As the past two months have gone by I have made a note on my phone of unusual things I wanted to write about in my second observations.
When we were in Straimont Belgium, a maternity bus pulled up outside the house we were at. It comes once a month to each village to allow pregnant ladies to be monitored and new babies to be weighed and vaccinated. I think it’s such an excellent idea.
We have noticed lots of these wooden structures everywhere and have not known what they are. We now realise they are insect hotels to house and help insects of all kinds. It’s so cool 😎 In Josselin near where we just finished our housesit they also had these sets of three boxes for bees in two different parts of the city.
Speed is controlled on roads in a village by a radar system informing you of your speed. It’s expected that you will slow down if you are going to fast. You get a red notification if too fast and a smiley face if you are going at the correct speed. We notice people do sometimes speed on the roads linking villages but seem to slow down within a village. I find this such a better system than trying to catch you speeding so you can be fined. Generally people observe the rules.
Another thing we have found unusual are how pedestrian crossings are handled. They are sacrosanct. The car will always stop. I have seen kids texting on their mobile phones not even looking up, stepping into the crossing.
I mentioned before that in Straimont we collected water from a stream into 5l bottles. This was because of the high calcium content of tap water. In Mahon they use tap water for cooking and in the kettle but buy bottled water to drink. I really didn’t like the taste, it left a very metallic taste in my mouth so we actually even used bottled water in the kettle. It cost 99 Euro cents for 6 bottles. I realised we drink a LOT of tea as we went through a lot of water. I would never have imagined Western Europe would not have drinkable tap water.
Each little French village (and there are so many, within a few kilometres of each other) have a Marie (mayor), a lovely old church and often a memorial to soldiers killed in WW1. I found this last fact so very sad.
Le chausse is the hunt and it happens sometimes at a particular time of year, sometimes all year round in the forests. One often hears gunshots on a Sunday in the country. This happened every Sunday in Salies in October. I hate hunting, whether it’s for foxes, rabbits, deer or boar. It was a big thing in Mahon, especially on one road that went between two big stretches of forest. We would see at least ten cars and horse boxes pulled over and I took this shot from the car showing the guy in full regalia with his bugle and dog. It seemed to happen often. People are either supportive of it or hate it. People get shot by mistake every year during the hunt.
We have been caught out many times wanting lunch and suddenly realise it’s 130pm and it is too late. We perhaps start the day too late, (we have never been super early risers), it has been winter, and after walking the dog, if we then go exploring and want lunch we are stuck 😢 France has this strict lunch only policy between 12 and 2. This often means you also can’t get in at 130 as it’s too late. Many shops, the post office, the bank also follow this same policy of closing. Sundays (always) and sometimes on Mondays most places are also closed. Restaurants (those that are open in the winter, which is probably about 1/4 or 1/3 of them) then only open at 7pm for dinner. We have found this all frustrating. This can be different in the much bigger cities.
On our greeting everyone “Bonjour” whilst walking, I think 98% of everyone has greeted us back. We have had to muddle through with our French at the post office or in a restaurant or grocery store and have coped fine.
We have noticed these lovely glass structures for growing plants in many places of Josselin. The reflection of the sunlight off the glass must create warmth and more light.
As I said before eating out is expensive, especially for wine or beer. But the plat de jouer “lunch of the day “ can be of great value. We have made a note of a number of items and their cost and will compare them in France, Albania, North Macedonia and Ireland or the UK. The screenshot below shows the 12.40 EUR lunch time daily choice.
Adu says French women are very chic and smart. He’s right and they are generally thin. We also notice them exercising a lot – so many people walking on the canals.
We have not seen a single pothole. There are often workman working on roads and sometimes we will see diversions on the highway. In Brittany there are no tolls on the highway as no alternative exists.
We thought these men in their gum boots playing golf were very funny. I guess so much mud around.
We are still really enjoying our slow explore. Spring is definitely in the air with so many daffodils around the lovely fields of Mahon. We have spent one night in Nantes and have noticed even more magnolias and blossom. This grafted tree caught my eye with its beautiful two colours.