A weekend at Sandy Gulls Adults Only Caravan Park, Mundesley

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.

View from the beer garden.

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.

Back 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

Lx

Campervan Cooking | Tandoori Sea Bass

Tandoori Sea Bass

Ingredients

1 potato

1 leek

1 punnet cherry toms

1 garlic clove

2tbsp tandoori power

1.5 tbsp butter

2 sea bass fillets

salt/pepper

Method

• Chop your potatoes into 2cm pieces (no need to peel!). Put your potatoes on a silver foil tray with 1 tbsp of oil, your curry powder, ¼ tsp of salt and some ground pepper and mix it well so the potatoes have a good covering of the curry powder and oil. Pop the potatoes in the Remoska and cook for 25 mins until crispy.

• Cut the root and the green bit off your leek and discard them, slice the remaining leek in half and then slice it thinly widthways into 1 cm slices. Peel and finely chop your garlic and chop your cherry tomatoes in half.

• Pop your cherry tomatoes on a foil tray and sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top, along with a pinch of sugar (if you have any). In the last 10 mins of the potato cooking time, put the tomatoes in the oven as well on the second shelf and cook for 10 mins.

• Put three quarters of your butter in a bowl with your tandoori spice mix and the chopped garlic clove and mix it together. Tip: the most effective way of combining is to mush it together with your hands or a fork, so don’t be afraid to get stuck in there!

• Add your remaining butter (which you haven’t added to the tandoori spice) to a frying pan on medium heat along with 1 tsp of olive oil. Pop the chopped leek in the pan along with a pinch of salt and some pepper and cook for 5 mins until softened. Pop in a bowl and set aside.

• Add three quarters of your spice butter to the frying pan (no need to wash it up!) on medium heat. Season your sea bass fillets with a pinch of salt and pepper and when the spice butter has melted, put your fish in the pan skin side-down. Cook for 3 mins and then turn the fish over and cook for a further minute. Tip: When the fish is frying skin-side down do not move it or you won’t get crispy skin! While the second side is cooking add the rest of the spice butter to the pan, along with 1 tbsp of water and cook for a further minute before taking the pan off the heat.

• Your potatoes should now be ready so remove them from the Remoska. Serve your sea bass with your curried potatoes and your leeks and tomatoes on the side. Drizzle the melted spice butter from the pan over the top for some extra deliciousness and enjoy!

Product Review – Remoska Electric Oven from Lakeland

Food, Glorious Food!

Anyone that follows our blog regularly will have gathered by now that we are into our food. We love nothing more than trying new dishes, using local ingredients to create our own culinary masterpieces and finding new ways to push the boundaries when it comes to cooking whilst on camping trips in our trusty VW campervan which has just two gas hob rings.

New Gadgets

The Remoska oven first caught my eye as something which would enable us to cook a roast dinner whilst away. For me, I think a roast dinner is my ultimate favourite meal; a nice succulent piece of meat, loads of fresh veg, crunchy roast potatoes and lashings of gravy. Oh and you must not forget the Yorkshire puddings; no matter what the meat, the Yorkshire puds perch proudly on top.

When we used to to have Bluebell the Motorhome, we often used to cook a roast dinner in her oven whilst away, but since downsizing to Ruby we have obviously sacrificed that and it’s been fine, we’ve used our slow cooker and just had no Yorkshire puds or roasties. Then one day a few weeks ago, the Remoska Oven found its way into my Facebook feed – like a message from above. “Lydia – there is a way for roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings in Ruby”. Considering I spend every waking moment when I’m not working researching trip ideas and recipes, I couldn’t believe that I’d not heard of one before.

Lakeland very kindly agreed to send me a Remoska Grande Electric Oven to try on our recent trip to Northern Ireland. I immediately added a chicken to the online grocery shop order, and couldn’t wait to hit the road!

What is the Remoska Electric Oven

A Remoska Oven originates from Czech Republic. It’s a large deep Teflon saucepan with a lid that has heating elements hidden within. It heats up to 190-220 degrees centigrade, requires no preheating and amazingly only draws minimal power, making it perfect for campervans and the like.

What can you cook

Our second night of the trip happened to be a Sunday, so I wasted no time and even despite the fact that we’d been travelling, as soon as we were on site got cracking.

For convenience, because we’d literally just driven from Norfolk to Northern Ireland, I wanted to keep it fairly basic, so brought a prepared chicken joint, and also pre- made Yorkie puds.

You can see my YouTube video of our first roast here: but needless to say, it went very well. A massive advantage to using the Remoska in the campervan was that (within reason) it didn’t need supervising to the same level that if I were cooking chicken on the gas hob would. But equally, the whole thing only took me 1.5 hours – not all day like the slow cooker, so despite all the miles driven that day, we were still able to use it in time for a normal evening meal time of day.

