Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Towards a field in France.

 Saturday 7th May 2016

I suppose I have been quite dismissive (rude) online about motorhomers who go on about 'living the the dream', because to me, as the last few days have evidenced, it's all about being faced with contrasting realities. Nevertheless, I suppose all of us have some kind of idealised image in our heads to assist us through drizzly Sundays back home. Gill talks about 'a field in France' conjuring up a bucolic image of poppy dotted meadows and comfortable market towns basking in warm sunshine under a blue sky that has been decorated, just for you, with a few fluffy white clouds like you get in a Monet. It can happen, we had a few days last May in Neufchâtel en Bray exactly like that.

I am more of a beach bum, coveting days with nothing to do but look or write, parked on some unfrequented shore of the Mediterranean, an easy stroll from a beach secluded enough to swim in warm seas in a state that nature intended. I suppose at the moment we are in transition, heading north from Pete's happy place towards Gill's.

Actually, heading north is a bit of an exaggeration, crawling painstakingly through the beach sprawl of St Maxime which was as traffic choked as you mught expect on a 'bridge' Friday between Ascension and the week-end.

Welcome to the bay of St Tropez
Most drivers were resigned to the hold-up, apart from the Swiss Ferrari owner who pulled out imperiously in front of us with a 'brush-off' gesture from the drivers window. I spent the next few kilometres a couple of metres from his pride and joy's curvaceous rear end speculating how many thousands of euros damage the merest nudge from 3.5 tons of ageing Ford Transit might inflict on the gleaming red bodywork in front of us. Two kilometres inland the traffic vanished. The Ferrari rocketed out of sight up the road and we  trundled along behind in glorious isolation.

just a little nudge will do the trick...
3km from the coast.....
Our intermediary happy place place is a site at Cotignac in the hills to south of the Gorges de Verdon. The site itself is a very basic Camping Municipal, but our pitch is in a little enclave of pine trees and rocky outcrops (very Cezanne); there are nice woodland walks along shady tracks, and the verges are carpeted with Spring flowers. Nearby Cotignac is one of our favourite small Provençal towns. The kind of place that you stop and stare in estate agents windows and think, well we could afford it...

Nice woodland pitch

lovely woodland walks
Valerian
and a splurge of spurge
the town fountain
Which cafe?
Since today is my birthday I get to choose what to do, and I choose to be anti-occasional avoiding any kind of overt celebratory shenanigans like going out for a meal. It's not that I don't like birthdays, other people's are fine, but I don't like mine. So I decided I would like to go for a walk in the woods, and they were especially flowery and full of birdsong, which is as good a birthday present as you can imagine. We walked the 3km into Cotignac, had a Provençal pie for lunch which was ruined when the butcher microwaved it.We bought some of sausages flavoured with cumin, had a great coffee in the skankiest cafe along with the bohos, crusties and their giant flea-bitten pooches, then walked back, past the ancient Mairie checking out arty shops - some stylish, most kitch. We found a lovely footpath back which passed a bridge covered with giant ant graffiti next to a wood where a bewildered nightingale sang its heart out in the middle of the afternoon.
Cotignac has many hat shops - always a sign of advanced civilisation...
How to find the best coffee in town...reject any cafe with a table cloth or flowers, choose the one with the table football machine in the bar....

I think its quite an arty place - some of the local painters looked very good...

others less so.
The path we found back to the campsite took us through the older medieval part of the town

It passed the cliffs which overlook Cotignac, with s few troglydite dwellings
ant grafitti and daytime nightingales - impromptu birthday treats
Back at the campsite I connected to wifi and found score or so messages of felicitation on Facebook from cyber-pals across the globe, some mighty fine poets and artists among them. Right now it's evening, the sausages are being BBQed, the 10 euro Ligurian wine that we bought by mistake is uncorked and it's Happy Birthday to me from Gill.

And here are the photos to prove it:

Local sausages - pretty good


An accidental Italian purchase - we misread the label as 4.98
It was good though...
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