There’s a small display of very good wildlife photographs in one of the sheds on the campsite. It seems they have the Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops) in the vicinity. It was calling last night accompanied by a Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) with which we’re much more familiar.

Considering that the Dutch are something of a keen camping nation, you might think they’d be better at it. Apparently not, though. Several years ago we watched a Dutch guy arrive at our Maussane-les-Alpilles campsite. He had two bikes mounted on carriers on the rear of the caravan, something that our Caravan Club strongly advises against. He unhitched the van; so far so good. Then he drove the van backwards on its move but stopped a little too sharply. Down went the back of the caravan, assisted by the weight of the bikes, and up in the air went the draw bar. Oops! The German police are prone to checking the nose weight of outfits and fining you if the weight isn’t within spec. This Dutch outfit clearly had hardly any positive nose weight at all.

We’ve been watching out Dutch neighbours opposite on this campsite with growing interest; they’ve been packing up for three days. They have a caravan, a full awning on the door side of the caravan, a lesser awning on the opposite side of the caravan AND a free standing Coleman event shelter covering four large chairs. There’s only two people but you can’t have too many chairs. (I think two are loungers.) Under the smaller awning are two bikes and I don’t know where they’re going, certainly not on the roof of the car which has no roof carriers.

What floored me today was watching them spread out a tarpaulin. Mr Dutch appeared from the bike-shelter struggling to carry a stand-alone fridge. Then out came a standalone aircon unit of similar size which looked similarly heavy. These were joined by another chest device which was even heavier ‘cos it took both of them to carry it. The lot were wrapped in the tarp, I think just for overnight. Had they been going in the car (if there would’ve been room) I’d have put them in now. I’m betting these were destined to travel in the caravan.

As well as nose weight specifications, caravans have a maximum axle weight; a maximum payload. Guillaume’s is 123kg, though it is possible to buy suspension upgrades to carry more weight. I’m willing to bet that our Dutch neighbour was going to go way over his max. payload. The car, btw, is an Opel Mokka with a weight of ~1390kg, so I think he’s going to be towing an overweight unit anyway, given our guidelines (and they are only guidelines). And where were the bikes going? I’d love to have stayed longer to find out but we need to start heading for the ferry tomorrow so it’ll all happen after we’ve gone.

We did pop off to increase our own payload by 36 bottles of wine. We are big fans of the Beauvignac cave in Pomérols (not to be confused with the similarly named Pomerol and its grand vin ). We love the white wines from the viognier grape and in our view there are no better examples than that sold by the Beauvignac cave. There’s another white wine from this region that we love and that’s Picpoul de Pinet which we’ve previously bought from the Ormarine cave. It is a perfect accompaniment to seafood, like moules marinère.

We set off for Beauvignac where it took us a little while to find the viognier but happily, find it we did. We loaded 4 x 6-bottle cartons on our trolley and made for the tasting desk. I thought it prudent to make sure it was still as good as ever and indeed it was. Then the nice lady wondered if we’d like to try their Picpoul de Pinet. We hadn’t realized they produced it but yes, why not? It was delicious; Francine preferred it to our normal Ormarine offerings. We loaded up another 2 cartons, this time of Picpoul and bought the lot in one stop.

I hasten to say that the wine will be travelling on the back seat of our car and NOT sliding about in the caravan.

With two long driving days ahead to get to Ouistreham and our ferry, we took down Guillaume’s sun canopy ready for an early departure. He always looks a sadly naked when you remove it.

Francine’s cep omelette brightened us up, though.

Posted in 2022-09 France

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