Four Seasons in One Week

by Rupert Gaster | Thursday 16th August, 2012

Four Seasons in One Week

Day One Rosie was undergoing some minor adjustments as we arrived. Given that she has just done a tour of Britain following the Olympic flame it's not surprising (especially as the guest brochures recommend they don't leave devon and cornwall). Anyway arrive at O'Connors at 1.30pm only to be told that the repairs were taking slightly longer than expected. No matter Penny, the owner, was a source of huge optimism and friendliness and offered Harry a complimentary toy to compensate. Also gave us time to chat with Zoe the manager, who bizarrely I knew from Peter Symonds 20 years ago!! Given a thorough briefing on beds, stoves, room and bunks - then a brief run down on how to drive it. Best advice was - don't go more than 45/50mph and press the break hard! Well they weren't wrong - driving a camper van is a full contact sport, akin to wrestling a bear that has recently (and hungrily) just emerged from hibernation. Within 5 mins I was sweating....profusely....and starting to realise it was a bit like sailing a boat - there is an epic time delay in everything you do. Steering - plan in advance, braking - plan way ahead and accelerating - well just forget that. The 41 miles to Croyde took a tantalising 1.5 hrs and the tailbacks behind Rosie grew ever longer, but increasingly I managed to earn her respect. Until the campsite.....Now this is when I had to use reverse for the first time. For those of you who haven't driven a camper van, reverse is the holy grail of gears - one so coveted and rare that only seasoned campaigners find it, but few live to tell the tale! 10 mins later we lurched backwards and our field for pitching was found. Phew! Day Two Woke early - very early - about 5am. The curtains on a camper van are like pieces of kitchen towel neatly arranged on a cliff face....in a force 10 gale. Felt full of vim and vigour for a new day, Harry woke around 6.30 and Jen followed shortly after. I think it would be fair to say that it has rained for 90% of the day. Big wet rain, fine sprinkly rain, windy rain, warm rain, horizontal rain - in fact the myriad of types of rain has been the only changeable thing today whatsoever.....because it's rained ALL day! Now a camper van is the size of a garden shed, only slightly more cluttered and with more people. So spending the best part of 8 hours shower ducking has been challenging. Jen has been a brick - stoical to the end and full of creativity, whilst I've been a little more vexed after all this was my idea and dream. Nonetheless Harry and I hired wetsuits and a boogie board and H was really brave and caught some great little waves for a munchkin. More importantly he enjoyed being in the sea up to his chest with waves crashing over him - the stuff of proud father moments. Day Three Navigated the turning and steep road to Saunton with ease this time and set up camp on the beach. Harry immediately decided that he wanted to explore the dunes, so we left Jen on the beach and set off on our mission. The dunes have got so very overgrown since the '80s and whilst they've got livestock enclosed to maintain them, all sorts of trees and bushes have sprung up. Walked past the practice hole of the golf course which looked amazingly manicured and remembered why I was inspired to take up golf at this place. Eventually found the huge sand dune after circa 30 mins and spent ages running up and down it - in truth I did it 3 times and just sat and watched as H climbed up and then slid down in fits of giggles (and coughs!). Decided to take a different path back which was a little more taxing, largely as it was quite thorny and uneven underfoot and for much of the way I had to carry Harry. Came upon an old man walking a dog who pointed us in the right direction, with one word of warning - 'there is the odd adder so if you stand on them they will bite!' Did the rest of the journey at a jog with H on my back - cannot believe we did it all in bare feet, not very sensible with hindsight. We all then went for a swim, the sea is beautifully warm and no need for wetsuit. Even caught a few waves body surfing. Built castles and bought ice creams to recover. Jen went and made a gourmet lunch in the van - now this is where the van comes into her own! Swam again in the afternoon and more digging in the dunes. Harry is a bit like a terrier when it comes to beach - always digging, running, yapping and scratching himself! A really hot day, eventually had to buy some sun screen as hadn't packed any, but by then my sunburn was coming on nicely. Had a lovely cream tea overlooking the bay and packed up about 5.30.


Posted in Experiences
on Thursday 16th August, 2012
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