A delightful dinner with our Capetown companions. We talked of the special people we have met; walks from the Himalayas to the Turkish coast; relationships; how tears can make you strong; situations and your response to them that can change your life; using your abilities wisely in business, Mandela and Parkinson’s. In the dimly lit plaza of Moissac, an ancient village on the French chemin we ate, we drank, we talked and we laughed. The young French owner let everyone in the square know what was for dinner as she confidently described the menu to us. What was not understood, was translated by a French woman at another table who overheard our struggles. Even the cheeses were described minutely and the order in which to eat them and which one should be dressed in marmalade.

We hugged these two larger than life men from South Africa, said our goodbyes as they go home tomorrow contemplating when and where their walking adventures will continue. We climbed our unlit track up the steep concrete pathway, directing ourselves from memory until the lights appeared on the final bend.

The sun came once more to breakfast where Anna entertained us with her wit and charm, a young woman sang to the tunes of her loved guitar, as others drifted in to nourish themselves for the day ahead. We talked with Anna about her friends with Parkinson’s and gave her my blog address. We kissed our hostess, said ‘bon chemin’ to the others and walked “downhill” for the very first time, one advantage of sleeping in our ‘home on a hill’.

We checked the right path with a Canadian couple and spent the day walking with them along ‘the canal of two oceans’. This waterway, one Sydney ferry wide, winds its very long way from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean probably wishing for earlier times when it serviced the villages along its banks. Now in active retirement it spends its days as a play yard for boating tourists, fisher people and beavers who swim close to the canal’s edge. Squint in the water photo and you will see the beaver on the far side. We brought back memories of old for the Garonne river by having croissant and coffee in one of its previously serviced villages, that are now totally ignored by the unaware trains.

Huge Maple trees lined the canal and its metre wide walkway, both sides stretching out but just failing to keep the sun from sneaking through to witness the spectacle beneath. After many kilometres of this shaded paradise there was no escaping the long walk home in above 30s temperature. The lack of shade was balanced by the musical clatter of plantations of leaves of the Poplar trees that entertained us as we swapped tales of Parkinson’s with our co-walkers, and they will share my success with Speech therapy with their friends who are badly in need of this proven therapy.

As we walked we had short conversations with 3 different French men and a woman, and greeted many others we have stayed briefly with along the chemin. Past plantations of apricot and cherry trees reaching out to ripen, carefully covered rows of strawberries protected from the elements, fields of corn dwarfed at this stage by the high luscious wheat fields and the few surviving poppies adding their dazzling red glow to this flat, calm sea of green. The Chestnut tree showed off its pink and white delicate flowers as we approached the cable bridge over the Garonne river. Our ‘only’ hill of the day was, as last night, the final long steep climb home to our gite at Auvillar, yet another fascinating varied take on a French village.