Thursday, July 30, 2020


30th July 2020

14th July - Tuesday

Again, this morning, the weather doesn't look too promising, but Paul has promised that he'll take Molly surfing today, "no matter what". 

That's how we end up in Hayle, a safe place to teach her, having stopped at the surf shop so the she could buy a good surf board with some money she had saved from her birthday. To say she was exited would be a huge understatement. In a shop a few doors down, we find a "play" surf board for Raphie. Jo let's him  "choose" one for himself, picking out two she thinks suitable, one with sharks the other with dolphins, "Raphie," she enthuses, "this one or that one". Proudly, determinedly, he makes his choice. 

Hayle is just across from St Ives, with the estuary to the River Hayle  (Cornish: Heyl, meaning estuary)  in between. 

We meet Paul's parents and his sister in the car park, have a quick coffee - we can do that with the camper - and head off to the beach. 
We find a protected spot, between the cliff and a sand dune, away from the wind and lucky for us the sun does shine. 
Peter and I bring nothing with us, no chairs - left them at the campsite in the awning - no rucksack with food and water and swim things. Oh well. I sit on Jo's blanket, aware it's going to be an uncomfortable few hours. 

As the children are covered in sunscreen adults bring out lunch and snacks. I look around. Paul's mum offers me some soup, homemade. I notice the cool breeze touch my face and think, that would be nice.
"No thanks," I say, "we've not long had breakfast,"  which is true and anyone who knows me will be aware of my weird obsession about not eating lunch  if I've had breakfast and on the other hand if I've had no breakfast I'm up for lunch  pretty early.

Hayle is just across from St Ives, with the estuary to the River Hayle  (Cornish: Heyl, meaning estuary) in between. 
Clouds start to come our way from out at sea, but looking across to St Ives I can see it sits majestically in the sunshine, the water a beautiful blue turquoise colour reminding me of the mediterranean.
Years ago we were eager to visit such a distinguished place, a small fishing village renowned now for its famous artists and art galleries. Peter, being an artist himself,  had been looking forward to it for months. Maybe we went at the wrong time. All I remember is that it rained and the children, our oldest two, were miserable. So, we were not impressed. I'd quite like to go back one day, get the real vibe,  see what all the fuss is about. And we'll have plenty of opportunity when Jo and Paul move down to Cornwall next year.

Paul's mum, being organised has prepared some pasta and combined it with the leftover salmon from the evening of the BBQ. She offers it around. And although I feel guilty for not having brought anything to share myself,  the thought of the salmon is a temptation I can't/ don't want to resist so I have some. Delicious.

Sitting proves painful and as the children are in at the waters edge, Molly trying out her new surf board with Granny, I take a stroll over. On the way my eye catches some small shells, pretty and delicate. Ten minutes later Peter and I have collected a pocket full to bring home for Mary who uses them for her artwork. 

I think, although It hasn't been warm, my lips are burnt. Darn it. That means I'll probably get some cold sores and they'll be around for at least a week. I have been trying to protect them, but being out all the time in all weathers and not being able to use sunscreen - i have an allergy - it's inevitable, I suppose. 
In the evening, back at the campsite, I reheat the chilli that I brought from home, cook up a bit of rice and we take it, with a bottle of red,  across the lane to share dinner with Jo and Paul. The previous night I'd taken the mushroom and potato curry . This is what's lovely about camping. Sitting together, enjoying a meal,  good wine (  my tastes are defined by alcohol percentage and cost, obviously) and the brilliant company, while watching the sun go down.  



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

St Piran's Oratory

29th July 2020

13th July 2020

The weather forecast is for cloudy skies, with rain in the afternoon.
Not a beach day then.

" We could go for a walk across the dunes," Jo says, "it would take a few hours to get to Perranporth and back, by the circular route. What do you think?"
"Sounds good to me," this is more my cup of tea. I'm not one for sitting on the beach all day, especially as I suffer with my back. Peter usually brings a chair for me. Getting old...

