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Saturday, 8 November 2014

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND - THE ENDLESS SUMMER

Last night was the perfect outdoor sleep. By a barn - Herzog broke into a barn near here, Bauerbach - under hazel boughs, the full moon throwing dapple patterns on the tarp. Cheese sandwiches and reading, warm in my (actually David Flower's, lent when he learnt how inadequate mine was) sleeping bag.
Because I started walking from Munich just past midnight, so actually in the early hours of Thurs morning, I wasn't sure which day of the walk I've been on each day. Well today is definitely the difficult third day, not the fourth. Knee aches  footsore and with two actual blisters, aching shoulders, plodding. But mentally happy as a lark.
Have rush-hobbled to cross the Lech river and find shops before they all close until Monday. I'm carrying as little food/weight as possible and happy to miss the odd meal or two but 36 hours without food might be a bit bleak.
I've just managed the linguistic feat required to buy surgical spirit for my stove. The last chemist mistranslated and sold me surgical benzine aka petrol. Imagine my surprise when I filled my stove and lit it deep in the woods on my first night and there was a huge ball of flame between my legs.
On the great open grassland by the Lech there was a flock of sheep with shepherds, dogs and an encampment of small caravans and wheeled huts. Transhumance in modern Europe. They move their flock s between grazing grounds across Germany. I am tuned to anyone else moving on foot. Yesterday marching soldiers and escaping POWs and spies travelling cross country filled my mind. Today it's shepherds.
What I see are cars. I can remember every non-urban walker I've seen since I started because there have been so few. Three dog walkers, a couple going for a walk, somebody in a field just walking.
There are shots from the towers along the edge of the woods. It's deer hunting season.
I'm in a petrol station at lunchtime - a coffee and a croissant, the first food of the day. I must walk on and find more food for the coming days.
The sun is still shining.

Friday, 7 November 2014

LOW ENERGY HIGH SPIRITS

Is this going to be the way it is the whole way to Paris - very few shops, almost no cafes and every village bar, so far, closed till either evening or next year?
It's going to be difficult to recharge either phone or me.
Right now I'm in a rare small supermarket with stand-up coffee bar and they can't get me out. I think it's the vegetable and fruit erotica next to me. I have to buy and eat food that provides the most calories for least weight and cost; dates, fats, oats and dried fruits. Oh, and raw fish.
Second day walking - cool but no rain. Autumn colours.
Last night my hammock bivvy was bang-on. Cosy, warm, and dry. I heated a stock-cube soup on my stove deep in the woods and listened to eagle owl's deep booming call.
Time to leave the fruit and walk on.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

MAYBE THERE ARE EASIER WAYS OF GETTING TO PARIS FROM MUNICH THAN WALKING

DAY ONE OF THE WALK WAS ACTUALLY NIGHT ONE

It began snowing/sleeting as I walked out of Munich and into the night. Darkened houses, neon shop signs. The odd car or rumbling truck. By three in morning was in rolling country of fields and woods. Still raining. Into a stand of trees, hammock up, tarp slung over it. Fell into deep sleep. Woke at dawn. Damp and cold - corner of sleeping mat had slipped over side of hammock and beyond edge of dripping tarp and guttered water in on me. I've warmed up and dried some clothes by walking briskly through drizzle all morning. Soaring pines, cloddy ploughed fields, buzzards, wooden barns and neatly stacked firewood. Crucifixes, and lofty decorated may poles in villages. No shops. Closed bars and cafes. More traffic today than usual because trains on strike. Clouds are lifting - pearly light through the rain. In a restaurant with coffee now. No food. Warming up. Will need to walk on into night to make distance and find shelter. Currently the ghost of Herzog's younger self is showing me around. Images from his book resurface. And new - odd - images catch my eye.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

WALK THE TALK...

I'm in Cologne and about to catch a train to Munich. The idea is that I'll get out at the main station and start towards Paris when I get in, around midnight. Unless I don't.
I spent last night in Faro, in a 300 years old house in the old town - now an eccentric pension it was as weird and as restful as a David Lynch film - strange half dressed characters sitting hunched in chairs at dawn, nocturnal walkers around the labyrinth corridors, the moon-faced Danish rice farmer, and the tiny dog like a polecat. Think I'll stick with Herzog.
In Cologne I had a short shopping list. A knife - airport security precluded carrying one I already own. A sleeping mat - hammock sleeping requires good insulation under one. Food - I realised that I have no idea if the tens of villages I'll walk through in the coming 500 miles have shops, inns and bars, or whether they'll be like those dead commuter hamlets where life has drained away to nearby cities and shopping malls and super stores. Apart from a rough picnic for the train the only iron rations I've got if there are few shops are oats and dates.
There was also a long search for surgical spirit - woundbenzine. Finally found in a chemist where I underwent a long interview in broken german about what I wanted it for. To fuel my stove and anoint my feet. They were concerned I was going to drink it. I had hoped that I'd avoid looking like a derelict until much later in the trip.
Overall I haven't really thought about the coming weeks and miles. Hour by hour and step by step...

Sunday, 2 November 2014

WALK PREPARATION GOING WELL

Last night was spent playing harp (harmonica) with The Journeymen in the Club Faroense in Faro. Late, joyful and fun. Then went to sleep in the back of a van on top of the amplifiers and woke up in Spain in the early hours. And here I am in the sun on the Guadiana River, on my way to Germany - honestly - to start the wintery walk from Munich to Paris. Flight on Wednesday morning, first steps of the 500 miles around midnight the same day.

About Me

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I'm an independent writer on wilderness activities, slow adventures, traditional horsemanship and odd stuff. I'm the author of Paddle; A long way around Ireland (Sort Of Books), and i was the story consultant on the IMAX documentary on cowboy cultures across the globe, Ride Around The Word. The Slow Adventure sends reports back from the front-line of a slow and simple life; horses, kayaks, guitars, long walks, travel, books, simplicity, trains, travel, wildlife and the occasional thrill.