Fred & Sius on tour 2012 travel blog

Mon dieu il pleur -  it has rained all night and all day! Nevertheless we braved the motorway in the wet - it seems the advice to do 110 in the rain is largely ignored and speeds continue to be 130 kph plus. More poise moments...

We went to Lourdes today which was another 3 hour drive. Unfortunately we hit peak hour around Toulouse which slowed us down but we stuck to the motorway thinking it would be safer in the wet even at those speeds. We can see why the economy here is suffering as productivity seems very low. Peak hour was at 9.45am and the patisserie in town didn't open until 9 so I missed out on my pain au chocolat this morning which was on the list of experiences for today.We didn't stop until we hit Lourdes. Frankly the thought of getting out of the car in the wet held little appeal.;

I decided that today I'd ditch the crutches but after limping around Lourdes for a few hours I was literally dragging my poor old foot. No amount of holy water made any difference to my well being.

It was a fascinating place with hordes of pilgrims in town from all over the world. I was fortunate to have Fred as my guide with his in depth knowledge of the place having been there on several occasions as a helper of the ill as part of the Stoneyhurst (school) pilgrimage. As a skeptic I found it astounding to see people fervently kissing the wall of the grotto where Bernadette had her vision of the Virgin Mary and then filling plastic Gerry cans with holy water. Fred wondered if it would be a sacriledge to take one home to hold fuel for the motor mower. He told me all of the tourist junk for sale at Lourdes such as statues of Mary that glow in the dark contributed to his diminished faith.

I felt like I was I another world to be surrounded by women dressed like Florence Nightingale pushing pilgrims looking for a miracle in old fashioned carts a bit like rickshaws. On top of that they were lining up to be dunked in pools of holy water. It was pouring rain and no more than 10 degrees and they were already must be wonderful to have such faith! At one point I helped a frail old lady struggling with her umbrella to stay upright in the wind and she wanted to kiss me. Maybe I was her miracle for the day. I did fill two little bottles with water. One for mum and one for Prue. Both of them need miracles at the moment.

Tragically we ducked into Macca's for a coffee noting that French Ronald appears much younger than the Australian version and the logo is green and gold here. Actually we were there when we took a call from Prue and although doctors are now attempting to drain her mum's upper bowel abscess she is apparently far too weak to undergo surgery so it is a harrowing time for her and the family and a matter of one day at a time.

As usual we missed lunch and found ourselves in a dodgy TAB style bar at 3.30 with only a Croque Monsieur on offer. It wasn't too bad. Prue would never have coped with our schedule as she needs sustenance at very regular intervals!

It is such a shame the weather has been so bad as it doesn't get dark until after 9.30pm and I am sure we would have enjoyed many aperitifs as the sun went down. As it is we can't wait to get home for a warm bath - albeit enjoyed with a champagne.

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