During our 10 days away, we actually used the Remoska everyday- in fact by the end we were starting to wonder how we ever coped without it!

At breakfast on most days we enjoyed local Irish and Cumberland Sausage (from our farm shop hauls) which cooked to perfection whilst we got the van ready to leave / showered / had a lay in. Rather than the faff of sitting for 20-30 mins turning them in the saucepan regularly and then still having the skin burnt, this was a game changer.

We used it for meal side dishes such as chips, onion rings and stuffed mushrooms – the perfect accompaniment to our Irish fillet steak supper, and also parmienter potatoes and jacket potatoes- we’ve previously done the latter in the slow cooker but they’ve taken 4 hours so we could only have them on non driving days. Not any more! Also for future this opens up Chilli con carne with jacket pots – chilli in the slow cooker and jacket spuds in the Remoska! 💪

We pimped up our slow cooker chilli con carne with some cheesy nachos on top – oh, that was delicious – making use of foil containers which actually we ended up using quite a bit as roasting dishes inside the Remoska – this saved washing up and helped with portion control.

We managed to fit another roast in, this time a local Irish silverside of beef in just over an hour.

Possibly the most exciting for me, once I’d got over the elation of two roast dinners – homemade mac n cheese with Irish soda bread and breaded chicken pieces from the local farm shop. Delicious even if I do say so myself! Here’s my video

What’s unique?

A few people mentioned to me that their Cobb bbq’s do a similar job to the Remoska. This is true, however, you need ok weather to use it. We go camping all year round – and being realistic, I just don’t fancy the idea of standing outside in the cold or wet to cook dinner. Another advantage of the Remoska for indoor cooking over the gas hob burner is that as it’s electric we don’t need to worry about having a window open to let the gas fumes out. Handy when it’s bucketing down as the rain comes in our side sliders and we constantly worry it’s going to break the electric locking mechanism. The power draw is just so low that it doesn’t trip our electrics (or the Campsite’s). Yet, unlike the slow cooker, it cooks at a normal oven temperature so meals don’t take a minimum of 4 hours.

Storing it in a VW Campervan

Storing it was easy enough as that was with our jam packed campervan – I think we travelled with the most we’ve ever taken this time! On driving days it sat in a recyclable shopping bag on the floor of the back, and as soon as we parked up the shopping bag was moved onto the dashboard.

The Remoska Grande just fits nicely on the glass cover that protects the sink or the gas rings. It comes with a stand for the saucepan to sit on so it doesn’t get too hot on the work surface. The cord stretches far enough for our electric socket by the wardrobe. There is a bit of space management required when needing to use the sink or hob, but we just put our table up and keep moving it about. I’m sure forward planning would improve that but we have to remind ourselves we are in a 5 metre long tin box and not the kitchen at home!

The Bottom Line

The Remoska Grande is currently priced at £169.99 at Lakeland. Although it feels like a lot to splash out, it really has opened up our options for making nice meals in Ruby the VW. Obviously you need to be on a site with electricity but you really can cook anything on it that you would usually cook at home and in any weather. Not that we’d eat them, but ready meals would fit perfectly inside. Pies, cakes, pizzas, chicken Kiev’s, chips, you name it. It really is a remarkable bit of kit and we highly recommend it.

Our next trip will hopefully give us chance to make homemade pizzas as that is something we always crave when away, so keep your eyes peeled for a YouTube video on that. I’ll update this post with that afterwards

Thanks very much to Lakeland for sending out a Remoska Grande Electric Oven kit for me to test. All opinions are my own.

Hello 2019! Seeing in the New Year on the North Norfolk coast

Ruby the VW Campervan is parked on the very lovely Deepdale Backpackers hostel and Campsite, at Burnham Deepdale, North Norfolk. We’ve driven by this place many a time, but the recent addition of electric hook ups and a complete toilet and shower revamp saw us booking on back in September for our much anticipated New Year break.

The campsite is absolutely excellent by the way; huge pitches and probably the best facilities we’ve ever come across; plenty of massive wet room showers with your own private loo and hand basin, even heated flooring! There are plenty of dish washing facilities, free Wi-fi and even not one, but two warm doggie showers!

These are the facilities just on site, aside from these we’ve got a fully stocked supermarket/petrol station that is open 7-7 even on New Year’s Day! A number of lovely shops, a cafe, not one but two pub/restaurants, the Norfolk Norfolk coastal path running practically from the site and a bus stop that is the coastlines and runs from Hunstanton to Fakenham and back every hour. It’s just the perfect place to spend New Year- a time when we always end up walking miles and miles to try and burn off some of those excess pounds that we’ve gained since, well Texas really!

