I had to get five hundred grammes of minced beef because it’s hamburger day today. I parked in the Carrefour Market car park and set off into a part of Amboise that I don’t know very well for a walk before doing the shopping.

The area is a labyrinthine mix of 1950s semi-detached houses and, I would guess, 1970s apartment blocks. The streets are narrow and poorly maintained (road maintenance in Amboise leaves much to be desired). Everything is a little run down and the houses are mostly occupied by elderly people. The apartments blocks are being re-clad with insulation and so some of them look brand-spanking new. In a stark contrast to the area where I live there are people in the street walking about and talking to each other or doing odd jobs in their little gardens. There’s a real sense of community which is very pleasant. I can’t remember the last time I actually had the occasion to look my immediate neighbours in the eye or even say hello. Not that that really bothers me.

I took the fifteen minute picture as I was leaving this idiosyncratic little neighbourhood and the houses were fewer and farther between. Numbers 22 and 24 of François Clouet Street don’t really look inhabited. They are troglodyte dwellings of the kind that are very common in this region and that are being abandoned as people favour the ubiquitous breeze block construction. I can’t say I blame them. Who wouldn’t prefer nice clean plasterboard walls and central heating to cold bare humid rock and limited daylight?

The Carrefour Market butcher was chewing the fat with an old lady when I arrived. She’s obviously a regular. And the butcher, like many of his kind, was a comedian. Five hundred kilos of minced beef! Of course sir, coming right up!

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