Legends from our own lunchtimes

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Somewhere unpronouncable.
Tuesday 9th July - Amiens

They are called floating gardens, but really the only thing that was floating in the Hortillonnages was us, or more correctly the little boat in which we were sitting zoned out completely as the commentary, droning on in a mechanical and expressionless way in a language we barely understand was no doubt taking us through the marvellous history of this complex web of tiny canals and islands.

We’d read much of it before, of the centuries when it was one of the great “food baskets” of the region, of the fights to preserve it in the face of changing agricultural methods, and of the necessity to embrace some change to preserve the essence of the place for future generations.

It is curious and beautiful and there is still a smattering of market gardens among the weekenders and overgrown allotments and a museum which does its best to remind us that once, life here was hard, and the edges weren’t retained with timber, and the boats which are curiously shaped to allow them to be loaded from the banks didn’t always have electric outboard motors, but at the end of the day, it was a lovey hour spent on the water so who could ask for anything more?

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