Unwelcome Arrival

Francine declared it to be laundry day. Once her camp duties were done, we needed some shopping so went to a large Intermarché supermarket on the edge of Castelnaudary. It was absolutely heaving, all checkouts having lines of 5 or 6 people waiting. We decided not to add to the crush and did a swift plan change to call in to the supermarket at Bram instead. That was more civilized. What’s with Sunday morning shopping at Castelnaudary, we wondered?

Our sheep farm campsite at Fanjeaux, Les Brugues, is frequented by many regulars, particularly from the Netherlands and Belgium as well as the UK. We’ve been part of Team UK since 2006 and so are familiar with being happily reunited with various members of Team Netherlands and Team Belgium.

This year we are the only representatives of Team UK but there were three units here representing three generations of one family from Team Belgium: a lady in one caravan, her son in another, and her granddaughter with partner in a tent. Being regulars, and longer serving regulars than us, Team Belgium had also been with us to the farm house gatherings which makes for an interesting evening juggling languages. The lady is delightful and it was good to see her again. We hadn’t met her son before but we were soon getting on quite well. He shares an interest in nature.

What Team Belgium’s son apparently didn’t share was an interest in alcohol. This proved to be to my advantage. An overnight camper had left several bottles of beer on their pitch, presumably accidentally, when they vacated it and moved on. Our new friend discovered it and, since it was of no use to him, donated it to our sanity fund. It was Heineken, so not my first choice but at least it was proper Dutch Heineken and not the rubbish brewed under license in the UK. It was a welcome gift.

I do not understand why most of the European beers that are available in the UK are brewed under license and, IMO, ruined. Few of them are the “originals”. Stella Artois is decent in Belgium, Heineken is decent in Holland and Kronenbourg 1664 is decent in France but British brewers manage to wreck them. We are simply unable to brew decent lager, it seems.

A fourth member of Team Belgium arrived in the shape of nice lady’s daughter. Her caravan, which is kept at the farm, had been positioned for her by farmer Luc. We did know her from a previous trip and now she turned up with her partner. Getting reacquainted was at first a pleasant prospect. That changed rapidly when she announced that she now had a dog, “but don’t worry, he doesn’t bark”. It was a 1-year old male Bull Terrier and was pure muscle. Remaining standing when the damn thing jumped up you, despite being told “nicht springen” (or words to that effect) was a bit of a challenge. I really should have explained that dogs speak English, not foreign languages like Flemish, French or German. I heard partner mutter the word “kak” (sp?) which I knew meant that, once out of the car, the dog had crapped on the campsite.

This was the last time I heard the dog that doesn’t bark not bark. Next time I saw it or, rather, it saw me, it launched into a series of barks. A hefty male Bull Terrier has a loud bark, though I don’t recall hearing one bark before. If anyone else dared to wander past Belgian Daughter’s pitch it launched into more barking. For the sake of peace and quiet I began to feel that I needed to keep out of the bastard thing’s line of sight. I was trapped in my pitch. I would hate to meet a Belgian dog that actually did bark. Go to the sanitaire – bark; fetch water – bark; take the loo to the vidoir to empty it – bark. Since stopping it was impossible, after a while we began turning winding it up into a sport.

This was a lesson in how to ruin a normally peaceful, calm campsite in one fell swoop. Happily, I’d made an email reservation at a campsite near Marseillan from 21st and we would be moving on in a couple of days. Moving now would have been even more appealing but I didn’t want to complicate my reservation.

Posted in 2022-09 France

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