This is the first time I have made it to Camp Bestival on the Thursday. I usually send Pete and Small Boy down on Thursday to put up the tent and I arrive with the girls on Friday lunchtime having deposited the dogs at their Aunty Sue's for a holiday weekend. On Thursday our friend Grant cooks for everyone. I love it when someone else cooks so this year I was determined to get there on Thursday so I could sit back and eat his yummy food.
The lads got there before us and in past years Thursday has been very quiet. We are in Camping Plus so none of that fighting for pitch and waking up in the morning with someone else's tent pitched on top of yours with a head sticking in your bed room space. This is civilised. Or rather, it's meant to be. I did witness a couple of 'pitch wars' going on.
1. Where someone had their tent pegs and ropes in someone else's pitch. It's pretty clear, you pay £120 for a pitch that is outlined in thick white lines and you're meant to keep within the lines, that's your area for the weekend and you've paid for it. If your tent is bigger than the line you buy two pitches. This is what we do as we have a massive tent and it won't fit on - actually we buy two and Grant buys one so we have three next to each other so we can sort out the cooking stuff together. It really hacks other people off when they pitch their pegs and ropes on your territory.
2. Someone had pitched in the wrong pitch. A lady had booked two pitches together and was explaining to the bod that this tent was in the wrong place. He agreed but said he couldn't ask them to move (why not? They've pitched in the wrong place, flipping move it!) She explained, without raising her voice (not sure I'd be that calm) that she needed two pitches together as they were pitching with friends and sharing food/cooking stuff and couldn't do this on separate pitches. Not sure how this was resolved but 3 hours and 3 loads later she was still talking to bods (multiple appearing now) and still hadn't pitched her tent, it was now 6pm and I was feeling very sorry for her.
Anyway, our tent was up, Grant's tent was up, food out, Grant cooking, wine served, sorted. Posh new loos on site, with the words 'eco' friendly and 'no water systems'.....worried, I had reason to be. They lasted all of 10 minutes.
By 8pm Camping Plus must have been 80% full, we were parked where we parked last year arriving on Friday lunchtime and we got there at 2pm Thursday. The lads said they'd never seen it this full on a Thursday, the reason they arrived on Thursday is that it was empty with most people arriving Friday, not this year. The loos lasted until about 8pm then they broke leaving a 20 minutes queue and only 2 loos working for our bit of the site - joy!
Sitting under the stars with cocktails feeling smug that I'd packed the Bog in a Bag and allocating the area at the back of the tent the 'boy loo' zone we were sorted. All we needed to do now was yell at any kids who thought they'd try and scoot through our pitch - it's ours, we've paid for it, walk round you horrible lot, it's really rude to walk through someone else's pitch, etc oh, and I wouldn't walk there as that's the emergency loo? See what I mean, pitch wars.
Finally, Big Girl was left at home on her own for the first time ever as she wanted to come down on Friday by train with her friend Anastasia. On the basis that she's almost 17 and was very well behaved on holiday we agreed. This didn't get off to a good start when I had a phone call at 4pm to say that she'd forgotten to take her keys with her and she was locked out and currently at her Nanas.........OK so you're old enough and responsible enough to stay at home on your own are you?
I spent a long time last night being grumpy and cooking for 6 people for #campbestival today, one of them being a 17 year old coeliac friend of Big Girl who I only found out was coeliac a couple of days ago.
Last 24 hours before setting of to Camp Bestival @campbestival #campbestival, Pete's on his way to Go Outdoors to get last minute camping stuff and we haven't even thought about packing. Still finishing off unpacking from Kos last week so I have that to do before I can start cooking.
We didn't get up until almost lunchtime, none of us, Pete and I were up first at around 11am, children started surfacing from 11.30am, we were up until midnight last night on the dunes trying to see the Perseus meteor shower. As usual Pete saw some, so did small boy, I saw none, typical, however, the moon was full and very bright so it deadened the effect somewhat. The conversation went something like
Pete - oh there's one
Beverley - where?
Pete - over there
Beverley - where?
Pete - oh you missed it, oh there's another
Beverley - where?
Pete - oh you missed it
.....it gets boring after the first 20 minutes. Therefore we missed slack tide and no surfing was had.
Small boy and I did a quick reccy to the local Super U, very disappointing, nothing like E.Leclerc. On the way he asked me what the best thing about camping holidays was? So here goes, 9 year old boys top 5 'best things about camping in France':
1. The communal bbq - you get free food (that means, everyone takes nibbles and shares their food, so not quite free but from a 9 year old boy's perspective it is).
2. The communal bbq - you get to meet new people
3. The communal bbq - you get to make new friends as all the children are fetching and carrying supplies, food to be cooked and replenishing wine and beer for the parent who is cooking - usually the Dad.
4. The communal bbq - you cook yummy stuff and it tastes so much better as you eat it outside. Very true.
5. The communal bbq - you get to burn stuff - charcoal, pine cones, pine needles, wood, anything laying around the campsite.What is this bloke thing about fire?
You'll notice that there is no mention of great beach, freedom to charge around on your bike, 7 swimming pools to choose from, no, it's all about the communal bbq. Love it.
Big girl is well trained, it's 7.50pm and I have just uttered the immortal words 'I do not have a drink', immediately she retorts 'bloody English' followed by 'humph beer or wine?' she's lovely really.
