There she blows
September 17, 2008


How come 2 nights in a tent can make you feel like you have just given birth and haven’t slept in week? In fact, I am so tired that I think I had better post this post tomorrow, when I have had enough sweep to swot the mistakes (yawn…)


To persevere…on Friday night the boyfriend and I (yes, we are still together after all his recent shenanigans) decided that it would “do us good to see the sea.” After an ‘Augustus horrendous,’ a long weekend away seemed like just the ticket: it would blow away the cobwebs and give us a chance to start afresh. With a combined budget of 300 Euros for 3 days we went…you guessed it…CAMPING – and you know how much I love that! 


The following morning we packed the car* and set off for the beautiful seaside town of Collioure, just South of Perpignan. The local weather report predicted sun, with a little cloud cover and the ‘chance’ of high winds. As it was rain that we were trying to avoid, we didn’t give two hoots about the ‘chance’ of high winds (big mistake!)


After 1hr 38 mins on the road we stopped for a picnic at a service station near Carcassone. I can see why some people refer to it as “the windy city”- it was blowing a hoolie! I must have looked like I was ‘under the influence’ as I weaved my way to the shop to buy a bottle of water. When I returned the boyfriend had found a table, opened the picnic hamper and was trying his utmost to keep a hold of its contents. “Are you sure this is a good I idea?” I said, as I grabbed a plastic plate mid air.


“Just stick some food on it,” he said, handing me the salad bowl,  “the weight should keep it down.”


I loaded my plate with tomatoes, herring, eggs and lettuce and sat with my back to the wind. It was impossible to eat. Every time I opened my mouth it filled with hair – yuk. Without a clip to tie it back I was forced to move round the table and face into the wind. Now I had bits of lettuce flying up and hitting me in the face – thankfully the rest of the salad was heavy enough to stay on the plate. Suffice to say, we ate quickly! Before our digestive juices had even had the chance to kick in, we were back on the road, hoping that the wind would subside as we made our way further south.


An hour later and we were at the campsite. Had the wind had subsided? Oh no, if anything it had got worse. At this point any sane person would have gone in search of hotel or a pitch with some shelter at least. But our budget was tight and a sea view was a must, so we chose the most impractical spot ever – a very windy one overlooking the Med! How we struggled to erect the tent. I even had to dive into the car at one point to shelter from an unexpected squall. Once it was up it was evident that we would need some big rocks to secure the base.


“Are you sure the tent won’t blow away?” I asked my boyfriend, as he rolled an extra large boulder onto one of the guy ropes. 


“Oh it will be fine,” he said, laughing at me. ”I spent 8 years in the Marines, and have set up camp in the most hostile of environments. Once the wind was so bad that it shredded my tent. This is nothing. Trust me. You won’t even notice the wind when you are inside.”


Humbled, I went to bed that night happy in the knowledge that our tent was safe and that we would have a good night’s sleep. As I slipped under the duvet I even remarked on how romantic it was that I could hear the sea “crashing against the rocks and the wind rushing through the trees.”


By 3am the romance had worn off. I hadn’t slept a wink. The boyfriend, who was “used to these kinds of conditions,” had been asleep for hours. The fact that the inner compartment of the tent was lifting, to the extent that our heads physically left our pillows, didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. While he lay there dreaming (and snoring), I lay there waiting for a tree or some other heavy object to fall on my head.


At 4am I was still awake and in desperate need of a pee. Torch in hand I ran to the toilet block, dodging the odd low flying branch on the way. They were locked. I couldn’t believe it. Am I the only person who needs to use a toilet in the middle night? A wee in the wind was out of the question. All it takes is one big gust and…well… I don’t think I need to go into details.


Bladder giving way, I ran to the children’s facilities. I had walked past them earlier in the day and noticed that they were doorless. No doors meant no locks – it also meant no privacy. As I crouched over a toilet the size of my left buttock, I prayed to god that the night watchman hadn’t seen me. If he had, he would be wondering what on earth a grown woman, without a child, was doing in the children’s toilets at that time of night. Worse still, he might come to check it out. The fear of being caught in the act made me perform it all the quicker. Mission accomplished and dignity preserved (that’s assuming there weren’t any night cameras) I dived back into my tent and waited for dawn.


By 10 am the following day the wind had reached new heights. It was so bad that even the boyfriend had to admit defeat: “these tents from Argos are not as strong as the ones we had in the Marines,” he said as he chucked it half broken into the boot of the car. Luckily I had brought a spare; my pop-up doll’s house from ‘The Mutant’ (cheaper than Lidl, for those of you outside France). It had initially been earmarked for the dogs but as it was so windy they had ended up sleeping in the car. It did us proud. It was so small it was relatively unaffected by the wind. The fact that we put it up on the other side of the campsite, away from the sea, probably helped.  However, where it kept one type of wind out, it kept in another type of wind in – the boyfriend’s. He woke up hiccupping and burping several times during the night. After each outbreak he would drift back off to sleep within minutes. I lay awake for hours. I could have killed him. By Monday I was on my knees with tiredness.


That said, we had a good giggle, ate some delicious seafood and managed to have a swim in the sea – which was a very refreshing 20 degrees (brrrrrrr).  I may be a bit on the tired side tonight, but the cobwebs have certainly been blown away…far, far away! 



The doll'd house braving the wind

The doll's house, braving the wind, with the boyfriend's tent in a sorry state on the ground behind.


*But you don’t have a car, I can hear some of you cry! I know. My boyfriend has managed to get one on loan from a friend for the time being. Still not sure what kind of deal he has done to get it though?