Cram-Chaban is a commune in the Charente district of France. It is 30km inland from La Rochelle in an area best known for its marshes, canals and picturesque houses.
It has a rustic air of gentle decay where many people have dogs and chickens. As I cycled out of the village, my way was partly blocked by a farmer in a smart modern tractor talking to another wearing waist high waders that were held up by braces and clearly far too large for him.
The sun was warm and I wanted to know why he was wearing waders. Much to my frustration, my question was unanswered partly because he was too busy with his discussion and partly due to my lack of speaking French.
The winding road took me through gentle countryside where most of the arable fields had been cropped. However some maize and sunflower crops were still standing withered and dying, something else that puzzled me.
At my next village, I passed two tower windmills and came to the pharmacie where three people were talking and passing the time of day. Two girls ambled slowly past me carrying bagettes under their arms. On my way back I crossed a canal and a slow flowing river. As I entered Chaban from the opposite direction, dogs barked and chickens ran around in small paddocks clucking. Many houses had their shutters closed. Tomatoes were still growing and autumn flowers were out.
As I went into our cottage, a mouse scuttled out and it did not seem out of place here.