Hibernating fleas

Sunday morning early starts are over for the year. Last Sunday was the final pre-dawn break for the border two hours before the Shipping Forecast.

The last Vide Grenier or Puce (empty attic or flea market) might more appropriately have been called a Vide Van Blanc as most of the stalls were set up alongside white Renault boxes.

The route to market crossed the bridge that straddles the German/French border at Breisach. There is no border post, in its place there is an Erotic Kino and a cigarette shop. The quality of the neighbourhood is lowered by the third establishment, the devil’s restaurant. There are picnic seats here beside the Rhine and the breeze blows the tumbleweed of McDonald’s paper bags and polystyrene cups along the towpath. I do not understood why people throw away the tastiest and most nutritious part of their tea.

The area around this border crossing is unloved and used mainly as a lorry park, but someone has signed their name on the bridge.graffiti

The border is marked by a tiny metal plate etched “D/F” set into the pavement and by a single rusting lock fastened to the railings by “Norbert & Helma”.

Love lock

Love lock

The drive south to the market at Uffheim was easy and quiet, there was a stretch where the forest came close against the road, here it is always wise to ease off, particularly at night and into the dawn. My headlights picked out LED eyes but the animal vanished before I could tell if it was boar, deer or badger. The statistics for collisions with animals in Germany are very high with the population of wild boar in particular being out of control.

Prices at the last market of the year were steep and there was little if any appetite for bargaining. I would like to see some of the Antique Roadtrip’s dealers trying to chip a Euro off some of the prices of these stallholders.

As the day lit up and the torches were put away the reason for the high prices became clear. With the market being only 10 km from Switzerland many Swiss buyers and dealers had leaked out across the border.

In the dark I had heard some Swiss accents but in daylight the Swiss uniforms were obvious. Expensive shoes and clothes, sharp black coats or jackets and always the meticulously knotted scarves. Many years of practice and lessons from my German fashion adviser have failed to teach me how to tie a scarf. I still look like a football hooligan or how I looked as a child when my scarf was hastily knotted by my mother and I wriggled to get out of the house without being fussed into wearing such a mad item of clothing.

Coffee and croissants fuelled the first hours of the market before the wood fired barbecues were lit and a final spicy smokey Merguez sausage baguette of the year was my treat for the drive home.

West German stools

Plastic stools – one for each side of the park.

I set off home from the market with 2 plastic stools marked “Western Germany” that I don’t need. Such is the nature of my addiction. But this madness is now over for another year. Now that the fleas have hibernated I can set up the fly tying bench for the long winter nights and on Sunday mornings lie in and listen to the Shipping Forecast.

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