International Cabaret

Campsites can be entertaining places sometimes. Today we were treated to a couple of international entertainment acts.

Act #1 was from Deutschland.

Popular though they most certainly are with many punters, I am personally very disparaging about motor vans. There is something vaguely insolent about motor vans. We arrive on site in the early afternoon, pick a pitch as far from any other instances of homo sapiens [the word sapiens is applied loosely] as is possible then, generally much later, in swarms a collection of roughly 2-ton, £60K motor vans with accursed roof-mounted, auto-seeking satellite dishes that ruins everything. They just seem to be saying, “up yours”!

P1030382One particular German big mo’-fo’ motor van had clearly not understood the motor vanners’ manual ‘cos it turned up early in the afternoon. It paid dividends, though. It was of the brand Roller Team. How naff is that name, for a start? Specifically, it was a Roller Team Granduca Magnifico. Yikes! No wonder it was big – it needed to be big to get all the signwriting on. It was driven into a pitch adjacent to us and stopped by its kommander, momentarily, anyway. Herr Panzer Kommander dismounted to join seine Frau and began looking at surrounding pitches wondering where precisely to site his tank. Leider, Herr Panzer Kommander hat vergessen to apply the hand brake. Ever so gradually, two tons of Roller Team Granduca Magnifico began roller-teaming majestically down the slight gradient of the pitch. Frau Panzer Kommander, realizing the situation, began shouting excitedly at Herr Panzer Kommander. Had Herr Panzer Kommander been Japanese, he would undoubtedly now have done the honourable thing and committed hara kiri by flinging himself onto the ground in front of his tank to arrest its progress. Fortunately, he was saved from this course of action by the hedge surrounding the pitch, which crunched a little as it finally brought the Roller Team Granduca Magnifico to a stop in much the same fashion as did the Normandy bocage 70 years ago this coming Friday, June 6th.

A narrow escape for the assembled resistance personnel in the opposing pitches on the other side of the track.

Act #2 came from Holland.

The Dutch have a reputation as being magnificent travellers but I sometimes wonder whether they really deserve it. A KIP Grey Line 470 Special caravan turned up, being towed behind a Volvo estate that sounded more like a Massey-Fergusson than a car. This combination regrettably chose to become our neighbours. Bother!

The Dutch, of course, are fond of their bicycles. Our laudable Caravan Club strenuously discourages any attempt at mounting bicycle carriers on any part of a caravan. This is a perfectly sensible stance. Carriers are available to sling bicycles across the draw bar of a caravan but doing so vastly increases nose weight. Other carriers are also available to sling bicycles across the rear of a caravan, as if it were a motor van, but doing so on a caravan seriously decreases nose weight. To tow safely, one needs to have a positive nose weight within a specified range. Indeed, the police force representing Act #1 [see above] may well check your nose weight when travelling through Deutschland and give you a ticket if it is found to be out of bounds. As travelling savvy as they are supposed to be, the darn Dutch sling their goddamn bikes in both unsafe places, sometimes across the draw bar and sometimes across the back of their vans. Our new prospective neighbour, the KIP Grey Line 470 Special, had two weighty, style-free Dutch bicycles slung across its rear.

P1030383The caravan was unhitched from its Massey-Fergusson and Mr Cloggy began using his caravan mover to position the beast on the pitch. When going in reverse, each time the caravan stopped, its jockey [nose] wheel lifted off the ground a little. With the bikes slung across the back, this combination clearly had next to zero positive nose weight. The final scream came on the final rear braking manoeuvre. The back end heavy caravan reared up and sat on its rear with its nose in the air. “Hi-ho Silver, away!”, shouted the Lone Ranger. The KIP Grey Line 470 Special needed a tail skid. The Lone Ranger and Tonto both rushed to add their weight to the caravan’s draw bar and drag the nose wheel back into contact with terra firma.

Most entertaining, how we did applaud. 😀

_MG_4607To calm ourselves down after all our exciting international cabaret, we drove off into Les Alpilles. This is the first time we’ve had a chance to walk in them as they are closed between July and September to guard against fire risk. Things looked a little quiet at first but then  perked up when we started seeing a particular butterfly in large numbers. It was a species we’d encountered just two years ago in France, the False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi). There were, though, a few other lighter but similar looking butterflies mixed into the darker swarms. These, we later discovered, were the Blue-spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini), a new species for us. New identified species are always a thrill and, for once, the underside view is critical.

Posted in 2014 France

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