Monday, 22 September 2014

Living the dream - things that memories are made of...

My youngest son and I have shared something of an obsession with VW campers for some years now. We have admired them at our local VW festival, oohed and aahed when we spot one on the road and planned our 'if we win the lottery...' trip round the world. (We don't actually do the lottery, minor detail...)

This year he turned 21 and in a rather rash moment I decided it was time to indulge a little of that obsession with a holiday/birthday present that would be a treat for us both - on the spur of the moment, I booked a Mon-Fri break with O'Connors Campers. Check out their website if you are a VW fan - they have some lovely vans!

Last week we set off for Devon for our little road trip, via an overnight stop in Bath to extend the holiday. I had never been to Bath before and was not disappointed - it is a beautiful city with grand sweeps of town houses, lovely parks and a palpable sense of history.

Somehow, it didn't seem particularly odd to see people wandering around or reading in the park in full Regency style dress...!

We wandered around in the lovely late afternoon sun, just taking in the quirks of this beautiful city. These two little characters were observing us from an upstairs window...
 We stayed at YHA Bath, very comfortable, lovely old building and pretty reasonable value. 
The following day saw us heading on to Devon, with a brief stop in the pretty Somerset village of Dunster for essential coffee and cake...
Much excitement (and more than a few nerves on my part!!) when we picked up this beautiful little van from Okehampton, engaged our inner hippies and set off for the North Devon coast...

This is Barbarella, and she certainly has some quirks from a driving perspective! Dating from 1967, she has a something of a mind of her own as far as gears are concerned, brakes that required physical effort of the downhills and a fabulous engine roar. I'm not sure how long it is since I drove something without power steering or brakes and even the position felt very weird to begin with! We may have caused a few curses behind us as we crawled along to begin with but there is something very liberating about just tootling along. By the time we got to our first overnight stop I had sussed that a bit of gentle handling in the gears department was the way to go and was beginning to enjoy the drive - Tom was definitely enjoying the ride and the sideways glances of people we passed!

First stop North Morte Farm, with stunning views as the sun set over the coast...

We had packed for autumnal weather but in fact, summer seemed to have had second thoughts and we woke the next day to a beautiful sunrise that turned into gorgeous blue skies...

Thought my blankets looked at home though...
Next stop Port Isaac and the lovely, quieter Port Gaverne (cream tea :-) had to be done!)...

Our stop for the night was a campsite near Padstow - both minor disappointments to be honest - the site was nice and quiet but very basic facilities, which didn't bother me at all except that it was relatively expensive! Padstow just seemed rather commercialised and felt a little like it has lost its heart to the tourist trade (noting that we were being those tourists!) - that may be unfair because we only saw it at night and perhaps it has a different feel during the day.

Tom would have loved to drive Barbarella, but insurance didn't allow - didn't stop him posing though... Essential for social media!

...and he 'dressed' Barbs with the blankets the next day...

On round the coast to St Ives via the Bedruthan Steps (the guy on the car park said he thought the van knew its way there! obviously a regular stop!!). The coastline here has a rugged dramatic beauty...

It was a bit misty & blowy, these little sparrows were getting decidedly ruffled...

We stayed at a really lovely campsite on the clifftops above St Ives - Trevalgan touring park - great facilities, good value and a lovely walk down to the town along the coast path.

We were in St Ives primarily to see Seth Lakeman, who did not disappoint - had everyone on their feet by the end of the night...

The next bit of the coast road around the headland to Lands End was great - stunning scenery, gorgeous blue skies and I was really enjoying the van by this stage. 

We had planned to visit the Minack Theatre but didn't quite make it as the fees for almost everything just start to really add up after a while so instead walked around to the beautiful beach at Porthcurno, where a spent a happy while taking photos of the sea...

Just gorgeous. I could've happily stayed here for hours. But sadly, our little road trip was coming to an end and we eventually made our way on to Woodovis Park near Tavistock for our final night with Barbarella. This was a really lovely site complete with an indoor pool which was a real treat to end the day.

We had such fun in this old van - is it the most comfortable way to travel? Nope. Are you likely to get the best night's sleep? Probably not. But there was something very liberating about just chugging along, knowing that however long the queue behind you, there's no point in trying to go any faster and I'm pretty sure she brings a smile to most people's faces.

Did I discover a bit of my inner chilled out hippy chick? Yep - wish I could bottle that feeling and keep it going day to day. Would we do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat - only next time I might just keep driving... ;-)

S x


  1. Wow Sandra, what a gorgeous trip and special memories for you and Tom to make you smile through the winter.
    Thank you for sharing. I'd love to do something like that one day.
    Jacquie x

    1. Would recommend it! It was so different to holidays - definitely an experience :) x

  2. Fabulous photographs! Such a lovely time spent with your son.
    We've always had a thing about VWs too. We owned a camper fleetingly in our youth, and had a VW Beetle for a long time. We've just purchased a car for our retirement. We had intended to buy a sensible Golf, but our heart fluttered when we saw a new Beetle. The heart won. It's not like the old days, but it does have a certain charm.

  3. What a great trip, and beautiful photos too!
    Thank you for sharing :-)

  4. what an awesome trip and such beautiful pictures! Looks like it was a fantastic trip and great memories were made.

    1. It was feel good stuff, Robbie :) Lovely experiences to look back on together x

  5. That's a 21st birthday present to remember; what a fantastic idea. If you don't mind I'll pinch it and add it to my wish list for 'one day'! x

    1. Ha ha :) feel free! Would definitely recommend - think we smiled like Cheshire cats most of the week! x

  6. Wow it looks fantastic. Barbarella is a beauty. I wanna come next time!!

    1. Do it :)) It was such fun. Want to go again already...

  7. What a great idea! A great birthday gift and lovely to spend time together too. I dream of owning a camper, but it'll only happen if I buy a winning lottery ticket, haha!

  8. Wow it looks fab - Barbarella's a beaut! I would love to hire a camper one day (or HAVE one - lottery win permitting!) Yes it was Derwentwater in my post, from the Friars Crag end of Keswick - very perceptive!!

    1. Ha, I think there's a few of us banking on that particular lottery win :)) Thought I recognised that Lakeland scene. Another of my favourite places - would so love to go back up there sometime. Hmmm, wonder if anyone hires VW vans up in the lakes...?!

  9. What a wonderful trip & such a great present for Tom.

    We had a VW camper in the 70's -it had to be pushed up hill !


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