TRAVEL BLOG: French Letters (to home) (26/08/23)

All quiet on the southern front.

Today Trixy and John are our saviours.  They provide a lift to Carrefour and back. Megan returns with 5.5% cidre and Leffe Ruby. Lots of it. So we should be OK for the next few days.

I remember there used to be a Carrefour in Caerphilly.  The first ‘hyper market’ in Wales. They are two a penny these days, with ya Tesco Extra and all the jazz, but in 1972 it was a big deal as this YouTube demonstrates. I remember being sat in the car for what seemed like hours queuing just to get into the car park.

Six years later in 1978 the French supermarket chain decided to celebrate the anniversary in style by bringing over from France the largest animated gorilla in the world. It was 40ft tall and weighed over three tons. It had a mechanical grab and was capable of lifting two people in one hand. It also had a roar that could be heard a full two miles away. Big Mong, as it was indeed shockingly called, was evidently modelled on that daddy of them all, King Kong. It was only there five days but burned itself into the collective consciousness of the valleys.  It even has a Facebook Group dedicated to it.

Big Mong 1978

It’s an Asda now.

The weather forecast has been predicting thunder storms and heavy rain for today. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I’m disappointed it does not materialise. It is scorchio.

We contemplate walking into town but this weather is, quite literally,  dangerous.

We sit drinking Carrefour’s finest pina colada, wondering what everyone’s up to and where they are. Then as it starts to cool, around seven of the p.m.s, our closest friends in the gang start to slowly but surely rock up to our little Eden and make merry.

Two of our French hosts pop in for a while to chat in French with Madam Loveless. Hélène, who had come along to the wedding the previous night, recalls dancing to the formidable musicians.

Some of the gang had been chilling and mooching about all day, but it appears that some of them had only just got out of bed. I get the impression the bride was less than enthusiastic about the post party carnage she woke up to.

It’s a strange little place. The various cabins, shacks and caravans are almost on top of eachother,  but it is possible to be oblivious to what is going on just 200m away. Well, until one of the sewing circle arrives with their gossip.  And boy was there some gossip! But what goes on on tour stays on tour, to protect the guilty. Even if the guiltiest of all doesn’t have any shame.

At various points in the night people drop in to try to persuade us to go to sketchy parties up in the mountains,  or a jam session in a music studio down by the river (even though the owner of the studio has said no). Most of us say no, but the guilty shameless one is well up for it and disappears into the night.

Eventually everyone drifts away leaving us with a huge box of left over food from the wedding, wondering what to do with it.