18th October 2016. Cuges-les-Pins, France.

There was a huge storm overnight but this morning the weather was beautiful so we packed some breakfast and cycled down to the beach and ate it overlooking the beautiful Med.  We didn’t stay long because Darren had work to do, he intended catching up on some emails before we left the car park only I thought it might be better to travel to Hyeres  which was 30 minutes so we could settle in and hook up to the electricity.

That didn’t go quite to plan, the countryside was beautiful around Hyeres and we saw a man herding sheep and goats along the road towards us on the way.  We were very excited when we saw the ‘Open’ sign for the aire and Darren pulled off the main road to discover the gates were padlocked shut, definitely NOT open!

It was rather a dodgy road to reverse out on to so I had to stand in the road to see him out.  We were a bit cheesed off but we needed to go to Le Crue to collect our parcel so we drove to the aire there which was at a car wash business.  We couldn’t see anywhere to pull in so Darren parked on a small piece of waste land opposite and I went in to ask the owner.  He was very nice (he made a nice comment about me speaking French) and he told me that we could stay for free when the business closed at 19.30 and we needed to leave by 8.30 a.m.  That wasn’t going to be too useful to us unless the parcel hadn’t turned up.  Darren did his work and we had lunch parked on the wasteland.

When he’d finished what he needed to do we drove into Le Crue and the SAT NAV decided to send us down some teeny roads.  There was absolutely nowhere to park in the town and we passed the shop which was closed so we carried on driving along the road until we came to a garden centre/builders merchants.  We parked in there and hoped they wouldn’t see us walking out of the gate!

The walk in was nice and we picked the parcel up without any problems then after a quick look round the  garden centre to see whether they sold buckets with lids (they had buckets for horses but none with lids on them) we drove on to Cruges-Les-Pins.  It was very hilly and we drove high up into the hills, we were surprised to pass a load of tipis along the way.

When we eventually came to the town where the aire was, yet again the SAT NAV tried to take us up a footpath and the next street didn’t look much better so we drove out of town, found a garage to turn around in and came back for another look.

The street didn’t look quite so bad from the other direction but it was a nerve wracking journey up to the aire which was even higher up in the hills.  We were thrilled when we eventually got there although the track in looked rather lumpy and bumpy which made us wonder whether it was actually open.

Once we were inside we noticed a couple of vans up on the highest terrace and one on the lower terrace so we went up to the top.

It was an amazing place, rural, looking over at the rocky hills and woodland.  Once we’d parked Darren wandered round to see if he could find out where we paid, he found a little noticeboard and a little hut but there didn’t appear to be anyone to pay so we assumed someone would come and knock for money during the evening.

We made dinner and were just eating when we saw a lady walking up the hill, we assumed she was from one of the other vans however she marched up to our window, gesticulated and wandered round to the door.  When we opened the door we got told off!   Apparently we were supposed to walk to reception to pay and sign in and because we hadn’t done that she’d had to walk all the way up to our pitch to tell us and unsurprisingly she wasn’t happy.  We had a fun time trying to understand what she was saying, she spoke very little English and I spoke very little French, and I was panicking while I was doing it.  We thought she was telling us that the site was closed but we could stay until tomorrow as it was late, we could stay but we must go by 8 a.m. cue my first ‘Ello ‘Ello moment, I asked her how much money we needed to country her, instead of pay her, she eventually understood what I was saying and told us it was 4.50 Euros for the night.

My second  ‘Ello ‘Ello moment occurred when she told us there was work being done at the entrance to the site (which finally explained why it looked like it was closed).  It turns out she’d been saying we needed to leave by 8 a.m. if we wanted to get out the next day and she pointed to a noticeboard at the entrance.   I tried to say we didn’t understand what she was telling us so we’d walk down to the noticeboard and read the information, instead I said we’d walk down to the noticeboard and write the information.  D’oh!  No wonder she walked off with a smile on her face, I wonder what other daft things I’d said.

Darren went to look at the board and she pointed at it and said it was written in French, English, German and Italian but they’d just translated every thing word for word from French so the English instructions said “Direction compulsory reception” with an arrow pointing down a path to nothing apparent but when Darren followed the lady she took him to a little bungalow which was hidden from view so he could sign in.

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