It rained steadily overnight, so we packed up wet. The remarkable thing about the Comfortz safari room is that the panels don’t get too wet in the rain. The awning overhangs each panel slightly keeping them dry. The roof topper, in contrast, was sodden, but at least it keeps us warm and protects the roof canvass and roof lifting mechanism from the wet.
Before packing I found a previously undiscovered storage space in the van, a cavity sufficiently large to completely conceal two small boys. I knew of this space, but was completely unaware of its size. Both boys were in the upper berth, and nothing else except mattress and bedsheet. They were at the very rear where there is a metal platform. I was goofing about with them, telling them that I was going to come and eat their noses, so they were laughing and cowering at the very end of the bed. But instead of clambering in and eating their noses I pushed the berth base up, and up it went – all the way – completely concealing the two giggling boys. If it weren’t for the laughter, no one would have known they were there. I never knew that triangular void in the roof, with the bed base up, was so extensive.
Once the fooling about was over, and we were packed up, we drove off in search of a Decathlon. Four required items: a new mallet, a new stove lighter, new boots for Ben, a new hat for Clare. The local Decathlon had put away all its camping gear for the winter. We could buy snow shoes, but not a mallet. They directed us to their out of town superstore – fortunately in the direction we wanted to go. They had camping gear, and snow shoes. After all that faffing about, and stocking up for four days supplies in Lidl, it was 1.30 before we were properly on our way. A fairly trouble free drive to our cheapest campsite yet. 11 Euros per night for the pitch, two adults and a dog. However, 3 Euros for each of the boys. In Spain the boys had mostly been free – either the site only charged for age 4+, 5+ or 6+, or children were included in the ACSI camping card off season discount package. In Toulouse and here the boys were extra. Seeing our astonishment he asked Ben his age, “three and three quarters”. He asked us Jack’s age, “two and a half”.
“No”, says the warden, “He’s one year and eleven months”. Being a bit thick, we corrected him. “No” he asserted, “under twos don’t pay, he’s one year eleven months old”. The penny finally dropped. The campsite would be 14 Euros per night. We might stay a week. This is a good staging post for Clare to share with me places she had lived in as a teenager, Romans-sur-Isere and Sete.
We pitched in the dark, and shivered in the tent awning while eating sausages. It’s cold at night here, but not so cold that we want to be putting the lower bed up and down to eat in the van. Hats at dinner for us.