Gandalf the Vw Campervan is parked down the Cornish coast near Newquay; our home for the next night is The Camping and Caravanning club site at Tregurrian, just a short walk from Watergate Bay.
On arrival, I’m going to be honest, we were a little underwhelmed. I suppose this was always going to happen, we’d had two exceptional locations- anything was going to struggle to compare to Trewethett Farm with those magnificent sea views.
I’d read the site was across the road from beach- which was a stretch of the imagination as it’s actually 0.75 miles downhill on a busy road. The route to the coastal path has been closed so my hopes for a beach day were dashed as we didn’t want to drive there and equally had too much stuff to carry that far.
After our set up and lunch of a local cheese board, we did however walk down with a small bag and the beach is lovely and most importantly for us, dog friendly.
There were lots of surfers and body boarders and we looked out of place with no wetsuit (even though I had mine up at the van) but we did both manage a dip in the sea. I’m sure with kids in tow, this site would tick a lot of boxes for many families, and whilst we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach, we were disappointed with the facilities in Watergate Bay – the bar was away from the beach and had slow service and there were no fish and chips to be found, only pizzas, and posh seafood restaurants which didn’t welcome dogs.
The next day, the weather was not as good as forcasted so we decided to make a move home a day early. Friday had an exceptionally tight schedule for a variety of reasons so we couldn’t afford to get stuck in traffic. We had a nice breakfast, another walk down to the beach and along the bay, before coming back to Gandalf and packing up.
As we departed we stopped at the next bay, Mawgan Porth where we picked up some fish and chips – yay! – and drove a couple of miles up to the National trust car park at Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, where we enjoyed the most delicious fish and chips with a view that knocked our socks off.
For future reference- if we visited here again, we would catch the bus from near to the site and travel a short journey to Mawgan Porth, as the beach was equally nice but the fish and chips and bar were right on the beach. In our opinion- It had a less pretentious vibe here.
As we were leaving after our fish and chips we got news that unfortunately our holiday to Porto Santo, a small island off Madeira departing on Monday was to be cancelled, due to Portugal moving to Amber. We were heading there to celebrate Keith’s big 5 0! Whilst we were disappointed, we also were a bit relieved as we didn’t want to get stuck out there. We originally were supposed to be in Peru with Great Rail Journeys these two weeks. So our journey back early was now less necessary but as we’d packed up already we decided to continue on home. We honestly had had the best time this week, and we wished we could just stay for another week, but we’d left it too late to book anything and also we had celebrations planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
We then spent the weekend celebrating at home with our mums on Friday, then down in Croydon with friends and family on Saturday and Sunday
We are now making the most of another week off work and good weather by continuing down south for a week of camping in Gandalf- all of which was cobbled together Friday morning FRANTICALLY and each day’s activities is a surprise for Keefy!
Like many others in England, this week we managed to reclaim some of our freedom, as Covid restrictions began lifting, and campsites were allowed to reopen. We had a few days at work to get through, but they flew and before we knew it I was wide awake at 05.30 on Friday morning with excitement seeping through my veins at our impending departure to the North Norfolk Coast.
Our campsite of choice, booked way back at the start of the new year for the beginning of March and rescheduled, was Sandy Gulls, an adult only caravan park situated as close as close can be to the North Sea. We’d pre picked our pitch, a new feature I think for this year, and were bursting with excitement that we’d bagged a front row pitch, high upon the cliff top with uninterrupted sea views.
We set off from home relatively early; we wanted to make a stop at the Adnams shop in Norfolk to stock up on their delicious gin and also some of their Kobbold Lager. We then made our way to Mundesley in time for the seafood van not to close, so that we could buy some fresh fish for a bbq later that evening. The Lobster Pot is situated in a trailer next to the butchers and we picked up two terrific looking cod tails and a pint of prawns to cook. We also grabbed some local sausages and bacon from the butcher and some local eggs, sausage rolls and scotch eggs. Yum, we were all set!
On arrival to the site, we got settled onto our stunning pitch- pinching ourselves that the weather God’s were shining down on us yet trying our best to remember how to set up our relatively new to us Campervan! The weather was glorious (if not a touch chilly) and the local paragliding club were out in abundance, soaring not that much higher that our vans. Life felt absolutely terrific, like others, we have missed this soooo much!
After a couple of drinks admiring the view, we walked along the coast path to Mundesley village. Here you can drop down onto the dog friendly beach, and then rejoin the promenade into the village centre. Mundesley is a small, relatively unspoilt Norfolk village/seaside location.
There are a couple of chippys, a couple of shops, a couple of tea rooms, and a pub. We opted for a pint in the beer garden of the ship, mainly because the beer garden is possibly one of the most scenic in the UK, again with uninterrupted views of the sea. Sadly the service was utterly dismal, and our potential pub lunch turned into a complete non event. It’s difficult to complain right now isn’t it, pubs have been so hard hit with the pandemic, but this one really needs to pull its socks up.
