Camping on the Med
 
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10-14 April - Camping on the Med

Amazing playground on the beach

The pool at our campsite

Suzie

Mike

10th April Sunday.

Eli sits up and bumps his head, Mike and I are all a bit stiff as we hadn't got our bed out very well, Finn is as lively as ever, all are actually in good form as we breakfast on our patisseries. We get underway again but find the going tough as we drive across the flat land of at the mouth of the Rhone. The winds is gusting across it with no breaks. We think we will get to a petrol station before long as we are getting low but the road goes on and on with only turns to farms. We get near Nimes and pull into a commercial area. Being sunday it is deserted and plastic bags and debree are blowing about the carparks. It is like a scene from a end of the world movie. The petrol stations all turn out to be unmanned and we can't get our credit card to work as they use an additional code here. We get back on the road for another 10km and then get off and ask. There is a possible station ahead, if it is unmanned we will have to stop here which we aren't to keen on. We tend to avoid the bigger towns for security and ease with the van and kids.  Luckily it is manned and we fill up Newbie, and get water and bars for ourselves.

We drive on until we can find a village for a stop at lunch time and find its actually warm in the sun in a little square. I find a bakery with a tray of pizza slices. I buy the lot and as the Madame warms them we chat about the wind. She tells me they are lucky with lots of sun but they pay with the wind because after all it is what chases away the clouds. It is the Mistral blowing down the valley of the Rhone from the mountains.  We play a game of football in the square to let of energy using our new mini balls from MacDonalds and get underway again.

We are trying to get to the coast near Ber... where we believe there are lots of campsites and several are supposed to be open.  It isn't actually that far now, so we get back on the autoroute for just a bit after Nimes, but we have to take it very slow in the wind. We have a stop at a rest area after only 20km, just to peel my hands off the wheel, and as we get back on I think we may be pulling to one side. We get off at the next exit which is the one we want anyway. Immediately we are on a busy road which we try to get off.  Before we can, I hear the tire go flat. Mike hops out and is able to pump it up enough with our foot pump to get off the busy road into the village where we see a garage. We pull in start to change it and a nice guy come to help. He borrows the garage jack for us as it is huge and he thinks our won't work. He changes the tire and we order two new ones from the garage guy as the spare is a bit bald. We will change both front tires and put the good front as spare. Our helper says he will show us the way to a campsite. The first one we try is shut he leave us at another that seems open but when I go in they tell me they are closed we have to try the next town along the coast. (Thats where we were heading for anyway). We get there and find an amazing playground with aerial runway and the kids get to let off steam. They had been pretty good waiting about for the tire change and as we drove from campsite to campsite but tempers were starting to fray. While they play I make enquiries and learn where there is an open campsite. Mike and I cross our fingers as we drive there but finally we find it at 8p.m. The guy just tells me to go find a reasonably sheltered spot and we'll talk in the morning. We get a spot near the toilets and a play area, and Mike and I get the tent up as the kids find some friends and cycle about bit.

Sammy goes missing briefly and I have to cycle around to find him. He got lost amongst the wee roads, and is crying but fine. Perhaps it will stop him from wandering too far. We have a very late diner and fall into bed.

11th April Monday.

The sun is up but the wind is still here. It is not cold at least. I have a sort of lie in and Mike gets a hot shower and minds the boys. Its great to be able to relax.  Yesterday was probably one of our most stressful days travelling yet because the wind made us so tense and then the petrol, and puncture too!  Rosa and I both catch up on journalling. Then I get my shower lovely and hot. After a fast consumed baguette lunch, they don't last long fresh from the bakery, Mike goes and checks out the pool. Lots of people are already there. We get the guys to wait a while and then Mike goes over and I stay and sort out stuff a bit. I go join them and it is lovely although the wind makes it cool when they get out of the water. There are shoots and a kiddy pool but it is the wave pool that tempts me in. Its great. We stay until late and then I take the boys to have a bath in a great baby bath the shape of a ship. Rosa gets a nice hot shower too. Finn falls asleep he is so wrecked. The rest of us have diner and Finn wakes again for some.  The big guys and I take a ride to see where the sea is and to see the sunset. Then we come back to camp and I do some tai chi and the guys copy me a bit too. We see lots of bats out in the dusk chasing their diner. We stay up pretty late, despite being very tired.

12th April Tuesday

We get up and put the beds away early as we need to go get supplies. We are low on all foods and the guys need new footwear and we have to pick up Newbies new footwear too. We get off to a big hypermarket. The kids act like it is a trip to the zoo and check everything out excitedly. We stay ages and get most of what we want. Finn runs out of steam before the rest and has a traditional toddler melt down in the middle of a supermarket so I take him out while Mike finishes. When he comes out I nearly faint at the bill. Those places are dangerous and we thought we were being very restrained. We go to the town with the garage but are a bit early. I take the guys and watch a bit of boules being played and then walk back. Newbie is sorted and balanced with two new front tires. We go back to camp as it is after 3pm and have a nice barbeque since we were able to get gaz and meat stuffs.

The kids play for a bit and Mike takes the bike and cycles into town to do some internet stuff getting some e-mails off to new farms so we know where we are going next. The kids and I hang out at one of the playgrounds and a bunch of little girls practice their English on Sammy. Finn meets another Spiderman fan. He is dresses in his suit all the time. I have had to sew it at least twice, but it really helps Finn make friends.

Mike gets back and I do some homeschool stuff and sew a rip in Eli's bunk before bed..

