I’m not going to pretend that I love getting back to nature and embrace every aspect of sleeping in a van (or tent for that matter) at my age. Camping is not particularly comfortable; let’s be honest, we do it because we can’t afford 5 star. When I have to get up in the middle of the night to spend a penny I just love scrabbling around in the dark for my wellies, coat and torch and in my state of desperation (I’ve had 3 kids, the muscles are a bit slack) I race over to a cold and drafty loo block. If lucky the end of the bog paper is sticking out of the bottom of the huge round thing on the wall, if not you have to try and fish around inside and after all your effort you might get one minute sheet at a time. If you are anything like me you might get massively constipated during your holiday because you find it impossible to relax in these salubrious facilities. Too much information – moving swiftly on, I need a cup of tea in the morning. I need a cup of tea before I can even speak or focus and if I don’t get it life is … well, life is, frankly, not worth living (just ask mr family blog) After our last trip I made a mental note not to leave matches outside overnight (damp matches do not light gas. No gas, no hot water, no tea).
Last year we traded in our reliable VW Passat for an old Mazda bongo, had it converted to incorporate a kitchen, pop up roof and fridge. The theory was that we would be able to enjoy some relatively cheap holidays with the kids and escape easily for impromptu weekends when the weather looked good. “Every weekend will be a holiday” I enthused to Mr family blog in an effort to persuade him. This Easter we bombed down to Cornwall for our first proper holiday since getting the van.
I chose a site on the south coast, at the southernmost corner of the lizard. Henry’s campsite is all about location, location, location. Every pitch enjoys a super view of the sea, however it has to be said that it is not particularly cheap as campsites go and if you want a shower that is extra. 20 pence gets you two minutes. 2 minutes of an electric shower that for the first thirty seconds runs cold. The showers and toilets are unisex, I’m not that fussed about sharing with other guys believe it or not and they were basic. But having said that the view and weather did kind of make up for it.
The owners of the site keep chickens, llamas and ducks that wander freely around the site. Some people were moaning about the poop but I didn’t see much of that and actually the kids loved the ducks and chickens visiting us on our pitch, fresh eggs were sold onsite and the sight of the chickens being released in the morning to run down the hill of their enclosure was hilarious.
The site is run by hippies (this is Cornwall) and did live up to some of the reviews on trip advisor of being a little bit quirky. If you do decide to go when you are there I’d recommend keeping yourself topped up with the Rosie cider brewed and sold onsite, it helps you to get into the zone and chill out; appreciate the acoustic guitairs being strummed about the place accompanying the lovely sound of folk songs being sung wafting on the warm gentle breeze and the sunsets that go on forever…
We also took the opportunity of hiring a brazier every evening and sat around it for the bedtime story and cocoa. The view of the stars at night was quite spectacular and incredibly clear, we could make out most of the Milky Way.
Camping may not be five star but it does have its special and often hilarious moments. From the sounds of fellow campers cursing at night when they trip over your guy ropes to the endless zzziiippping and unzziipppiiinnnggg of sleeping bags throughout the night as your neighbours get up to visit the facilities to the couple in the tent next to you who fail to realise that their silhouettes are clearly visible inside their tent at night when they leave the light on.. I’ve been invited into neighbouring pitches for the evening, met some interesting people and not so interesting (the stepford wife who took her iron and ironing board away with her “I enjoy doing it” she said as she stood in her slippers on the wall to wall carpet in their awning, meanwhile her husband sat in a chair enjoying a beer.)
I have also had some magic moments camping in a tent in some of Australia’s national parks, being visited by kangaroos in the morning poking their heads inside to say hello, and we never let my dad forget when he pitched the tent uncomfortably near the edge of a cliff in the pitch black of the middle of the night. For these, and many other special moments I will always enjoy sleeping out under the stars and I hope to carry on camping until I pop my clogs for the sheer simplicity and freedom that it provides, because we can always move on if we don’t like it, but most of the time, as with Henry’s place we chilled out and throughly enjoyed it.
More info on Henry’s campsite including directions can be found here on their website. If you have experience of any great sites to share with me then please do comment below. I would also love to hear your views/experiences when it comes to camping…
Enjoy the great outdoors!