Whenever I read a regular post by someone from Brittany, I am immediately taken back several years, when I met two men from that region. I had been staying with a friend in the fabulous Villefranche-sur-mer, on the southern French Coast, when she suggested we visit some nearby gardens she had spotted in a tourist magazine. Hanbury Gardens. Old, and of historic interest. The images looked beautiful, so I said “why not?” and we planned our trip for the next day, Saturday.
Me on left, all ready to go.
The gardens were just a train stop away in Ventimiglia, on the border of Italy, and some distance from the town. We needed to take a Rivera Transport bus from Via Cavour to get there. Just a short walk from the station, so that was good. Luckily we made the next bus, as there was an hour or more between each one. We travelled up the hill on the coast, and soon reached our destination. We paid our fee and entered, moving towards the sea as we walked through the gardens.
The Hanbury gardens were slightly haphazard, and a little scruffy I thought, and many of the plots needed weeding. So different from the trimmed boxed hedges and pebbled paths reminiscent of French gardens. Though, I rather liked the seemingly casualness of the plantings, and enjoyed strolling around the old buildings. There were many species of exotic plants and trees, and as it was Spring, we loved the masses of flowering plants and abundance of purple wisteria. We spent a good while exploring, and soon lost our sense of time. And when we did look at our watches, we scampered for the road, in case we missed the bus.
I agreed to wait at the bus stop outside the entrance, while my friend crossed the road to wait at the stop opposite. We could go either way, towards Nice, or go back to the Ventimiglia stop. We had been waiting for a while, when two men exited the gardens and walked towards me. We said ‘hi’ and had a wee chat about how lovely the gardens were. They were from Brittany. Aged fifty, or less, I guessed, and watched them walk to their vehicle. OMG. they were in a steel grey Maserati sports.
Then the man I’d spoken with walked back to me, while the other guy drove up in the car. “Do you need a ride home?” he asked. “We could fit you in”. I pointed to my friend opposite explaining we were together. “Ah, a shame,” he said, “I’m sure that we would have had a lovely time”. My friend was gesticulating madly for me to join her. “I was worried that you were going with them,” she said. I laughed. I said, “At sixty seven, I think I know how to take care of myself.” But, leaving the men from Brittany aside, I would have loved to have driven their car.
PS. We ended up walking an hour back down the hill to the Ventimiglia Station. The bus never showed up.