Wednesday 6th, Thursday 7th June 2018
“When you almost die it gives you a special relationship with a place!”
said Hans as he recounted the tale of how 50 years ago he had to be airlifted by helicopter to Bordeaux Hospital with a meningitis-like infection. Back in the 60s there were no EHIC cards to guarantee you medical cover and Hans father had to borrow the cost of his week’s stay in hospital from the owner of Le Tedey campsite.
We were sitting in the sun on the Beach Bar deck overlooking the lake and chatting over a bottle of wine about how long he had been coming to Le Tedey. He first came as a boy in 1966 with his parents and had been coming pretty much every year since. He was not put off by his hospitalisation (possibly due to something he had caught in the lake), learned to windsurf here in the 70s and as a result opened his own windsurfing shop and school back home in Holland. He and his wife, Carla, continued to make the drive south every summer bringing their children with them, which is how Katy (our daughter) met Malou (their daughter) a dozen years ago.
Yes we are back in Le Tedey! It has taken us 31 days, 2763 miles and 18 campsites to get here, so not the quickest route, but it is great to be here. Even before parking up, as we were looking at the pitches available, there was a trilling of a bike bell and cries of Hello! Hello! And Alfie! Alfie! It was Cécile who runs the bar and recognised us (I hope we had made ain impression through the quality of our conversation rather than the amount we consumed – though it was probably just the dog.) I even managed to get through the awkward cheek-kissing bit, is it twice or three times?
This place just suits us, we measure every campsite against the Le Tedey benchmark and so far not one has beaten it. At the moment the weather not quite up to scratch; it is a bit cloudy, a bit wet, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
This year is the campsite’s 60thanniversary (is that too much history Kate?) and I asked Hans what changes could he remember over the last 50 years. He said that there were not many, the toilets were better (and the sceptic tanks had gone), there were more pitches with electric hook up, Wi-Fi and the trees on the dune had been felled and replaced by the French forestry commission a couple of times but that was about it. We both agreed that that was the charm of the place, the owners had found something that worked and had worked hard to preserve it. That was what kept people like us coming back year after year.
A walk into Moutchic showed that there were changes happening in the wider Lacanau world. The old house that was, in the 30s, the home of the commanding officer of the flying boat squadron stationed on the lake and has lain derelict for many years (it used to look like the house from the Munsters) has finally been renovated (at a cost of € 537,000 no less!) and a fine job they have made of it too.
The bar opposite the beach, which for the last couple of years has wallowed in a shabby, down-at-heel look with furniture made out of pallets and beer bottles for decorations, has changed hands. It has had a makeover during the winter and now looks far better. It still has some comfy sofas and looks an even better destination for a lazy, Sunday morning petit-déjeuner. I’ll let you know if it is next week.
Well it is all excited anticipation in the Jones’ Camp this morning (Saturday) Hannah and Jamie are due to arrive any time now. Wendy has swept the groundsheet and polished the taps, she has even bought an extra baguette for lunch. I have got to go now and hang up the bunting she has been sewing for the last three days!