The lights had snapped on without warning in the dormitory. I had been awake for an hour or two, serenaded by an orchestra of snoring, grunting and farting.
The Duck had not been awake.
“Pu**** de m****.” He greeted the artificial dawn. “You do this in France…you die.”
We walked the first half an hour guided by Stu’s head torch. We may have passed through the Garden of Eden – I don’t know. It was dark.
An hour down the road, after a fortifying breakfast of omelette sandwiches and milky coffee, our mood improved. Sunshine appeared. We walked together, even made conversation.
The Duck provided a running commentary on the flora and fauna that we passed on the farm-path. Seriously. Who knew? The Duck is a short, foul-mouthed, Basque version of David Attenborough. Together with Stuart ‘Bill Oddie’ Smith, it was a twitcher’s segment on Autumn Watch.
After the steep gradients of day one in the Pyrenees, this was much more the ticket. There may even have been a jaunty whistle or two.
His artistic side awakened by the sunshine and wildlife, the Duck produced a massive digital SLR and started taking stunning photos.
“Is there no end to your talents?” I asked.