A variation on 'over the hedge', 'through the gate' is pictured in rural France, not a million miles from St.Sauveur en Puisaye in The Yonne. Here there are still a goodly number of aging tractors doing sterling service. This little group comprising a Grey Fergie, Nuffield and a little International nestle behind the gate. There appears to be a plough of the 'towed' variety there too along with the obligatory but thoroughly modern wheelbarrow. All it needs to complete the scene is a blue-jacketed farm worker with a Gauloises drooping from the bottom lip. He will have come to work on his heavily abused Mobylette moped via the village café where breakfast probably meant a strong black coffee and a small glass of chilled red wine. As a treat there might be a tartine, but not if madame at home has any say in the matter, for this stuff costs money and it's still quite poor in the northern Yonne. Situated roughly mid-way between Sancerre and Chablis the area is known for its pottery and clay products although the local brickworks closed some time ago, it still sustains a commercial ceramics factory. Agriculture prevails here with viniculture taking over some forty miles to the south west or north east. The long straight road that leads to Auxerre almost smells of the Romans as it drives arrow-straight for kilometres whilst meandering tracks to left and right offer the most charming diversions through farm, village and hamlet. Here an old lady in the uniform of flowery pinafore and ankle boots, there a knot of elderly men with their large flat caps discoursing beneath a Plane tree - the place is timeless. Very occasionally these days we see a heavily laden 'deux chevaux', its portly driver transporting his seed potatoes or a few chickens, arm nonchalently out of the window and pipe smoking vigorously.
And all this, just 'through the gate'.