Small boy's getting agitated as he wants to head up to the bbq for the evening social.....tonight it's salmon (no swordfish at the local fishmonger), mackerel and merguez.
When we eventually got moving this afternoon we had a very eventful afternoon on the beach. A large boat was dug out of the sand complete with oars, waves, seats and a labrador sitting in the back looking out. As we left we say a little girl, around 18 months old, walk up to the sand sculpture (wow that sounds posh... it wasn't) point to 'le chien', bend down and very gently stroke it much to her father's amusement, it was so sweet, obviously a little realistic too, I've not lost my artistic touch altogether. I must add that digging gigantic structures of out sand is usually left totally to me, maybe it's harking back to my childhood and growing up on Redcar beach but I do like to have a good grot about in the sand, big girl likes digging holes so we integrate our skills, this time it was a large boat with a very deep bilge pump.
Last day tomorrow before we head back up to the Loire on Monday, I'm going to miss the sea, it's beautiful here, miles of sandy beaches, a deep turquoise see with superb breakers and no houses or building to see due to the sand dunes fronting the beach being protected from development, beyond there are pine forests also protected and after that the houses start but from the beach all you can see for miles is beach and dunes, heavenly.
Crack of dawn this morning, we're on holiday so that means 7.30am, arrrgh, the alarm went off as big, medium and I had to be on the beach by 8.15 to get togged out in wetsuits ready for our first surf lesson of the holiday. Oh boy, this was bad, severe punishment for wanting to be cool surf chicks. I know I can't get up properly on a surf board, I'm totally brilliant at falling off and have got the art of falling off bottom first looking really stupid down to a fine art, but something in me still wants to be part of the surf culture. That elusive, trendy club, the ones when the the weather is really, really awful that are the only ones on the beach, albeit huddled in the surf shack trying to keep warm as it's way too dangerous to actually get near the waves. The ones that everyone looks up to when you're coming off the beach when everyone else is making their way down there, they know, they envy, they want to be part of the surf crowd that you know you are, even if you can't actually surf standing up. Sad, at my age, that I still want to be part of that club.
At 8.30 this morning the beach was empty, the sea deep sea green with pretty damned big breakers, why isn't it millpond like, I have some hope of standing up if it' s like a millpond, I don't actually want surf as that will make me look even more stupid. However the beach was amazing and I was part of the exclusive 'surf' club. So myself, medium and big girl (small boy had totally wussed out refusing even to get out of bed) don wetsuits, grab surf boards and head to the beach. This is about as good at it gets, the whole running down to the beach with the surf boards is when I look particularly cool, it's when I actually get to the damned sea that it starts to go radically pear shaped. The running with the surf board is fine, can I just walk up and down the beach with the board all day cos that way I'll look good and not make a total idiot of myself? No! Damn!
Into the sea to get wet, this I can do really well, it's the getting out and trying to get up onto the surf board that causes me the problems. Alex, our lovely instructor has a sense of humour, he's also got a Mum who's probably around my age and who knows Hawaii Five -O so when I jump onto the surfboard (on the beach you understand, can't do standing up on anything wet) and start doing the whole pretend surf thing, he immediately starts singing the theme tune, yes! I'm in heaven, the girls are disgusted, a. because he knows what the heck I was doing and b. because I do this at home on a Sunday evening when the theme tune is actually on Sky 1 and they think it's very sad then, never mind on the beach in the south of France when they're trying to be cool surf chicks and disown their Mum.
So 90 minutes later there is no surprise when I still can only make it to kneeling on the board, however, the girls can only get to the same stage so that makes me feel a little better, back to the caravan for hot showers before hitting the pool and my Eurotrash dance at 12.30pm, oooooh I love it, again, all children scarper quickly in case they get dragged into the pool to do this with me, heh heh heh love it.
Totally exhausted with 90 minutes falling off a surf board plus Eurotrash dancing and feel I have to collapse onto a sunlounger for a bit before getting act together to 'cherchez le supermarche' aka get my E.Leclerc fix. Oooh, now I really am on holiday, cuttlefish for 6 euros, huge slab of swordfish for 7 euros and sardines for tomorrow at 3 euros, this is what I call self catering in France. The cuttlefish were marinated in lime juice, chillies, olive oil and dried chillies, the sword fish cooked over the bbq in it's own juices and served with bbq'd bread drizzled with olive oil, smeared with garlic and fresh tomatoes and squeaky beans. Yum. Mustn't forget shedloads of red wine to wash it down. The communal bbqs are coming into their own, the couple next to us were cooking a huge slab of beef, probably 'bleu', wine was shared, crisps and olives were passed round. This what camping if France is all about.
You know the best thing about camping in France, apart from the food, the heat (28 degrees today), the fabulous beaches on the Atlantic coast and the fact that I'm now a surf chick, it's that you can live in a bikini 24/7, just putting a sweatshirt on at night, flipflops, no make up whatsoever and no one cares, no one recognises me cos they're mostly French so I can look a wreck and really not care. I was recognised twice in Camp Bestival, and that really was grunge camping, here we have hot showers and loos but it's brilliant, we've not even made it down to the bar yet for 'animations' at all, small boy has just fallen asleep on the sofa, the girls are washing up, I'm about to get challenged to a game of backgammon, the sun has gone down, the stars are out and it's tempting to go back to the beach to say goodnight to the sea. Just beware the squirrels throwing pine cones.