Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Cornwall 2016 (Part 1)

I don't like to take our main holiday this late in the year, usually for two reasons.
  1. The weather has normally taken a turn for the worse.
  2. You end up wishing the summer away waiting for your holidays.
Herself's place of work has cut back dramatically on staff numbers and as a result (as well as Herself not getting her rear end into gear in time) the only available time has been late August.  That said, it's made not a jot of difference this year as to date we've not had any weather that would lead you to believe that we've had a summer season.

Fed up with deciding on venues for our jaunts I left the matter to Herself to choose a destination.  She thought long and hard about it for 30 seconds before blurting out "Trevedra"

Friday 19th August

Herself is fetched from work and dropped off at Creaky and Grumbles to say her goodbyes. I was to do likewise up with Coupons, but true to form she was out gallavanting!

The Captain next door is dragged out of his hot tub to move his car so that I can get the van out and hitched up in readiness for the off.

At 6.30pm we are pulling away from HQ and ready to climb onto the M4.  We'd not got as far as PCs at the bottom of the hill when Vera's dash threw a warning in my direction.  Apparently she'd blown a headlight bulb, not ideal when you are embarking on a 270 mile tow in the dark and into a storm - oh yes - weather warnings issued affecting Wales and the South west!

We hang a left on Trosserch Rd towards the nearest Halfrauds down at Parc Pemberton, get mugged for £36 for a pair of bulbs, fit them in the car park and are accelerating up the slip road at J48 onto the M4 by 7pm.

Despite the horrendous conditions Vera is behaving herself as I keep her to a steady 56mph.  We eat food on the go after picking up a McD at Magor and turn right after the Seven Bridge down into the west country. We plough on in the darkness, we are being buffeted a bit but nothing to write home about until we get to Exeter.  It was like trying to drive in to the jet of a water cannon such was the deluge from the sky and we are down to 40mph as we continue onward to skirt Dartmoor.

As we gain height the van starts to get hit by some nasty gusts, but taking it easy there is no real drama as we climb over Bodmin Moor.

We are pulling into our usual layby at just after midnight and I'm delighted to note that Vera has returned a very credible 33.6 mpg over the tow.

The legs are wound down and we're hitting the sack by 12.30am being rocked to sleep by the gusting winds and sound of artics doing battle with boy racers along the adjacent A30.

Saturday 20 August

No need for an alarm call this morning, we could hear Ronnie closing in on us in his Clio 200 Sport C Cup all the way from Bodmin!

They're not hungry though, so any thoughts I was harbouring about having a bacon roll were swiftly kicked into touch by Herself, and whilst Ronnnie, Roids and TF were still full after their McD breakfast they had at Taunton I had to make do with a cuppa and continue the journey west with a rumbling stomach.

The owners at Trevedra had very kindly rung me yesterday to say that our pitch was free and we could arrive as early as we liked.  The weather had deteriorated overnight and the A30 was interesting as we crossed a few raised sections and the wind slammed into the side of the van.

Non the less, we were pulling into the site driveway just after 9am and phone calls were made to Coupons and Creakey to let them know that we had arrived unscathed.

After throwing some folding towards the welcoming committee we were free to set up.  Now I know that regular readers - well just the one actually, and I will not name them, oh, go on then, Mrs Starbucks - had said that they were hoping for bad weather for us so that they could have a giggle while reading up on our attempts to erect the awning.

It would also appear that our exploits were of some interest to our neighbours. They were set to head off out for the day, but on seeing that we were going to attempt the erection in the middle of a storm delayed their plans, put the kettle on and cracked open another pack of custard creams.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but even in gale force gusts the awning went up without incident thanks to some rather nifty pegging out and 5 pairs of hands holding onto the fabric for grim death.  Not a fingernail was broken.

Ok, The setting up process was not exactly incident free.  We had a minor hitch when we were trying to level the van. It rolled back off the ramp and slewed to one side.  Herself pointed this out to me while the horizontal rain was doing it's very best to create some pock marks on my face.  It was then that I made a "Freudian Slip."

What I meant to say was "Yes Dearest, I know the van is not level and I know it's at an angle to the pitch, we are going to sort it now." But what actually escaped from my lips was "Eff Off!"

Herself retreated to the comfort of Vera leaving me in no doubt that my misdemeanour will take more than a little rectifying.

Once set up we have an early lunch before Herself and I shoot off to Tesco for provisions, leaving the rest to catch up on some zzzz.  We step over the air conditioned threshold and I start to pay for my foul mouth earlier, Herself grabs TWO bunched of flowers.  I raise an eyebrow but am given a look that would freeze the Sahara solid, so keep quiet.

We potter around the van for the afternoon before heading off down to Sennen Cove at high tide and as we drop down to the cove we are not disappointed, the storm has whipped the Atlantic into a frenzy.  We are not alone and the crowds are out wave watching.  One fool even donned his wet suit and the obligatory GoPro camera to take a dip in the raging foam.

