Tuesday, 29 September 2009


It was an unwelcome six hour drive from The Dordogne heading south west to the European surf capital of Hossegor and the promise of sun, surf and plenty of free camping spots behind the dunes. As we approached Landes a sea-mist enveloped the flat, pine-forested land and a coastal gloom descended. Arriving in Hossegor we cruised up and down the coast looking for surf —way too big and stormy for me, and camp spots — the dune-side car parks had prominent, well tended signs banning ‘camping cars’ from overnighting and local enquiries confirmed there was zero tolerance. I settled for an unsatisfactory high-tide surf at the sheltered Plage Sud before overnighting in the charmless, toilet-less, government sanctioned, €8 ‘Aire de Camping Car’ along with two or three hundred other hapless souls whiling away their retirement.

The continuous driving of the previous week compounded by the constant listless search for a camp spot, a toilet, a shower, somewhere to call home for at least a few days began to take it’s toll. Neither of us wanted to admit it, because this trip is about embracing the romantic idyll of life on the road, freedom and a simpler life yet here we both were feeling anxious, unsettled and cabin-fevered by the heavy weather, the expensive jammed car park camping and one too many ‘baby-wipe’ baths in the van.

The truth, uncomfortable to admit, was that we both held a resistance to this transient life borne of our familiarity with routine, order, deadlines, disposable income, comfort, space and home. The undesirable irony is these are the things we left home to escape, yet their hold is strong and this new, basic, budget-pressured lifestyle is difficult to embrace. I’m so used to the safety of a salary which, though never huge, over last five years or so allowed me to do pretty much what I wanted.

I always knew this trip was going to be much more than a holiday. Yes, we’ll see amazing places and enjoy the absence of work, but the underlying essence of this trip is about life-change, it’s about not only embracing but forcing change, it’s about release from dependency — on possessions, on income and the familiar. It is about facing challenges and learning from them. These last few days cheek-by-jowl with the retiring and retired, motor-homed community with surf that scared me was the first lesson of the trip.

The next day the sun shone, the wind calmed, the surf dropped to a perfect 3ft and we decided to throw caution to the wind and invest an extra €4 a night on a campsite in Vieux Boceau with toilets, showers and wifi. We’ve been here four days now, right back in our comfort-zone like pigs in muck.

Nb. The photographs were taken once we were safely tucked inside our comfort-zone.

1 comment:

XXX said...

missing XFactor huh? x TKM