May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


The Cornwall coast north of Padstow was all new to me and I liked Bude. It feels a bit more of a place than some of the popular seaside resorts, like people actually live there and go to work and aren't just there on holiday.
I arrived in the evening and went to a campsite south of the town overlooking Widemouth (Widm'th) Bay with laundry facilities. There weren't many campers there, but a man with a motorbike and a tent sat in a canvas chair looking out to sea as the sun was setting. The next morning he was there again (had he been there all night?) but in the time it took me to have my breakfast and gather my laundry, he had upped and gone, with his tent on his back.
The reception smelled of cats, and the washing machines were pretty decrepit (one was full of sand) but I got the washing done and partially dry, before I hung it around the van (from the skylight bar and the shelves at the sides) to air, before I set off to explore.
Bude has three beaches, Widemouth, Summerleaze and Crooklets, and a good heritage centre at The Castle which tells about Bude's maritime history and the canal which was built in the early part of the 19thC to transport the mineral rich sand from the coast around Bude to the poor agricultural hinterland behind it.
I had read about a hotel near the canal called The Beach which has an Ottolenghi-trained chef – and I love Ottolenghi food. This was to be research for another time – this trip doesn't warrant me buying myself expensive lunches – but the website almost put me off (the term Boutique Hotel is enough to do it).
I saw the hotel, sitting up high and looking out over Summerleaze Beach, and headed for the nearby carpark – but I couldn't find a space. It was as I turned to get out of the carpark, peering past all the laundry, that I drove very slowly into a park car. Damn! There wasn't a scratch on Baa, but there was a little one, and a dent, in the side of the silver Mazda. I confess I did consider letting in the the clutch and fleeing the crime scene, but only for a moment. I left a note with my number and have been in touch ever since with Matt from Sutton Coldfield about the cost of repairs.
Finally I got to The Beach, and it is nice: modern and sunny, looking out over Summerleaze Beach. I had a drink and tagged on to their wifi, and would like to return as the menu looked excellent.
Boscastle is the most enchanting village at the end of the Valency Valley with a natural winding outlet to the sea and an Elizabethan harbour. The white wonky cottages with their uneven roofs and slate porches line the street, punctuated with quirky little shops and tearooms. This was the place that suffered the most fearful storm 10 years ago when a flood the equivalent of the Thames rushed through the village in the space of about six hours. It now looks the picture of tranquility. Thousands of tourists love it visit Boscastle and, even after the end of the school holidays, the place was packed. I visited The Museum of Witchcraft – a leader in its field, being so close to Tintagel and all things magical – and I hated it. I don't know quite why it had such a negative effect on me, but I suspect that I must have been a condemned witch in another life.

No comments: