Vendôme to Château-Renault, Part 2

Day 26b of Walking Out of the World, a virtual pilgrimage to Compostela with special cut-out-and-keep Gourd Repair Guide.

(Continued from: Day 26a Vendôme to Château-Renault, Part 1)

I expect it happens to all of us at some point. You will know the situation well. One moment your bourdon is leaning safely against the wall of the boulangerie – where you have stopped to buy your breakfast – and the next moment it has fallen over, breaking your gourd in two. We’ve all been there. The problem is that nowhere on the internet, in all the practical advice to pilgrims, is there anything about on-the-road gourd repairs. Well, here it is! As performed by the pilgrim, under guidance from authentic Guardia Civil guardian angel, Colonel Pablo Pedalo.

You will recall that we were outside the church in Nourray, and my Guardia Ángel Colonel Pedalo had sent the Translator Ángel to get the things we needed for the gourd repair. There were no badnages in the epicerie but the angel had found some black plastic electrical tape instead. Colonel Pedalo was not very happy with this, as he always used badnages, and maybe the Translator Ángel had gone in the epicerie speaking in tongues or something, and it wasn’t surprising he had come back without any badnages. It is not a pleasant spectacle when two angels have an argument outside a church. The Translator Ángel went off and sulked under the porch while Colonel Pedalo explained step by step how to do the gourd repair.

The definitive illustrated pilgrim’s guide to gourd repairs.

You will need:
1 bottle of Bordeaux rouge.
1 corkscrew
1 tube of glue
1 sharp knife
1 roll of badnage (or plastic electrical tape)

The method:
Uncork the wine and drink it. You will not want to carry the weight of it on your continuing walk, so drink as much as you can.

The cork is what you really need for the gourd repair, and that is what you purchased the wine for.

B). Carefully trim the cork so it fits exactly inside the neck of the gourd.

If it is a very sharp knife, don’t drink more wine at this stage.

Glue the cork into the lower half of the gourd.

C). Glue the upper half of the gourd to the cork.
Carefully wipe away all surplus glue from the surface of the gourd.

Drink some more wine now, as it is safe at this stage:
there is no more knife work to be done.

D). Bind the badnage (or electrical tape if you were unable to procure a badnage because you were speaking in tongues in the epicerie) around the gourd to support the adhesion of the joint.

E). Re-attach the gourd to your bourdon and dispose of the bottle. If you do this gourd repair in France, take care not to put the bottle in a rubbish bin. The little old lady with the annoying white poodle will always be there, and will come over to tell you it must go in the recycling bin. So carry the bottle for the next ten kilometres looking for one.  If in Spain, just throw the bottle in the middle of the road, or in someone’s garden, whatever the local custom.

Voila! The definitive illustrated pilgrim’s guide to gourd repairs.  These instructions can be found nowhere else on the Camino, not blu-tacked to the wall in Paddy and Reb’s place in Moratinos, nor on the Internet in any other website or blog,  Just here on the Virtual Pilgrimage.

It was once suggested that such instructions should be posted on the Santiago Pilgrims Forum but Australian pilgrims and South African pilgrims had different approaches to the American pilgrims.  A Taoist pilgrim suggested the gourd – if left alone in a room with the I Ching open at hexagram 23 –  would mend itself  but others said this was rubbish and the gourd should be pointed in the direction of Finisterre on a ley line.  The ensuing culture wars went on for five and a half months until thirty-seven members were blocked from commenting altogether and a forum moderator had a breakdown and admitted she’d written half the total posts on the forum over a twelve year period, using thirty-seven aliases. The subject of gourd repairs is now on the list of banned pilgrim topics, along with personal hygiene and Catholicism, as stated in the updated Forum Rules.

Footnote on the Bordeaux wine:
We used a Commanderie de Queyret 2003 for this; 7.50 Euros which may be a little more than you’d pay in Intermarché but the Translator Angel found it in a small epicerie in Nourray. Do feel free to experiment: anything with a vaguely Knights Templar association will help you get into the spirit of roadside gourd repairs on the Camino, so the precise choice of wine here is a descriptive, not a prescriptive part of the gourd repair procedure.


I did not see anything of Château-Renault. The gourd repair held up well. But the weather did not. The rest of the day was apocalyptic.  The rain came down in wheelbarrows full.  Just continual wheelbarrows full of water being poured over my head.  This is a temporary metaphor which I will return and re-draft later as it really doesn’t work, because you’d need to be lying on the ground to have wheelbarrows full of water poured over you; but it gives some idea how bad the weather was. So I raced through the town looking down at the water running through the streets, and hastened to reach the campsite on the far side of the drowned town before darkness fell.

My ángel de la guarda came hurrying out of a café in the main square, his tricorn patent leather Guardia Civil hat placed on his head at a jaunty angle and it was clear he had been on the Pastis. He said he’d fixed up the accommodation for me but it looked as though the person I needed to speak to was about to close up for the night, so I would have to hurry.  “Running!  You must do the running, señor peregrino!  You only have ten minutes.” He went back into the café. A child’s plastic doll with one leg floated along the gutter downhill towards the campsite, like a wheelbarrow without a wheel. Even the similes were drowning. Everything I had was wet and the water was squelching in my boots as I ran down the steep hill. Turning sharp right at the foot of the hill, following the sign, I found a very friendly lady just at the moment of locking the campsite office door for the night, but she was happy to open up again. The campsite was empty, she said. This was not camping weather.

“Did you know we have a gite d’étape?”  No I didn’t!  She gave me some clean sheets and the key to the gite d’etape  “It has ten places but is completely empty today.”

The gite was another few hundred metres along the road, by the gushing yellowy river, where an uprooted small tree was whizzing downstream in the floodwater. I shut the door of the gite and I was in the dry! I discovered a supply of logs, and kindling wood was already laid in the fireplace! So I spread out my clothes, tent, sleeping bag… everything, around the room to dry them, and enjoyed the luxury of a comfortable warm, and very cheap pilgrim refuge.  It had cost just €6.50 for the night and I had it all to myself. (Well, apart from my guardian angel who turned up much later, without the Translator Ángel, and was snoring in one of the side rooms all night, from which came a slight whiff of Pastis.)

This is pilgrimage: you go from the most horrible circumstances into a time of bliss, within five minutes. And the gourd was back in the game.

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