Leaving Vercelli in the rain. Great.

It was later than I expected to get going, 6.20. I felt a little tired but thought that was normal. We showered, Corrie asked for her watch back (I’m the time keeper – anal – so I’m usually good at it). Unperturbed, Corrie asked why we were leaving at 11.50pm – I had the watch on upside down!!!

We slipped out of the very old town of Vercelli, its ancientness eagerly seeping into those unused parts of our memory cells, and its romanesque architecture gleaming in the rain. The bad news about the rain is I only have non-waterproof shoes; the good, it’s the perfect temperature. Nearly an hour before sunrise, we took off wearing all our rain gear, bar my shoes, with the dripping street lamps straining to sow us the path until the unseen sun took over

No-one on the track, but we followed two sets of footprints and were accompanied by mosquitos and insects, in the rain’s humid aftermath. A high embankment alongside a bustling river between rice and corn fields ushered us through grand Poplar trees which stood like huge sentinels in their natural palace, with their wet rustling sounds so unique to them alone. We later contemplated on how we were unusually interactive whilst walking through these Poplar groves, and reflected on the Romans who created communal meeting places for the greater populace surrounded by Poplar trees – can’t access safari to verify this

We soon approached a motorway that I thought was only for vehicles, but the overhead bridge offered us a dry spot as a reprieve from the rain for a breakfast of yoghurt and banana, and a pack rest. Carrying the packs was a new thing for us thus the reason why we nearly crawled into Robbio, taking the first lodgings we could find. All we could find was an albergue for gratis, and luckily we didn’t care because if you saw it you’d understand, but it’s a bed, and it’s free, and with no-one else at the Inn

As we await sleep, the town clock noisily reminds us of the time; we can’t wait for 1am – and to the sound of only one bell. Corrie can keep her watch as the clock tower will remind me.

It did and we ventured out into a rainless, shadeless day – still hot here so a hard slog. Still no-one on the track – I hope we’re on the right one. Through similar fields to yesterday with no river or poplars or even any tree, with some parts on main roads, the drivers appreciative of us vacating their space in their presence. An elderly woman (whoops – that now includes me – elderly that is) sweeping the pathway in anticipation of our arrival no doubt, informed us of the arrival of a thousand other Australians during the year. She chatted generously as we walked on to our first shade of the day – the local church. As we discussed our paucity of water – a church person came in, stamped our credentials then gave us 2 bottles of icy water – we can’t have been all bad today.