A hotel in a small town at the foot of the Jura mountains, a small town just stretching over the frontier, a frontier that drew a line between domesticity at home and adventure abroad.

With Christmas over and the sparkling street lighting gathered in for the foreseeable future, the worst of the weather arrived. Snow warm enough to turn to sleet, sleet to rain, rain to fog, but still cold enough for ice underfoot and kerbs to be indistinguishable from gutters in the grey slush.

The Saturday morning market did brisk business, quite cheerily for the prevailing conditions and time of year. Every customer welcomed heartily, every purchase, whether of vegetables, fruit, hats, gloves, scarves, umbrellas, genuinely and warmly appreciated.

What was noticeable, in addition to the chatter of stall holders and customers, was the noise of the rain on canvas and the occasional sploosh and splash of a pool of water being displaced by a trader using a broom handle to relieve an awning bulging over the produce, the rushing of the culverted streams channelling snow melt under foot bridges, behind houses, under the roads. The sound of moving water saturated the air, echoed off the granite buildings.

Oysters were being sold from an occasional stall where the market was more open to the weather.

She wanted to try an oyster, not buy a dozen and of course her offer of one Euro was accepted for the single sample of the salty bivalve. She glooped it down with a shiver and turned to her companion with a familiarity born of intimacy.

“As if you needed an aphrodisiac after this morning’s performance.” he remarked.

“Every little helps.” she replied.