So, with trainers, raincoats, and lots of water, plus snacks for the children, we set off.
Our trek takes us by St Piran's Oratory. I remember seeing this years ago when we brought Peter's mum and dad on holiday with us. Back then I'd strayed away from the Church and although I loved seeing the old ruin because of times past, it didn't have much meaning for me.

The remains of the 6th century oratory is one of Britain's oldest Christian sites and was established by Piran, an Irish Saint  who landed on the beach here after being exiled from his homeland.
Legend has it that Piran, a 5th or 6th century Irish monk, thrown off a high cliff with a millstone round his neck,  by a jealous ruler, rather than drowning floated across the sea to Cornwall.
He became the Patron Saint of Cornwall and is also revered as the Patron Saint of Tinners.
The Cornish flag uses his white cross on a black background, symbolic of the white tin emerging from the black ore and also spiritual truth shining amid the darkness.

I take it all in.

Attempts have been made to protect the ruin, but very little of the original building is left to see.

It's nearly midday and with no rain yet to impede our progress we continue on our way, up and down the hilly dunes towards Perranporth town.

We hope to go along the beach but as we get near we can see the tide is coming in which means it's not possible, so there's nothing for it but to climb the stairs over the cliff and join the coast path.

At the top of the stairs  Jo searches  her pockets..
"Can you ring my phone mum, I can't find it ?" 
Before I have a chance to ring her I see that there's a call from her phone ten minutes ago. I know it wasn't her. We assume someone has picked it up and tried to contact her. I ring back but there's no answer, so Jo sends a message hoping that their intention is to give the phone back.
Sure enough, an hour or so later, they message back and arrange for her to pick it up at Perran Sands, which is next to our campsite. Relief for Jo.

When we reach the town, we decide to treat ourselves to fish and chips for lunch, a reward for the arduous exercise we've just completed.
And then what happens? Why, it starts to rain, of course.

Molly gets upset that her chips are getting wet, so Paul pulls his coat over her and himself and makes a tent affair for her which cheers her up no end. 

Peter's chicken is covered with batter which we remove hoping that he won't react to any gluten left around the remaining pieces of meat. I asked for chicken for him thinking it would be a leg or something, like you used to get in the old days. As it is he may as well have had the fish.

The rain continues and so do we, along the road this time, the quickest way back to Tollgate Farm. Molly does  six miles  but needs help for the last mile home. We are all tired.
I sleep for an hour or so when we get back , then Peter and I  both read our books whilst listening to the rain and eating the last of the rice pudding.


28th July 2020


It only takes us an hour to get from Fingle Bridge to Perranporth, so as we're here we go straight to Tollgate Farm, where we've booked five nights, hoping that we can get in early ( ie. tonight).
"No chance, I'm afraid," I couldn't tell whether his accent was a country farm lilt or just Cornish. We will hear the same drawl  many times over the coming ten days. "we're fully booked tonight."
OK, what to do now.
We drive to town, have a walk by the sea. We only have an hour on the car park, but we find another one that looks as if we might be able to wild camp for the night.
We ask the attendant,
"Don't tell anybody," he whispers, "but yes, you can stay. But I didn't tell you that," he winks, "as there's a no sleeping in the vehicle policy."
We decide to chance it, pay the man £3 and find an inconspicuous place where we can "hide".
After going out again for a more relaxing walk by the sea we come back to the camper, have dinner of sardines and salad, with a bottle of red wine and Peter gets his guitar out to do some practice.

As we're wild camping we leave the top down so as not to be obvious.
We have to be ultra organised when wild camping. There's not much space. The guitar sits on the cooker and the awning fits behind the front seat along with the bag of books and our laptops. We have to position the porta potti exactly between the bed and the drivers seat. It's a tight squeeze but we make it work.

There's another van parked Illegally in the field, looks  like a works van but the young chap has made it a very comfortable home, with drawers that pull out and are accessed from under the bed at the back when the door is open - clever.

