Our pursuit of regional ruins continued yesterday with a visit to the Abbaye St-Félix-de-Montceau near Gigean. We were blessed with lovely weather - blue sky, tender warmth, and a cloudy view towards Montpellier.
To get there, you have to toil your way through the tedious lights of St Jean de Vedas which are designed to reduce your average speed to 20km/hr even on an empty Sunday, thus forcing you to actually look at the ghastly blots of mini-mall landscape.
Once in Gigean, you turn left to go through a merry new housing estate and past a donkey centre. My youngest had already been there with the school - they do days-out for kids parties where they take care of the animals, have rides, a picnic and visit the Abbey. The conclusion of my youngest was that the donkey part was not interesting, and the Abbey visit wasn't cool because they didn't spend long enough there, and couldn't explore.
So back we went yesterday to make a sufficient survey of the place in accordance with my youngest's demands. This amounted to playing hide-and-seek, careering off into the undergrowth and searching out potential weaponry.
The Abbey is being restored, although how successfully and how credibly, I'm not sure. It seemed that concrete slabs pretending to look like stone walls were being used, as were simulated stone pillars. It all looked a bit cheap and tacky and, in my opinion, did nothing to improve things at all. The ruin is quite magnificent as it is, and, apart from shoring up dodgy walls, would be best left in its original glory than defaced with good will but no skill (or money).
I insisted that we go for a trek up a track which had information panels describing the local rock, how old it was (160m yrs - take that, Creationists...) how it was formed, how the inhabitants changed the landscape, and so on. They provided a nice bit of useful education to help everyone enjoy the environment even more. Had we had our mountain bikes, we would have been able to use them as the track was very mountain-bike friendly, but my eldest's friend (the Boy Who Reads) doesn't have a functioning bike at the moment, so legs it was. I told him to get it fixed as then we could all go and have some healthy biking fun too.
Actually I met his dad on our way out. We stopped at his house so he could ask his dad if he could come with us, and of course I went and introduced myself. He was pleased that we were going to do something so suitable, so obviously thinks I'm a parent comme il faut, and that my eldest is a good influence. One tries...
My eldest is pretty resistant to most things I try and instil in him, especially culture. He has a set of topics of interest and beyond that, it has to be linked to a video game or a cool piece of pop to warrant notice. I was most amused to hear that one of his console games has classical music as the background - what a brilliant idea. They should do it more often. If it's in a game, it's cool, if I try and put classical music on the radio, it sucks.
I am aware, of course, that a mother's place is in the wrong, and that whatever I suggest will be greeted with derision even if it transpires that a good time is had by all. Still, this seems to have come on awfully early. He is only 12.
Anyway, everyone agreed that we'd had a great afternoon out, preceded by lunch at MacDo due to my apathy at the prospect of preparing food, and followed by watching the DVD 'Ghostrider' with Nicolas Cage. The boys were even happy to be tested on the geology learnt on our walk, during dinner.
I may be in the wrong, but I seem to be doing okay...
(for the moment)