Showing posts from 2011

Where shall we go next?

Summer went out with a big bang this year didn’t it? Our standard prediction of a glorious late summer run of great weather in the Westcountry almost went awry until the last dying moments of September. Then we hit gold with a few days of high temperatures and a couple more of high waves. We like to think of it as our reward for August’s drizzle and flatness. For me, the last morning of this late year brilliance was spent putting the finishing touches to a wonderful six months of writing, travelling and cooking. Just before the sun disappeared behind the heavy clouds of autumn proper I slipped under the wire to snap a shot that I hope will end up being the cover of The Camper Van Coast (it's not the one above). I’m glad I ditched everything for a dash to Widemouth Bay because the way it seems now it’ll be the last time we see a deep blue sky for a while. Or will it? We’re already planning our next great escape. The line has been drawn under one big adventure and it’s time to plot a

From the four corners of the compass...

Image's nice here. I can’t pretend that I’ve just whisked off my sou’wester and dashed in from the boat to write this. It’s been a little while since we got back from our trip to the Outer Hebrides. This year has been all about the four corners for me, even if I haven’t quite got right in there to the absolute extremities. Mind you, I’ve been close. The furthest north we got on our trip to Lewis was Eoropie Beach near Port Nis. That’s very far north. It's also very beauftiful, with good surf and lovely views. That's it in the picture. Eoropie is only 0.1 degrees further south than John O’Groats, which is generally considered to be the furthest point north in our country (even though it actually isn’t). The trip was incredible. We covered over 2000 miles in a little over 2 weeks and saw some marvellous stuff. Unfortunately Maggie broke her arm on the beach at Eoropie the day we arrived so she wasn’t able to make the most of the clean sea and gorgeous sands, or

It's not an adventure without some of this

We've got a big trip coming up. It's exciting. Our aim, however misguided, is to see if the fish and chips at 'Sweeny Cod The Frying Squad', possibly Britain's most remote fish and chip shop, is as good as we've been told. Fresh fish, fresh spuds: what could possibly go wrong? Well. It is remote. And by remote I mean 750 miles away remote. It's at Port of Ness on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. See what I mean? If you're going to go on a trip, do it properly... Along the way we're hoping to ride the UK's oldest working roller coaster in Blackpool, drive over the UK's curliest bridge, marvel at Gormley's Another Place in Southport, see whales and dolphins on Sky and maybe even visit the UK's most westerly lighthouse at Ardnamurchan. Our first stop will be at Dubs at the Castle to see the guys and girls who made us feel so welcome when we were filming the TV show last year. Oh yeah, and I'm very excited about going diving

Surfing is pointless. Discuss.

This post was written for Corduroy Lines Surfing Magazine last year. I wanted to post it here, now, because I spent the whole of the last weekend engaged in surfing activities, whether surfing myself, helping out at Bideford Bay Surf Life Saving Club, teaching Maggie to surf or just dicking about on the beach. We achieved absolutely nothing, spent very little and had one of the best weekends we've had for ages. It reminded me of this: ....I thought it’s about time we got on to something altogether more important than my misadventures in Franglais. Something to provoke a bit of lively discussion, perhaps some embittered emailing and hopefully a few imaginative death threats (just remember to make it really, really good or it doesn’t count). So here goes. Surfing is pointless. As sports go it is completely lacking in purpose and meaning and the people who do it, on the whole, are wasting their lives. There. How does that feel? To be told you are frittering away your time doing nothi

Camping wild. The choices we make.

I love wild camping. I’ve done it regularly ever since I learnt to surf way back in the eighties. It was a necessity back then. I was a skint student and didn’t live near the coast. The only way to do it was to hitch a lift with friends who owned campervans and kip down with them wherever the surf took us. We slept in boatyards, on quaysides, among dunes and in pub car parks just so we could go for an early surf the next day. And it was brilliant fun. I still do it now and recently spent 10 days in Wales and Ireland in my camper van without paying a penny for accommodation. We had no hassle. At home in Devon I have a few of my own wild camping spots that are near great surfing beaches. From time to time we camp to make the most of the sunset or just to get away from home. We are lucky. But the fact remains that wild camping is illegal in England and Wales. As ever, the choice to drive a campervan is something that I do for all the right reasons. I do it because I don’t want to have to

Why do we do it? Because life's too short.

