We picked Benj up from University in Limoges on Tuesday and did some sightseeing. I blogged about our trip to the aquarium here.

Whilst wandering around the city, we came across several of these.

This is cockle shell and it makes one of the pligrim routes taken by St Jacques de Compostella. St Jacques is St James, one of the twelve apostles. Legend has it that he went to preach in Spain, but on his return was captured by the Romans and beheaded. Nothing daunted, he picked up his head, tucked it under his arm and walked back to Compostella where he then buried himself. A very self-sufficient, practical person was St James!

St Jacques’ symbol is the cockle shell, or scallop. There are a few explanations as to why. One is that these were found on the coastline of Finisterre, where he came ashore on his way to Spain. Another is that while he was being chased by Roman soldiers, he came to the banks of a river that was too wide for him to cross, even on horseback. The cockle shells rose up to the surface so that he could gallop across, and then sank again before the Romans got there.

It wasn’t for another eight hundred years that pilgrims began to visit his resting place. By the twelfth century around a million or so were coming each year. They came from all over Europe and were given a cockle shell to show that they had made the journey. (A trade in fake shells soon grew up, by the way!)

One of the pilgrim routes to Compostella, the way of Vézelay (Via Lemovincensis – the Latin name for Limoges), was used by pilgrims coming from north-eastern France, Belgium and Germany. Limoges was one of the most important pilgrim sites along the way. Gilded cockle shells mark the path through the city that the pilgrims took.

We also found these intriguing seed pods. The Avenue Albert Thomas is lined with the trees that drop them. We picked up a dozen or so. I want to get the seeds from some of them, and the more curly ones we’re going to paint as snakes for our Halloween tree. I’ve done some research and the tree is the honey locust – at least I’m 99.99% sure that’s what it is, although it could possibly be the black locust tree.

And to finish, a sock. Chris and I shared the driving to and from Limoges so when I was off duty I did some knitting and have got one of Caiti’s socks finished. Here it is, being size-checked before I shaped the toes.