In the late 1980’s whilst working for ABB Robotics Ltd, I made a visit to the Saint-Gobain glass bottle factory near Reims in northern France. I was shocked to see the safety guarding around the robot installation was just a low height single rail. This contrasted completely with the H&S conscious UK where we had to have 2m high perimeter fencing with interlocked access gates.
Arriving in Cahors we took a walk into town over the Louis Philippe bridge with narrow paths either side of the traffic. My vertigo wasn’t helped by the very low wall – one stumble would have lead to a watery death in the fast moving river below. In the UK we would have as a minimum a handrail for those with suicidal tendencies to wrap their legs over whilst waiting to be talked down.
We love a market with a good buzz, this one in Cahors on Saturday morning was particularly colourful and varied and was well supported by the locals who appeared to be loyal to their favoured local producers and traders.
We were very tempted by a restaurant offering wines tasting of 4 different Malbec’s with lunch. Although the change is coming slowly , the French are definitely coming round to the New World producers approach of naming the grape rather than the traditional method of using the region.
As we’ve been touring around France and Spain we have seen quite a few of the heavily laden, long distance walkers doing one of the several versions of the Santiago de Compostela Way. We have seen the signs for the ‘Way’ as far back as St Guilhelm le Desert and in Olargues, in León, Logroño, San Sebastian, St Jean de Pied Port, Condom and now Cahors. Sometimes the hikers look a bit sodden and weary but always righteous and determined.
Thousands of the ‘pilgrims’ set off every year on their way to Santiago de Compostela. And of course some decide to do the route, not necessarily for religious reasons but perhaps as a personal challenge. But wherever they start, their way is marked by the scallop shell symbol shown on the map.
In Cahors today, Lesley tripped over one of their raised brass scallop shells cemented into the pavement. Little do the innocent pilgrims realise the dangers, hazards and risks they face of multiple calamitous stumbles and trips. Due to a complete and utter disregard for what we would consider as basic British Health and Safety standards. I mean where, where was the red and white tape and the marker cone(s) – I have absolutely no idea what the EU will do without us)….!
Dave & Lesley
PS My humbug apologies for the delay in publishing this blog