Yesterday (15th May) was a very special day. It was my youngest daughter's 7th birthday. We celebrated with a visit to Eden and, once again, thanked our lucky stars for the life we have been given. It would have been special anyway, even if it wasn't for the promise that Joanne and I made to ourselves at around the time Charlie was born. Charlie popped out in Bristol. It was just as her big sister Maggie was finishing treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia. I won't go into that side of things too much other than to say it was a genuinely terrifying time for all of us. Jo left in an ambulance threee months pregnant and didn't make it home until Charlie was a month old. I carried on working in Devon, commuting most evenings to do my share of the hospital night shift whilst Jo moved in to CLIC House in Cotham to get some rest. As the time got nearer to Charlie's due date we all moved in to the home from home provided for us by CLIC. Eventually, thanks to the miracles t

Another great big camper van adventure

Whilst there might not be any more TV to film at the moment it doesn't mean that the adventures have to stop. There's work (ahem) to be done. And that work has taken me around a few hairpin bends and coast roads recently. The purpose of the latest trip was to experience and photograph a few things I think we should all have a go at before it's too late. It's all for a new book, The Camper Van at The Coast (working title), which will come out next year. As a follow up to The CamperVan Cookbook, this book will contain almost 100 delicious recipes from the camper van kitchen, a few ideas for campervan living throughout the year, my guide to the very best stuff at the coast and a bunch of really amazing campsites that are 'within a decent cast's distance from the sea'. It's not a bad way to judge a campsite is it? And it's one good reason to get in the van and go see for yourself. The one we photographed was, as expected, unbelievable. In 10 days the va

Good news, bad news. And the adventure goes on.

I heard from BBC2 today. Sadly they are not going to commission a second series of 'One Man and His Campervan'. It is upsetting as I was really hoping that the show would take off and that I'd get to head off on another adventure. I have been contacted by so many people asking about series 2, and had such a positive reaction to the show that I'd thought it was a strong possibility. Still, the show didn't do too badly, with 1.95 million viewers for the final episode. That's more than Frank Skinner's Opinionated (1.75) this week. Anyway, it's disappointing but that's the way it goes. And who knows what else might be around the corner for me and my van. Of course the experience of doing the show in the first place was unbelievable so I'm not complaining. It was a wonderful thing to do and it's taught me that there's so much more to the UK than quite good surfing beaches (and not so good surfing beaches). So that's the bad news. Now for

Harry Hill and the Campervan Man

Firstly, apologies for neglecting this blog. I've been tweeting madly and have been getting lots of lovely feedback from everyone, but somehow I've been unable to string sentences any more than 140 chracters together. Still, it's quite astounding how well recieved One Man and his Campervan has been. It's really quite touching. I've been recognised all over the place and everyone has been so positive about the show. "Hey, you're the Campervanman." That's nice. So thanks. As it is, the show did well. The last night, which saw the Gordy the campervan experience a little cluctch trouble, was watched by about 1.8 million people. That's amazing! So we must have been doing something right! As it is I think that camping and campervanning are subjects that touch everyone in Britain. We love our country, we love the countryside within it and we can't wait to get out there and enjoy it. You and me both. So what's been up since the show finished? W

Countdown to a camper van adventure

On Monday 7th February at 6.30pm my TV show, One Man and His Campervan hits BBC2. It's going to be a wierd and wonderful night. It will be the first time that I've appeared in anything like this (apart from being a little blue man in an Erasure video back in 1991) so I haven't a clue what to expect. Will anyone watch? Will anyone like it? Will anyone even notice it was on? I hope so. I also have higher hopes for the TV series: that anyone who watches it will be inspired to fire up the old van/car/bus/bicycle and take a look at Great Britain for themselves. I always knew that there was more to it than just a few great surfing beaches. It's a very cool place. With very cool people. And a lot of very delicious food. You don't even have to be a Michelin starred genius to enjoy it. All you have to do is want something more than beans on toast. Ambitious? Maybe but not really. Although it can sometimes take a little effort to get off the sofa, go to new places and eat ne