Blame it on the Bolivians - Digging Deep in south-west France - CycleBlaze

Blame it on the Bolivians

Pigeonniers like this are an everyday sight where I live. I see them without seeing them but this time I determined to stop and look again. In more rural times, pigeons were encouraged to fly in and nest. And there they would stay, happy and cooing, until one winter's day the farmer fancied pigeon pie. This pigeonnier is a much-preserved example in the town of Valence d'Agen.
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If you've never heard of a magazine called Punch you're a little late. It went out of business some years ago, to be honest a bit too late in life because its best years had passed. At its height, though, it captured the gentler absurdities of the British character. When, in a cartoon before the war, one character called "'Alf, there's a foreigner 'ere" and got the reply "Well, sling 'alf a brick at 'im, then", we could smile (no more, admittedly, because Punch was never in the belly-laugh business) because we recognised something in our nature that we preferred to keep hidden. The British, after all, are an island race.

Sometimes Punch smiled at the way we sling a brick at foreigners but attribute to them a wisdom denied the rest of us. The sayings of the Chinese, Japanese, Red Indians and even Bolivians could have a profundity the natives never suspected. There must be, Punch wondered, a proverb so deep in meaning that it was meaningless. And it ran a competition to find it.

The winner was "He digs deepest who deepest digs."

Say it. Look sincere. Try to look Mandarin. We are so conditioned to aphorism that you'll be greeted by sage agreement only later followed by an awareness that, like country music and many Bob Dylan songs, perhaps it doesn't mean anything at all.

Well, I am proposing to dig deeper. I'm hoping to turn a soil I already know, to ride in my yard and see it with new eyes, the eyes of an outsider, to understand it and perhaps explain it.

If that sounds philosophical claptrap, I both agree and apologise. I'd blame the Chinese, Japanese, Indians and Bolivians but I don't think even their broad shoulders would accept the criticism. But so what? It's just a bike ride, digging a little deeper than usual into a region I know well. I have a week to myself while Steph involves herself in golfing shenanigans. I am loading my bike with bags and tent and my only commitment is to be on the Atlantic coast in a week's time, to meet her. And, to be honest, if I don't get that far or end up somewhere else instead, like Madrid, then so what? It's a bike ride, not a deep proverb.

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