We wake early next morning to be ready to move off. Just as we pack the bed away Jo and Paul, my daughter and her husband turn up. They've wild camped a little way down the road. They bought an old school bus and converted it. They've taken it on many trips, including on the continent, and continue to improve their design. We'll be on the same campsite as them for the next five nights. So exciting.

I'd told them about the field we're in but they couldn't  get in because of the 2 mt barrier. Being no bother for us I never gave it a second thought.

I make tea while Paul pops into the Co-Op, which is next door, for croissants and we have a leisurely breakfast.

We are away well before the 10.00 am deadline and we pull up beside Jo and Paul before heading back to the beach with them all, children and dog included.

No description available.

Paul's parents and his sister join us and it's not long before the children want to go in the sea. I'm a coward, too cold for me. And those waves, I'd be drenched too soon. I like to get in slowly. Raphy is a bit grizzly, apparently he'd not had a good night, so I take him for a stroll in his buggy.
Backwards and forwards I walk along the wet sand for thirty minutes, then he finally falls asleep.
Five minutes later I take him back to the family,  in another ten he's awake again. Oh well, at least he's in a better mood.

Paul treats us all to Pasties, except that Peter has to have a baked potato with beans , poor thing. Being gluten free is so resrticive.
The pasty is yummy - only in Cornwall!

Paul's parents invite us for a BBQ at theirs in the evening , so we leave them  around 2.0 pm and head to the campsite to get settled.

We're in  a different field to Jo and Paul but it's ok.

Our new awning is getting it's first proper try out.
It doesn't take us long to get it up and then we're on the road again.

I'm a bit apprehensive about the visit and want to get something to take with me, flowers or something. I pray all the way there that we'll find a supermarket.
Only two roads down from their house we find a Londis. No flowers. I buy chocolates and red wine . Who wouldn't like that?
I'd also have some gluten free sausages for hubby.

It's warm and a brilliant evening for a BBQ, with their garden brimming with beauty- trees, including cherry tree, roses and much more- so relaxing.
And the food - salmon on skewers chicken, salads of different kinds, burgers - lovely.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Fingle Bridge

27th July 2020

Travel continued...

10th July 2020 

Having packed everything, so we thought - two frozen dinners for later in the week, pegs, tablets, musn't forget my journal - we said goodbye to Mary and Dominic, who are both working from home, and set off around one.

After driving for a few hours, a lot of the time in the rain, we eventually stop for a short break. Peter gets out, walks around up and down , stretches, and off we go again.

A little while later we are held up in a  traffic jam, which, we find out later was caused by a lorry breaking down.

"Shall we stop soon,"for the night, I mean. I check out "pitch4night", looking on the map for suitable places. It's the first time we've used this app. It's specifically for wild campers, who, when they find somewhere useful they recommend it to others by adding  it to the list.
"No," he says, "I just want to get past Exeter. We'll find something the other side.

We stop again in a lay-by, with a coffee cabin - closed, obviously - as is the outside toilet. Oh well, we have the Porta-Potti.

"I'll make a cup of coffee. It's ages since we had a drink." I get the kettle and turn the tap on. "It's not working," I tell him, when no water comes out.
"Oh, shit," he says, "I forgot to fill it"
"Oh no. And I didn't fill the bottle either," something we usually do for convenience.
This is definitely an irritation . I'm anxious now as we'll need to find water soon.
"It's your fault," he jokes, "If you hadn't got me washing the car last night , I'd have finished what I was supposed to be doing." I never asked him to help me wash the car.

The water problem set our agenda. We might even have to find a supermarket and buy water - not if I can help it though! I pray we don't have to.
We take the next turn off the A30 and find a garage with a Travel Lodge next to it, closed, obviously.
On the way to get petrol I spot a water tap. Hurray!! My whole body relaxes at the thought of being able to fill up with water, and without going near a supermarket.
There are lots of parking spaces outside the Travel Lodge and they're hidden from the busyness of the garage. Maybe we can stay here.

