Saturday, August 07, 2010

Fisherman


Wait all month for a post and then a massive bleeder arrives all at once. This is an account of my holiday, I typed it at the end of several days, tired and pissed, on a tiny tablet that kept running out of battery, so it is very disjointed and clumsy. I won’t edit, now, not much anyway, so as to give an accurate feel of the holiday experience.
Happy Birthday to me, I am 53. Not really, I am much younger than that, by at least two years, but, you know, I feel playful, and 3 rhymes.  It’s not my birthday either, not today, but it was when I wrote it, in a field, in France, when I was too tight to pay the outrageous wifi fee.
I didn’t expect to be in France today, I expected to be en route. I knew I was travelling on my birthday, but for some reason, I believed I was traveling across on the 21st, not traveling down. What a palaver. Nearly missed the damned holiday. I was happily sitting there on the 20th, having ordered some stuff from Amazon, that day, which I was confident would arrive the following day, to take with us. I checked the ticket at about half five in the afternoon. And then I checked it again, and then again, because I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Our ferry was today, the fucking 20th, not tomorrow, the fucking 21st.  From Plymouth. We had 3 hours to get there, we hadn’t packed, and I had no idea where my Mrs was. And I hadn’t had my goddamn tea!
Not to put too fine a point on it, I had the screaming ab dabs. I will elucidate, but this battery is about to die, and I wish to record several things, which I promise myself I will not edit, when I am less tired, more sober, more rational. My kids are the most wonderful kids in the world and I am a very lucky man to be married to my Mrs. This has been an absolute shocker of a 20 hours……………..no sleep, little food:  a genuine possibility of a holiday ruined, our first in  years, and which has been very difficult to finance…….. and there have been no tears, no tantrums, few sulks. They are all sleeping the sleep of the just, I am sat out in the dark, typing this bollocks and listening to the absolutely wonderful Steve Mason, while drinking the fabled cheap, but good plonk. Happy Birthday to me. Despite everything, life is good, which is not a statement that I ever thought I would utter at about 4.30 yesterday a.m.
Mind you, after traveling 600 odd difficult miles, it was a bit of a pisser that the first  person I saw was some chump in a Villa shirt.
It,s not midnight. You cannot hear a peep on this campsite and all is in darkness  It is pitch  back apart from the starry , starry night, Vincent, and it seems like I have had the place to myself, for at least an hour. My younger self would have hated this, but the older me is in paradise.
Day two. I said I would elucidate, but I won’t, yesterday has gone and having just re read, I think the general impression is made. I fucked up. I panicked. Nuff said.
I am typing this in the tent, having been driven inside by a spectacular downpour. The rest of my tribe is already in the land of nod, as is the rest of the campsite, by the sound of it. Again, it is not yet midnight. I am enjoying the best disco in town, any town, which is the sound of the rain drumming off the roof of the tent, but apart from that, you couldn’t hear a pin drop. There must be at least a couple of thousand people on here, and it is incredibly peaceful, apart from my sausage fingers abusing the keyboard.
It has been a bit of eventful day, but a good day, and between the five of us we  have done a fair bit. It’s amazing to think that we haven\t been here for two full days yet, but we have done more than we would do in 6 months at home. I am chuffed that out of everyone I was the first to “make a friend” as everyone thinks I am completely anti social……………..tis a pity my new friend is a Villa fan, and not even the one I saw  yesterday. The motherlovers get everywhere.
I’m afraid I have to tell you that this morning I had a row, a big, huge, lengthy row, with the Eurocamp reps. (yep, our huge and wonderful Bear Lake is at home, forlorn and unloved, as we took the easy option of Eurocamp) We have not been impressed by Eurocamp from the moment we booked, and there were quite a few things wrong when we arrived, but we let all that go, being desirous of going with the flow. But that is another story, for another day.
This row though, concerned my youngest nipper and his soccer school: the soccer school being one of the deciding factors in choosing this site. There was an early warning yesterday, when the two fat birds who run it cycled down to our tent soon after we arrived, trying to sell us the idea of the soccer camp, which would cost us 6 euros per session. We explained that we were already sold on their camp, and that we had pre booked and paid for an unlimited pass to it, so they could expect to see him every day, twice a day if it turned out so hot we couldn’t contemplate moving from the campsite.
