the longest day

We were so relaxed after the beautiful swimming pool that we couldn’t get the necessary push to do our 300 km the next day. So we travelled 100 instead to Nice and met up with my sister and family who were also on their way to Tuscany and the birthday party. The campsite at Cagnes Sur Mer is nothing special but our luck held out and they found us a place although they were full!
The next day we paid the price of our ‘pausa’ and had the longest journey of the trip so far. My sisters family took a sardine tin  train trip to Ventimiglia on the Italian side of the border.
We drove there and also got caught up in the weekly market crowds

Driving through Genova was another mistake –  a futuristic nightmare of tangled roads on stilts which never ended.  I was the passenger and spent most of the time with my eyes closed.
We were aiming for the Cinque Terres – five small seaside towns  which are part of a marine nature reserve.

If I say the words bends, mountains and tunnels perhaps this will give an idea of this part of the journey.  There was a series of tunnels only the width of a car which was exciting at first but became claustrophobic when the darkness never ended.
The road was beautiful and different from anything else on the trip so far

but time was racing on and as darkness fell we still didn’t have anywhere to camp.

Some sites were full. Others said ‘no dogs’.  I felt my heart sinking with each rejection and was impressed by Pep’s never ending optimism. At time like these it is good to have different personalities.
Just as we began to accept the idea of sleeping in the car we found the campsite Saint Michele – thanks I am sure to the same benign saintly presence who takes care of Penzance and Sant Michaels Mount.
Lovely people, dogs welcome, a relaxed and hippy atmosphere and although all our tents were tightly packed into a very small space,   it felt like the best campsite yet.

There is something about camping that feels medieval to me – the footsteps passing in the night, sounds of voices and snores and wheezes and sneezes, walking to the communal areas for water and washing, sleeping on the firm ground with your dog at your side.

Finding this place was like a miracle – finding somewhere to lie down at the end of a long day of spinning round corners, creeping through dark tunnels and careering down hills chased by Vespa scooters can not be felt as anything other than miraculous!
And to top it all, this place was the only campsite we found with hooks on the toilet doors – something so simple can make all the difference.  No need to pee while balancing my bag on my knees.

We woke to the sound of church bells echoing around the Tuscan valley – beautiful.

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3 thoughts on “the longest day

  1. Dear Kate,
    we used to go camping with one of our dogs( long since buried in the garden when she died aged 17 and went to the great kennel in the sky, but still missed). As so many camping places said “no dogs”, we trained her to hide quietly under clothing in the back seat when we entered camping-places. Then, in the tent, she lay quietly, and if she wanted to bark, we said “Shhh!”, and held up a finger, so she would make funny noises in her throat inaudible outside the tent, as she still wanted to guard us and warn of passers-by. It all worked well. We would give her a good walk beforehand, so she could have a pee and didn’t need to leave the tent overnight. Then, we’d sail off in the morning with her hidden in the back-seat again. We were never detected. So do try! If you can’t find somewhere that welcomes dogs, just defy the signs. You may have to do some quick training of Duna first, of course.
    Pearl x

  2. Hi Oreneta – you have to be a camper to understand!! How I hate perching above on the loo trying to hug my bag and towel on my lap at the same time as stopping anything touching anything else.
    Great story Pearl – Duna could almost do it but she does love to sleep outside the tent and she snores too! STill we could try. K x

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