The boating crowd are by and large a gregarious lot. Because of the nature of the mode of transport it tends to spend a fair amount of its time out of doors, dealing with locks and moorings and so on, and there are therefore many opportunities for interaction with one’s surroundings and those within them. The old seamen’s code relating to providing assistance to ships in distress tends to translate in this modern age into some very civilised food and beverage sharing practices when in port, which in turn leads to lengthy evenings of information sharing of varying degrees of usefulness depending in no small way in the proportions of said food and beverages shared.
The camping car mob on the other hand seem to be a different kettle of fish, zipped up tight in their little hermetically sealed cans. They arrive, park on a piece of bitumen that could pass for a supermarket parking lot were it not for the distinct absence of an actual supermarket, adjust their television dishes, level their wheels, readjust their television dishes, then simply disappear into the cavern.
Interestingly for us, it’s usually quite easy to spot the Australian touring in a small camping car among this lot. They are the ones with the van parked so that the windows face the view (in this case the canal), with the doors open and the screens down, and a couple of chairs outside so they can hijack any passer-by who needed to be given the time of day.
When the day dawned cold and wet even they were snugged up in their dry, warm van. We were intent on leaving, so took pity on them and brought them out for a cruise, not a long cruise but a cruise none the less, just a few hundred metres and up one lock. Enough to get them wet and cold and well and truly aware of what they were missing.
And we think we left them wanting more, as they motored off, heater on full no doubt to some warmer, drier spot on the planet. We powered on to Epinal in the drizzle and the cold and lived happily ever after without ever finding out if there was actually any life aboard any of those other vans.