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.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Burgh Island

When Jane left from Plymouth I decided to head for Bigbury-on-Sea. I found the campsite on a hill above the village, looking across the water to Burgh Island. The Burgh Island Hotel, ultra art deco and gleaming white in the late afternoon sun, was built in 1929 and was popular with Agatha Christie and Noel Coward and other such luminaries in the 1930s and 40s. Today (the website tells me) it is popular for weddings and parties and themed events for people who like pearls and cocktails, nostalgia and comfort.
Back to that other iconic, white place to stay .. Baa wasn't in quite such romantic and sophisticated surroundings. The campsite was in a great position and had (very) basic loos and showers. There were three other campervans, and two caravans and I parked next to an elderly combine harvester. There had either been a hell of a party the night before or the dustmen were on strike, but either way the wheelie bins were groaning under the weight of bottles and beercans.
Burgh Island Hotel from the campsite
The charming farmer came in the morning to be paid and said the hotel isn't open to non-residents which was a shame, as I wanted to do a recce for Fiona – and because I'm interested. Fiona sent the hotel an email.
The tide was low and I walked across (when it's higher a tractor with huge wheels takes guests over). I had coffee with four very nice people from Poole Harbour at The Pelican Inn which is owned by the hotel and at the bottom of its drive. We watched black RangeRovers chauffeuring guests to and fro through the electric gates and down across the causeway, and it felt very Dickensian! I got through the gates behind one of the cars and the lobby was full of hung-over thirty-somethings checking out after a wedding the day before, so the fearsome manageress had her hands full. I was just able to ascertain that she hadn't received an email from Fiona, so I got no further and can only say that the lobby is spacious, art deco and has a navy blue carpet.
I drove from Bigbury to Hope Cove along a 'tidal road' which crosses the Avon above Aveton Gifford. The estuary was crowded with birds: Canada Geese, Mallard, Widgeon, gulls and White Egret. I parked to watch them near a man binoculars. He had a mane of unkempt hair and the smiliest brown face with bright blue eyes shining out of it.. and he loves those swans! He said Timothy White and Rosalind had two cygnets (probably the foxes got to the eggs) and how Timothy fought with Toby who, with wife Janet, has five cygnets. He knew most of their names. The biggest hazard is foxes – and mink. Rosalind had a nasty puncture wound where her leg attaches at the back – probably due to a fox - so he made a mash of organic oats, Ribena and vitamin c and she's right as rain now.

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