Morning Campers – France 16th – 18th June 2014

As per usual my coach took longer than scheduled. I knew my sister Georgie would be waiting at Saintes bus stop from 8pm, my coach was due to arrive at 8:15, I actually arrived at 9pm. With no way of communicating it was a bit stressful (Georgie thought I’d fallen asleep and not got off the coach at my stop..) but it was great to see her and her friend/housemate Zoe. Our gourmet dinner of chicken nuggets and chips was eaten on the ridiculously posh train, travelling from Saintes to Royan, that we’d rushed for with my annoyingly wobbly little suitcase. From Royan we were picked up by G’s friend Paulette; a 20 minute drive took us to their mobile home site, Les Charmettes. Georgie’s been working here as a choreographer and dancer since March and has another few months here over the summer; it’s basically a mobile home holiday resort for families and has a pool sports areas, small theatre, bar, restaurant etc. I knew it wasn’t near to a big town but I underestimated how isolated it was, I’m used to living in the middle of nowhere but Georgie is definitely more of a city girl so Les Charmettes is a big change for her especially as her house/cabin is so tiny! The bedroom is literally a bed with cupboards over her head and wall a few centimetres away from the bed. That evening we walked to her friend Aaron’s mobile home to watch a programme on 4od about granny escorts; it was shocking to say the least. It was so nice to meet Aaron and his girlfriend Rosie (who are both English) because they’re 2 of Georgie’s close friends here and I’ve seen them pop up in the background of numerous FaceTime conversations.
 
I explored the camp on my first day, met lots of the team, watched them rehearse a dance to Tiger Feet and chilled at the pool in the evening. It’s so weird to be a family holiday resort without my actual family; I just felt sorry for myself and sad that I wasn’t a child anymore being able to be thrown into the pool.
 
On Wednesday I borrowed Aaron’s bike and set out with the intentions of cycling to Le Palmyre beach a few kilometres away. Georgie told me it would only take about half an hour but the bike seat was really uncomfortable. I went to reception to get a map and I double checked with them with what way I was going, I know I’m not the best with directions but I’ve learnt that I can read signs well and have managed to navigate myself around foreign cities before, so a few turns and cycle paths to the beach should be simple. As I started cycling I was thinking ‘ooh I miss riding my bike, when I get home I’m going to cycle everywhere. It’s the best thing ever’. An hour later I was injured (I’d somehow managed to get my foot trapped in the wheel and destroyed my shoe and cut my foot and bruised my leg), tired and pretty sure I’d gone the wrong way. Also the bike seat was so uncomfortable that even when I’d attached a towel and my jacket under my bum I was still in unbearable pain! I managed to eventually get to a beach (not the beach I was looking for) and recognised it as we’d been there 10 years ago with mum and dad. The sand was burning hot and there was a mini dune to climb before I could reach the water so I ran like an idiot and rewarded myself with some tanning time.
 
The problem with France is that everyone speaks french. I used to be alright at french thanks to Madame Morton and those before school and lunch time lessons (also known as hell on earth) but fast forward 3ish years and I can’t remember a thing. A group of surfers started chatting away to me after their dog chased me across the sand; I did the polite thing of saying ‘aah! oui oui!’ before running away and cycling to the next beach. The other problem with France is how expensive everything is!? 😦 I could write a whole blog post on how expensive Europe and how much of a shock it is but I’d hate to bore you. A well deserved ice cream, coke and 2 crepes (caramel and nutella) cost the equivalent of hiring a car for the day in Cape Town, petrol for the journey to a cafe and buying the same coke, ice cream and crepes twice. My journey home was uneventful and took about 10 minutes but my thoughts were ‘I detest cycling, why did I do this? Why does anyone cycle, ever?!?’. 
 
On Wednesday evening we had Fajitas at Aaron and Rosies then went home to have a major FaceTime session; we spoke to cousins, friends and mum and dad. Whilst talking to Rhiana, we were discussing thinking outside of the box when I leaned away from the laptop (moving outside the box on the screen… haha) and fell off the sofa, onto the table and then flat on my face onto the floor, knocking G’s iPad off the table on my way down. Luckily the iPad was fine but it was just one of the incidents that showed how clumsy I am but only when I’m with my sister; I think she’s bad luck to be honest! I managed to get ready and go out with Aaron, Zoe, Rosie and Georgie without any major accidents to a club called Le Maison Blanche. It was really nice but looked like it was trying really hard to look St Tropez-ique with white walls and a lit up pool outside. The DJ was loving his African music (hiya P Square and Liquideep!) but then would go from this crazy high energy dance music to chilled out songs you’d put on to fall asleep to. Is this a new ‘thing’?! I hope DJ’s aren’t so rubbish back in England right now. Also, guys here are so easily offended when you turn down their offer to dance with them; from the look on their faces you’d think I’d just kicked a puppy. I’m sorry french men, no awkward hands on shoulders dancing thank you, I think they need to see these rejections as just a bit of tough love..
 
Mary x
 
 
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