So what did we do this Summer? Well, we packed up the car, roof box and trailer, packed the dogs off to home boarding, and drove to France for 3 and a half weeks.
It was all part of an not so elaborate plan to surprise my parents on their 40th wedding anniversary. They have a house in the Vendeé and were having a bash in their garden. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Now, I love camping, but I will hold up my hands and say that I am a fair weather camper. We only ever book our trips the day or so before we go so we can avoid the rain, which is something we couldn’t do when we had booked a ferry.
Naturally, it pissed it down. Think more monsoon weather. After being on the road/boat/road for 14 hours, we got to our first campsite at Sees. I tried my best to convince Mr TDF to carry on driving, but we weren’t having any of it. So we paid for our pitch and sat in the car watching the rain hammer down on the windscreen whilst the kids gorged themselves on Chuggington and Peppa Pig dvds in the back. ‘Shall we go to the supermarket?’, I suggested, in the vain hope that the rain would stop whilst we stocked up on wine, beer, bread and cheese (when in France, and all that…). When we returned to the campsite, the rain was lively as ever.
So sat in the car, we cracked open a bottle of wine (not literally), and a beer, and without the aid of glasses, we sat in the car and drowned our sorrows with the knowledge that we ourselves would soon be drowned. I dread to think what we looked like to other campers, but quite frankly, I couldn’t have given a toss by that point. Eventually, we got a grip, and pitched the tent in the pouring rain, miserable to the core.
When we had finally unpacked and crowbarred the kids out of their comfy, dry, in-car entertainment clad car seats, we took in our surroundings, whilst the bastard rain immediately dried up, mocking us as it did so. Not to worry, we had wine, beer, cheese and bread! Screw you weather!
It was a municipal campsite before we arrived we were sceptical, but it was perfect! Clean facilities, big pitches, nice kids play area, and a marquee with long tables and benches to use when it rained. We really couldn’t have asked for more, and we had a wonderful few days letting the kids run around, going for walks, barbecuing, and chilling out as much as we could (which is not as much as we would have liked, but hey ho!
After 4 days we were ready to move on, and drive the 3 hours (which turned out to be 5 hours) down to my parents’ house. When we arrived, I popped my daughters head over the hedge, and I think it was a really nice surprise for my parents. My Gran was also there, and soon to arrive would be 2 of their friends and my godparents. Their anniversary and the party was the following day.
What a wonderful day. The sun was scorching, the food was amazing (thanks Jayne!), the wine was flowing, and the kids were really well behaved. There were about 34 of us in total, split equally between French and British, and it was a lovely atmosphere. We had commissioned a painting for them, done by a wonderful artist Seanin Hughes, and it was a real pleasure to celebrate such a milestone with my parents.
After a few days at my parents, Mr TDF and I left the kids with Mum and Dad, and escaped away by ourselves, camping at a gorgeous, tiny adults only campsite about 40 minutes away. It was perfect. We adore family time, but time alone (together)
is rare and precious. We completely relaxed for 3 days. Ate long lunches, drank just enough wine, read our books, took afternoon naps, indulged in patisserie, very, very salty butter(!) and swam in the small pool. It was delightful, and though I missed the kids, I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt!
When we returned to my parents, we replanned the rest of our stay. The original plan was that we moved on, camping at a couple of other places, but the kids were really settled, happy to leg it around my parents garden and splash in their oversized paddling pool (my dad would tell you it’s a swimming pool, but though it is grand in size, it is most definitely inflatable!), so we stayed there for the remainder of our holidays.
It was a really lovely family holiday, and we were sorry to leave. We have more or less decided that we will do the whole camping/not camping thing again next year. Hooray for family time!