I'm off to Lille tomorrow and their annual Braderie . The whole city becomes a giant Flea Market , running nonstop from Saturday afternoon till Sunday evening . About a million visitors roll up in town , treasure-hunting their way through thousands of stalls and eating huge quantities of mussels to keep them going .
And Friend and I , not having had a Day Out for a while , thought we'd join them .
We took the precaution of booking an hotel room months ago and checking the booking this week , we've got stout shoes and layers of clothes , umbrellas and spare specs . Our train itinerary , tickets , sandwiches and passports for the journey . Maps and unflagging energy . And I've been before , three years ago with Smitonius , so even know how the Lille Metro works .
So why am I feeling about eleven again , baggy school uniform and all ?
Madame Colette , that's why . A ferocious little nun , who ruled the junior boarders with a rod of iron and no visible liking for children , she came from Lille . When I first went off to school at eleven , she terrified me and , if I'm honest , she'd probably still make me nervous now .
The fact that it's more than fifty years later and she's probably long gone doesn't quite convince me that a knuckle won't come cracking smartly down on my skull when I'm not expecting it !
Never mind , it's nothing that a good meal ( or three) won't cure . And who knows what we'll stagger back with ?
P.S. By the way , that's not me in that photo but some tiny camera-shy dot from a Dutch photo album from the '20s .