Monday, 28 July 2014

Abbey excitement

Saturday 26 July

Our destination for tonight was Wisques, to stay in the Abbey Notre Dame, a living Abbey for Benedictine Nuns.  I had made contact with a very enthusiastic nun from the Abbey ( Sister Lucy ) who was in charge of co-ordinating guests who stay in the Abbey grounds.  We were invited to have dinner with the nuns also.

We set out at just after 9 am, after spending 30 mins getting pine tree sap drops off our tent with     ‘ wet ones’.  The outer tent is now very sanitised, with a neutral PH balance.  I had wondered the evening before why my fingers were sticking to one another when I could see no goo but could certainly feel it.

The sky was cloudy - hoorah !  and for the majority of the time that we walked this day it was relatively cool.  Such a relief after the blistering days of recent.  After several meeting points, and main road fly-overs or unders we arrived at Wisques mid afternoon.  There was no cafe or pub in sight so we went straight to the Abbey hoping that we were not arriving too early.  

The Abbey was a very impressive sight, a beautiful and very large building.  We approached the main entrance where 2 nuns were chatting in the doorway and I introduced myself.  Instant recognition shone from Sister Lucy who welcomed us very warmly.  We were taken to the very lovely house close to the Abbey where guests stay ( Hotellerie Saint Charles ).  There were 8 guest rooms in the house, with a lovely old kitchen, library / sitting room and even 2 chapels in the cellar ( which Tony discovered whilst nosy parkering behind closed doors - it had to be done in a place like this ! ).


There were other guests staying in the house, but we were the only walkers.  We spent the afternoon hours before tea ‘ sorting stuff’, showering, snoozing and I even mended the 3rd puncture on the bike all by myself.

Bike events

Fell off x 1 in UK ( practically on 1st day - documented in early blog )
Fell off x 1 in France ( when I was moving further to the right of the road towards grassy bank to give a bin lorry more room - foot down with my right leg is not my natural way, so I lost balance and fell onto grassy bank ).
Punctures x 3 all in less than a week ! 

We had our evening meal in the Abbey with the other guest house guests in what was described as ‘ the small dining room’.  We entered the abbey through the impressive stone doorway, were led up the very clean stone steps into a grand foyer area, and turned left down a mullion windowed corridor into one of the rooms along it. A table was set for 8.  One nun had cooked for us and the other was serving.  It was simple fare, but tasty and nourishing ( vegetable soup followed by potatoes, fried courgettes and lovely cheesy omelette - I think that this was as a result of me having informed Sister Lucy that Tony is a veggie, so all guests got what Tony could eat ).  We had cheese for afters followed by a fruit puree compote.  Oh, and water and wine were both served.  There was an informal atmosphere with much chit chat.  Tony and I were fortunate in that there was a lady who spoke very good English amongst the group, so she ‘brought us into the fold’ .

After dinner, we wanted to explore the whole Abbey complex but alas would not be allowed.  We did, however, find the Abbey chapel and sat for a while listening to some of the nuns singing one of their services - very atmospheric.  The rest of the evening ( which had turned sunny by the way ) was spent outside reading and typing with the valley view ahead of us from where we had arrived earlier in the afternoon.  We felt very chilled, and perhaps a little pensive, and dare I say, humbled and thankful…

Distance - 12 miles
Total since Helmsley - 539.75 miles


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