We hang around for a bit, make coffee and take a walk, but in the end we don't feel comfortable  - isolated behind the hub of activity at the garage and the Spar Shop.
Park4Night tells us there's a good spot about twenty minutes away near a river. We head for it.
Sat nav lady takes us down windy, narrow lanes, then, "you have reached your destination on the left." Studying the wooded area, we see no sign of anywhere we can park . We try a little further along, possibly the postcode was incorrect, no luck.

Off we go again.
Now we leave it to chance, on an adventure of our own.
And , oh my goodness, we find a little gem - Fingle Bridge . An inn sits next to the bridge with the River Teign running by.
We are blown away  with our good luck.

The owners of the inn are out putting cones in position for the social distancing they'll need when they open the next day.

"Unfortunately we can only open for take aways," they tell us, "it's all we can do at the moment. But people can sit in the gardens and eat , so we're hoping for good weather."
We chat for a while - how business has been, how they expect it to be, furloughing staff - then we walk over the bridge , where we see a chap with a small dog, fishing. Of course he and Peter share stories , dogs, fishing.

Going over the bridge we amble along the pretty lane beside the river, edged with a large gassy area. Again we stop to talk to another walker, obviously local.
"There's a lovely circular walk on up, right to the top, then a bridge across and back down. It follows the river and there's great little spots where the river rushes down. Best to start this side though, and come back the easy route."
"Maybe tomorrow, "Peter replies, "If we decide to stay."

"What do you think?" Peter asks me when we leave the man behind.
"I'd really like to stay, it's lovely here. And I'd like to do that walk he told us about."
So that was it. Dinner in the camper that evening was Chicken salad.

The next morning we are up early, keen to begin the long trek, the difficult climb.
Listening to the gushing of water as it comes down over the rocks, not exactly waterfalls, but exhilarating nevertheless.
Two hours later we are back , the descent easier, tired, hungry.

Back at the camper we have rice pudding, again something cooked at home before leaving, then sit on the bridge with a coffee, look down at the river, with its rocks, its brown rust colour and gentle rippling sounds as it heads towards the sea at Teignmouth. A lovely quiet moment , only a couple of dog walkers off in the distance. We say nothing, just let the flow of nature fill us. A meditative space.
"Oh my goodness, love, a flash, blue,  turquoise, a bird? What's that?"
A stunning image, from branch to water to branch, right in front of me.
"From the colours, sounds like you might have seen a kingfisher, lucky you." He stares into the branches, "He'll be fishing," he says hopefully.
In the blink of an eye it darts past again. This time he sees it.And what magnificent sight.
While we wait for him to repeat his performance a yellow wagtail flits from rock to rock,playfully and we rejoice to witness  morning on the river.

Not having had breakfast we decide to patronise the Inn, after all we are now parked in their car park area. We sit by the river, watching children and dogs playing in the water, and many people enjoying the good weather. It's obviously a popular place.

Back at the camper we have rice pudding, again something cooked at home before leaving, then sit on the bridge with a coffee, looking down at the river, with its rocks, its brown rust colour and gentle rippling sounds as it heads towards the sea at Teignmouth. A lovely quiet moment , only a couple of dog walkersoff in the distance before we set off again for Perranporth.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Trip Begins

9th July 2020

Hello everyone.
Today we start our camper van trip to Cornwall. 
The camper is packed out and ready. All preparations have been made. 
But me?
I don't feel ready.
Would you in this time of pandemic? There's a tiny part of me that says, stay put.

Had my bath, last for a while, even on a campsite the only option is a shower. Hair washed, legs and under arms shaved. That should be it.  
But I have a nagging feeling that I'll forget something, something important. Should make a list, be more organised, like a friend I have who has lists for everything. I always have good intentions to do so and I'm convinced it would free up some space in my mind too.
What about you, are you a list writer or, like me, just wing it?
 I'll write a list straight after writers hour. 
 It could be the last one for a while, as it's not always easy to get wifi. I hope not though. 
I mean, if I don't get the travels on the blog while we're away, I rarely get a chance to write them up later as I'm usually on to something else. I have so many journal entries of our adventures that I'd intended to blog about, but they never got written up. 

