Highs and Lows

A British registered camper van arrived yesterday evening and set-up a couple of pitches away from us. It turned out to be owned and driven by a pair of Australians, David and Kay. The van (Bessie) lived in the north of England, poor thing, while David and Kay shared her with another two couples of Ozzies; a sort of syndicate. It seems Bessie had a wheel bearing replaced in Southampton, England, on the way over to France. Bessie had ended up at our slice of heaven in Fanjeaux quite by chance when the same very same wheel bearing failed yet again. Curious! We seemed to share a love of wildlife and wine so we quickly became friends and a little inebriated with our new Ozzie near-neighbours.

Farmer Luc’s father, Marcel, rode down on his monkey bike this morning to say hello. After a brief stilted natter, he spotted mushrooms of some description growing at the base of the poplar trees that surround our prime pitches by the lakeside. A second stilted conversation ensued. “No, the English are generally not great at identifying and gathering edible wild mushrooms”, I said, or words to that effect. These mushrooms were apparently good mushrooms and he picked one. I offered him a bag for more. He declined and rode off with it on the money bike’s headset. Shortly he returned with is own bag and gathered more mushrooms. After a while wandering around various pitches and trees, he came to our caravan and presented us with a bagful of mushrooms. What a host! We gratefully accepted and Carol cycled into town for some eggs so we could put wild mushroom omelette on the menu for lunch. And very good it was, too.

Many times I have been intrigued/baffled by fellow campers’ thought processes when selecting a pitch on a campsite. We and our new Ozzie pals were the only two units on a 25 pitch camping à la ferme site. There are five large pitches by the lakeside and together, we occupied two of them. All remaining pitches were completely empty. Some were by the lakeside, some were behind but would have provided a lake view by virtue of the fact that nobody else was there to obscure the view. A Belgian couple with a very small caravan arrived. Did they select another of the “prime” lakeside pitches? No. Did they set-up in another pitch with a view of the lake? No. Did they pitch a considerable distance from us and our new Ozzie pals for seclusion? No. No, not at all, they chose the one pitch directly behind us, the only pitch with a view of nothing but the back of someone else’s van and car. Why, for God’s sake, with an almost completely empty campsite, would someone choose to pitch as close to the only other campers as possible and with nothing but them for a view? I simply don’t understand it.

Belgian pitch choice aside, the evening peace and tranquillity was destroyed momentarily by the deafening report of a 12-bore shotgun. A group of four chasseurs (hunters) had entered the grounds and one, a teenager, had very bravely and skilfully blasted one of the poor harmless, inedible coots on our lake. I was cooking. The gun went off about 40 metres from our van, only about 15 metres from our new Ozzie pals’ disabled camper van. The hapless coot was, as they say, a sitting duck. It would not have been flying, just swimming on the lake, and these senseless bastards just blew it away from a distance no greater than 10 metres for no reason other than fun. Its body is still floating on the lake. Luc’s father, Marcel of the mushrooms, to his credit, was soon on the scene chastising the armed arseholes but they were already moving on, the damage had already been done.

There are times when the human race really disappoints me.

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