Prologue: End of term, 2.00pm, Stroud. Collect NGE, 3.30pm, at O’Connors. Fish and chips, first meal in our van, 6.30pm, Bude Crooklets beach car park. Pitch camp, 7.00pm, Cerenety, Bude. Notes: What a start to our break – the M5 behaves perfectly as we arrive to pick up our van before closing time! Then a rapid switch to having NO cares about time, learning to make more use of 1st gear, appreciating all road signs for warnings of steep hills ahead. Arrive at the uniquest of campsites and settle in.
Day 1: Wake up, 8.30am, Cerenety. Walk to deserted beach under blue skies, 10.30am, Upton. Drive and proudly park up for a spot of lunch and afternoon on the beach, 1.00pm, Bude Summerleaze. Cook in Dutch Oven over firepit, 7.30pm, Cerenety. Notes: Its true that days last longer when you have no pressure to be anywhere, at any particular time. Got lucky in the car park to grab a prime spot – worked up those muscles to turn the van round into it!
Day 2: Wake up, 8.00am, Cerenety. Big breakfast and day of body boarding, 10.30am, Sandymouth. Cook a tea of sausages and campsite veggies on van’s hob, 7.00pm, Cerenety. Notes: Thank goodness slopes to and from Sandymouth not as steep as I thought I remembered – or am I getting more used to the brakes? Enjoyed the changing room facility in a beach car park while others changed under boot lid in a flash storm! Surprisingly sophisticated meal from the very effective hob!
Day 3: Wake up, pack up and get ready to leave, 7.30am, Cerenety. Search for fuel, 11am, Okehampton! Regretful re-discovery of power steering, then turn back for S’mouth beach for a real scorcher of a day. Pub dinner, Old Smithy Inn, Welcombe. Home by 10.30pm. Notes: Where have the days gone? Picture is evidence that a blue vehicle can colour-match the sky, but you won’t find the right shade unless you take out NGE! Instructions for where to find fuel are included, we missed them! Epilogue: You realise you had a driving experience that has the power to absorb all the senses, when no-one out of a family of four requests the radio, CDs or iPod hook-up ALL WEEK! Thank you for your wonderful operation, O’Connors. We all loved the joyous niceness of being in Nice Guy Eddie.
By James Widdowson