsake (The Monastic Rule of St Benedict) and support/fund the refounding of the monastic tradition in Europe [but, this time, 21st Century style, for people - men women children - of all or no religious faiths]

As a means of creating a renaissance of mutual aid, human scale relationships and sustainable, spiritual living - not to mention participatory democracy it is the way forward.

More info on this at and on the Tea Party at

All the Best
Secret Agent Spark

7:36 pm BST  
Anonymous sarah-rose said...

hello, there --

just wanted to say it's fantastic and quite entertaing reading about your journeys, and i'm really happy to hear you are in joyous spirits. hope you are finding moments to stop and breathe in this marvelous embarkment you've found yourself on.

also: thanks for sharing about the blisters. if you have a moment, i can share with you some great blister advice i've received from other samba drummers, but probably not appropriate to elaborate on here.

i'm off to burning man for the next week-and-a-half, but look forward to catching up with your adventures again soon!

love and blisters,

10:08 pm BST  
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7:33 am GMT  

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