Present: Julie (organiser) and family, Bob, Rhoda, Paul and Tao, Maggie, Steve C, Nathan, Cliff

A fortuitous coincidental mass booking onto the same ferry on Saturday morning got the proceedings off to a jolly start, and we arrived at La Musardiere to find Steve C and Nathan had bagged us a better spot than last year (no doorstep lake!). New tents and new super tarp were erected. Steve and Nathan had already done some climbing having arrived in the early hours. Good job they did because the opportunities were to be limited…

Croissants arrived on schedule at the campsite by van as they have done every year since we have been to this campsite, setting us up for the day ahead. This first full day (Sunday) saw us all getting hot and sweaty in the forest. We met up with Steve W, Lee and Heather (staying in a gite) to do some serious sandstone bouldering. Superb weather took us to climb at Diplodocus area and we then moved to another area close by. This saw many a male shirt removed with the men getting all macho as the bouldering reached new heights. The day was rounded off by a beer in the café at the other end of Mille la Foret (the main town). Even Maggie felt the need for a beer! Pizza was then consumed by some back at the campsite under the tarp along with delicious cakes from the patisserie. Paul cooked up a storm on his camp kitchen, which didn’t seem to take as long as usual. Light rain rounded off the evening.

Cliff tries hard. (Julie)

Rhoda tries harder. (Julie)

Blimey, Bob! (Julie)

Monday dawned a bit overcast and the bouldering was sporadic and unsatisfying, partly due to choosing a crap area. The walk into the forest did produce some singing nightingales (including a sighting) and 6-8 red squirrels running about through the trees. We moved on pretty rapidly as we realised the bouldering was mossy and unsuitable, so we moved the cars to a more familiar climbing spot that we had found the year before. A small amount of bouldering puzzles were bagged but then light drizzle eventually chased us to the local bar ‘Backgammon’. Cliff, Rhoda and Bob walked back to the campsite finding a beautiful butterfly orchid in the forest, as well as spotting a cuckoo in flight while looking over the forest and the memorial cross to the Resistance. Back at the campsite the new tarp and Nathan’s new mess tent really came into their own (after a huge shopping trip to Decathlon and the “supermarché”). Hot communal BBQ action followed, courtesy of William’s disposable BBQs and bargain BBQ meat packs. The evening was complete with Petanque (when in Rome as they say) and Poi training from Nathan (who sadly did not bring the unicycle, although there was precious little else he could not suddenly produce from the back of his massive vehicle. Who else carries a whole box of lollipops for instance?)

Tuesday limped in with shocking weather – rain! Those without offspring (Cliff, Bob, Rhoda, Nathan, Steve C) headed to Paris for some culture, although because the museum queues were so long they opted instead for a quick jaunt up the Eiffel Tower to the very top. ‘Eiffel’ bouldering did occur at one point. The parents amongst us and Maggie, who seemed to be on some sort of busman’s holiday, quickly discovered that any form of wet weather entertainment including museums, swimming pools, cinemas and castles were very firmly “fermé” on a Tuesday. A damp traipse around the grounds of Fontainebleau Chateau was the most we could muster. All was saved however by a group night out in Milly consisting mainly of jokes about red wine at Maggie’s expense (sorry Maggie). Meanwhile, back at the campsite a spectacular electric storm was enjoyed from the safety of the tarp followed by a damp night – Paul’s massive new tent leaked, Bob and Rhoda retreated to the car for the night, but in a pretty impressive display of rainproof fabulousness, we are pleased to report that the Quecha pop up tents were marvellous and dry – despite sitting on a repeat of last year’s campsite lake caused by the flash flood. By morning it was as if the storm had never happened as the heat had dried most of the puddles.

Steve and Nathan had to leave early Wednesday morning, which was a shame as the sun shone that afternoon and more climbing was done. Following that, fond farewells were said to Bob, Rhoda and Cliff before Julie, William, Paul, Maggie and the kids headed north to round off the week in… a gite! With a roof and everything!

So folks, there we were again for the fourth year running, and still not sick of it! Some of us are even planning on returning in September. The group love affair with ‘Font’ continues strong – but the gites are already booked for next year. Thanks Steve, Lee and Heather for the idea!

Julie Carlisle, Rhoda Bashford

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