Caravan Envy, a National Identity Crisis, The Lollipop Ladies and Ships in the Sky!
11th August – We have worked our way up French rivers by way of importance; we have now hit the Loire! We arrived via countryside that still looked like Dorset and Hampshire, apart from the muscular white Charolais cattle shimmering in the sun!
We had another little reversing incident on the campsite. A few Dutch pulled up their pews to watch but we accounted for ourselves excellently. We had tried to secure a pitch right next to the Loire in what we realised too late was a caravan NO GO zone. (Note to self – ALWAYS WALK THE SITE & SCOPE OUT THE PITCH FIRST!)
To get out of our predicament we had to reverse back the way we had come, which was downhill and round a corner, avoiding the gable end of the toilet block roof by a whisker! The Dutch were very admiring of Mark’s driving skills and I detected some Caravan Envy of our beautiful caravan Kismet!
It was 3rd time lucky on the river walks. The Loire has definitely delivered! We walked along its meandering banks and the doggies had a cool off in its shallow, languid waters. We saw a kingfisher as we promenaded into town through a shady avenue of plane trees. We did a double take when we saw a boat crossing the town bridge! We went to investigate – and did our first ever traverse of an aqueduct. There is LOADS of walking and cycling here. I think we might stay here for a while.
Later, the doggies acted as a magnet to every child on the campsite! A multi-national contingent of rugrats turned up at our caravan, each licking a Smarties ice-cream. The posse included Elodie, who is bespectacled, quiet and permanently clad in a pink cycle helmet although not always accompanied by a bike. Tish was the ringleader and sported an ever-changing rainbow of lollipop stains around her mouth. The preponderance of colours from the red end of the spectrum led us to understand that berries and citrus were among her favourite flavours.
In Tish, you couldn’t hope to meet a lovelier child. She was polite and considerate enough to ask if she should take her entourage away while we set up. We said to come back in an hour and she was back 60 minutes later, to the second, with a few more friends… She wanted to know all about the dogs, including whether Rosie and Kai were lovers and could make babies! I said no and she asked “Il est castré?” – very worldly-wise. I don’t think that one needs any translation!
Tish had told us that one of the little girls was Dutch and didn’t understand French. We had been communicating with her in sign language for a few days before we discovered that she was, in fact, English! We met her family and they explained that as the whole sign language charade had continued, she had become too embarrassed to admit that she was English, so had just run with it! Although it seems, Tish had also told her that WE were Dutch… It would seem that our grasp of ‘the native language’ rather than ‘shouting loudly at foreigners’ marks us out straight away as ‘can’t possibly be English!’
The weather map of France looks like Channel 9; SCORCHIO! On Monday the mercury hit 37C. We stayed around the campsite and took the paddle boards on the river. We had all 4 dogs on the boards. There were some small rapids downstream. Of course, Mark had to go and shoot them! I saw him carrying the board back up, from which I surmised it hadn’t gone well… We took a leisurely paddle up to the aqueduct with the dogs.
We have a Californian lady in a retro caravan next to us. She towed it in with a beaten-up old Volvo. We have exchanged only the niceties of a first meeting, but in this short conversation, she still managed to muscle in the fact that “My other caravan is an Airstream but it’s too expensive to tow around Europe for months on end with my Mercedes.” I wonder if America is just more materialistic or whether our Bailey has once again provoked Caravan Envy. We didn’t enlighten her that what she was looking at was actually everything that we own in the whole world!
For a Site Review of Camping le Chevrette and Things to Do in and around Digoin, check out my 30s Site Review.
As we move onwards and upwards to the mountains, see how we avoided the Pains of Aix in Challes les Eaux!