Monday, April 11, 2011

Nature Raw

How was your blistering weather weekend? I spent Saturday celebrating my youngest's 10th birthday. He said it was the best birthday he'd had for, ooh, at least a year... One of the highlights for my son was being able to sit, legitimately, in the front seat. I now foresee fights between boys as to who gets to sit up front! One there, one back, I suppose.

His birthday treat was the afternoon at Accrobranche, where they swing and climb their way through the treetops and descend via exciting Tyrolean traverses. With 4 pals, they pounded their way around the 5 courses, several times, stopping only for refreshment of pancakes and Fanta, and finally birthday cake and sparklers. I had asked for a financial participation rather than birthday presents (with my son's permission!) which meant that instead of going home with a bunch of stuff he didn't need, which would get broken or lost, and be a waste of money, the boys had a good time and I didn't suffer the consequences.

To complete the day, as if presents, Accrobranche and a friend staying over weren't enough, we went to KFC, bought a bucket, and went to have a picnic on the beach. My dearly beloved joined us for a glass of chilled rosé and a discussion on camping sauvage.

I have pretty strong views on camping sauvage summarised, in one word, as 'discomfort'. Yeah, I'm a wimp... from experience, mind. It's romantic in notion, ghastly in practice especially if you like your showers in shower form and hot, a toilet with flush, and no risk of being woken up (if you've actually managed to fall into an exhausted stupor) in the night by lunatics in Jeeps charging round the countryside where you've pitched your tiny tent, whooping in drunken joy and firing air rifles into the air (yes, that was one of my more terrifying experiences just outside Cassis).

I'm too old for such shenanigans. I'm not keen on the 'refuge' idea either. The last time I was in one of those was in the Pyrenees, reached by walking uphill all day with everything you needed in the way of food and equipment. The place was in the middle of a field next to a mountain stream, had no toilets at all, no shower natch, and limited cooking facilities. It also had a dormitory of bunks made up of wooden planks going all the way round two of the walls on two levels. You had to pitch your sleeping bag in a space on the planks along with everyone else - very cosy! It was packed - we'd even had to reserve our space! All night I listened to a surround-sound rendition of grunts and snores (having forgotten to bring industrial strength ear plugs), couldn't get comfortable on the plank (hipbone + wood = bruise), felt edgy about the bloke on my right, and staggered up next morning desperate to leave. The worst was not having the means to make a decent cuppa to cope with the rest of it.

One tries to be a brave little soldier about not going to the loo, not washing, eating rubbish, being deprived of tea and getting no sleep, but ultimately, why bother?

Obviously I'm not a natural nymph of Nature. Still, at least I tried, eh?!

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