Matthijs’ scouting summer camp did not go well. Though he did enjoy some of it, he felt that he was being teased very much and got into a big enough row with the scoutmasters that he had to be fetched early. He himself wrote his version of the events carefully in his journal (see photo).
After that we went down to Brussels to celebrate Falco’s birthday with my parents. They all got spoiled rotten with sweeties, crisps and a beautiful spiderman cake.
Daniel lost a milk-tooth in Brussels and the tooth fairy dutifully coughed up a euro. He boasted to Matthijs that he had already lost three teeth and asked how many Matthijs had lost, to which the scornful reply was, “None, but I have the upgrade”. Hmmm.
We left well on time and journeyed on down to our holiday campsite in the Jura. The journey went very well and we arrived about 4 pm in glorious sunny weather. The campsite was great: beautiful wooded hills, a huge lake and good climate. We were well on time, but apparently a day early… ooops.
Fortunately the campsite was very flexible and while they bustled around getting our caravan ready, we sloped of to the swimming bath and had a very refreshing and welcome dip. After getting settled we waddled down to the campside restaurant and ate pizzas, seated on a terrace with a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding hills.
The next day we explored the local town, shopped in the market and the supermarket and waddled back to the campsite for lunch. That was interrupted by a galloping-hooves sound and the rain came down in a solid grey sheet. Apparently the weather had been pretty much like that for the last three weeks and we had come on the first sunny day. We immediately made a list of the local indoor attractions and started loading our traquilizer guns for when the kiddos got cabin fever.
The first week the weather was changeable, interspersing nice, sit-outside moments with cloudbursts (included the galloping-horses effect from all the caravan rooves). We became nimble at exploiting the sunny bits by dashing to the swimming bath and had a pretty good time.
The swimming bath was a major hit. It also included a huge bouncy-castle into which Matthijs disappeared permanently. Daniel joined him for a bit, but loved trundling around in his swimming ring and water wings with Falco in close attendance. There was also a very jolly kids-club where we dumped them in the mornings, enabling Mama and Papa to have quiet walks, cups of coffee and the occasional wine-tasting. We actually got to be on holiday too.
We also took them to a Dinosaur park with ginormous plaster dinosaurs amoung carefully landscaped genuine Jura-Jurassicness. Naturally the French Jura feels rather that it owns dinosaurs, there being no Kentishshic, or Belgiummic prehistoric period. Unfortunately the limestone gorges provided the route with many hairpin bends and Falco lost his lunch halfway there. Fortunately we had our usual massive supply of wipes, but he was less than fragrant for the rest of the day. Our monsters still enjoyed their monsters and we skipped happily past many signposts with reams of worthy information in order to photograph our offspring being devoured by a T-Rex before heading back for a swim before supper. When Marjolein cheerily pointed out a helicopter on the way back a disgruntled Falco complained he could not see the flying Harry-Potter.
Next time we ate in the camp restaurant they were a bit slow and I automatically started drawing, including a what I felt was sensitive and finely characterized portrait of Marjolein. Daniel spotted it and said “What a nice picture of ..“(I beamed proudly) “Count Dracular” (I smiled less and Marjolein fell about).
The next day I tried to encourage the little rat to try some Garlic sausage. “Do you know what garlic is Daniel?”
“Yes papa!” (hmmm)
“What is it then?”
“It’s a killer robot Papa!”
“No Daniel, that’s a DA-lek…” (sigh)
We went to the town of Champagnole the next week and unwisely tried the local Lemon tart (instantly addictive, very dangerous) and local cheese (Conté, also very hazardous).
Later that week we, on the recommendation of many, went and saw the local waterfalls, a chain of stunning waterfalls running the length of a river gorge. Quite a long, but lovely, walk cumulating in a daring passage behind the final fall. We had fun but got utterly soaked by the spray and blown to pieces by the tremendous gale of wind that the waterfall created behind it: we dried off quickly in the sun. Falco got stung by a wasp on the way back, poor soul so we declared open season and I did my fearless hunter bit. Grab and squish.
The holiday ended with fine sunny days spent at the swimming bath where the monsters had all found friends to play with. Matthijs stood on a wasp but suffered no more than the initial ouch. We stocked up on local “Yellow” wine, bought a huge chunk of Conté in a stupendous, awe-inspiring cheese-temple that was just an ordinary local shop for France and systematically packed and tidied the caravan. We were well prepared and were able to set off in a relaxed way and trundle back up to Brussels and from there to Haarlem. The monsters amused themselves and behaved well all the way, so we never needed the portable DVD player that we had bought as “insurance”.
When we landed in Haarlem Marjolein’s sister and her husband turned up 5 minutes later because they thought we were celebrating Matthijs’ birthday (we weren’t), so that put paid to the Conté and part of our wine selection and was a nice welcome home.