The journey here on Sunday was indirect from ours but relatively quick- just over an hour and we were pulling onto our pitch. We took our time setting up as our last pack away was in the middle of the night and after a hearty lunch of homemade pea, ham and mint soup, made in my compact soup maker that Santa brought me, we donned our boots and set off on a small walk. The soup was amazing by the way!

We turned left out of the campsite and walked along the coast path towards Brancaster Staithe, a walk of around 1.5 miles and then looped back along the road, obviously checking the two pubs out too. We passed two small places selling fresh mussels. Obviously we brought a bag of live mussels, (and some fresh eggs) ready for a starter tonight.

Sunday night was spent chilling before dinner. Dinner was a rather exciting affair; first we had the local Brancaster mussels, cooked in a simple white wine and onion sauce- oh my they were good.

Main course was homemade turkey, ham and leek pies using our new gadget, an electric pie maker. I made the pies at home and we reheated them in about 15 mins using electric. It was a blustery wet evening, and our pie and mash dinner really hit the spot!

It never fails to surprise me how well we eat in Ruby, considering we only have just two gas hob rings!

New Years Eve

We had a fairly lazy morning, and after a breakfast of sausage and egg baps, we set off on a 3 mile or so saunter, this time in the opposite direction of yesterday’s walk – so turning right out of the campsite.

Despite leaving Ruby at 11:30 we found our pace was fast, so we decided to pause for a quick drink at The Hero, and then carry on along the coast path through Holkham and finishing at Wells-next-the-Sea 11 miles later!

Crossing the field towards Burnham

I saw the sea.. at Burnham

The path goes behind the large sand dunes at Holkham

Then through the trees and forest before coming up to the sea wall at Wells Next the Sea

The final approach to Wells Next the Sea. Boy those fish and chips were calling us!

We arrived at Wells at 3pm, not bad at all- we really loved the walk, even with our fast pace!

Obviously after such a long walk with no snacks/water (although there is a cafe with water station and loos at Holkham. And a pub which we didn’t stop at!) our first objective was to find a drink, and then fish and chips at Frenchies which hit the spot and beyond, before grabbing the next coasthopper bus back to the campsite (£2.10pp & £1 for dogs). We accidentally 😜 missed our stop and got off at the next stop, the Jolly Sailors, for “one for the road”; well it was NYE!

Our evening was quiet and chilled, exactly as we like it. We managed to polish off a steak and noodle dinner around 9.30pm, and then opened a bottle of fizz as we waited for the big countdown.

The atmosphere on site was good – a lot of campers had gone down to the Jolly sailors (or we assume they did as we watched them leave dressed as pirates and there was a pirate party on). A midnight, a few of our neighbours came out with sparklers singing Auld Lang Syne, and in the distance (but far enough not to trouble Jazz) we watched a pretty impressive firework display. But ten mins later the site was quiet again, so we pulled out the bed and promptly dozed off – not waking again until 10am.

New Years Day started rather lazily, in fact, I don’t think I got out of bed until 11! Once I did get up I made us a fry up, and we tested our legs after yesterday’s long walk. Luckily neither of us had still legs so we decided to do a nice 4.5 miles loop provided by the campsite, Burnham Deepdale – Brancaster and back via Barrow Common.

Despite there being a few drops of rain as we lay in bed, by midday the weather had cleared right up, and actually the sun was attempting to show its face. We really enjoyed walking over Barrow common, and took the opportunity to toast the new year with a swig or five from our hip flasks whilst looking out to sea.

The walk included walking across a field ahem, I mean the remains of a Roman Fort, Branodunum, which dates back from 200AD, and would have been one of three important sites in East Anglia. Keith was absolutely in his element – I’m better at seeing physical remains rather than using my imagination but I understood that it was a very important archeological site, and in its day would have looked like this:

Picture taken from SUMO Services: https://www.sumoservices.com/brancaster-roman-fort-case-study/

Today it looks like this

There is an interesting time team episode filmed here which we watched later on.

The walk rejoined the coastal path just below the fort and we followed it all the way back to Burnham Deepdale. As we passed Brancaster Staithe the sun fully came out and the light was just wonderful. The tide was now almost fully in and lots of people were out taking pictures, bird watching, even some launched sea kayaks. It really is my happy place here.

A mile or so further along and we returned to our starting point, and paid a quick stop at the church to see the Norman square font, before returning to the campsite, just in time to watch the sun dip down behind Ruby.

The first sunset of 2019.

All this walking means we are hungry Horace’s, so we devoured a cheese board for a late lunch and then a delicious slow cooker venison and red cabbage stew for dinner. Recipe below, it was gorgeous!

