Monday 17th September 2018
In readiness of the return of Mrs P and having spruced Gandalf up, I rise early and do some washing.
While waiting for various wash and dry cycles I sit and watch as the campsite awakens and ponder on the peculiarities of campsites in general.
A campsite is a microcosm of any street, in any European town but with a more international, though not terribly diverse, population. The turnover of residents may be much higher but, as in any town, people come and go during the day, new people arrive, others leave etc. There are notable differences however, these are particularly apparent at certain points of anyone’s visit and none more so than the process of arrival.
Those who go camping will instantly recognise the dance. Those who don’t may find the following explanation of use.
The Arrival dance:
Everybody does this. Don’t deny it. You do it too. Mrs P and I used to be convinced it was just us but, no. Close observation over many years proves that it is not just customary but compulsory. The Arrivals Dance is performed by everyone on arrival and is preceded only by the visit to reception. We have noticed that the most intricate arrivals dances are often performed by couples but often there are multiple partners in the dance with numbers comprising anything from a lone backpacker or cyclist to a family of 5 or more with a car, caravan, camper, tent, dog or dogs, etc. The dance starts with the lookaround. This is a compulsory section and is performed either on foot or from a vehicle. This depends much on the site layout and size.
So, ladies and gentleman. Please take your partners for the Arrivals dance…
The Lookaround– Take your partner(s) by the hand (steering, wheel, handlebars etc.)…
Drive or walk around the whole campsite pointing at pitches that look ‘suitable.’ Observe pitches, vans, tents, bikes etc. suggesting that they are:
- not as good as yours
- ridiculously large
- taking up too much space – don’t go next to them
- Look noisy
- Look like – using information gathered from items around their site only, for they are not home – they might be noisy
- Too many children
- Too many teenagers
- Too close to the playground
- Too close to the toilets/showers/bar
- Too far from the toilets/showers/bar
- Not flat enough
- Not big enough
- Too big
- Not enough sun
- Too much sun
- Too windy
- Lacking a feng-shui balance
This part of the dance can go on for some considerable time with times of 30 minutes not being uncommon. The lookaround includes technical interludes where the partners, one or more, may alight their vehicles/modes of transport to make a closer inspection of a potential site. Often one partner will stay in the vehicle while the other ‘walks the site.’ This is a free style section of the dance and can be anything from standing and staring from a fixed point , to walking backwards and forwards across the ground, looking at, views, shade, sun and, of course, having a good old nose at the neighbours. It is worthy of note that a call of; “This one is no good.” Shouted from the prone position, head to the ground in an attempt to act like a human spirit level, is often actually code for. “Neighbours look dodgy dear.” And the dance continues.
The Thiswilldo: After a minimum of 20 minutes, all parties involved in the dance will take their partners for the Thiswilldo (pr: this’l-do). The Thiswilldo almost always involves returning to the very first pitch you looked at 20 long minutes ago, and deciding that it is just about the best site available. As with the lookaround this part of the dance is often accompanied by technical moves (known as ‘dithers’) examples of which are the; “maybe that other one we saw would be better?” and the “Shall we move?” and who can forget the somewhat over used, “Is it very slightly flatter over there?” Each dither gains the participants additional points from the ‘judges’. Judges are made up of every single person on the campsite who is not otherwise engaged. This is usually everyone because campers just love to watch the new folk arrive.
Now, there are way too many parts to this dance to cover in one blog so, tune in tomorrow for the next part which starts with the campsetup and leads through the howmuchstuff! Ending in the finale of putthekettleon
on a different subject, I can smell cheese and hear my wallet quietly sobbing. I must therefore be in Switzerland. This is because I’m editing this blog entry from a coffee shop in the arrivals lounge at Geneva Airport and it is just about time to go fetch Mrs P. So, must dash… more tomorrow.