The fine specimens of the nations athletic young females looked at each other, mumbled, and said, “paying up front for an unlimited pass doesn’t guarantee him a place”. I let it go, thinking that theses words were just a catch all to be used on rare occasions, but thinking, if there is ever a day he can’t get in, I will have a bit of moan. He was in this morning and when it finished I said leg it to the tent, make sure you get booked in tomorrow.
I shall digress here for just a little bit, because there are pertinent points. As I signed him in this morning, a girl who was wearing sunglasses even though there was no sun (hiding her eyes?) told him to just go down to the field. Being his first time I had to fill in a consent form, but there was huge queue waiting to sign in and only one pen, so I rather gallantly waited for them all to sign in before filling in the form, then wandered over to the field. Of the 4 named coaches, none of them were there, and the kids were having a bit of  free for all, and enjoying it, but, I thought, it would be polite to have some chump there welcoming the kids and easing them in. A nervous kid would not have enjoyed it…………we are talking about half an hour here,  not a couple of minutes.
Anyway, it all kicked off in a fairly ad hoc and haphazard fashion and I wandered  back to our tent. There is a huge lake here…………….very peaceful, very romantic and me and the Mrs wondered around it, romantically, before strolling over to the soccer camp, where, immediately, I had an issue, and had to have a word with myself to chill the fuck out. The issue was that the coaches had organised two games and then just sat down, paying no attention, and chatting among themselves; there was some good play, but I was the only idiot commenting upon it…………..the coaches were completely unaware of it.
My nipper, aged 9 took a ball at some force and from close range full in the face. A coach was aware, only because the session was coming to an end, and he was collecting up cones  and was stood next to him. The nippers nose was pissing blood and he was obviously upset…………..the guy didn’t know what to do and his mates hadn’t noticed. All the other kids had, because they formed an orderly queue to view the carnage of his face! It was the first time that the little perishers had managed to organize themselves all day. The coaches  realised  that the nippers parents were there and offloaded him (reasonably enough) The Mrs. asked if there was any kind of first aid kit……………the chap shit himself, run off and came back a while later with a bit of kitchen towel.
But that is by the by and is not the issue.
The issue is this. At the end, I said, leg it to the tent Charlie, get yourself booked in for tomorrow, which he did. Only to find it fully booked. Battery gone again. Will continue tomorrow. I bet you can’t wait.
Day 3
Just to finish yesterday’s moan. He couldn’t get in for the next day. I resaonably pointed out that we had paid up front and was met with the utter disdain of three bored students........which set me off on one. I can’t be bothered with the details now, but the more obtuse they became, the more I was able to point out the absurd inconsistencies of their logic, and in the end several other parents joined in. It became a bit of a bear pit, and I ended up with a bit of an audience.
Despite that mega whinge…………………….we are having a brilliant time…………….honest!
It seems a bit daft typing all this when I can’t or won’t post immediately, but I will not edit anything I post……………..it will be an accurate reflection of how I feel or felt , at the time. There should be a government warning on all holidays sold……………”Remember, holidays can be STRESSFUL!”
It’s strange not having the internet. I fire this scoundrel up and then think………….what the hell am I supposed to do now? Who invented this useless gadget? Maybe I should just pretend to tweet   ...........  I never seem to have any trouble posting inconsequential nonsense on that. Here we go……….slightly pissed a tweet:
Couldn’t find my sandals without incurring wrath of  Mrs, so strolled to piss corner barefoot. Feet ripped to shreds. Was that more than 140 characters, do you think?
Day 5
Did I miss a bit? I did. 
It’s one of the beauties of campsite life that your world changes every day. People come, people go, day after day after day. Thinking of the butterfly’s wing, imagine the difference several daily changes to the neighborhood will have ……………not to mention a huge  population shift every Friday and Saturday. The ambience has changed, and not for the better. I can feel another whinge coming on.
But first things first. We are having a beautiful and a brilliant time, and it is hot, Goddamn hot. Trying to keep 3 kids of different ages and genders happy is difficult , so we haven’t really bothered trying, and although initially nervous of the unaccustomed freedom, they soon found their wings and learned  how to fly. The daughter is having a sleepover as I type. Which brings me to a whinge. The daughter and her new friend came legging it down from wherever to ask if she could sleepover. The Mrs is a child care social worker; she ain’t letting her little darling sleep with any Tom Dick or Harry on a campsite, so she went off to check their bona fides. 