We’ve had a brilliant break, and really feel recharged and ready to start the year with a bang. We’ve signed up for Country Walking’s Walk 1000 miles in 2019, (we actually started it on 27th Dec hopefully that won’t matter) so are going into 2019 with lots of walking based trips in mind, and lots of trips in Ruby and beyond already booked.

Whatever 2019 brings for you, I do hope it’s a good one, and if you have a camper van, Motorhome or tent, we really really recommend a visit to Deepdale Farm. We’ll be back for sure!

Until next time

Lx

Touring The Thames Valley: Part 1, Chertsey

The Thames Towpath has been on our list of places to visit for quite a while now, but as with all these things, things get bumped up/down, life or sometimes long haul trips get in the way, you know how it goes. We both naturally enjoy being around water and enjoy walking and cycling along Rivers and Canals. For one thing, they are usually dead flat – so no sneaky hills for us to contend with!

This Summer Holiday gave us the ideal opportunity to get cracking on our Thames Towpath walk, and luckily we were able to get booked on to a couple of Club sites in ideal locations for us. So, after a gig on Friday morning, we threw everything we needed into Ruby the VW Campervan and set off south, only getting caught up briefly around Heathrow, which wasn’t bad considering it was the Friday before the last bank holiday and we were travelling in the afternoon.

Our first campsite base was the Camping and Caravan Club site at Chertsey – situated right on the banks of the Thames, overlooking Chertsey Lock and Weir it was an ideal location for us. The Club Site was clean, spacious and tidy and we were very happy with our pitch which had a lovely view of the river.

Last night I made a homemade Chicken Dhansak which I’d portioned up for our dinner tonight – an easy and delicious meal for our first night. Across the road from the club site is a 24 hours Spa and Petrol station so after a quick wander down the Thames and a pint at the local pub, The Kingfisher, we popped in and picked up a samosa to accompany our DIY curry night. The fresh samosas heated up very well in our Ridgemonkey.

As the site is situated close by to Heathrow, you get to watch the planes as they are ascending. We downloaded an app called Flight radar which was amazing as it told us where the flight was going and how long its flight was. We are so nosy and probably a bit geeky but we enjoyed ourselves!

We had a great night sleep and actually didn’t wake up until 10am – which must be a camping first for us! The noise of the planes or the M3 certainly didn’t bother us!

After a quick bacon bap, we made a packed lunch and donned our walking boots – we were heading off onto the Thames Path for a walk towards Shepperton.

The walk was a suggested walk off the C&CC website and took in the section of Thames Towpath between Chertsey and Shepperton, then we crossed the river via a 500 year old passenger ferry, before returning back to Chertsey via Weybridge and the River Wey. It was a lovely walk – and there were some absolutely magnificent riverside houses to admire the entire way round.

We enjoyed a half way beer at The Old Crown in Weybridge which was a quirky and historical little pub with a lovely terrace overlooking the river. The second half of the walk passed by a charming lock-keepers cottage, managed now by the National Trust.

You can view the walk as a PDF here: Chertsey-Shepperton

When we got back to Ruby, I put two jacket potatoes in the slow cooker (see recipe here) and settled in our chairs outside with a cider watching the planes and making the most of the late summer sun. 3 hours later, I reheated up a mexican bean and beef chilli that mum had made us whilst we were away in Cuba (thanks mum!) and we served it along with the jacket spuds and tacos and salad. It was delicious, and just what we needed after a long walk – plus the temperature was just starting to drop – proper comfort food.

Sunday dawned wet, wet, wet!

Well, it wouldn’t be a bank holiday would it without some rain. Actually we didn’t mind it at all – some on the site were packing up and heading home, but we made the most of the enforced rainy day, but staying in bed till almost 2pm and having a massive chill- reading, catching up on crappy tele. All the things you don’t do when its clear and you feel you should make the most of the day!

A break in the rain around 5pm meant a mad dash to the pub (well we had to walk Jazz!) for a swift pint – Keith enjoyed the local Windsor and Eaton Brewery Ale whilst I had a glass of fizz. Dinner on Sunday was a delicious Swartz Slow Cooker mix – chicken in red wine, served with mashed potatoes. It was gorgeous even if I do say so myself!

Bank Holiday Monday arrived and it was time to move to our next site. We’d brought the Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard with us to try out, as the Chertsey site has a launch point onsite. However because of the rain yesterday, we didnt get chance to launch, so we decided to stop enroute to our next site in Henley on Thames for a go instead. On our walk on Saturday we had spotted somewhere suitable for us to drive to and launch, so shortly after breakfast we waved bye to the Chertsey Club site and drove the short distance to Chertsey Mead B carpark. *This carpark has a height barrier of 2.1m in height

The Aldi Stand Up Paddleboard was fantastic – it took less than 10 mins to roll out and inflate. The Kayak sadly had picked up a hole in its bottom chamber and therefore we couldnt use it. We both had a good go on the SUP and I even managed to STAND UP! (for roughly a minute and a half!) It was exciting and we both felt proud that we’d given it a go and got across the Thames and back without drowning! (we do wear lifejackets!)

