Monkey business

27/9
Apples aren’t the only fruit…
Well, Laurie and I are installed in the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of the Snow and we’re still talking: unlike the monks, presumably.

However,to start at the beginning… Last night’s meal was cracking: a lovely warm cheese tart (quiche to you and me) with tasty oily salad, was followed by sausages in a rich sauce with rice garnished with wafer-thin slices of ginger. There was the usual wonderful cheese course, followed by iles flottantes. Along with this, we had a demi litre of local red wine. All of this, including a beer earlier in the afternoon, a picnic lunch for today and, of course a night’s B&B for 2, came to E110. I think in the UK we’re used to over-paying for poor quality crud.
A couple of days ago, a nice lady gave me two apples. I’m not a great fan of the apple: although I’d claim to like all fruit, and certainly enjoy Mrs M’s home grown / made apple puree, I would generally put this fruit fairly far down my list. I can’t imagine myself ever lying back on a chaise-longue and imperiously commanding “peel me an apple”. I accepted these two home grown specimens of the malus genus as I was unsure how to reject them politely: by today they were a bit bruised and battered from spending a couple of days in my rucksack and any slight appeal they may have had initially had completely evaporated: I therefore chucked them in the bin in our room. I was thus desole to find my pic-nic lunch featured a replacement. How we laughed. Or at least Laurie did.
Today’s walk was very pleasant: the sun broke through, the mist evaporated, the disagreeable wind subsided, the terrain continued wildly bucolic and relatively flat: we walked through dappled beech woods, over broom-covered hills, beside babbling brooks and so on. As we approached the small village of Luc, Laurie referred to RLS commenting on the castle. “Where is it?” I asked and Laurie pointed out that it was now filling about half of our view and I hadn’t noticed it, even with a large white virgin “weighing 50 quintals” on the roof put there just weeks before RLS arrived.
Eventually we arrived chez les moines…
I think it would be fair to say were underwhelmed by our experience at ND des Neiges. The welcome was pleasant enough, though we had over two hours to wait until we had access to our room, which was adequate, though small with a sink and space for two beds. Laurie amused himself for a while ridding the room of flies.
The evening meal was okayish: a green salad, followed by pork and peas. Sonia would have been disappointed by the lack of tatties. Pudding was a “Tesco basics” version of a cornetto. I passed a good night, though I think Laurie found the bed a bit uncomfortable. Breakfast was instant coffee, stale bread and some pleasant jams. There is no set charge for staying in the place: we were invited to make a donation according to what we thought it was worth. We settled on E40 each, a bit less than most places. There was no real attempt to make us feel part of the place – no invitation to go to a service (which I might have done out of curiosity) and at no point did we even glimpse a monk, though I did notice a rent-a-nun in the shop. The shop was a step above some of these places: no pencil-sharpeners in the shape of the Virgin but, understandably, virtually all the produce was monkish in origin, including a range of high-octane beers varying from Leffe at 6% to Chimay at 9%.

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