We had been out for a bit of mooch and arrived back on site at  8.36 ( I know this because I marvelled at the accuracy of the sat nav)  The young un’s disappeared straight off the bat, and the young ladies turned up at about 10 30. The Mrs and the other mother were bollocked by security at about 10.45 for  making too much noise as they discussed,  how safe our child would  be with them. Meanwhile, we were enduring the drunken and banal raucousness of 3 huge multi family groups who had recently arrived.  Last nights raucousness , lets face it, selfishness was understandable……………….they had arrived late, tired, hot, bothered and excited. Huge pause here. Damn tablet gave up on me.
It is now 1 a.m on day 8 and for the 4th night running I an sat out, drinking, because there is no point being abed, because others are enjoying their holiday in a loud and unthinking way. There was nearly a scrap the other night when some poor bloke reached the end of his tether and asked one group to pipe down. It only made things worse and  the other loud group didn’t even notice the fracas, so wrapped up in their own entertainment were they, We feel a bit unlucky. The rest of the campsite is dead quiet; I know because I tour it each night to and from the bogs, several times……………we have just been unlucky enough to be wedged between two tribes of utter bastards.  One of the group aren\t bastards actually, I really don.t think they meant offense when they arrived and have tried to keep it down since………………the other lot are bastards though, 
I like a whinge, as is obvious, but the fact remains that we are having a splendid holiday. The Vendee is supposed to be drab and featureless, but we find this corner of it lovely and the cycling is nothing short of idyllic: the campsite is fantastic, apart from the neighbours.

My littlest doesn’t know he has been born and we don’t see him from early morning until late night, unless he is after some euros for something from the takeaway. He has developed the art of mooching around, looking for pals, and usually ends up getting a  huge game of football started,. The daughter, as is her wont, has made friends and they walk around all day chattering nonsense. I don’t know about the oldest, it’s probably not the best kind of thing for him, but he seems chilled enough. As for me and the Mrs, we don’t really matter, our job is to keep everyone else happy.
That’s it. For some damn reason, this tablet is only  giving me about half hour of life, despite being on charge all day, and I want to listen to some Felice Brothers and tune.tune all the other buggers out.
Day whatever………….I have lost track, and I have to be quick……………..I leave this damn thing charging all day and all the battery time I get is about half hour. The neighbours are still being absolute arses…….it’s a beautiful starlit night,  the like of which I rarely see and they are enjoying the spectacle, juts like me, but loudly. The only buggers on the campsite making noise. 1 am  and a couple of corks have popped and more logs have gone on the fire…..and Wend has just turned up. It may be another late night. Wend is a right fat, thick sounding  tart by the way, just in case any of ‘em should happen upon this blog…………..and her husband is clearly retarded.
But enough of that shit………….I only dwell upon upon it because it is going on while I am typing…………………our enjoyment levels continue to increase. Little Charlie is playing football with other kids for at leat 8 hours a day………….heaven. The daughter spends all day with horses or in the pool or talking girl talk…………..heaven for her…………Louis has just chilled out………………..cycling around the miles and miles of dirt tracks and farm tracksthrough the woods next to the site, or fishing in one of the lakes, or just arsing about around the tent…………..I have managed to injure myself and spend the week hobbling around in pain (as tradition dictates)……………the Mrs has discovered cycling heaven and even been in the pool and enjoyed it and we have come across some wonderfully good and generous people
Having taken couple  of days the kids have tuned in to the rhythm of site and found their own niches. The Mrs is a bit fed up that we haven’t found the perfect beach, nor been to a little hidden away auberge for the plat de jour, but has also attuned to the beat of the drum and I have become like a child again…………….even to the extent of falling off my motherfucking bike! It was ace, I only wish I was more badly injured, just to impress the kids. I can’t believe we used to do all this off road shit on racers, It really is like an old fashioned, long hot summer, except that in Tyseley we were not surrounded by huge fields of sunflowers and corn and the ground was not necessarily baked so hard
The campsite is abuzz. The two lady soccer coaches did a moonlight flit, presumably fed up with all the flak they were getting. Numbers allowed on each session now further reduced.
Her we are again, another late, starry night, another ambience shift. Hundreds left today to be replaced by hundreds of others. We enjoyed a largely bucolic day………….the kids did what the kids did; football, fishing, cycling, chilling , arsing about with horses, making friends, having an old fashioned childhood. I dossed, I watched a bit of the nippers football, , I cooked, I fished, I cycled, I knackered myself.
