A French graduate has relied on the hospitality of South Downs strangers for food and shelter while on a brave quest from France to Buckinghamshire on foot.
On February 25 Alexandre Martinez departed from his homes town, Cours-La Ville in Eastern France, to walk more than 800km to Winslow in North Buckinghamshire.
His arrival on May 9 will mark the anniversary of the Winslow Anglo French Twinning Association (WAFTA) that promotes Anglo French relations between the two communities.
“I walked 300 miles through France, then took a boat to Newhaven,” explained the 22-year-old. “I’ve now gone through the South Downs.”
Relying solely upon the kindness of residents, Mr Martinez has had the ambitious task of asking strangers if they can accommodate him for the night. Bill Shelton of Henfield and Poynings couple Carol Springgay and Spencer Chapman happily agreed.
Mrs Springgay said: “He calls it a humanity chain, in an attempt to blend the two cultures together.”
But the charity worker took a little convincing before inviting the tourist into her home.
“He was in the village shelter and told me about his project and that he needed a place to stay. At first it felt a bit cheeky, I wasn’t sure whether I could trust him, but after a conversation with my husband we made a judgement and agreed.
“We thoroughly enjoyed his company. We showed him Devil’s Dyke and gave him his first ever fish and chips.”
Grateful by the level of hospitality, Mr Martinez admitted that he does not fear for his safety in a foreign land.
“I wasn’t worried because in France a lot of people told me that the English were very friendly and people’s generosity has really shown me this.”
Mr Martinez’s exploits will continue into Horsham, which you can read about in next week’s edition.