EUR 110 Taxi because of the SNCF strike. Otherwise routine.
Having started the walk with Anne (Sister) and Margaret (Mother), Neil is now walking alone.
Anne died earlier in 2010 in late June. Her breast cancer finally caught up with her after spreading to her pancreas. She was already getting some quite significant discomfort on the last days of the Cerbere walks. She had a very painful 14 month decline before she died. This is why there has been such a long gap in this story. Neither Neil nor Anne really expected to get to all the way from Portugal to Istanbul. Anne had had the cancer for most if not all of the walk but it had not seriously affected her health until May 2009. The walk will be less fun without Anne's sense of humour and eccentric linguistic skills.
Margaret, Neil's mother also died this year in late April. She started the walk with us in 2003 walking about half the days and letting her feet recover in between. She did the shorter legs but this was still pretty impressive for someone in her 80s. She continued to travel with us until 2008 when we stayed in Altea, Spain. She still went for short walks but had, by now, given up accompanying us on the walk. She never expected to get as far as she did.
It remains to be seen how far Neil will get.
Neil drove from Beccles to Stansted, arriving at the mid term parking at about 6am. The airport was routine with a 30 minute delay (also routine). Once again, Neil's 250g block of butter passed the security scanner. It's not clear why Anne had her little pot of butter confiscated on the previous trip.
Anne died earlier in 2010 and without her, the whole ambience has changed. Many small jokes and silly rituals have become meaningless. Scoring points for spotting cats or frogs has lost it's appeal. Looking for chances to get one over Anne and vice versa, was a useful distraction from the horrors of budget flying. The flight to Carcassonne was pleasant enough apart from Ryanair's maddening attempts to sell cosmetics and scratch cards. Why would anyone want to smell like David Beckham?
In Carcassonne, Neil got a taxi becuase the SNCF/TER website indicated no trains from Carcassonne to Narbonne until too late in the day. So the rail strike added EUR 100 to the cost of the trip. Another reason to hate the French. However the taxi driver was charming. The people at Narbonne station (where there were a few trains) waited with patience and good humour and the Hotel La National proprietor in Sète was efficient and helpful.
The fight against the raising of the pension age is a lost cause. Anyone with half a clue about the demographics should see this.