Monday, July 14, 2008

Camp sights: Part One

I have just come back from ten wonderful days in Ramatuelle with two of my children. We did hardly anything at all except sleep, read and sunbathe and it was perfect – well, almost.

I’ve never been camping with my children before. If we ever went on holiday, it was with my husband and he did all the booking, organising and driving. I am quite proud, therefore, that I managed to do all these things by myself and only got lost a teeny weeny bit at the end – hardly anything at all really; I just missed the turning for the campsite on the route des plages and had to do a nifty U-turn in a vineyard. No problem.

We stayed in a bungalow toilé. This was not some grotesque parody of English suburbia as I had first imagined, but a glorified furnished tent full of zips: the cupboards were zipped, the bedrooms were zipped, the windows were zipped, the door was zipped…Forget the sweet, soft chirping of crickets at dusk - every evening at bedtime, the air fairly resonated with the sound of zips.

The showers were great, which was a good job, since my two girls had refused to leave home without at least three kilos of make-up and toiletries – each. The loos, on the other hand, were Turkish. These holes in the ground have always inspired in me fear and loathing: what if I slip and get my foot stuck? What if I overbalance? It has not happened so far although the last one I frequented had a rather aggressive automatic flushing system which took me by surprise because I hadn’t quite finished…

There were a lot of Dutch and German people at the campsite, all tall with headfuls of gleaming Boris-Johnson hair. Our immediate neighbours - a blonde couple with two blonde, well-behaved children - provided us with fine examples of Teutonic discipline. When we staggered out of our bungalow at midday, bleary eyed and dishevelled, they had already left (at dawn) to visit some interesting, historical monument. They had prepared a healthy picnic and never forgot their sun block. I know this because I once got up very early to go to the loo and saw these items neatly aligned on their table. Our own table was strewn with the debris of the previous evening’s meal (cheese rind, gobs of pickle, apple cores and crisps) and our beach towels were hanging off the backs of the chairs rather than neatly pegged on the clothes horse provided. They also aligned their shoes on the terrace and I never once heard them yell ‘Where the *µ@% is my other flip-flop?’ as we did quite often.

It was a ‘family campsite’ which is a euphemism for ‘very noisy’. On most evenings, an animation was provided. We never went to any of these – we didn’t need to because we could hear everything from the comfort of our own beds. On the first night, an extremely irritating ventriloquist with a stupid voice kept us awake until half past eleven (I would have told him just where he could throw his voice but I am far too polite). The following evening, we were regaled with a couple of slightly out-of-tune guitarists who were obviously having a bit of plectrum trouble and a few nights later, a magician - who sounded suspiciously like the ventriloquist – performed an act which seemed to consist in shouting ‘Are you having fun, children?’ every five minutes to a worryingly silent audience.

Of course, it wasn’t really proper camping but it was bucolic enough for my tastes. I bravely squashed a huge spider with my shoe but I am ashamed to admit that when a giant cricket found its way into my children’s bedroom one night, I was unable to come to the rescue. Once more, it was my fearless daughter, Rachel, who found the courage to dispose of it (after suffocating it with fly spray) while I trembled in my own safely-zipped-up room like the despicable coward I am.

To be continued…


N said...

This sound like... (real camping?) fun!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, like all of them. Bravo !