Fertile soil

“Oh wow! Look at all the lovely wild strawberries!”

The garden was large – more of a field really- and just outside the back door there was a carpet of lush green plants with tiny red fruit speckled against the leaves.

My wife frowned at me as I picked a strawberry and popped it into my mouth. She shook her head as I offered her one.

“You can’t scavenge from other peoples gardens!” she hissed. I through the other strawberry into my mouth, and bit down on it; the sweet flesh exploded with flavour on my tongue. I didn't know what her problem was: it wasn’t as if the owner was around to complain. As my wife turned to go back into the house, I grabbed another handful.

It was the second house we were visiting with the Rat-like estate agent (the complete antithesis of J-P PB). This house was larger than the first one, but equally abandoned.

It had the look of the Adams Family about it.

I followed my wife and the Rat, back into the house and took the tour. It was an odd layout with corridors that led from one large room to another. I thought it had potential. Upstairs, in a huge room on the second floor, there was a washing line suspended between the walls; a pair of tights dangled from it. My wife exchanged looks with me and shivered.

In this property at least there were toilets. On the inside. Two of them, no less. Obviously a posh, modern, house.

Although the hamlet was larger than the previous one we had seen, we knew it was unlikely to be connected to mains drainage. In this part of France only towns of a moderate size, or larger, have mains drainage. I was slightly nervous about owning a house with an infamous fosse septique. I had seen Joe (our delightful host in the bed and breakfast we were staying in) poking his with a pole this morning, still managing a cheerful wave with the hand not poking whatever was causing the blockage.

“Ceci maison a une fosse septique?” my wife enquired of the Rat.

“Non, non,” he replied.

“Tout a l'égout?” my wife enquired. Mains drainage! That would be an advantage. Maybe, enough to overlook the tights.

“Tout a l'égout? Non!” the Rat replied, laughing.

We went downstairs puzzled. There was a toilet downstairs near the backdoor. I followed the pipe and discovered it went straight outside, into the garden. The end of the pipe hung over the lush strawberry patch.

My wife looked at the pipe, then looked at the strawberries, then looked at me; a smile doing battle with an expression of disgust on her face.

I felt ill.

No comments: