Valentine and Rubbish Bins (A walk in France)


A poubelle in French isn’t as romantic as it sounds. Even the week leading up to Saint Valentine’s Day doesn’t change the actual translation of poubelle as rubbish bin. As such, a call for a walk to the poubelles should not really hold any interest for me or anyone else.  It’s mid February and we have just weathered a week of storms and although admittedly the UK took the brunt of them, here in France they were strong enough to dislodge some slates on the roof and cause a small leak. And yet despite the storms the garden is starting to come to life. Daffodils, camellia, dwarf irises, snowdrops and hellebores are all in flower and this morning was actually dry. Dry in the sense that it wasn’t actually raining rather than dry with nothing dripping or mud everywhere but a suggestion of a walk to the poubelles made a lot of sense.  First of all it’s a nice 5km stroll. If we swing right out of the gate (that’s the imaginary gate that I have resisted installing for the last 5 years) and up the hill, the road is pretty much traffic free. Almost at the top we pass by the farm and have a brief conversation with the farmers. Wow. I swear that Gilbert (pronounced with a soft G) has ramped up his accent. I convince myself that it’s this and not my French vocabulary that causes problems for me. His brother Patrick is less garrulous but easier to understand. It’s a shame that the combinations aren’t reversed.

Anyway onward to the top of the hill and the road runs along a ridge with views for miles in each direction.  Absolutely stunning in any weather. A little further along we spot an anomaly that I for one had never noticed before in spite of the fact that I have  traversed this route dozens of times. Tucked in between a ditch and a bank is an area that is totally overgrown with brambles but look carefully and you can just about make out a shape that with a little imagination you can see was once a house.  Now how long would it take for a house to fall to the ground and become totally overgrown. Fifty, a hundred, two hundred years? The obvious solution would be to ask our friends but remember the guttural French cum Breton accent. A shrug of the shoulders shows a lack of interest in its history. It’s a hard life farming in these parts and if a question doesn’t relate to the animals or the crops it seems to be irrelevant. It’s a shame that local history seems to be of such little interest. These parts have been inhabited for centuries. Just two kilometers further on there is the site of a Roman motte and bailey fort and there are still menhirs, ancient standing stones, in many of the fields. Roman roads criss cross the area but these times are long gone. I was once told, ‘Ignore history at your peril.’  A lesson,perhaps, for the Brexiteers. We return home just before the next rain sweeps across. Time for coffee and a treat.

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