Showing posts from April, 2010

Have you thanked your beach today?

A few weeks ago we spent an amazing weekend camper vanning in Cornwall. The sun shone and we had a lovely time. We had planned to head for Eden to show our kids a marvel of our world but instead we ended up at a tiny beach not far from Mevagissey. We made camp and cooked up home made lamb and mint burgers in the van (much to the envy of our neighbours) and then splashed out on a Cornish ice cream. Oh how we live! The beach was stunning but, like many other beaches on our coast, it had its fair share of rubbish. Some would have floated in from the sea, some left by holidaymakers, some lost by the fishing fleet. All of it damages the marine environment in some way or other. If it's plastic it will never go away. It'll just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. On the way home we went to Gweek Seal Sanctuary near Helston. The kids loved it. Seeing the seals was a real thrill. Then they noticed this one. You can see the scar on its neck. We asked one of the keepers what had

Long hair. Bare feet. And a band called Reef.

Friday was supposed to be all about the future but somehow it ended up being all about the past. I was in London for a few Camper Van Cookbook meetings. I had the chance for a cup of tea and catch up with my editor, Elizabeth. A lovely day, discussing all kinds of things, most of which has yet to come. Once all the businessy bits (if that's what you could call anything to do with The Camper van Cookbook) were over I schlepped off to Shepherd’s Bush to see a band whose music I haven’t listened to for a very long time. They split some time ago and, until this reunion tour, hadn’t played live in seven years. Having never seen them live I couldn’t believe my luck in nabbing two 'golden' tickets for the sell out gig. There is something about Reef’s music that makes you want to kick off your shoes, grow your hair and disappear off for the summer. It’s got swagger and soul in equal measures. But it’s not about sticking your fingers up at the world. It’s not angry. The swagger come

Time is running out for the moules

Ever heard the saying that you should only eat mussels when there is an 'r' in the month? If you believe this then you should be jumping in the van and dashing to the coast next week with your foraging bucket and a tide table. With spring tides all week exposing the juiciest mussels at low water, there could be a moule fest. It'll be the last chance to nab a free feast before September. But why? Depending on who you talk to, the reason behind avoiding seafood in summer is either about the spawning season or water temperature. One side says it's to do with the fact that bivalves reproduce in summer and don't taste so great, the other says that algal blooms in warm summer waters can make seafood toxic. For me, the jury's out on the latter because the sea temperature won't start to really warm up until late June or July (It is currently a very balmy 9 degrees centigrade in North Devon. Brrr.) and will stay warm-ish until October or November. Although I'm no

Going anywhere nice this year?

What do you call yours? Is your van a Rusty or a Humphrey or a Hector or a Hattie? Or are you just a 'don't be silly it's only a van' kind of a camper van owner? Some people are you know. They either never get around to naming their vans or just don't think that vehicles should have names. I'm all for names myself but I do think that the name you choose should mean something. You shouldn't be able to call your van something that either doesn't fit or has no relevance. And just because it sounds cute and your van is cute doesn't wash. If it's yellow you can call it Buttercup. Or if it's painted like a cow. But that's it. My van, Pootle, was so named because he pootles along. There's nothing flash about him and he hasn't overtaken anything for a few years, so Pootle is perfect. It's a Sunday driving kind of a name, with a pom-pom-pom-diddly-om-pom-pom thrown in for good measure. I used to have a theory that all camper van owners

Clear skies, starry nights and Simon Cowell

I went out last night. Yes thanks, it was ok. But I did end up in the middle of nowhere, walking between two isolated North Devon hamlets in the wee hours. Admittedly I was buzzing a bit from the boozing, but it was still a great time to be alive. The night was clean, clear and cool. Without a torch, street lights or night vision capabilities I had to walk along the white lines in the middle of the road to keep myself from stumbling into hedges or disappearing into ditches. It’s really dark out there. Surprisingly, it isn’t totally black. Far from it. As my eyes got used to the light conditions, I saw more stars than I think have ever seen before. I was astonished. The night sky is an amazing place. I don’t know if the closing of our airspace had anything to do with it, whether I just don’t look up enough or if I was feeling a little wide eyed and wonderful, but there was so much to see. I was mesmerised. I saw my own star sign, Scorpio, perhaps for the first time. I could see the bear

Where have you been camping? The Eighties?

Do you ever get the feeling that you're stuck in a time warp? I do. It even affects the way I take photos. But then, when the results are this good, who cares? This weekend my family and I took our beloved camper, Pootle, for the first camping trip of the season. As soon as the sun came out we packed him up with food, duvets and wine and spluttered off for Stithians Lake in Cornwall. If we'd bought a modern camper we'd have been there before the sun set but, seeing as Pootle is a 1981 VW T25 with a top speed of about 65-ish, we got there with just enough light to throw up a tent, plug in the electric and cook some easy camper van nosh. (In case you were wondering it was the pasta with artichokes, olives and mozarella. D-lish.) So why do we do it? Why drive a classic VW? Why bother with no mod cons? We don't have to. We don't have to stand at the side of the road waiting for the AA. We don't have to wait nervously for the MOT. We don't have to pootle along if