After a clean down of both the board and ourselves, we made our way to Runnymead National Trust- the site where the Magna Carta was signed and sealed over 800 years ago! The National Trust Parking is right on the river bank and is the perfect place for a picnic – something which everyone was doing. It was wonderful – I loved having a picnic of pizza (cooked in the ridgemonkey) and cheese, and salami whilst watching the boats going by. If I’d have realised we would have been picnicking here, I would have gone to far more effort – but we will definitely return here.

After lunch, we took a wander down to see the JFK memorial – apt as we will be visiting the site where he was assinated in just a couple of months in Dallas. We also looked at the Magna Carta monument. There were tons of walks that were avaiable and wonderful open meadowland. I really recommend a visit before the summer is out if you’ve not been and have time.

Next stop before our next campsite was Ankerwycke – which is just across the river from Runnymede, but 15 mins in the car. Here lies a 2500 year old yew tree which is just astonishing.

There are some theories that now say that this was the site of the sealing of the Magna Carta, not across the river, due to it’s proximity to a Benedictine Abbey – the remains of which you can see by the tree. The tree has a girth of 8 metres and is said to have been a location that Henry VIII canoodled Anne Boleyn. National Trust have devised a short circular walk that takes in some more of the Thames across the bank from Runnymede and some ancient woodland. It’s very pretty but not brilliantly signposted so watch out!

We really, really enjoyed our visit to the Chertsey and Shepperton area of the Thames Valley- but for now it was time to move upstream for our next leg of our adventures.

Until Next Time

Lx

Our Annual Scotland Pilgrimage – May 2018 Part 1, Norfolk to Arisaig

Thursday

Is it me, or has this half term just flown by?! It only seems like last week that we were returning from China, but in fact we’ve been home for 6 weeks now and therefore it’s surely time for another road trip. May Half Term for the last few years has been earmarked as our annual jaunt up to our most favourite travel location of them all, Bonny Scotland. Thursday is our mad busy day at work and we don’t finish in Thetford until 7pm. We parked a fully loaded Ruby the Campervan at school, then Mum delivered Jazz the pampered pooch to the school gates at 7pm, and by 7.10pm we were on  A14 heading towards Carter Bar border crossing near to Jedburgh. 

This year we were particularly excited as the weather forecast was looking amazing! I think this excitement and the fact that we avoided every traffic jam going, helped us pitch up just after midnight at the large lay-by at the Border Crossing on the A68 Jedburgh road (Carter Bar) 

Friday dawned disappointedly cloudy, but this enabled us to make a very quick exit from Carter Bar as we weren’t distracted by the view. We shared our space with a traditional romany gypsy cart and horse, but for the first time ever, no other motorhomes. We had quite a drive today as we were skipping through our normal stopovers of Loch Lomond and Black Mount in order to get to Silversands Arisaig in one day. We did however make exception for the Loch Lomond Farm shop, a traditional stop for us to line Ruby’s fridge full of local fresh meat and ale and cider. 

We had a quick picnic “on the Bonny Bonny banks of Loch Lomond…..” before carrying on the A82 up past the Bridge of Orchy, Black Mountain, Glencoe and then Fort William.

We were noticing that the traffic was a lot heavier than other years, in fact we were nearly unable to get parked at the Glencoe viewpoint, definitely no cuppa this time, so instead we stopped at the Glenfinnan monument for a cuppa and a quick leg strech before arriving at Arisaig Silversands campsite at 5pm. 

We’ve been to this site several times previously. In our opinion, its one of the best beachside campsites in the UK. Especially if you book early and manage to get one of the beach front pitches. The showers and loos are basic but clean. And just look at our view!

We got the gas grill out and set about cooking a burger feast from our farm shop haul for dinner before enjoying a sensational sunset and a wee dram.  We couldn’t believe when we looked at the clock, expecting it to be near to 9pm – it was actually nearly 11pm and still pretty light.

Saturday

The weather was just glorious! Our plan was to unload the bikes and cycle round to nearby Camusdarach Beach which is where Local Hero was filmed, just like we did last year. However, the weather was just so gorgeous, and the beach in front of Ruby looked so inviting, we decided that we would stay at the campsite all day and enjoy the campsite beach and have a chill.

Out came the self inflating sofas and we made the long (10 metre) walk to the beach which is where we stayed ALL DAY!

We’ve never ever done this on a camping trip – we always try and cram in some cycling or walking or exploring. Jazz loved it as because the beach was empty he got to do lots of off leading which we normally can’t do as he’s not the most obedient pup in the world!

