Last year while travelling in France I was developing my usual cracked heels problem from sun and sandals (without socks!). Francine, having somehow managed to drag me into a sports shop, spotted some helpful looking shoes called Techamphibians by Salomon. They looked useful because they were a complete shoe, offering heel protection, but were made of a fine mesh which should be quite cool. Actually they were relatively high tech shoes supposedly designed for river guides, or some such: they contained no material that would absorb water; they had a Kevlar cable instead of laces; they allowed water to drain out of them. They were on sale. I bought a pair. My heals improved.
Another hot day was in the offing today – that is, after all, why we are here. Having sheltered once already in the Pyrenees, this time we decided to shelter in Les Montagnes Noires (the Black Mountains) a little north of Carcassonne. Les Montagnes Noires are the source of the water used to top up the Canal du Midi. The water is fed down via La Rigole, a purpose built small canal, which offers a shaded and very pleasant walking/cycling environment. We set off intending to visit La Prise d’Alzeau north of Saissac. This is where La Rigole begins its journey to the Canal du Midi.
We found a shaded picnic spot near a cute stone bridge about 3kms from La Prise and started a picnic before our wander. Pretty soon my baguette was interrupted when Francine spotted several splendidly colourful Beautiful Demoiselles flitting about near the bridge; sandwich instantly dropped in favour of camera.
I soon noticed that these delightful damselflies always sat directly facing the sun. That meant they were facing the opposite bank and showing me their backs. Despite a chunky lens, the opposite bank was too far away to afford a good shot. But wait, I was wearing these weird Salomon Techamphibians. They may not yet have been used by me for their intended purpose but these guys’ natural habitat is supposedly wading about in water and La Rigole isn’t very deep. I’ll go to reasonable extremes for nature and soon hitched up my shorts to take the plunge in search of better pictures. (Please excuse the rather ancient and garish shirt, it’s very fine silk and the coolest thing I own – temperature-wise, that is.)
I may have received a few strange looks from passing locals wondering what I was up to paddling around in their beloved La Rigole but it was great fun, cooling and very worthwhile. Their name undoubtedly sounds a little trite but what stunning insects Beautiful Demoiselles are.
I never dreamt I’d put Salomon’s Techamphibians to such good use. 🙂