Tuesday night

October 2, 2007

– after dinner on the good ship Mas de Agenais dans la canal at Buzet sur Baise

Potatoes roasted in duck fat (all polyunsaturated, naturellement) from the confit du canard, an extravaganza last night, straight from a tin! Damn, these people know how to put their goodies together. Beautiful, fresh vine ripened tomatoes, lettuce, fresh from some garden nearby and an unspeakably tasty sausage, bought from the supermarche in Agen.

We started the day by working though a series of three canal locks, passing over the highway and another river in the process. Quite apart from the engineering ingenuity, the beauty of it was eye watering. Then mile after mile of glorious quiet waterways, extraordinary old farmhouses with attached barns, most of them in very good nick but not overly concerned with getting the lines too straight – lots of sagging rooves and interesting angles – perfect in their inperfection. Hawks swooping upon the carrion rabbits and field mice – quite a menu below if you’re a hawk around these parts.

The very small town of Buzet sur Baise has a rather strange feel to it. Many of these towns are not quite the rural idyll that we conjure up. In fact, this town has a rather bedraggled, deserted and slightly desperate feel to it. The people do not seem happy – windows shuttered up, closed off, not much happening at all. I think they survive on the income from the tourist season which is now over. Not much of a life if you’re a teenager trying to find an identity or a future. The only option for anyone with some imagination would be to leave town. The charming 65 or 70ish woman running the bar in town however was the perfect model of our clichés. Ah! For some businesses, trade is never a problem in France.

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