Sunday, 31 August 2008

Campsite man

I feel I should say a little more about campsite man (Pierre-Henri). We first met him last year when we stayed on the campsite for two weeks. He got on well with Ian because they are around the same age and both had had financial problems related to ex-wives. Last year Ian and him spent a lot of time moaning about women and money! Campsite man 'rents' the campsite from the commune (local council) for a nominal amount and maintains and runs the campsite. He is pretty much on his own which means that he is on site 24 hours a day 7 days a week from April until October. Last year he lived in his tent but this year he has upgraded his accommodation to a wooden garden shed the size of a small garage. Outside the garage doors he has created a small garden where he grows a few tomato plants and flowers and sits on his garden chairs to enjoy his morning coffee!

We dropped by to say hello to him earlier in the year, something he seemed to appreciate, and he welcomed us back this summer, when we got to know him a little better. As well as an ex-wife he has two ex-restaurants and a two houses in addition to his garage. One is lived in by his ex and one by his current girlfriend (although I would imagine that over the summer he gets little opportunity to further that relationship as he is surrounded by campers). He has just been given the permanent custody of an ancient camper-van whose ageing owner has finally decided to part with it (as he is no longer capable of driving it back to Germany). Campsite man will live in it from now on and so is trying to sell is garden shed!

Campsite man is essentially very French but, like most French people in the area gets on well with the English immigrants, even though he likes to tease them about their dreadful food and the fact that they (and the migrant grape pickers) are the only ones brave enough to stay in the campsite after September! He likes his coffee, his wine, and is quite knowledgeable about planting and the seasons. We learnt two things from him. Firstly, if you hear the frogs croaking after 10.00pm then it will rain overnight (this was certainly true) and secondly that anything planted on a saints day in October (I can't remember what one it was but it was around the 25th!) will take root and grow. We are hoping that there is some flexibility here as we planted some tree saplings while we were there and we are hoping that they manage to survive!

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