Bit scary leaving (Pierre had left breakfast out for us) as we witnessed an attempted assault on a local kid by 2 others, young men gathered in loud groups and the police arriving to sort out some trouble a street away – so I checked the narrow dark lanes out as we were leaving in the cool of the dark. I think we hit a bad patch that could happen anywhere as it has done in my home suburb of Balmain. Out of the streets and onto the banks of the river Lot again – a train crossing the bridge, birds chirping and cuckooing, the river weir splashing noisily as it only can without the noise of the day.

We were back in the 14th century, as we crossed this ancient bridge, no 21st century sounds were there to bring us forward in time – Andre Breton might call this ‘surreal’, while Sigmund might say you’re messing with the unconscious. In the 14th century we would never have been able to climb the imposing hill that shadows the bridge and hides the sun from the commune in the evening. The sheerness of the hill would not allow for even a winding path, so hundreds of stairs had been carved out to gain access to the part of Cahors that is first to see the sun peaking down into this town surrounded by a river.

This high, thin ridge led us away on yet another leg on the ‘chemin de le Puy’. A few rises and falls as we went from open sunny stretches through shaded woods. In one of these small-oak-tree forests a deer ran out – our noisy poles startling him/her as he/she was drinking from the tiny creek just below. Another jumped out in front of us from a similar forest which also contained what are known as Little Maple trees. The bright green leaves on a near black trunk provided a startling contrast, their twisted branches mimicking the Nataraj, the many armed Indian God, or those delightfully displayed arms of an array of ballet dancers. In amongst these we spotted yet another dome shaped stone building – used to shelter shepherds at night

The 2 big South African men coming up behind us would not even get an audition, and instead latched onto my wife as did the 2 Frenchmen yesterday. I once again left her to entertain and be entertained. They swapped stories about the camino Frances in Spain (one of these senior executives had done the walk three times), retirement options and their beloved home of Capetown. We took a break at different tables at a cafe until they heard our new French friend, Janine, say to us: ‘they’re anglais”. How could we not continue our chat. We joked, looked at photos of Capetown, talked about Parkinson’s and about work/play balance. We won’t see these lovely men again as they walk too far each day, but we have their cards and a brother’s name in Sydney.

Just as we were leaving, a Swiss man turned up with Corrie’s gloves that she had dropped earlier. He caught up to us later and we chatted for a while – Corrie devastated by the news that Federer had been beaten in Madrid – it didn’t matter that he was beaten by an aussie. Our new short term friend was a regular camino walker so our pace was only good enough for a little chat. We took a dive down into the French oasis of Lascabanes where we took yet another rare type of track across a farmer’s field, separating his wheat from his spinach. We caught up with a very dedicated Parisian pilgrim singing sacred songs and moving his fingers deftly through his rosary beads. He left us soon after as he continued onto St Jean while we went to meet Claire and Elain, owners of our home tonight.