We went off to a nearby resort town………….very French in feel, had tea in a little caff by a harbour with a couple of guitarists doing Django tunes, while crazy French traffic did it’s crazy French thing. So the kids have had at least a taste of what is like to be in actual France, as opposed to a taste of a bit of Britain Ireland and Holland, at rest/
We got back about half nine and immediately noticed the new ambience shift. The place was much noisier. It was alright. Hundreds of new families had been arriving, most of them knackered………………hundreds of new kids had arrived, knackered and excited, and had set about enjoying themselves. Our first noisy neighbours were well into the swing of it and being as noisy as they had been all through the week, but it was still early, so that was OK.
The other buggers though, were just getting into it as the rest of the site calmed down and closed down. It is now 1 am. It is quiet, except for our neighbours. I have noticed that they all arrive back at their three tents with their hundreds of kids at about half ten and while they settle their kids down they light their fire and mutter away in a civilized fashion……………….once their kids have nodded off, and the women come out, the volume goes up and keeps going up. The intelligence level of their late night chat falls some way short of banal. They all met at college, 17 years ago and they are still getting drunk and acting like kids on their first trip to the beer garden now. Their words. Not mine: 1.30 am. I am typing this shit, listening to Low Anthem on I pod. I can hear them over it.
The I Pod is another sore point. I had read good reviews of Cherry Ghost and the Coral, neither of whom are my particular cup of tea, but downloaded them and stuck them on, in the mean time deleting nearly everything else. I am left with the aforementioned albums both of which I have already tired of, a Low Anthen live doodah a Beach Boys for the kids in and a Beatles. Oh, and some awful, wailing Pink Floyd live effort. This holiday, on the whole is great and all the kids want to come back, but, fuck me, I have committed some schoolboy errors. 
Had tablet charging all day and it says I have 30 mins battery life, so I shall be brief
The bad neighbors are on form again. My Mrs reckons that while I was in the bog  at half 1ish this morning, someone, at the end of his tether, had a word. She was pissed off with me because she thought it was me, I don't know why she would think I go around seeking confrontation with groups of drunk men. 
Next night, it’s about half ten, the Mrs said that the other bloke must have had an effect, because they were much quieter. I said that they are always quiet at that time, because they hadn’t even started at that point………………sure enough, the sound of the first corks popping went at about 11, at about the time everyone was settling down. And it is getting louder. They are not people who have respect or consideration for others.
We had some new neighbours arrive earler……………..very loud, very full of bonhomie with their friends. It seems that they have all been coming for 7 or 8 years, and between them they seem to have dozens of kids,.............at about half ten, they shut it, like switching off a light. Nice people, considerate people.
But. What a day we have had.  The daughter spent it with the horses, scuppering our chances of having a beach day, so the rest of us went off, found a wonderful little town, had a wonderful meal, in a wonderful restaurant, followed by a wonderful ride up the river in a pedalo, powered by the nippersand finished that little trip off with some wonderful cakes.
Cut off in my prime again. That last post was about 2 days ago. It is now the last night and once again, all is calm, all is peace and it is another beautiful night. A magnificent night. The good noisy crowd have gone, and while they were no trouble, the environment has become much calmer. The bad noisy crowd are still here, but reduced by one family unit. Also, someone complained and I heard them being told by the night man that there is a 10.30 noise curfew. They were not happy and they muttered, but,fair play to them, they have been quiet ever since.
It’s our last night and despite all my moans this holiday has been wonderful, never mind the kids having had a an idyllic 60’s style two weeks and carrying the bums, bruises, cuts and scratches to prove it, I have enjoyed an idyllic two week return to childhood myself. And I have the bumps, bruises, cuts and scratches to prove it too. The two youngest look like they have spent two weeks cage fighting, not camping, and you have never seen a pair so proud of their wounds..
As last days go, this will take some beating. . I fished with daughter.  I swam in  a fairly empty pool, I relaxed by pool, with good book, I watched youngest play football, I went to a leclerc and stocked up on vino and bought the most incredible boxes of hot grub, for pennies, I cycled around deserted country roads,and dirt tracks, I went to a very good caff for scallops and what not and I cycled some more dirt tracks; I had a right laugh  with the kids, I polished off a very good and very cheap bubbly and I am now finishing off a very good and cheap local white.. I have some very good memories to take home
That’s it, it is midnight, it is warm, I am enjoying a glass of local wine and the night is beautiful. And I appear to be the last person awake on the whole campsite, and I am very aware of my noisy tapping, so, see you back in blighty!
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