Well off Dave went to the World Cup in Brazil for 2 1/2 weeks. A once in a lifetime opportunity, for sure, and he went with all of our support and good wishes, despite how much we were going to miss him. He did set us up very nicely though; in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom cabin with kitchen and DISHWASHER and a hire car. As well as comfortable, more spacious accommodation, there was also a leisure area with 7 different pools, a bar, restaurant and supermarket. Who could want anything more?
I must admit I was a little bit nervous about how the next few weeks would pan out, with me on my own with 2 kids to entertain, without going stir crazy or feeling lonely. All who read this will know me as one who likes to socialise and I don’t cope very well for too long on my own. Well I needn’t have worried…
On the first day, I made it my task to suss out the other families, only noticing a lot of prams which means babies, who are obviously too young for mine. I must admit I did feel an initial pang of disappointment and started to plan the next fortnight in my head going up and down the slides with my friendless babies.
The World Cup soccer ( sorry football) was being screened every night up at the bar, which gave us an excuse to make an appearance every night at around 6pm. It was there that I continued my scope of the family situation and Bingo, I spied a family a few tables across with 2 kids who looked similar in age to James and Abbie. I shimmied over and apologised for having interrupted but introduced ourselves to Paul and Donna from Kent in England , mentioning that we would be around the pool each day, should their kids want some company. I must admit that they stared at me rather strangely, only to be told later that they thought “who is this sheila?” and ” let’s keep a low profile around the pool to avoid the likes of her”. Fortunately, however, they gave in to their initial assessment of me and we enjoyed a fabulous 12 days in each other’s company.
On the second day of our time here, there seemed to be no sign of Taylor and Charlie, Paul and Donna’s kids ( as they were probably hiding behind an umbrella) but it didn’t take me too long to spy another family, who had literally just arrived! A lovely Scottish couple from Edinburgh, Nancy and Steve, who also had 2 kids, Eloise ( 9) and Ethan (5). It took no time at all for our kids to join up and have a splash in the pool and a go on the slides. Phew!
We met them later on that night at the bar and spent the rest of their 10 days here hanging out, including them coming to join us 3 Aussies in support at the Netherlands vs Australia match, even though they really arent into football. It wasn’t too long before I saw Paul and Donna again either and so I invited them to join us and we had a great time with the 5 adults and 6 kids for the best part of 2 weeks.
Steve, the Scotsman had spent the majority of his childhood in the area where we were staying as his parents used to own a house not far away and so he knew a lot about where to go and what to see. As a result of this, we joined them on many an adventure, ranging from the local Tuesday market in Le Bugue, a trip to Sarlat for the big Saturday market, a 16km canoe trip down the Dordogne with an amazing view of several castles and a walk up to and around the castle in Beynac. I think my favourite was la Roque Gageac, a village bordering the Dordogne and built into rock. Interesting to discover that this bustling little village has a population of 11 people in Winter and 250 000 in Summer! I was always as pleased as the kids to be joining this most kind and generous family each time and was especially grateful when I got a flat tyre in our hire car on our way to Sarlat, which Steve graciously changed for me.
Abbie became particularly friendly with Eloise and Taylor, who both introduced her to the new craze of ‘looming’. Each of the 2 girls had their bags of loom bands, which they very kindly shared with Abbie and it was no time at all before she was sporting a selection of different bracelets and necklaces all up her arm and around her neck. It was at the markets that we spied packets of loom bands and so Abbie is now the proud owner of her own collection, which accompanied her to the bar each night so that she could sit around a table with her new friends and create new things to wear. She was in heaven!
Meanwhile, James very cleverly took up his football to the bar and ended up having a kick around each night with the various boys that were about. He befriended some charmig Irish kids, Tara la belle was was 11 and her brothers Aemon( 14) and Fionn (8). They joined the gang of kids at the pool each day and introduced James and Abbie to the free football tournament, held each Monday night for the Eurocamp kids. Of course, Charlie was in amongst the action too. So whilst the World Cup was showing for the adults, the kids were also in football fury.
June 21 in France marks the occasion of the first day of Summer, being the Summer solstice, the longest daylight of the year. It is on this day every year at 9 pm ( 21 heures) where every village in France breaks out into music. This is when all amateur music players bring out their instruments and voices to entertain the crowds all around town, for free. I was especally looking forward to this day as I have experienced it before, but I was wondering where we shoud go to enjoy this. Fortunately the campsite took the decision off my hands and held a disco for the kids, again up at the bar and so they danced to their hearts content, with all of their new mates from 9-11pm. A late night, I know, but actually nothing unusual for this time of year in France and to be honest we have had a lot of late nights like this one over the last 2 weeks. Needless to say all of our kids have taken some coaxing to get up each morning and it is no surprise that it feels like France is asleep for 6 months!
All good things come to an end, which meant saying goodbye to our Irish friends, then our Scottish friends and then our English ones this morning. They have left us with wonderful memories and I am so grateful for their warmth and kindness, taking us under their wings whilst Dave is away. To get us through the next week here, we are left with all of their pool toys. ( I need to have more kids just to use them all) plus all of their left over food, a football, tonnes of looming experience and even Paul and Donna’s toilet cleaning products ( inside joke). We have swapped contact details and might just have to plan another trip to the UK to see them all again. They are most welcome to come and stay with is should they ever come down under. I would so love Dave to meet them all and James has even been invited by his football-loving buddy, Charlie to accompany him to a local Millwall match in December when we are there.
Now we will spend the next few days catching up on much needed sleep and the last bits of school work before the holidays.The kids are booked into “Soccer station” every day for the rest of our time here and so now doubt they will end up with more British friends and a lot of exercise, which is a good thing after all of the ice cream they have consumed. I am using the free time to get Frosty clean and dusted for our next adventure.
We are very much looking forward to Dave coming home on Monday, when we will continue our journey along the Atlantic coast of France towards the north, then Belgium, Holland and then .. who knows! 7 months to go and looking forward to it.
I add later here that the kids made some lovely new friends in the last few days, notably Daniel and Megan from Ireland. I busied myself playing Bingo at the bar and taking the kids on some final explorations of the Perigord area, including Saint-Cyprien and Domme.