Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Through a local lens No. 7

Good pedigree, I suppose. In 1889 Gustav Eiffel, he of the Eiffel Tower, put his name - or that of his studio - to this railway bridge. Before they closed the railway some 25 years ago, this bridge carried it over the river Jaur. Devoid of its rails, it now forms one of the most spectacular parts of the 40-mile trail for cyclists, walkers or horse riders into which the old line has been converted. A mile or so further on it passes the foot of our garden.

If you don't have much of a head for heights you really have to steel yourself to walk across it. What horses feel about it I don't know, but I shouldn't care to be crossing it on a bucking and plunging horse suddenly seized with vertigo.

In its heyday this line carried the then famous Lamalou Express. This was a direct rail link between Paris and Lamalou les Bains, a thermal spa not very far from here. In Lamalou there are natural hot mud springs supposedly good for all sorts of ailments. Initially the springs were particularly recommended for venereal diseases. The artist Toulouse Lautrec, supposedly afflicted, bought a house nearby so that he could conveniently drop in as the need arose. History does not relate who, and in what circumstances, first found the mud to be beneficial. One can only wonder.

Lamalou prospered enormously, even to the extent of building a casino for the afflicted. It's still quite a prosperous little place, and the regional centre for physiotherapy has now grown up rounds the springs. For a long time it was rumoured that the Italian mafia sent its wounded there for rehabilitation. If you came across a swarthy man with his arm in a sling operating a casino fruit machine, you might legitimately wonder which was the one-arm bandit.


Dave said...

Oh dear! You have become Rog, writing an entire post just to build up to a pun.

Z said...

Dave said that to distract himself from the sight of the bridge, which was making him dizzy.

Dave said...

That is also true.

Tenon_Saw said...

Great picture. I'd avoid the horse scenario too.

letouttoplay said...

I think the best way to deal with the crossing of that bridge would be to avoid getting to it.
On hands and knees and blindfolded would be another possibility and the blindfolding bit might work for horses too.
However, it looks very pretty from a safe distance. (Except that the place from which your photo was taken seems to be even higher than the bridge).

Christopher said...

Dave: What I'm not clear about is whether a pun of mine or a pun of Rog's would hit the ground first, assuming that, overcome with vertigo, they both threw themselves off the bridge simultaneously. Can you advise?

Z: It's Dave's centre of gravity again. You were lucky to get that wall finished.

T-S: Goodness. Welcome back! I very much feared a diminuendo al niente. (Psst: the local tourist board took the upper photo, but don't tell anyone.)

Mig: Absolutely. I don't think blinkers would do the trick, either. While she was still with us (well, it would have to have been, wouldn't it?) I tried to take our golden retriever Bellamy with us across the bridge, but she wasn't having it, partly because you could then see down through the gaps in the ironwork. They've closed them now.

Rosie said...

Makes me ill just looking at it.

Christopher said...

I'm sorry, Rosie. Next time in this series I'll post a photo of a hole in the ground.

(I'm told I left out some parts of that olive recipe, i.e. brine in the proportion of 1kg of salt to 10 litres of water, and two goodly sprigs of thyme. Hope over-close attention to the original misleading recipe didn't make you sick too.)

Tenon_Saw said...

If I do not comment it does not mean I am not lurking!