15 July 21

We have been walking in the rain for the past few days. At the moment, it feels more like winter than summer. On a few occasions, on our arrival at the accommodation, we found the wood-burning stove and chimney switched on to keep us warm and allow our shoes and clothes to dry.

On the bright side, we received amazing hospitality. The other day, the four of us arrived at Cirfrontaines en Azois, a little village in the Haute Marne district. Unfortunately, we couldn’t book any accommodation in advance; the telephone wasn’t working, a Gite wasn’t available, and no one was picking up the phone of the local Salle de Fete. (Salle de fete is a room that every town has for parties or other events related to the village. The local council runs it and if free, sometimes the Major allows walker and pilgrims to sleep in). We arrived at the village to discuss the possibility of sleeping in the salle de fete or, worst-case scenario, in the local church. Instead, we stopped chatting with a lady, and, like a domino effect, a set of events unfolded. A few minutes later, we had four water bottles, the Major (Domenic) chatting with us and an accommodation. Next, the Major took us to the house of an Anglo-American couple living in town.

Me, Jason, Alessio, Massimo, Carlos, Domenic and Nancy

Nancy and Jason welcomed us into their home. Their hospitality was above any possible expectations; we were hoping for a roof to sleep under, and instead, we found a place where we all felt at home. I was happy, as well. Finally, I was able to communicate properly in English. Although my broken French allows me to go by; with Nancy and Jason, I could have a proper conversation. Nancy prepared a delicious meal while Jason was offering wine. We sat at the table, and we chatted all night. At some point, Jason came up with a proposal: “Guys, there are not accommodations between here and the larger town of Langres (around 60 kilometres), why don’t you leave all your stuff here, walk light tomorrow, and I will come to pick you up in the car, take you back here for the second night and in the morning, I will take you back to the same spot?”. It was difficult to refuse the offer, but at the same time, we didn’t want to abuse their hospitality.

In the morning, we woke up to a table full of croissants and delicious coffee, Jason re-prosed the offer, and we finally accept. 

We walked 36 k, very light, just with the backpacks with food and water; we agreed with Jason that 30 minutes before getting to the destination, we would have called him, but to our great surprise, we saw Jason stopping on the side of the road while we were taking this picture!

While we walked to Leffonds, few kilometres down the road, Jason waited and took few pictures himself, and then we all got back together.

Nancy was preparing another delicious meal; let’s call it hunger, but it was the most delicious meal we had since we set off from home in England. We chatted until late once again. Both Nancy and Jason are fascinating people with captivating stories to tell. In addition, they have an eighteen-year-old cat, Higgie, sweet and loud 😃. Nancy told us that they would like to cycle the States, Coast to Coast, and personally, I am looking forward to following their adventure.

In the morning, after breakfast, it was time to say goodbye. Those two people, strangers just over 48 hours earlier, managed to touch our hearts, not for what they did, but for how they did it. I felt honesty in their words, they were truly interested in ours, and they allowed us to feel at home. I left a part of my heart there, and I took with me their warmth. Thank you, Nancy, Jason and Higgie!!!! I will always be grateful for the big lesson you taught me.

Later in the morning I received this wonderful picture😍