Link to trip advisor review here for the full story if you’re interested. ( I do these so rarely, I hated having to this, but it was shocking.)
We wandered back to the campsite, via the Tesco express for a couple of bits we’d forgotten, mainly Jazz’s dog food Whoops! Before Keith gave the solar shower in our tailgate awning a whirl. He was pleasantly surprised, the awning cancelled out the wind chill and his shower experience was a good one despite the chilly air blowing off the sea.
We then set about our fish bbq, which had been eagerly awaited and planned to the finest detail. We served garlic chilli prawns as a starter, followed by cod tails served on creamed spinach, with cous cous. Yum.
And with this view! We were in heaven. We layered up, got the hot water bottles out and watched as the last rays of sunlight trickled down behind us and the twinkly lights of the boats at sea began to sparkle. I found a great app telling us what each boat was carrying and where it was heading from. I’m so nosey. Once the sky became ink black, the stars came out and we enjoyed a Jack Daniels honey as we watched for shooting stars. It couldn’t have been a better first day back camping and we slept like logs.
Saturday dawned brightly and we had a relatively lazy start to the day. Early on we peeled back the front curtains to reveal the sea ahead – watching the view as we had a couple of cups of tea. We then cooked a fry up on the cadac, again, not wanting to miss a moment of that staggering view, I even remained in my onesie in public much to the amusement of some of the passers by. Our pitch was practically on the coast path, so we had lots of opportunities for friendly hellos with passers by.
I then braved my shower- a far more pleasant experience than I had thought it may have been.
Around midday we walked the very short distance to the coast hopper bus stop, which conveniently stops almost right outside the site, and made our way to the lovely Cromer where we met up with my mum, who had caught the train to see us.
The coast hopper bus runs once an hour and is dog friendly.
Once in Cromer, we didn’t stray far from the Pier, enjoying watching passers by and the ever changing sea. We’ve all missed the seaside so much. We’d brought some drinks with us and just sat, in the sun, until our tummies started to remind us that it was almost time for fish and chips. No 1 Cromer was busy, but not as busy as I’ve seen it in the past, but those fish and chips are just delicious and well worth the wait.
As the sun lowered in the sky, we went our separate ways, waving mum off at the station before we caught our bus back to Mundesley. We had time for a cuppa and another sit outside before the temperature plummeted forcing us inside – but our view remained through the windows until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any more.
Sunday arrived all too quickly, and our departure was looming. Before we packed away we enjoyed another cooked breakfast outside- we loved the local sausages, trying two interesting flavours, a bourbon smoked sausage and a pork and black pudding Sausage.
The Cadac Safari Chef 2 has proven to be a welcome addition to our camping equipment. It’s dinky size and versatility in terms of mixing and matching with our own frying pan etc make cooking on it a dream.
Sandy Gulls Caravan Park is terrific, so good that I almost don’t want to share it! In fact, I realised this weekend, that I must have had the same feeling when we last visited in October, as I appear to have failed to write a blog post about our previous stay here in October.
At £20 pn at this time of year, we consider it to be a bargain. Even at peak times it doesn’t raise higher than £32 pn. The site has been invested in heavily, with new roads and hard standing pitches having been introduced. Pitches are well spaced, flat and have decent electric hook up. The facilities (water and waste disposal) are well kept and well organised, especially during the time of covid, and there was sanitiser everywhere. Plus, it must be the most scenic waste disposal location in the country right? We haven’t used the toilets or showers here as both times we’ve stayed they’ve not legally been allowed to open them, but I’ve read terrific reviews about them. The touring park is adults only, so it’s nice and quiet and there is easy access to the beach, and miles upon miles of walks from the site. We will DEFINITELY we back.
We may have only managed two nights away, but we’ve returned home feeling recharged and raring to the start the week ahead. We’re almost back to fully face to face now and life in school is chaotic but really excellent to be back. We’ve got loads of trips lined up in the coming weeks, so we look forward to sharing them with you.
Have you been away this week? Where have you been? Where’s on your list?
Until next time, keep safe and happy camping to you all
Regular readers will remember me saying here that by the end of the school year, I was absolutely wiped out, so we decided to book a very last minute and ridiculously cheap all inclusive package deal to Cuba with Thomas Cook.
We stayed at Playa Pesquero, in the Holguin province and had an absolutely fabulous time. Sun, Sea, Great food; despite terrible complaining Brits EVERYWHERE within the hotel – we thought the food was wonderful and didn’t get ill at all and plenty of Rum.
For the purpose of continuity on our blog, I thought I’d do a mini blog for our Cuba trip – amongst anything else, we enjoy reading back what we got up to each year.
