What a shame! Last weekend, 5-6th November, was the second ‘Rendez-vous sur les chemins’ even in France. And I had no idea until a few minutes ago  when I browsed through one of Ruadhri’s Mon Quotidien magazines. But I will be on the alert for the 2012 rerun. The activities included guided walks, exhibitions and lectures.

The idea of these weekends is to encourage people to discover the ‘chemins’, the public footpaths and green lanes in their vicinity. There are a total of 1 million kilometres of them in France. The publicity refers to these as ‘trésors cachés’ – hidden treasures, and that is so true. We do a lot of cycling and walking as you know, and there is so much to see along these quiet pathways and tracks – trees, flowes, insects, birds, small animals, and even big animals. We often see deer and hares on our travels.

The event is organised by three nature protection groups – LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux); ASPAS (ASsociation pour la Protection des Animaux Sauvages)  and CPN (Connaître et Protéger la Nature) – Know and Protect Nature.  All three organisers are hoping to raise public awareness of the problems facing the pathways and surrounding hedgerows. These included overenthusiastic ‘fauchage’ (hedge cutting) by farmers which hamper pollinisation of wildflowers and slowly destroy the hedgerows, also pesticides, rubbish and tarring.

More about the three groups. First up ASPAS. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know it existed. Do check out the website. They have some brave and good intentions. I may well join next year. This year I’ve been a member of SEPOL, a Limousin based bird-protection group, and much as I’d love to support every charity, until my novels make it to bestseller status I have to be strict and stick to just one. At present ASPAS is running a petition to stop hunting on Sundays. I’ve signed since it’s decidedly dodgy to go for a walk or bike ride during the hunting season, and Sunday is the only day this possible. Saturdays are work days. We’ve had several near misses from lead shot and frankly it’s dangerous.  I’m not worried by the hunting clubs who hunt together, but it’s the short-sighted very old men wandering around with their guns who scare the heck out of me.

CPN is a child-orientated group. You can find out if there’s a club near you here. CPN in France is running a beetle watch programme this year. I’ve printed out the protocol and the report to fill in. Maybe Rors and I will go looking for beetles tomorrow.

LPO’s aim is to protect birds and their habitats. So many speicies seem to be threatened these days. There’s a fun birdsong identification game on their website here.

Good old Mon Quotidien. I’ve learned a lot by using its little snippet about ‘rendez-vous sur les chemins’ as the springboard for this blog post, and hopefully you have too!