France: 1 June 1975

Awful thunder and rain beating down all night, had stopped raining when we woke, but only momentarily, and the unremitting downpour soon resumed. More thunder, more heavy rain and it went on and on all day… Water lying everywhere on the site, we had the heater going to stop the air in the tent feeling too clammy. The water in the outer tent was more the result of trickling down and gathering on the grass beneath the ground sheet than actually leaking in, but one kept wondering just how much of such concentrated rain the tent could absorb! Didn’t even go out do the washing up, and trips to the loo were as few as possible.

Children played Wembley with David for most of the morning, then we went to Cénac for lunch with the Coles family, driving along roads with torrents gushing along in a most alarming manner. Shot out of the car and into the restaurant where we sat at an enormous table, there being nine of us, and ordered seven portions of the 15Fr menu. This was soup, hake cutlets served in a vinaigrette with finely grated carrots, then pâté. At this point, we were given an extra pâté when we’d nearly finished the first, so quick as a flash, Vera swiped it onto her lap and we whisked it into the AA plastic folder in my handbag. Helpless giggles all round the table. Anyway, we then proceeded on to the roast pork, mashed potatoes, salad, then cheese, fruit or ice cream and coffee. A super meal, and Gareth ate just about every course. We went up to Domme afterwards – road was horrible, with water gushing down, and the hairpin bends very tricky to negotiate, and it was so wet when we got there we came straight down again! Decided to go to the caves at Cognac as it was such a dreadful day, awful lot of flooded fields, roads covered with water, etc.

Went down to the first cave – stalactites and stalagmites very impressive. Gareth scuttling about like a little crab looking for bits of broken stalactite, and collecting quite a hoard in his shirt pocket. Some paintings too, including three fingers, rather like the hands we saw on the walls last year. Mammoths, deer, goats on the walls, quite impressive. In the second cave there were mainly stalactites and stalagmites, very pretty including some very white clusters which showed up beautifully in the mercury lamp.

Drove back to the camp site to find some very wet tents going up and harassed looking families trying to unpack. Felt pleasantly full of lunch! David and Co have moved to a chalet for the night as their tents were so wet, so went to see it and divide the pâté – it certainly felt nice and cosy, and the rain was pouring down again. Shot back to the tent when it stopped, hung up all the anoraks, put on the heater and ate lobster soup, pâté and tinned satsumas for our supper, fell into bed replete.

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