Lost At Sea; French by Numbers; Culinary Capers..
Greg, our Best Man asked us if we think we will survive this trip and I must admit, I do wonder. Our caravan learning curve has certainly involved a lot of destruction, although Mark calling me clumsy is like the pot and the kettle. He came in from windsurfing looking a bit sheepish. “I just had to self-rescue…” he admitted. He had forgotten to screw his sail to his board, so when he gained a bit of speed, the whole rig had come away in his hand!
Rosie has developed incredible skill an escape artist.
We don’t always know how she is getting out, but she has perfected a disappearing act which does include jumping out of the windows, over the half-door and burrowing under the awning. I think the only caravan orifices through which she hasn’t escaped are the roof lights!
Our Dutch neighbours asked us if the dogs had been to training classes, because they were so well behaved. “Who do you hear us calling back the most often?” we asked them. “Row-see!” they replied. “She is the only one who went to training…!” we admitted – and her independent-mindedness was exactly why! Rosie has networked her own little social circle of dogs that she visits around the site, so we are getting better at finding her when she does escape. She is particularly fond of the two ladies on the hill with their sweet little Papillon, called Aloha.
Our neighbour, Francoise, has also taken to the dogs. She started doggie-sitting them for us so that we could windsurf together. She said they were very well behaved, but I think that this bout of good behaviour had a lot to do with the ‘saucisson’ with which she plied them! She has their characters taped. She said that Kai was ‘le plus calme’ and Lani was ‘la plus terrible’!!!! Our little minxy-munchkin terrible? Surely not!
During my windsurfing sessions, I seemed to end up racing the same French bloke most of the time. Then, one evening, my nemesis came over to the caravan to inspect my kit. He is quite a large man and brought with him the most minute Yorkshire terrier. It put me in mind of receiving a visit from Obelix and Dogmatix from the Asterix cartoons.
While it has covered visiting the vet, the fishmonger and a hardware store with mixed success, my French vocabulary doesn’t really encompass the technicalities of windsurfing. Nevertheless, we managed a perfectly gentile conversation – by numbers! We discussed our relative sail sizes; “Vous, sept-cinque. Moi, huite-six!” he told me; “You 7.5, me 8.6m!” Then board sizes; “Cent dix! – 110L” We decided in sign language that anything smaller might sink.
We mulled on the surprising width of my board “soixant-quinze! – 75cm!” Mon Dieu! We concurred that it was also quite short for the width. We agreed in mime that we had both been on the right kit for the conditions and that it had been a bit choppy, which was rough on the knees. Then, with a few more Gallic head nods and shrugs, he and his tiny dog departed.
I discovered later that this was Gilles – a great friend of the Seavets. I took him by surprise when I introduced myself later. He stays in Penthievre every year to windsurf. His tiny dog is called Atilla – his family name is something like Ahun, hence Atilla Ahun!
3rd August – Ha ha, we were “definitely leaving tomorrow, come what may.” Apart from full sun and 20kts of wind…! I un-cooked dinner again, cursing the slowness of the caravan oven when it took 1.5 hours to cook a pork fillet rather than 30 mins, even when I turned it up to full. I realised later that it was cooking so slowly, even on full, because the gas had run out!
4th August – Hit the Road Jack…“Don’t get lost at sea!” joked Francoise as she waved us off on our windsurfers, while deftly dishing out slices of saucisson to the hounds. “As if!” I quipped. I think, however, that Mark had planned revenge for my cooking; it was a perfect last windsurf session and I was so powered up that I left Mark for dead on one reach (he claims not to have noticed!) As the Captain of my ship, it was, of course, my responsibility to ensure that my vessel was seaworthy. Still, as Mark had said when his own sail came off in his hands, it is always good to keep up your self-rescue skills. As such, I should really thank him for not tightening up my UJ (Universal Joint – it connects the sail to the board), which meant that my sail and board parted company half a mile offshore!
Thankfully, I was under the watchful eye of Gilles and with some help from Mark, who eventually noticed that I was floundering in the water rather than overtaking him, managed to re-connect everything and sail safely back to land…
It was quite emotional leaving Penthievre. We had been here for 6 weeks in the end and it was beginning to feel like home! Gilles came along to wave us off along with our Dutch neighbours, who wouldn’t let us leave without having a last cup of coffee with them; they laughed and reminded us “You were leaving 3 weeks ago!” Francoise had a tear in her eye and the little dog Aloha came to kiss us goodbye with her 2 mums “a l’annee prochaine! – ‘til next year!” they all shouted as we drove away.
After losing my rig sailing last night, Gilles quipped in a grinning Gallic mime “Make sure that Mark has connected the caravan to the van…!”
It was just as well that I did check because Mark had forgotten to connect the ALKO – and no, that is not my intravenous drip of local wine – it is the anti-snake stabilising device!
Finally. Our road trip had hit the road!
To find out how the next stage of our road trip went spectacularly contrary to plan, check out my next blog…
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For details of the campsite and things to do in Quiberon, click on this link for a 30s Site Review – Camping Municipal, Penthievre, Brittany, France.
Seavets is the Senior and Veteran Windsurfing Club. Click here for more details on sociable windsurfing for the ‘not so young’.