A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Day 11: Laon To Corbeny

Bizarre cyclist in front of the bijou mairie at Bruyères-et-Montbérault.

A backward glance at Laon cathedral.

War memorial at Bièvres.

The countryside was at last becoming hillier and more wooded.

The Hôtel du Chemin des Dames at Corbeny (the Chemin des Dames was a major battlefield of World War One). I stayed here the night, sharing a room with Peter. You can just see my tent hanging up to dry in the right-hand window. For pilgrims the cost was a very reasonable €34 for dinner, bed and breakfast — dinner being a set menu of chicken gizzards with salad, clafoutis and tarte mirabelle, wine and coffee. 

Naturally, Ernst had arrived hours beforehand, and had already befriended 77-year-old Daniel, another Via Francigena pilgrim . . .


The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh dear Robert - the thought of chicken gizzards has quite taken away any thought about today's journey.

George said...

Love the bijou mairie. If only we Americans could bring such beauty and charm to our own town halls.

The Solitary Walker said...

Mmm... just shut your eyes and swallow them down, Pat... delicious! (Bet you would have enjoyed those tarts, though.)

A town hall sounds so boring, it helps to make it architecturally charming, George! A lesson we could learn in the UK too (and, to be honest, in many parts of France).

Timecheck said...

Enjoying your walk, but at the moment wondering if you have any comments on Scotland. Is it really a matter of London against everybody else? Is Wales next?

The Solitary Walker said...

First of all, Ralph, there's little chance of it happening in Wales. And I'm not going to get involved in the Irish situation, as it's far too complicated!

Myself, I have always felt both English and British: I love both Scotland and Wales, and their Celtic heritage, and have often visited and walked there. I have Scottish and Welsh friends, and I'm proud of the character and natural beauty of those countries with which England is so intimately connected — geographically, historically etc. Then again, I also feel strongly European (which not all the English/British do) — and I also feel a citizen of the world.

What makes me uneasy is extreme nationalism — and any nationalist campaign has its ugly aspects, whether it be in the Basque region, in Catalonia, in Ireland or in Scotland. I embrace a natural pride in one's origins, in one's country, and a desire to have a say in what's considered best for that country; I don't like a surfeit of flag-waving, a narrow-minded isolationism or an arrogant over-statement of one's own importance and separateness.

Instinctively I would feel genuinely sorry to see the union broken up; some of this is, no doubt, fear of the unknown. Scotland and Wales already have their own devolved parliaments, which have worked out well. If the vote is very close as predicted, and the 'No's' finally win by a small margin, these parliaments will become more and more devolved in any case. Perhaps there will be a more federal setup?

I don't feel it's my affair to take one side or the other, as I feel it's up to the Scots to decide. Scotland itself is very divided on the issue — from Saltire-waving über-patriots to Edinburgh-based Anglo-Scots worried about their business interests.

Whatever the outcome today — and I will be following it closely — I wish Scotland only the best, and hope their relationship with England will continue harmoniously.

Re. London and the rest of the country, it's a long-standing thing that London looks after itself first, and there's also a long-standing perceived division between London/the SE and the rest of Britain, between the South and the North etc. But it's the same in many countries, isn't it — the US North and Deep South, the north and south of Italy etc.

I'm waiting for Yorkshire to become independent myself!

Timecheck said...

I hope devolution rather than independence prevails. While I sometimes wish that California could be divorced from some of the craziness that exists in this country, I do appreciate the strength that comes from the union of these 52 disparate entities.

Ruth Mowry said...

I appreciate your comment to Ralph!

Vagabonde said...

I enjoyed looking at all your beautiful photos of France. I had not seen that WWI memorial in St-Nicolas-aux-Bois when I was looking at all the WWI memorials for one of my posts on the war a while back. It is a modern one, so that is why I would not have a postcard of it. I admire all your walking – you certainly carry a lot, so it is good that you can stop in cafes along the way. I have traveled to France in the last 3 weeks, but not in the country, but in time – going back to WW2 – not a subject enjoyed by many though as I can tell (people are not reading it....)
I read your answer to Ralph – if you do not like flag waving, you better not come to the US – there are flags everywhere – people’s houses, people’s cars, stores, car dealerships, churches, and more – a sea of flags. But don’t ever mention it here because they do not like any criticism on the country – I know …. It looks like you are having good weather. Bonne route!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your comment, Vagabonde!