And today, I've woken up grumpy.
I seem to spend a lot of time grumpy,
I know, wasted time,
or worse,
badly used time.
That word that he said, 
why can't I ignore it,
rise above it,
or at least,
forget it.
No, I let it in,
welcome it even, 
give it hospitality,
 until it becomes, my boss .
It then gets me to let others in,
ones I'd sent away,
never to return, I thought.
And they leave no room for me 
with their big ideas.
I don't like them at all.
Why do I let them in?
I'm going to try to only let in 
the kind words,
and when they come, 
to give them the space they need, 
to encourage 
a thankful heart.
Words can show the good side of life,
I'll let those in,
meditate with them, 
drink in their harmony.

Must put toothbrushes on the list, and tablets - paracetemol, hayfever pills - the prescribed meds are already packed. 
Oh, and I have to clean the downstairs loo before we go.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Awning

1st July

The Awning.

Today, we had a delivery. An awning. I'd not planned to have an awning for our small camper, especially as we've only done wild camping in the past and had intended to continue to do so for the foreseeable  future. In my mind we didn't have any use for one.
But that, like many things, was before Covid 19, before borders were shut, before we were unable to travel any distance at all.
We would have been away in Cornwall  for the whole of May and most of June, camping in hidden places, finding off the beaten track spots where few people would come.
That was the plan.
Campsites will  open on 4th July

Now, being  reluctant to go wild camping with policing being more vigilant,  we've booked some time away in Cornwall at a campsite. At a campsite!
Hence the awning.
It looks like this:

The Cubo Campervan Awning Camper van Awning Fiberglass Pole Drive Away Awning
We've spent ten weeks travelling through France and Spain, another ten touring Ireland and I could probably count on my fingers the number of
 times, due to wanting a shower and clean clothes, we had a night in a campsite. We rarely spent two together.

Funnily enough , I am positively warming to the idea of the awning, seeing  that it could bring many worthwhile  benefits.

It's a drive away tent, which means we can still take off and explore the countryside and have a base to come back to . So convenient. When we're wild camping we often spend quite a bit of time searching for somewhere to park for the night. 
Another bonus is the extra space it'll give us making  our daily living arrangements so much more comfortable.

To be fair, rather than going for comfort in the past, we've gone for the open road and touring. It's been great finding unusual places to park up for the night, not putting the top up so that we look like a big car. Incognito.

So, this will be a very different trip for us, a   more relaxing experience. Staying in one place has its advantages. We won't have to pack up every day. We can still explore our surroundings by walking which means we'll get to know the area well.

Hopefully, I'll get  to write about our adventures on my  blog in a travel writerly sort of way. Well, it'll be my version of Travel Writing anyway. And I'll have time for more reading which I have difficulty fitting in when we're on the road and I have to navigate.
Yes, it'll be more leisurely all round.

We also treated ourselves to some new camping chairs, similar to the previous two, which, after three years,  had become  rather tatty. And although we went for the cheapest again,  the new ones are so much kinder to the body.

Of course, we had to try the awning out straight away. Can't turn up at the campsite and look like idiots. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough room in the back garden, so we put it together on the front drive, after parking the camper in the road. Having had years of experience putting up tents of all shapes and sizes,we had it sussed in no time. Actually, about ten minutes, which we thought was pretty good. Packing it away was the most difficult part, getting it small enough to go back in the carry bag took two attempts. But we know this for next time.


I'm so looking forward to heading off. Let's just hope the weather is good to us. But even if it isn't we've got a new "holiday home" to get used to and will enjoy the extra space.

Have you an experience to share about camping??