Salagon priory

The healing power of medieval austerity

Eighty yards west of the high terrace where I’ve sat for three weeks recuperating is a hospice built for Napoleon’s veterans. Solidly constructed high up in the south-facing cliff-face, it comprises a complex of walkways and balconies interconnected by precipitous staircases. It is easy to imagine the battered survivors of Leipzig and Borodino perched up there on those ledges exposing their sabre cuts and bullet wounds to Dr Sun. Which we’ve had plenty of lately. Sun-worshippers of an envious disposition look away now: the year so far has been almost cloudless. Every day the same pale blue horizon. Freezing nights, though. At sundown I ferry my collection of pot-grown cacti