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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Holiday time


Here we are again in our favourite corner of the UK. We've holidayed here for many years and we still get drawn back to the area time and time again.
Maybe it's the combination of the rugged landscape, the sea views, the familiar faces... or the local pasties and clotted cream teas.

We camped on this site many times. We started out on the camping lifestyle a dozen or so years ago by heading west without any preconceived ideas about where we'd stay. One year we headed along the M5 to Taunton and headed south to Lyme Regis, then travelled westwards along the coast, stopping at camp sites along the way.
The next year we turned off the M5 at Bridgewater and headed for the North Somerset coast. We stopped one night near Minehead and continued westwards for the next ten days, and every night we managed to camp with a sea view.
Each year we ended up near Lands End. One year we discovered this campsite and from then on decided to cut out the meandering travel and just head straight here.
That was the year after Boscastle suffered a flash flood. We were camping a few miles up the coast and we saw the storm gathering as we drove into the area. That night the tent was almost blown out of the ground and we took refuge in a local farmer’s barn. The next day we heard about the effects of the storm as we listened to the car radio as we drove along the A39.
Suddenly we were hit by a torrential downpour and the rain was so hard that we couldn’t see beyond the car bonnet. Luckily we spotted a layby and got off the road and waited for the storm to pass.
Needless to say, we stayed in a B&B that night and gave camping a rest.
The next day we found this campsite. Our experience had been that the further west one travelled, the worse the campsites were. That may be unfair, but the good sites are more expensive the further west one travels, but there are loads of very cheap, very basic sites. This site was in the middle. Reasonably priced, with good clean showers, within walking distance of the coastal path and just a mile from St Just.
We've returned for year after year, through three changes of ownership and having progressively bigger tents.
When we started camping about 15 years ago we borrowed a tiny two man tent and a couple of sleeping bags. We were playing a small music festival, so it was no problem slumming it for a weekend. As time wore on and as our bodies got creakier with age, we changed our tent for one that you could stand up in. As time wore on, the tents got bigger until we had a six berth tent with an electric hook-up just for ourselves. We also had a blow up mattress, reclining chairs, electric kettle, tv, fridge…..
Our love affair with camping ended a few years ago when, after enduring a miserable gale blowing straight off the Atlantic, we returned to the campsite to find that the wind had ripped the tent and the rain had got in. Everything was soaked. Our clothes, our bedding, everything. The tent was flapping in the wind and the weather forecast was for more of the same, so we reluctantly called a halt, loaded everything into the van and headed home five days early.
However, our hosts told us before we left that they had plans for some static caravans to be placed in one of the meadows, so last year we booked one for a forthnight, and this is our second year of staying in one.
It’s not the same as camping. Nothing beats sitting out on a sunny day, reading a book and watching the world go by. You are connected to your neighbours- you can hear some of them snoring two fields away! Everyone is very friendly and honest. I’ve never had any suspicion of strangers entering our tent, and a closed zip is as secure as a locked and alarmed front door.
The downside is that you have to get dressed if you need the toilet in the middle of the night, but even that has its benefits. Our campsite is far from any street lights and the sight of a star filled night sky is breathtaking. There’s nothing like sitting out and watching meteor showers on a warm clear night.

I'm not sure if we'll go camping again. We'll have to buy all the kit and our increasing age and attendant aches and pains may mean its all a bit too much. My recent health problems and the need to maintain strict hygiene may also count against a return.
Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

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