 

 

We actually managed to get sunburn – this is a first for us in Scotland. We felt like we were in Greece on a beach holiday. It was perfect. A perfect day has to end in a perfect BBQ, and Keefy did not let us down on this.

After another incredible sunset we hit the sack. A lovely relaxing day.

Sunday

We had a relatively early start today as it was time to wave goodbye to our stay at SilverSands. We waved a sad goodbye to owner Jim, around 9am and drove the short distance on the coast road to Camusdarach Sands. As the beach was quiet I had a play with my drone and Keith pretended he was Peter Reigert (Mac in Local Hero) and went for a long walk along the shoreline.

See drone video here

The weather was just beautiful again. Around 10am, we set off to Mallaig, and after stocking up on some supplies at the Coop we boarded our first of two ferries that day – Mallaig to Armadale (Skye). 

The journey was smooth and enjoyable, we had the binoculars out looking for wildlife. We were first off the ferry which was handy as we had to drive across Skye from Armadale to Uigg for our next ferry to the Isle of Harris. Skye was looking wonderfully green against the bright blue sky. We were desperately looking for some local fresh fish to take with us to cook as we were fairly sure we were going to be on the sea again tonight, but as it was Sunday there was nowhere other than the coop open. I managed to get some Hebridean salmon, but that was it. The Sunday closing also prevented us spending a sizeable amount in Uigg at the Isle Of Skye Brewery shop! If you are passing through, we highly recommend the Skye Red and Skye Gold Ales. 

After a quick ploughmans lunch in Ruby whilst queuing for the ferry, we loaded onto the slightly larger ferry, the CalMac Hebrides Ferry. We were so excited, its been a plan to revisit Harris after our last visit in 2012 and the weather was just incredible and looked set for the week. The ferry journey was a lovely and smooth 90 minute journey. We sat on the top deck looking for whales and dolphins and enjoyed an Isle of Skye red. It got so hot we actually needed to move to the shade! 

You can read our next instalment here

Until Next Time 

Lx 

Campervan Cooking – Tuna* and Samphire* parcels

This is a great Campervan recipe as you’ve got the flexibility to change the ingredients to what you can find!

Whilst away in Pembrokeshire we found some local Samphire on sale in the fishmongers in Tenby. We’d got a couple of delicious looking Tuna steaks in the fridge already that we had picked up from Aldi, but obviously the preference would be to buy from a local fishmonger. We’ve also tried this many times with salmon fillets which is equally as lovely. And if you can’t find Samphire then using asparagus is just as tasty.

Cut two large squares of tin foil and place the Samphire (or asparagus) in the middle.

Place the tuna steak or salmon on top, season with salt and pepper and mixed herbs, and add a knob of butter on top of the fish.

Pull the sides of the foil up and fold over so the fish and veg is encased in a package.

Get a frying pan over medium to high heat (or place straight on a campfire!) and place the foil package on the frying pan/hot coals.

Leave to cook ten mins or so. After ten mins gently check to see how the fish is cooking. It will change colour so you can track how quickly it’s cooking.

When cooked remove from the pan and leave on the side whilst you add a knob of butter to the already hot frying pan. Any left over Samphire that wouldn’t fit in the parcel can be fried off for a couple of minutes in the hot butter.

Serve with cous cous or new potatoes and a glass or two of white wine. Yum

Campervan Cooking – Pembrokeshire* Chowder

* could be any county – depends where you brought your fish!

I saw this on the menu at a pub we had a drink in and just knew I had to do my own version – the more I thought about the more it dawned on me what a great camping recipe this was!

We were in lovely Tenby, Pembrokeshire and so hit google to find a local fishmongers. Sure enough Google guided us to one a couple of minutes walk away.

Simply Seafood was the perfect place to purchase some fresh seafood for our chowder. We opted for a simple chowder with just Cod – the lady told me it had been caught early that morning – when I asked where from she pointed to the Harbour and said “turn right”!

However the joy of a chowder is really you can put anything in! Prawns, white fish, yellow fish- shellfish- up to you and more importantly, what you can get your hands on.

Next evening and I was all set to cook it. For two (with large appetites!!) you need a large (preferably local) baking potato, an onion, some garlic, some fish stock and some milk (or cream). And obviously some wine (or fizz!) to keep you hydrated whilst cooking!

Peel your potato and cut into small cubes. The smaller the cube the quicker it cooks. You want it almost over cooked so it mashes up nicely. Slice the onion and garlic and fry until a light brown.

We had one largish piece of cod (£3.50 bargain!) for the two of us.

Once the potatoes are cooked drain and use a fork to fluff them up a little.

