Saturday 22nd – Monday 24th September 2018
It’s 09.11hrs and I really fancy a coffee with my breakfast part deux, pain au chocolat. “Well, have a coffee then.” Says Mrs P. But, no. That way lies madness. Every sane (and most of them aren’t because they drink too much of the stuff) coffee drinker knows that there is only one, at most 2 coffee opportunities in a day and the first is never before 10.30 or, in extremis, 10 am, regardless of how early one rises. Any more than this and you have to go to regular, clandestine meetings where you shamefacedly introduce yourself as follows:
“My name is [insert pseudonym to avoid embarrassment]and I am a caffeine addict.”
So, another hour at best. Chamomile tea and pain au chocolat it is.
I have been a bit lax in writing the blog of late mostly because we have been doing very little except washing clothes and resting after our jaunt up the Gran Paradiso.
There has been much discussion about what to do next. We have been thoroughly enjoying the snowy mountains but not so many of those on our list (we have a list!?) are available now as the huts are closing. Serious consideration was given to returning to Switzerland to climb the Weissmies but a combination of poor weather forecasts and the idea of retracing our steps put us off. It looks therefore like the Gran Paradiso may be our final snowy peak of the season.
This has left a feeling of slight melancholy over our campsite but, never say never, the Ecrins region (Maritime Alps) is only 3 hours south. The huts may still be closed but there are still winter rooms or that delightful of pastimes, the bivvy.
In the meantime we have spent two days at the lovely village of La Salle, not far from Courmayeur, in Italy.
Staying at the Camping international Mont Blanc campsite. Expensive but great views of Mont Blanc, access to washing facilities and hot! Unseasonably hot 28 degrees c. Lovely.
CAMPSITE MUSINGS PART DEUX:
The site is pretty much empty. In fact, Mrs P, Gandalf and I are the only non-static caravan dweller inhabitants. There is a serious lack of entertainment usually to be had in watching new arrivals performing the second, and longest part of the campsite dance.
Having wasted an hour or so on the arrivals dance (see day 65 for further info) our new arrivals partake a well deserved cup of tea/coffee before embarking on the highly intricate and energetic setup dance. There are many versions of this dance dependant on the mode de camping (tent, caravan, mobile home etc). Too many to go into detail here so I will attempt to cover only that most intricate of forms, that performed by the family of 4 (parents, 2 children, 1 dog) in a caravan all set for a week in the great outdoors.
Imagine if you will a family saloon towing a fairly standard sized caravan. They have performed part 1 of the dance; the arrival, and the tea break is at an end. The caravan is carefully placed at the extreme back of their allocated site. “Great,” I hear you say, “job done.” But, no. Far from job done. The head of the family, let’s call him Gunter, (this is not racist. He could equally be called Boris, Pierre, Manuel etc. I just like the name Gunter) stands in the doorway and surveys his new realm. ‘Quite a long step down.’ He thinks. Gunter installs a step to prevent anyone over exerting themselves getting in or out of their new holiday home. ‘Hmmm, don’t like the look of that grass down there. Bit dirty.’ Gunter, with the help of Mrs Gunter, pegs out a carpet/groundsheet of similar footprint/dimensions to the caravan. ‘Now, we can’t have this carpet getting wet,’ he thinks. ‘That would defeat the object.’ Up and over this groundsheet is erected an awning ably hindered at every step by the youngest member of the family. From no-where a full sized fridge appears along with a microwave and other kitchen appliances to fill the void that was the interior of the awning. This step always amazes me because I thought caravans already had all that stuff as standard. Inflatable crocodiles, paddle-boards and washing lines are also scattered around the site for good measure along with an assortment of bicycles. 2/3rds if the site is now fully occupied.
Arrives the sullen teenager, let’s call him Kevin (TV fans of the 1990’s will get the analogy) reminding his father that;
“…there is no way, right, that I am, like, sharing that thing with you.”
and moodily storms off.
In response to this the pop-up tent is taken from the car and battled into position with the loss of only dignity as it almost flies off in the breeze in search of a more spacious views.
While this is happening Mrs Gunter is setting up the table and chairs. ‘Too nice to sit inside.’ She thinks and sensibly sets it all up outside the caravan and, of course, outside the awning. Table, chairs, occasional table, pot plant, toys for the youngest. Multiple electrical cables for young Kevin and the BBQ ready for later (how many cooking options!?). She also carefully places a door mat outside the awning so that no dirt gets inside.
I have seen families take a whole day doing this part of the dance. I think they enjoy it as much as the holiday itself.
Anyway, all is in readiness for the holiday to begin. Nope. Not quite. Gunter must park the car in the only place left available to him. The family then spend their holiday in the great outdoors with a lovely view of the side of their own car.
Meanwhile the dog Fido (what else) has been having a great time rolling in some exotic holiday muck. Seeing all is set for his return he fair bowls past the car, past the family and their looks of horror and grabbing hands, into the awning, (without wiping his feet!) and on into the caravan where he rolls around on each of the beds in order, in his own mind at least, to make the whole place a little more homely.
And so the Setup dance ends
Here endeth Musings on Campsites Part Deux
Back to our plan which is to return to Annecy in France via the Chamonix tunnel and go climbing and perhaps partake some Via Ferrata.
Mrs P is keen that we continue with our boot camps. Proof methinks that she is not doing all this under duress. Her exact phrase, if I remember correctly was;
“I like the days when you come off the mountain and everything hurts to let you know that you have had a good day.”
I am taking this as a challenge.