Wednesday 10 September.
When I got back to bed with our early morning cup of coffee I downloaded the newspaper but it was very slow. So, when I had my blog ready for publishing I went up to the reception area to do it, the signal was much better there and I was finished in minutes. We got an email from the managing agents for the complex where our house in South Africa is situated. They said our tenants were running a business from the house and some of the other residents in the complex had complained. Moira passed the email on to our agent concerned with the letting and we got a lengthy email back. It seems like a mountain out of a mole hill but some of the other residents are trouble makers with nothing better to do. It isn't the thing we want worrying us while tackling the Via Francigena, hopefully it will work itself out.
We had planned to leave at 8am but we were 15 minutes late and by the time we stopped at the mini-super market for bread it was 8:30am when we hit the trail. The first section was strange, the guide said after leaving Seraucourt-le-Grand to head for the wind turbines on the skyline and take the road that skirted an airfield. We saw the windmills and the road went round in a square to reach the village of Clastres but we didn't see anything resembling an airfield, where one would expect a runway and some planes but all we went round were maize fields. The next description was accurate, head towards the water tower then the church with open work like the one in Roupy. We got a closer look at this spire and it was quite remarkable with the lattice work of the steeple. We sat on the church steps for 10 minute to rest.
The next section was fairly short, 1.5km, over a hill to the village of Montescourt-Lizerolles where we picked up a gravel path that ran beside the railway all the way to the Canal de Saint-Quentin. This was a lovely off-road section by the railway and the next part along the canal towpath was equally as good.
The first few hundred metres to a lock wasn't so good though, it was through thick grass. We stopped at the lock gates for a cup of coffee and a biscuit and a rest. It was now very warm after a chilly start and we lay back and enjoyed the sunshine.
While we relaxed the lock keeper drove up and we assumed that the surface of the path would be better to suit cars. It was and we were now able to stride out and make good time. Unfortunately after the bridge over the canal at Mennessis the surface deteriorated again to thick grass. Still we were making good time and came off the towpath and on to the road into Tergnier by 1pm we had covered 20 km today in 4 hours walking.
Our accommodation was above an Indian restaurant near the railway station. We passed the railway station but had to ask directions, I got a good response to 'restaurant Indian' in a French accent and we were soon there. The restaurant was closed, nobody to man the kitchen but it was a very smart place. Our room was above and it was ensuite and very nice but a bit expensive for the area, €55. Once settled in our room Moira went to a small supermarket we passed and got a couple of beers to go with our lunch of bread and cheese.
Later in the afternoon we walked into the town centre. Our guide book said there wasn't anything to see and it was correct. Tergnier is just a huge railway junction and shunting yard, the French equivalent to Crewe in England. There was a convenient supermarket and we got some roast chicken, tomato and sweet corn for dinner then returned to our room.
We spent the rest of the day reading the newspaper and catching up on the Scottish Referendum. The poles are showing the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns to be very close and everyone is getting excited. We had our picnic dinner in the room then continued reading until bedtime. It was very noisy with trains every few minutes and lots of traffic on the busy road outside. Fortunately it quietened down later on and we slept well.