If you haven’t read Four Go Mad in Catalonia you can get it through this link.
Despite her (mis)adventures in that one, Nanny Ab agreed to accompany the Ancient Mariner, this time with only one faithful hound and a bloody-minded cat back towards the scene of those disasters. They went south.
Why south? Well for the sun, of course. Living here in the Eastern Mountains, Spring arrives, flowers burst forth, small animals whizz about but the warmth isn’t there. It was coming. Gradually the temperatures crept up, hesitated a bit more, then slipped back again. The Ancient Mariner needed “proper sun” and was determined to find it.
He had been away a couple of times in the new camping-car and felt it was time Nanny Ab got acquainted with it. She had her doubts having found her crumbling spine did not like the seating arrangements either in the home-made camping car, Myfanwe or the big caravan Uncle Vanya. Camping had become synonymous with “crippled” in her world but, ever game for a laugh, she folded herself into Vanner and off they went.
The first night was a freebie overnighter in a Town Hall car park which appeals to Nanny Ab’s Scottish sense of thrift. Water and electricity are available if one needs them at the cost of tokens. They didn’t. You can read about her enjoyment of that night here.
The campsite they were aiming for was one they knew, although nowadays that is a moot point for anything with Nanny Ab – her memory is nearly as crumbly as her spine after being dropped on the head once too often. It is an enchanting place with olive trees, a riding centre next door so lots of horses for Nanny to chat to (she is fluent in canine, feline and equine).. The only problem was, it was getting considerably colder with menacing clouds looming over from the west. They were near Carcassonne, one of Nanny Ab’s all time favourite places in France hoping to catch up with some friends but otherwise happy to enjoy the sun. HUH!
It rained. The rain started that evening so chairs, tables etc outside had to be re-arranged under the awning and all travellers cooped up in the tin can for the duration….not just of that night, but of their whole stay. It rained dogs and cats. It rained buckets, Nanny wouldn’t have been surprised if it had rained frogs, to such Biblical proportions had it got. Anyway, she likes amphibians. Piston the cat staged a re-enactment of the a Clint Eastwood film re-entitled “The Pretty, the Scruffy and the Very Naughty indeed”!
An elderly boss-eyed Seal-point Siamese committed the crime of walking past Piston’s patch. No matter that he obviously lived there, it was an offence, so Piston sashayed down the lane towards him with the music above ringing in his ears. He had the gun-slingers walk to a T. Silly sod – the Siamese was twice his size with the kind of lace-edged ears that only come from years of scrapping! Lily wasn’t having any of it and rushed the Siamese yelling “You leave my kid brother alone, you bully.” which pissed Piston off as he wanted to take him on. Lily was called to heel rather sharply in French, the Siamese’s owners pacified and then Nanny set off at the kind of “runaway sofa” lumber that only a granny with a bad back and big boots can achieve when protecting animals. Two laps of the campsite saw Piston retrieved, everyone back in Vanner and more tea brewed. That is the only trip the AM and Nanny have ever made where they ran out of “proper” tea bags as there wasn’t much else to do but stuff pastries in their mouths and wash them down with a nice cup of tea.
The high point of the trip, even though it was the coldest day was a much-loved friend coming by with even more cakes and staying to consume tea, natter, more tea, more natter and generally a wonderful time for all concerned. She was adopted by Lily, who declared her a “same-litter” person, an honour not often bestowed outside immediate family. Piston allowed himself to be held on a lap and stroked – he must have been impressed, he never does that with the AM.
Deciding that this sight was depressing, the pair finished their hols with the usual line “Sod it. Let’s go home!”
It’s always good to end a trip on a high point. The visit by a friend couldn’t have been a finer one. So they packed up and hauled out early the next morning. Nanny Ab loves a laugh so when the campsite owner apologised for the weather she gave him a hard stare and replied “Oh so it was you, was it? I wondered who was responsible!”
As a bit of bravado, and knowing that the Bingergread Cottage would have had no stove lit for days, they made the eejit decision to camp “au sauvage” ten minutes drive from the cottage on the hilltop near the holy stones. The AM remembered where the gas heater was which made life a lot more jolly, the TV was turned on so that Nanny could watch her documentaries in French. Much more tea was drunk and they had the best night’s sleep of the week before arriving home at 9 the next morning.
It may take some time and a very long range weather forecast before Nanny Ab agrees to go away in Vanner again. She may well take her chances on her motorbike before she suffers that torture!