Fontainebleau / by ellie berry

Lying on a crash pad half enveloped in a duvet, I sit up; partially asleep but awake enough to realise something has changed. Several stumbled zip-doors later, I step outside and grin, moving out of the shade surrounding the tent to stand in the sun. It has returned. 


This isn't even (completely) my adventure. Enter Carl. 

Carl recently quit his job to start rock climbing, until either injury, lack of money, or boredom force him otherwise. Currently there is a large tent located in Fontainebleau, France with his name on it and I've tagged along for the first five weeks. I guess it's time to see how it goes. 


* * * 

There is a song by Crowded House, which has the chorus "Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you. Everywhere you go, you always take the weather." And I have decided the this is an apt description of what I have been experiencing the past five and a half days. 

I have brought the Irish Rain. 

Rain in Font has enlightened me to a couple of things: 

  • Big tents are amazing. Being able to move from one room to another while remaining "indoors" all day is a blessing. Both cabin fever and general ones ability to tolerate the person next to them is vastly improved if not (almost) eradicated. 

  • Rain here is different. 
    While rain is rain no matter what way you approach it (unless you are a geologist or meteorologist I'm assuming), the area of Font is so flat, that thunder is nearly a given occurrence whenever the skies decide to open (although if I am honest, it may once or twice have been the ride-on lawnmower that the campsite owners seem to relish using morning noon and night. Here there is no stray long grass.).

Campsite mentioned; these are unusual places. There seems to be more caravans than one might expect in something that is, in my mind, what would jungle of tents and guide wires. These caravans come in the most amazing shades of white - amazing in the sense of bewilderment as opposed to shining awe. The patterns of not quite mould, but something off green and possibly fungal, streak down from windows and "racing-stripe" metal bands, to stain the off-tone beige bodies of these portable sleeping vessels which feel like they have been in location for the past ten years. Parked in opposing lots to these established homes are so-white-they-hold-blue-tints, new caravans, possibly glowing fainting from combinations of bleach and window cleaner. Old couples sit in front of both, in their mis-matching chairs, giving intense disapproving stares to those that dare to walk past. Alternative routes are internally plotted to avoid the gaze of the more scrutinising retirees. One would think, as their leather tanned skin starts to show signs of converting to a strong lobster red, that maybe another pass-time should be created, or maybe the chairs moved to a new angle so as to more evenly singe themselves. 
While considering these new routes I must remember to smile and cheerfully murmur a butchered "bonjour" in as happy a face I can exude while under such scrutiny. 

This said, because of the campsites key climbing location, these staring games are dispersed between tents of casually sprawled climbers. Such tents are obviously distinguishable through the multiple crash pads, flip flops and climbing shoes, all of which seems to congregate towards the opening crawl spaces or odd hammock. Slack lines appear and disappear, connecting random trees together. T-shirts are forsaken and displeased shouts are audible when mosquitos find their purchase.

Welcome to Fontainebleau.