Cut the cod into small chunks. Boil kettle and pour about 300 ml water into the saucepan with the cooked potatoes and add the fish stock and the cooked onion and garlic. Leave to simmer for a few minutes before adding the cod.

Use a fork to mash the potato along the side of the saucepan. Add a glug of milk (around 100ml) and cream if using.

Leave to cook for around 6-7 minutes once you’ve added the cod.

Season to taste.

Serve with fresh local bread and a glass or two 😜 of white wine.

Perfect Campervan meal whilst why the sea – especially when it’s a little chilly,rainy or blowing a hoooley outside!

Go West for Summer – Part 5

Monday
After a wet and wild night outside, we’d thankfully slept well and it was time to pack up Ruby the campervan and carry on along the coast towards Cardigan Bay. We’d booked onto a Coastal site at Nant- y- Croi but we were both feeling pretty fed up from our St Davids washout and having had no internet, radio or TV since Friday we had no idea what the weather was going to do. We were both agreed if the weather looked bad we were heading home!

We had a quick getaway literally throwing everything in Ruby, before
driving to find a lay by with 3/4G! The idea of going away with no phone signal/internet sounds appealing to most I know – but in reality on a trip in a campervan/motorhome it’s really not ideal- we’ve come to rely on the web- always keeping an eye on the weather, banking, local attractions etc- it helps us make the most of our holiday. Plus it’s nice to see the news. We missed the news about Bruce Forsyth dying, our home county seaside resort being on lockdown and also I needed to pre book a boat trip for later in the week! Plus the blog was weeks behind!

Anyway it wasn’t long til we found signal and we were able to assess what to do. Weather looked promising so we made the decision to carry on, so we stopped at the Aldi at Cardigan and stocked up, I booked us onto a bit trip for Wednesday before making our way to the campsite. As soon as we pulled in, he sea view took our breath away- it’s by far the best view we’ve had on this trip. The campsite is on a working farm but the camping field Is HUGE and overlooks the sea. Sun was shining- We were so relieved. Then we realised there was free wifi WHICH WORKED, so despite being no phone signal we can reconnect to the world again!

We spent the afternoon catching up on emails and looking out for dolphins. I nearly cried when I actually saw some! 😊 Keith reminded me to get my telescope out to help me dolphin watch 🐬 and we had a marvellous afternoon chilling in the sun. Dinner was cooked and eaten al Fresco- a yummy simply cook Thai red prawn curry.

What a difference twenty four hours makes.

Tuesday
Tuesday arrived and the sun was still shining! Happy faces in the O’Gorman camp let me tell you!

Today we are having a big chill. We set up the telescope and commenced operation relax – breakfast butties were served at 11:00, and at 1pm we went for a little wander to see the local beach (National Trust Mwnt, very pretty but not dog friendly between May- Sept) so we headed back to camp and carried on chilling whilst publishing all the missed blog posts.

Around 5pm we wandered down through the campsite’s permissive path to the coastal path and I took donny drone for a play.
I really wanted to send him backwards out to sea a bit but got scared so kept him over land.

After that we got the Cadac gas stove out and cooked a steak fajita feast for tea. Yum. The views from this site are just breathtaking- I think we are really going to miss them!

The only thing I would say is that whilst the farmer obviously is very eager for everyone to be happy here which is very nice to see, and of course we appreciate, he’s coming round to speak to everyone on his quad bike several times a day! Lol. I love a natter but think he’s perhaps taking his desire to please his guests perhaps one step too far! But maybe that’s just us being anti social!


Tomorrow we bid a sad farewell to our Cardigan Bay seaview and are heading up the coast a bit. We are also going on a dolphin watching boat trip! Woo.
🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬
Until next time
Lx

Go West for Summer – Part 2

Monday
We were up and away from Knights Folly Campsite by mid morning. We were sad to be leaving the site as it was lovely- however it's always exciting to be moving on elsewhere to see new places.

Our journey took us down the M4 and over the Severn Bridge, at which point we entered Wales and all the road signs were larger with both Welsh and English written on!

We were heading to Burry Port, but stopped at Llanelli for an Aldi shop. In Ruby we've been only shopping 4 days at a time but Keefy talked me into trying a 7 day shop this time. I was worried about fitting it all in, but I had to eat my hat-everything found a home – the cupboards are filled to busting, the fridge stocked to capacity, the cool box full of alcohol and sparkling water BUT we did it- 7 days shopping in Ruby and we can still fit ourselves in! She really is a tardis!
We arrived at Burry Port Harbour, listed in the Britstop book but also many places elsewhere online & paid the Harbour master £8 for our overnight stay. We were encouraged to park side on against the sea- so our sliding door came into its own!