Mind you, taking the life safety issue out of the equation, is was quite amusing.  The poser was playing to the crowd and lapping up the attention, he strode purposefully down the slipway and got thigh deep before hesitating as the rip tore at his legs.  With all eyes on him you can see his dilemma, he made such an issue of getting changed and entering the water and he knows he will look such a fool if he chickens out, so the idiot goes in further - chest deep!

He didn't last long,  The waves engulfed him and he soon came to his senses after only being in the water 15 seconds.  Took him longer to change than time spent in the water.  Fool!

The dogs are exercised in the cliff top car park before a fish supper is collected from 190 deg chippy.  Back at the van we demolish our food and sit around in the awning having a good old slurp until bed time.  Hope the wind drops soon as it's becoming a bit tiresome now!

Sunday 21 August

After a relatively early night I'm wide awake by 5am, looking out of the bog window it's apparent that the winds have died down, I peak out into the awning and that has also survived the storm intact.

The only casualties being  our inflatable sofa which is struggling to stay inflated and our portable shelving unit which has given up any hope of supporting the vast volumes of clothing that TF has brought with her!

We have a lazy morning round the van and indulge in a full breakfast.  I also do a bit of finger swiping in my ipad looking for a replacement shelf thingy.  Not being able to find anything for under £70 I get out a roll of Gaffer tape and go to work.

With the shelving now restored to it's former glory we make tracks towards Penzance to have a look around.  We parked up with remarkable ease and walked over towards the shops.  Once on the high street we soon realised why finding a parking spot was so easy, the place is shut!

I'd not told herself, but I want to kit myself out to do a spot of fishing while we are down here, and as luck would have it, Jims's discount store is one of the few shops open - Jim sells fishing gear.

20 mins later I am the proud owner of a rod and reel, some mackerel feathers and some casting weights!

Argos is also open, so we get a replacement inflatable sofa for the awning - gaffa tape couldn't fix that - and some dog beds for Vera's boot.  Now shopped out and with a bleeding wallet we seek refuge in a beer garden at The Pirate Inn.

We chill on site for a few hours, dodging the heavy showers and erecting our new windbreaks in the howling wind. We got them up, but there are more ropes holding them in place than Billy Smart has on his tent!

The sofa gets blown up and I'm just sat down admiring my work when - crash - the gaffa tape gives way and the shelving unit collapses into a heap on the floor once more! It's now past 5pm, and anything that was open is now shut.  Herself assaults my ear hole before setting about sourcing a replacement on the Internet.

We dine on burgers off the Weber before scrubbing up to go out for a skittles evening.  We follow a lifeguard's 4x4 towards Penzance after he's clocked off for the day and it strikes us that their job must be so much easier these days. I mean if he's only patrolling between the flags he's not much sea to keep an eye on!

We find the Country Skittles place at Hayle with remarkable ease, get some drinks in and make way to out pre booked lane.  We had a a very enjoyable evening - apart from Ronnie, Roids and TF hammering me out of sight - something that Herself seemed to take great delight in.

After an hour of banging down pins we retreated to their pool room, where at least I think I can hold my own.  I would have too, if Roids had not 7 balled me without me even having the chance to play a single shot!

I retreat to the car and have a little cry to myself.

We take the scenic route back to site so we can have a look at St Michaels Mount lit up in the darkness, only when we arrive it's in darkness itself - cut backs eh!

To make my rather painful night complete when we pull up on site I'm dismayed to see that our brand new windbreaks have been destroyed by the winds and lay in a crumpled heap of bend poles and fabric!

Monday 22 August

I wake at 8am and immediately head off out.  Herself has sourced some reasonable shelving units at World of Camping in Redruth, Having had a McD breakfast on the way I'm banging down their door as they open at 9am.

Back on site Herself is cooking breakfast while I set about erecting the Vango shelves, very sturdy they appear to be too.

I force myself to eat a second breakfast, but only manage 2 bacon rolls and Herself is impressed with my restraint.

Shelved erected and second breakfast of the day eaten, we take Vera to park her up at Lands End and return to site in Ronnie's car.

Rucksacks are loaded up with pasties, drinks, waterproof jackets and other assorted essentials and we thread our way through the site down onto the SW Coastal path.

The walk is delightful, if a little strenuous, as we stop regularly to both take in the views and give the lactic acid in our calves a chance to subside.

We arrived as Lands End just after 5pm and settle down on a terrace table for drinks with the stunning backdrop of Longships.  This is the best time of day to be here as all the crowds have gone home and you can truly appreciate the beauty of the place.

Back on site we are enjoying the sunshine and set about preparing our evening meal.  The Weber is loaded up with chicken and some new spuds and orzo thrown into some pans while we sit out and watch the sun set over the Atlantic.  Some people often ask me "Why caravanning and not hotels?"

I think I can answer that question with the following photo.

Good night, and part 2 to follow.