We’ve just got back from a somewhat undeserved holiday. When you’re toiling away in an office all day long you really feel like you need a week in the sun to unwind and forget about the daily grind, but when your daily grind consists mostly of sorting out the land at your new house, in the sunshine, and drinking nice wine (all in the name of research, obviously…) a holiday seems a bit of an unnecessary extravagance.
Still, this one was booked ages ago and was based around the fact that my cousin was getting married in the Dordogne, so we loaded up the car and headed west into La France.
I’d booked us a campervan in the Aquitaine region of South-West France for the week before the wedding. The idea was that we would drive up and down the coast surfing, sitting on the beach, eating paella and being sneered at by the French (that last bit wasn’t actually part of the plan, but it always seems to happen when I’m in France, so I figured I should just accept it and move on).
Many years ago, I spent a summer travelling around British Columbia in a campervan and absolutely loved it. My wife, meanwhile, detests everything even vaguely associated with camping. I’ve spent the last few years trying to convince her that campervans are awesome – you can park up and stay in some incredible places, you spend loads of time outdoors in the sun and yet, unlike camping, you have a proper bed and a few home comforts – but she has never seemed entirely convinced. However, with her having eventually given in to my incessant badgering, the onus was now on me to show her how great it could be. What could possibly go wrong?
If you’ve ever seen the film Point Break, you’ll know all about robbing banks, ex-presidents, catching your first tube and jumping out of a plane without a parachute. You’ll also know about the 50-year storm. We arrived in Moliets et Maa to pick up our camper during the 50-year storm.
We’d hired the camper, a VW Transporter, from a great company called VanTripper, and the owner, Johnny, did his best to show me around the van and explain how everything worked. But it was an impossible task; we could barely even see the van through the rain. So, I bundled all our now-soaking belongings into the back, squelched my way into the driver’s seat, and we headed off through the floods to… well, actually we didn’t know where to go. You see, this wasn’t how I’d pictured it at all. We were going to pick the van up and head straight to the beach for an evening surf, watch the sunset over an ice cool beer and a BBQ and then park up somewhere behind the dunes.
Eventually, we settled on heading south towards Hossegor, a great little town full of bars, restaurants and fancy-looking shops that also happens to have some of Europe’s best waves. If you’ve ever been to Noosa in New South Wales, it’s very similar, but with bigger waves and fewer things that will kill you. We found a campsite that was only partially underwater and had the added bonus of a bar that we could sit and shiver in until we figured it was late enough to call it a night. It was miserable. Even beer didn’t help.
My wife, to her immense credit, was taking it all in her sodden stride. I, on the other hand, wasn’t doing quite so well. I was pissed off. I was secretly hoping she would love it so much she’d insist on buying a camper as soon as we got home, but France, it seemed, didn’t want to play any part in my evil ploy. Bloody France.
Still, things could only get better…
To be continued.