On the way to Manchester Airport, which by the way, is a bit of a drag journey wise from Norfolk, but a cheap deal is a cheap deal (!) we stopped at National Trust’s Little Moreton Hall, which was amazing, and worth the journey alone. An immaculately preserved Tudor Manor house, which is over 500 years old – it reminded us out of something off the set of a Tim Burton film. With its wonky beams and frontage and quirky windows and unlevel flooring, its a rare example of original Tudor architecture and a great place to explore.
On arrival at Manchester Airport we checked into Clayton Manor Hotel and airport parking. We paid £125 for overnight stay and 8 days parking which we felt was quite reasonable. What we didn’t realise was that the parking was off site – so your vehicle is moved elsewhere during the night – we weren’t hugely happy about this, but had no choice at this point. Our VWT5 LWB Camper was no issue for the parking despite us being a little bit longer than the “terms and conditions” allowed. We didn’t mention it and neither did they.
Monday morning came round quickly and we set alarms for 6am. The hotel is literally across the road from terminal T1 and before we knew it we were on board plane. Thomas Cook keep their costs down by not providing drinks complimentary during even long haul flight, but we did get a meal and a snack along with a coffee and one soft drink.
We arrived at the small in comparison Holguin airport at 2pm Cuban time. By 4pm we’d arrived at the hotel, booked information our allocated 4 ala carte restaurants and by 4.30pm we were enjoying our first (of many) Pino Colada’s in the pool from the Pool Bar.
We even managed a trip to the beach and a dip in the sea. The first view of the Caribbean beach and crystal clear water was overwhelming for me – I’ve always dreamed of visiting and it really was just beautiful.
The next week passed in a pattern of getting up at 7.30am -aren’t body clocks annoying – never can wake up that time when I need to for work, but on holiday – bam – I’m awake! Then we’d grab breakfast from the HUGE breakfast buffet. In all our worldwide travels we’ve never seen such a phenomenonal breakfast offering. Then we’d mooch to the beach. At 10am Alexa, the wandering beach bar man would arrive to take our first orders, we’d break for lunch around 1pm where we’d grab a seafood lunch on the beach or a pizza, or both! A few more hours on the beach snoozing or reading followed and then we’d grab a shower and head off for our evening mea and a cocktail or two. Always in bed by 10pm at the latest.
We took two day trips – one called Island Paradise – which was a trip on a Catamaran to Paradise Island, otherwise known as Cayo Saetia. We stopped for snorkelling on the reef and had a delicious lunch, followed by beach time on the most glorious of beaches, before heading back to mainland.
The other was like a Great Rail Journeys tour – we went to Santiago de Cuba for the day on the coach. As it was a journey of 3 hours each way, we departed at 7am, stopping for breakfast at a local farmers house, and we got to see how they lived – they also offered us loads of homegrown food including their own mangos, coconuts, and even cheese and coffee. Right up our street.
We then carried on to Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s 2nd largest city and one full of history. Fidel Castro proclaimed the victory of the Cuban Revolution here, and as such his grave lies here, which we visited and got to see the changing of the guards – the Cuban equivalent to Buckingham Palace ceremony. We also visited a UNESCO fort; Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, a real life Pirates of the Caribbean Fort! Situated high on a hilltop over looking the sea, it was really atmospheric and we really enjoyed our visit.
We finished the trip with mojitos on the rooftop of the Case Grande hotel and a mooch around the city, before snoozing all the way back to our hotel. A great day!
Both our trips gave us chance to see the real Cuba – life beyond the resorts. Fascinating as it really is a poor country which relies on tourism and agriculture. Some of the roads were merely dirt tracks.
On our final evening in Cuba, we took a trip to the yearly local carnival – it was so much fun, but sadly I drank WAY TOO MUCH rum, and actually can’t remember a great deal. The pictures looked bright and colourful though!
Before we knew it it was time to fly home – and straight into a rehearsal for our next show.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Cuba, and would highly recommend a stay at Playa Pesquero. Despite all the negativity on tripadvisor (and a story even made the Mail yesterday so I hear!) we would definitely return. The food was excellent (if you enjoy eating local cuisine that is) – there was a lack of English food such as chips and burgers (hurrah) and lots of fresh fish, lovely tender slow cooked beef and rice and beans. As with travel to any of these exotic countries – it’s important to exercise a bit of caution. If you see food lying around, give it a miss – there was so much choice and absolutely loads of fresh food to cook stations. Give your bellies time to adjust, so don’t get absolutely HAMMERED on the plane or as soon as you arrive. Keep hydrated, there was oodles of bottled water available. We drank 1.5l of water each on the flight over. The Cuba staff couldn’t do enough to help us, they were absolutely lovely. I really felt for the Thomas Cook reps out there as they were having to deal with so many people complaining – at the end of our stay we went to personally thank them and the relief and shock on their faces said it all.
Cuba – you were just what the doctor ordered!
Here’s a pic of our fave member of staff- the real life “Ask Alexa”