There were a couple of other vans with us- and we managed to have a little wander around the pretty harbour before the rain set in for the afternoon and evening. And wow did it set in- it absolutely LASHED down! So we settled in and watched some Cracker- before I made us a delicious Simply Cook Beef Rendang. Just as I'd finished washing up- the sky's cleared so we were able to have another wander, this time in the Fading light, before sitting and enjoying a dram before bed with the door open listening to the waves crashing below.

Tuesday

The forecast for Tuesday was great, and it did not disappoint. It's always exciting opening the curtains to a new location, when the day before the visibility was next to nothing. The beach here at Burry Port is fabulous!

I wasted no time and almost jumped out of bed- even forgoing my morning cuppa! I'd been itching to launch my DJi Phantom 3 drone and weather conditions just hadn't been on my side- but now they were! Woo!
I loved sending Donny up and getting some shots. You can see the video below👇

After breakfast baps and a cuppa, we took Jazz for a run off lead on the beach. He doesn't normally go off lead as he can forget to come back if he picks up a scent.
But on beaches that are secure we let him off and he loves it. Actually his recall was amazing today!

We had a paddle and the water was lukewarm. I wish I'd got my cozzie on as I could've had a dip but it was time to get moving- we were off into Pembrokeshire. Next time we come here there are loads of cycle paths to ride on, including a country park with a 4 mile Tarmac circuit, an old train line at Llanelli and a coastal bike path running through Burry Port.

We stopped off at Saundersfoot thanks to a Pinterest tip off- such a pretty little Harbour and coastal village. It really reminded us of a Cornish village. We grabbed the very last space in the Harbour car park – boy it was tight but I got Ruby in – and once in a random man came and congratulated me on some fab parking! 💪

We paid for an hours parking but we could have spent all day here really. It's gorgeous. Loads of families were crabbing over the Harbour wall. The beach was PACKED (but not dog friendly between May and Oct). There were old fashioned amusements, little beach shops, an old fashioned off license (where we stocked up on local Ale and cider), a local ice cream seller- we loved our Pembrokeshire Promise icecream (honeycomb and vanilla-yum). We even managed to squeeze in a quick pint in a really cool pub called The Old Chemist which had a really great smugglers alley entrance and beach and sea views.

Next stop was our campsite, Middle Hill Farm, just the other side of Tenby, on the outskirts of Manorbier. We were a bit disappointed at first- we booked at the beginning of March and was told we could have a sea view pitch. We were given pitch 4 which basically had a view of a hedge – right next to the main road-we could have been anywhere in the country! Two caravans had the best views, so we were a bit fed up. Plus one of them had a reserved for sign on. The facilities were quite a walk down hill through a field. Keith was grumpy and so was I. Yes, it's only £15 pn but we are here for 3 nights and paid on 3rd March up front! He went off for his shower and returned 5 mins later- he'd spotted a pitch at the bottom of the field next to the facilities and with a sea view, and went to ask if we could move. The answer was yes! Hurrah! So we threw the chairs, windbreaks etc in the back and drove to our new pitch, no. 8, and set up again! And enjoyed our Welsh Ale/cider enjoying the view.

The weather was gorgeous so we sparked up the BBQ for dinner- enjoying a homemade potato salad, garlic mushrooms and venison burger, lamb and mint burger and chilli sausage. We stayed outside until 10pm watching the day change to night. Perfect.

Wednesday
Wow was it blustery in the night! The winds were up to 40mph and we've never heard rain lash down like it did! It was so loud that Jazz had a panic attack and therefore ended up squashed on our bed rather than up front in the passenger seat!

The weather was still rather blustery as we got up, and it was overcast with the promise of more rain from 4pm, so we had a steady morning before walking the short distance down the field path the farmer had put in, to the village of Manorbier.

Manorbier has a really lovely castle you can explore with the best preserved corners of tower we've seen. Inside there is a tea shop and you can enjoy it on the lawn. It's a nice place to spend an hour but there wasn't an awful lot of info about the castle and it's history therefore we found the £5.50 entry charge a little steep.


We carried on up the small road past the sandy beach, where despite it being very dull, lots of people were out enjoying themselves on the beach- good old British eh?! We carried onto a house aptly named as Atlantic View before taking a path off to the left which took us onto to Pembrokeshire Coastal Path for our return back to Manorbier beach. It's a dramatic section of Coastal Path and although Keith found the contours a little tough, we both really enjoyed the wild scenery matched with the driving wind.

We passed a couple of pretty hidden sandy coves but chose to have our picnic overlooking Manorbier Beach before washing it down with a little pint in thelocal, The Castle Inn. Prices down here in pubs are very reasonably priced- we've not paid more than £7 for two alcoholic drinks yet since being in Wales.

The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling and watching Cracker as the weather turned just as we arrived back at Ruby- talk about good timing! We enjoyed a chilli con carne for dinner before having an early night.