13th April Wednesday

The weather is really nice today and we just enjoy the holiday. The kids play around the site and Mike and Eli go and check emails and take a load to the launderette. They are back in time for lunch and after a break we all head to the pool. Some clouds arrive at about the same time as us but the kids paddle and Eli relaxes on a lounger. They are delighted when the wave pool is put on again late in the day. We head back to the van and fiddle about until diner. Its a very easy day and I almost feel guilty as I imagined us holidaying in Croatia but thought we would be working all the time in France. I get into a book rather than dwell on it and Mike makes diner. We take a lovely evening stroll down to the beach and the Med and watch another great sunset.

14th April Thursday

We have a slow morning and start pack up for moving on today. I give the small boys and Mike hair cuts and beat Eli into the shower for his weekly wash. Mike follows with Sammy and Rosa and Finn and I go for a last swim. We speed up the packing after lunch and notice a change in the weather. We set off fairly late in the afternoon stopping in town to collect mails to see if any farms have said yes yet and then head in land towards Carcasonne.  As we read the e-mails we only get one yes and it is much further north near Brittany. I wrote to them with the Ariege bunch but it turns out they have too places. Carcasonne is not that far and we turn off towards Limoux.  We are in the area of several farms we wrote to. We had one very nice no by email and I phone two more. I get another nice no and one with no answer. We decide to stop for the night as it is starting to rain and the kids need some food. We go into the first campsite we pass and book in. 

10 April

Still very windy, and our drive is very slow, at times we can barely make headway against the wind, and other times it seems like our poptop might be pulled off!  Somehow we get distracted from the fuel guage and suddenly realise we are almost out of fuel and it's Sunday.   We get off the road looking for the shops and petrol stations but the 24 hour ones don't take our credit card so we decide to get back onto the highway in the hope that we'll get to an Aire de Service before we run out.  We keep going for an bit but it is looking pretty dodgy so we take the next exit and luckily find a manned open station not long before he is due to shut! 

We decide not to push so hard to get our own way when the weather and other things seem to want us going in different directions.  We pull into a service area to give the kids a longer break.  Suzie gets some campground info and I get a few treats in the overpriced shop, then we get back on the road.  Suzie tells me as we get onto the highway that the steering is bad and we briefly look at the tires out our windows, but we get onto the highway.  Shortly after we get off the highway and she realises we have a flat and pulls in on the shoulder.  I do my best to pump it enough to get us to the next town, where we happily find a service station.  No air, but a very helpful customer who changes our spare onto the flat for us, assures us the garage is a good one when we realise we will need to replace the unfixable tire, and shows us to a campground after he's done!

The place he shows us is closed so we drive along stoping at several other closed ones.  We get to the coast where there is a really good playground and stop for the kids, but are not sure where we'll be sleeping tonight.  We really don't want another night of wild camping; Suzie finds out where an open one is; as we leave we wave to a couple of other drivers in a Beatle and something else VW and old a beach buggy jeep thing?!

We drive parallel to the coast and eventually down a long road with several closed campgrounds we find ours, where they tell us to just find a place and check in tommorow.

11 April

Suz talks to the garage on the phone and the tires will be ready tommorow, so we decide to stay onsite all day.  Suzie does some sorting and I spend most of the day at the pool with the kids; they have great fun on the water slides, and end up staying in long enough to come out with teeth chattering, despite the water being heated.  I have to brave it, so once the little guys are out of the water I go down the big slide a couple of times, Sammy comes with me once, and that's enough for me. 

As we're leaving the pool we realise that one section of it is a wave pool as an attendant comes to turn it on.  Everyone in all the other sections comes over and the kids have great fun with Suzie.

The day is sunny and windy, and wind eases later on. 

12 April - shopping day

Today we give in to consumerism and head for a megashop.  Newbie is getting reshod today, so the rest of us who need new footwear get some too, and we also stock up on food and bits and pieces, and finally find a refill for our large gas container so we can have BBQs and use our big cooker again.  We manage to spend a lot of money with not really a lot to show for it.

Our mechanic tries to engage me in a discussion about some European politics; having not read a paper or seen news in a while, his limited English isn't the hindering factor!  His assistant has some difficulty getting some of the nuts off the second tire wheel, but gets it off eventually.  Suzie drives and says Newbie's steering is hugely improved with the 2 new front tires.

Back at the site we have a much needed BBQ. 

Later I cycle back in to Valras Plage to send emails to possible WWOOF hosts and update our website.

I stay up late on the computer.

13 April

I get a bit of a lie in on the computer while Suzie and some of the kids are up, then after breakfast pack up the laundry and computer.  Eli and I drop the laundry into the machines at a nearby laundrymat where the locals just stare at us, no smiles!  Then we rush off to the internet cafe for 45 minutes to see if any WWOOF hosts have replied (no) and upload our latest website updates.  We also download some 3D animation tools and tutorials that Eli is interested in.

We get back and hang up the laundry, have lunch, and everyone gets ready for the pool.  Unfortunately heavy cloud cover means it is pretty cool outside, but all the kids except Eli get in for a little while.  Just as they are drying off the wave pool is turned on so they get back in again for another 10 minutes. 

Back at the site we have a relaxed afternoon, Suzie starts a book and I begin to get dinner sorted, another BBQ and mash, great to be able to cook several things at once now that we have the big cooker working again.

We'll leave tomorrow even though we haven't had any responses from WWOOF hosts.  We can ring them but even if they can't have us we can continue along the bottom of France and then turn up the West coast.

 

This site was last updated 04/26/05