Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The world's first asparagus tourists

Tanya and I became the world’s first asparagus tourists this week. We’d been talking to Martine the honey lady who works next to us in the market and I, like the city dweller I used to be, confessed that I had never seen a field of asparagus growing. “Venez chez mois,” said Martine enthusiastically. And so we did.

After cake and watching her husband make the honey we headed to the asparagus field. You can imagine the anticipation. Richard Branson’s prospective moon tourists have nothing on us. Cameras and binoculars swinging around our necks, controlling our breathing lest the excitement got too much we prepared for the moment. Just what did a field of asparagus look like? And here’s the exclusive for all you city dwellers a field full of growing asparagus - admittedly one that has been allowed to go to seed - looks just like a Christmas tree farm. All that’s missing is the fairy lights.

On the subject of tourists when we arrived home from the market this morning we noticed a strange car parked under one of the olive trees. On further investigation we also discovered a pink kneed couple complete with picnic rug, camp chairs, and Tupperware pots. They waved cheerily at us, saluting our passage by raising their glasses full of wine and lounging back and enjoying the view.

Our view! (Sorry to sound possessive)

I unpacked our gear from the market hoping our guests would realise they were on private property and leave. But after half an hour they were still there recumbent and sated after their long lunch. I thought at this point I would politely go over and point out the no-entry sign swaying in the wind above their head.

“Vous êtes Anglais or Francais?” I asked

Judging from the confused expressions - although it could have easily have been the poverty of my French - I assumed they were English.

“Hello,” I said in as friendly a manner as I could, “I am afraid this is private property, would you mind moving on.”

“No problem,” the man added wiping sweat from his perspiring brow, “since you are English I don’t suppose you have email, I had my phone stolen this morning and need to cancel the contract.”

What could I do. I led them over to the house, installed them at our computer, consoled them about the loss of their phone and even offered them a glass of wine.

Half an hour later our post market lunch was burning in the oven, and our impromptu guests were still here. I poked my head around the door and found that far from cancelling a mobile they were instant messaging their relatives to arrange being picked up from the airport.

“Any chance of a top up?” they flushed.

It was 3.30 pm when they finally left, having caught up with their extended family all over the world. “Thanks ever so much” they waved as they bounced off down the road.

“And you wonder why tourists get a bad name.”

“Shameless,” agreed Tanya.

“I wouldn’t allow them on the asparagus tour,” I concluded.