In Lussac les Chateaux, Dalie and I had a night of adventures with a storm that arrived in the early hours of the morning. It was one of those spectacular storms that are common in August in France, with a wonderful light show to the north west that gave at least a half hour’s warning before the thunder could be heard, and then the violence of the storm came closer and the wind rushed into the campsite, followed by teeming rain and crashing thunder overhead. I secured the tent in between donkey calming sessions: muttering reassuring words to a motionless Dalie, standing there in her raincoat with its furry collar (to protect her skin from the edge) looking like a disappointed film star arriving rain-soaked outside a film premiere in Leicester Square.
When the storm hit, I dashed into the tent and zipped it up, then decided I couldn’t bear the idea of being inside and dry while Dalie was out in the torrential rain, crashing thunder and lightning that turned the whole landscape into daylight. I went out of the tent again to do more donkey reassuring. Dalie was shaking and occasionally kicking out. The disappointed film star was now ready to murder the film director… The French lady in the tent next door to us came out and shouted, “What happens if the lightning strikes the electric fence?” (I had put up the electric fence when we arrived to keep Dalie from her usual mischief.) I thought about it for a moment. I had no idea what would happen.
“C’est pas grave,” I shrugged. “We always charge the battery that way.”
In the morning everything was soaking wet and the rain continued. As there were few people on the campsite, I decided to move Dalie into the covered porch in front of the men’s toilets. So we sat out the wet morning making coffee, cleaning equipment, eating biscuits and generally doing donkey and rabit piligrimin time-wasting activities. Dalie scratched her bottom on the wall. I had a shower but did not scratch my bottom on the wall. And eventually the rain stopped.
We set off again down a voie verte – one of those old disused railway branch lines converted into a walking, cycling, and perfect donkey walking route. It was a lovely walk, chugging along at donkey speed through the continuous arching shade of the trees in a sultry day, now hot again after the passing storm. Dalie seemed to be happily into a rhythm of walking now, without needing any more encouragement from me.
The next donkey to arrive at platform three will be the eleven fifteen to l’Isle Jordan, stopping to eat leaves on trees, grass at the side of the path, and occasional daisies. Please mind the gap between the donkey and normal routine.