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Published: April 24th 2018
I was standing in the early morning sunshine at our camping site in deep conversation with the receptionist who was out listening to the birds whilst smoking her first cigarette of the day. She said how nice the morning was. How lovely the birdsong was? Did I know the Hirondelle? He was back. She described a black bird with a white chest. I had so many ideas but none were right. All of a sudden they appeared. Five or six of them perched on a beam in the shed. Swallows I told her were what we called them. They made such a noise swooping and diving catching insects. We stood for a while entranced in their every movement. Coulon is like that. It is enchanting in every way. I thought one swallow does not a summer make .
So how did we end up in Coulon? We had a plan as far as Nantes and then we lost the plot. Where could we take Gabby to next? We picked up the map, looked for somewhere green. Green always suggests open spaces, somewhere beautiful to call in to see. We stuck the pin in the map and Coulon popped up. A
week ago I was sitting in an Action Learning Set at work. Today a week later we were in the green Venice, A landscape flat as far as the eye could see punctuated by canals and waterways. It felt betwixt Spring and Summer. Gone were the Persian carpets of Spring flowers. They were replaced bright yellow buttercups, fields of golden oilseed rape.
Coulin looked pretty as we drove through. We found the aire 10 euros 90 a night. It was within reasonable walking distance of the town. The motorhomes were parked up higgledy piggledy so for some reason we decided to head out of town to the quieter more peaceful ACSI campsite.
So that is where you find us tonight. In a field almost on our own. We have the place to ourselves. It's a nice campsite, friendly reception , baguette and croissants available each morning and bucolic brown cows in the field next door. The farmer is ploughing his terroir. The soil is conker coloured and suggests that you can grow anything in the soil. The trees are greening up with young leaves. The cuckoo is driving us mad with his incessant monotone call. We sit in
the 28 degrees of sunshine enjoying a glass of wine listening to the ducks quacking on the canal. It is a rural idyll with houses lining the canal. They are not expensive to buy but one requirement is to be able to buy a boat and paddle it across the water.
Coulin is a pretty village bordering the canals, a place that reminds me of the south of France with its terracotta roof tiles, its pretty pastel shaded shutters. Its gardens full of wisteria dripping from the branches, clematis climbing over every available space and orange Californian poppies brightening every tiny space. What is there not to like and fall in love with, The town is as bucolic as its cows and its lazy canal system. In the centre is the obligatory French square lined with a café, a shop and a mellow sandstone church. We stop for glass of wine. We people watch. There is not much life going on. The boatmen on the canal tout for trade. Their boats take you upstream where you can enjoy their tales of the flora and fauna of the area.
We walk home along the canal , the fishermen are out. Lining the river banks, their rods dipping into the water, their keep nets waiting for their catch. Their wives and children sit on the riverbank enjoying their picnics. Others sit in their brightly coloured sheds reminiscent of beach huts back home. On the way home we buy an ice cream. Have you ever tasted Violetta ice cream? Me neither. Imagine an ice cream tasting of Parma Violets and you will get the idea just how lovely it was.
That ended a perfect day in the green Venis.
" I know the joy of the fishes in the river through my own joy as I go walking down the same river" Chuang Tzu .
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