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CANNABIS AND CALYPSO (Voyage to Villemoustaussou 3)



This holiday we are really enjoying cannabis and calypso. The heady fragrance and sense of complete freedom we are discovering makes you just want to get up and dance! We wanted this stage of our annual holiday in France to be really different and that is just how it is proving to be. We are at Camping Das Pinhiers, a small, privately owned campsite on the edge of the village of Villemoustaussou, about 5k from the historic medieval town of Carcassonne. We are in ‘Cathar Country’, happily ensconced in a ‘Lodge’ – a rather nice ‘poshed up’ mobile home – with all ‘mod cons’ and a nice shaded decking area, overlooking the surrounding vineyards and distant Montagne Noire mountains. The weather is warm and sunny … and there are no strikers, plenty of petrol, and not a football fan in sight!

I ought to add at this point (in case you are beginning to worry about what we are getting up to) that our nearest neighbours are two gorgeous chestnut brown (but with white round their eyes and white noses) donkeys called Cannabis and Calypso. They live in a sloping paddock that borders our Lodge but falls away down a wooded slope full of pine trees, olive trees, and wild rosemary. Every morning they come up the slope to see us … and for Julia to feed them carrots! I wondered why … when we went shopping at the Super Marché when we first arrived here … Julia added a huge bag of carrots to our purchases. I should have realised, of course.

Strangely, there are very few people camping here at this lovely site? I know that the weather in France has been poor so far … the owners were pleased to see us because (as per usual of course) ‘we brought the sunshine with us’ … and that the industrial dispute between the French Government and the Trade Unions (resulting in petrol shortages in some parts of the country) has ‘put people off’ from holidaying in France this year, but there were only about six of us camping here when we arrived at the weekend. Apparently even the Dutch are not coming this year … and the Dutch come to France in their hundreds every year … many of the elderly, retired Dutch staying from the beginning of May until the end of July (when the campsite prices go up). Obviously the Dutch don’t realise that Cannabis is freely available on this campsite?!

There are a couple of Dutch people in a caravan (who don’t really speak to anyone), and another couple of Brits (from Grimsby) who also have a caravan – a rather posh ‘set-up’ actually complete with satellite TV, King-size bed, air conditioning, and additional living space to the side of their caravan – who come here every year at the end of March and stay until half way through October! Mind you, if I was retired and lived in Grimsby, I would spend half the year in the south of France as well! They are very chatty, and come and feed carrots to Cannabis and Calypso as well.

We feel very sorry for Madam and Monsieur who own, and manage, the site. They are really nice, very friendly and helpful, and work very hard to keep this site independent and well run. They only have a short season to make their money for the year, and this season has already been ‘fore-shortened’ for them by the bad weather and the strikes. On top of that they are having trouble with their swimming pool. When we arrived they informed us that the pool was ‘not open’ yet? They had had some repairs started in the close season but the wet weather meant that the new concreting had not dried out yet. Madam told us that Monsieur would be starting work again by the end of the week. We were not too bothered as we both felt so tired that we just wanted to rest for a few days anyway. However, some expected visitors immediately cancelled as soon as they arrived yesterday because the pool was not open, and went elsewhere. Madam and Monsieur were clearly not very happy last night … and Monsieur was at work on the pool this morning almost at first light!

We have started to pray (in our daily devotional time) God’s blessing on this campsite, the owners, the people staying here … even on the couple from Grimsby … and already new people seem to be arriving, including a couple of people carriers with parties of six or so people who have taken over some of the empty lodges!

The couple from Grimsby called round this evening … on their way back from feeding the donkeys … and they filled us in with all the ‘campsite gossip’. Apparently there is going to be a ‘music festival’ in a few weeks time in Villemoustaussou … they hold it every year … and a lot of the ‘artists’ stay here on our campsite. Apparently ‘the whole site will really liven up then’! In some ways we will be sorry to miss it, although in other ways perhaps not? We gather that another kind of cannabis and calypso may possibly feature prominently then?

Jim Binney

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