The planned route was from La Florentine, Céreste, to our friends S & J's house, near Apt. We guesstimated the distance at 18km and we anticipated it would take between four and five hours. The LSH had to fit us in around his work, and S & J were clearly intending to look after us "we'll have a glass of wine and some nibbles for you..." so we planned to leave for La Florentine at 10am, hit the road at 11am and arrive with S & J between 3 and 4 pm.
We were off to a shaky start, though, first of all the weather forecast was saying there would be rain in the afternoon, and secondly, Anne has been suffering from a dodgey tummy for a few days. She eventually decided that the only treatment was 24 hours starvation, which commenced some eighteen hours before the start of our trek. We also had to pay a flying visit to the Post Office to collect the spare set of Renegade boots, which had arrived on Friday, but which we had been unable to collect.
On arrival (late) at La Florentine, I discovered that I was wearing the wrong boots - walking boots, not riding boots! I was insistent that I'd be fine, but Anne overrode me, and told me not to be silly, this was our first serious trek, and I should have my proper boots. Oh yes, and while I was at home, would I pick up her coat too... so I dashed home, changed boots and picked up Anne's coat, paused a moment and decided to bring my coat too... a wise decision, as it turned out!
I arrived back at La Florentine to find that all the delays had put the LSH into "efficiency mode" and he was whizzing through putting boots on the horses. We finished up tacking up - GiGi was carrying the collapsible bucket plus Anne's lunch and coat.
Flurry had the lunge line, for use as a picket line, and front and rear saddle bags, containing lunch, first aid kit, my sweater and a sponge and brush to wash them down when we arrived at the other end.
|View of the Luberon from La Gardette|
We all heaved a sigh of relief as we left suburbia and followed one of the many Chemins de St Jacques (GR 653) for a while. We weaved our way through the valley towards La Bégude, were charmed by a skylark dropping song from on high and saw our first swallows and swifts of the year.
Flurry was very funny, once we had left Céreste behind, he kept "suggesting" that it was time to head home - every left hand turn looked like the way home as far as he was concerned! I eventually had to resort to Mr Whip to convince him that, no, it wasn't time to go home yet, and he definitely got the message and plodded on in a resigned manner for the rest of the trip.
|St Martin de Castillon with some very ominous clouds|
|The cobbled stretch of road|
On the final approach to St Martin, we were travelling along a very old cobbled road - possibly part of the Via Domitia, an ancient Roman road which ran from Italy to Spain.
The sky had been growing more and more gloomy as the morning progressed, and just as we arrived in St Martin, the rain started. We had a very brief stop for lunch - well, lunch for Martine and a nibble for the horses, but Anne was still starving herself, so she satisfied herself with a sip of water and some crisps. We both put our coats on, as it was persistently raining at this stage, as our good friends in Met Eireann say!
|Anne and GiGi in St Martin|
We backtracked and found a THIRD trail, which went straight on, so full of confidence, we followed it. Both of us were starting to suffer from cramps in our legs by now, so we dismounted and walked for a while.
Alas, doubts once more reared their ugly heads when we found ourselves traipsing through someones garden, alongside their swimming pool. We had no choice but to continue through their garden, squelch merrily along the path at the back of their house and follow their drive back to the road... nobody came out to question us, but to be honest, I think we would have looked so miserable at this stage that they would have just taken one look at us and asked us in for coffee.
Eventually, we arrived back to a road, the D35 by my reckoning. Anne was feeling pretty shook at this stage - she was cold, tired, weak and hungry. I was just cold, soggy and tired, with a sore bum, so I was the more gung-ho of the two of us. I guessed we were about half an hour away from S & J's, it would have been a shame to give up and call the LSH to collect us at this stage, so we remounted and set forth again.
Eventually, we got there, in the rain, with two wet, tired horses. The LSH had arrived before us, the jeep and horsebox were in the drive.
The horses loaded with enthusiasm (I had been wondering if they would load well, it's probably six months since they were in the trailer) and the LSH and Anne took them home.
I had a nice hot shower and a change of clothes (thanks S!) and settled down by the fire with a nice glass of Rosé to load the Everytrail map.
Dress rehearsal at EveryTrail
Hey, wait, we covered 25km today! We've had the worst weather we're likely to face for the whole Trek, and Anne was really sick, but we did it ! The horses were great, and truly picked up on our enthusiasm as we entered the outskirts of Apt - they knew we were nearly home as well as we did. So we're tired but happy... hoping the horses will both be well tomorrow as we are planning on a two hour trek to stretch their legs before the OFFICIAL START of Le Big Trek on Thursday.
Huge thanks to O'Brien's Saddlery, Bandon and Midleton, for promoting us on Facebook. Welcome to all our new followers, we hope you enjoy following our trek through France. I can't believe it's finally about to start, the Trek was in jeopardy for a long time because of my broken wrist. In all honesty, we'd both like to have a few more trips like today under our belts, but you've got to go with what you have, not what you'd like, and, if we are a little under-prepared, we will allow for that in the first few days and hope to build up our fitness quickly.
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