I’m finally back safely inside four walls from a wet and windy week in Devon in our newly restored 1979 Moonraker VW Campervan. This has been my childhood dream which has taken my husband nearly two years of really hard work to make it reality. Join me in my little journey with some funny moments through instagram as well as a quick recipe for triple chocate mocha brownies which I just had to bake when I was finally reunited with my oven (see if you too are a baking addict here).
Many of you have met May (the VW Camper) before but here she is:
The week before the holiday welcomed glorious sunshine which was hotter than anywhere in Europe ensuring that Britain was finally baring its brigade of white legs. Of course in true British style a double bank holiday to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee and a coinciding half term from school meant that the weather was always destined to take a turn for the worst.
The first disaster was the brand new fridge (but brought a year ago) which stopped working the night before and filled the van with nasty gases meaning my military precision meal plan was out the window and I was forced to live camping life on the edge (well with ice blocks anyway).
We finally set off and crawled our way to Devon with my Husband’s best bromance friend (I’ll call him Ronald) following behind in his ‘Herbie’ style Beetle which caused a lot of amusement in the Services. The duo had planned secret signals to communicate with each other on the way down in SAS style (aka Sad and Stupid!).
After a 5 hour stop start journey we found another member of the VW family next to us and luckily we got the tent up just before…
But even with the rain my newly purchased rainbow bunting seemed to make it all a little bit brighter (how stupid was I?)
The Twilight Zone
Ron has to lose some weight so as well as starving him for the week (I don’t make as much food as he gets at home) we were making him go for walks too. I like to think of it as VW inspired weight loss holiday camp (people pay loads of money for those don’t they?). We came across a set of ‘slippery when wet’ steps (220 of them) on our hike wn I suddenly had the urge to stop and turn around. My husband took a photo of me and when we looked back at the photograph there was a rather spooky ‘thing’ standing next to me. At first I thought it was a mirror image of me but from looking at the actual picture it isn’t. It does look rather like a man stood next to me and there was nobody there at the time. This image is only one taken of my computer screen but you get the idea!. Whatever it is the trail goes right in front of me and certainly makes me wonder what’s out there?
The ‘Wee Wee’ shuffle
After all the rain I was soaked through and in need of a shower so I plodded off. One of the things I hate about camping is the journey to the toilet block. When you are at home you will never need to get up in the night to go to the loo yet when camping it will be a nightly adventure of dodging guy ropes, muddy puddles and twisting your ankle in rabbit holes to get there. The added joy is that when you are doing this your bladder is fit to burst and the urgency is making you do the ‘wee wee’ shuffle walk all the way there which in reality is speed walking but with a swagger on. Luckily it’s dark and you just have to pray nobody sees you.
Wet, Wet, Wet
The other joyous thing about camping is the showers and after a day of being wet right through I decided that I would warm up and get some dry clothes. The showering part is alright it ‘s the apres shower that sucks. The clothes that normally I do not have a problem getting on shrink and gain a unique ‘cling-on’ style quality. Every inch of fabric has to be pulled and coerced onto my skin in way that is similar to getting a wet suit on. The challenge of the campsite showers game is you have to do it without getting one inch of your clothes in the grass ridden muddy puddles that form in this unique environment. So there I was feeling a bit warmer, ready to put on my dry pair of smalls when they decided they would do a triple somersault out of my hands. Crying ‘Nooooooo’ I scrambled after them whilst witnessing in horror their second by second descent towards the muddy depths of camping puddle hell. My feet started slipping and sliding on the floor as I overstretched and eventually I came to a crash on my knees half in and half out of the shower curtain to the amusement of my fellow female campers. There was an awkward few second stillness in the room as they took in my rather crumpled state, a floating pair of underwear with tears forming in my eyes. It was then I got the campers nod that says ‘it’s OK we’ve all been there’ and then they duly carried on brushing their teeth probably thanking their lucky stars that their clothes were dry whilst I regained my composure and dignity.
The sun will come out tomorrow
Every Brit knows that a ray of sunshine means shorts even if it’s still freezing cold outside but who cares the sun is out! We had a picnic (shivering) on the beach and watched the air ambulance rescue some poor surfer and before leaving we found a nice little pub after many arguments and ordered coffees. ‘That’s not ours is it?’ Ronald innocently asked as the barmaid gave him his coffee. Ronald had never had espresso before so it was quite a shock for him to see such a small cup - bless him. To make up for it he ordered cheesy chips and the rest of them had brownie sundaes whilst I enjoyed a beer in the sun and smirked over the whole mini coffee incident quietly.
What do you get when you cross Herbie, four people and a steep hill? The answer: you get a poor little car screaming her nuts and bolts off to try to get up the hill in first gear! The big boys had their hands out the windows and were making whipping gestures as if Herbie were a horse. My Son and I furiously were rowing in the back seat to help gain speed and the family in the car behind us were doing pushing movements to try to and help us up the hill! We screamed with laughter and when she (yes in times of equality this Herbie has had a sex change) finally made it to the top (although it would probably have been quicker to have walked) we got applause from the rather large queue of traffic behind and the car waiting to come down the hill.
Always watch where you sit
The next rainy day we ventured to an outlet shopping village. Whilst sat in a coffee shop Ron who is proud of himself for ordering an extra large coffee to make up for his last error. He looks across to see two not quite so attractive teenage girls walk in. He turns to my Son and says ‘There you go there’s some girls for you’ and laughs. I am shocked to learn hy Son is actually interested in girls (I know I shoudl know better) and my son turns to look his face is an absolute picture of horror which in turn makes the boys laugh. In life I do believe in karma so the next thing we knew there was a loud clatter. All we see is Ron’s head poking out between the two seats which he is now wedged between as his hearty laughter caused him to fall off his chair and the sign behind bent. I actually cried with laughter at this one.
Tantrums and Tiaras
By now with the continual rain everyone was forced to be with each other 24/7 which meant that quite frankly we were all starting to get on each others nerves. As much as you may love the people you are with there is a thing called personal space and you miss it when you don’t have any. I found I spent time sat in the loo just for a bit of respite and dryness. We knew the weather was going so I asked my husband if the wind speed was likely to be gale force (the campsite was quickly emptying – did they know something I didn’t) and he promised me it wasn’t and as a occasional windsurfing instructor I believed him. First big rookie camper mistake – never believe a man when it comes to size or speed.
We went for a quiet walk (well needed) with just the two of us and I got a feeling it was time to head back as we sat on the beach in a rare moment of sunshine.
That night has to be the worst night ever in my camping history and I have already admitted firmly to being a fair weather camper. The tent swayed, buckled and the van rocked and trust me the old adage of ‘don’t come a knocking if the van is a rocking’ clearly doesn’t apply when you’re sat in a tent in the middle of nowhere with winds that were 5mph less than hurricane category (oh how he lied to me). The wind and rain was so loud the DVD the boys were trying to watch could not be heard. Incidently the DVD was ‘idiot abroad’ and I said to my Husband by making us stay he was making us do our own version but called ‘An idiot on a campsite’ which I think should be the next big reality show to hit our TV screens just think of all the things you would see like stupid people who stay in gale force winds and wee wee shufflers falling down holes.
Ronald spent the evening laughing at me for being scared of the wind but by Friday morning good old Karma was back in force. Ronald proclaimed loudly and repeatedly that he had officially had enough and was going home, directly home without passing go. That night the wind had blown rain straight into his bedroom compartment throught the air vents, his air bed burst and he woke up doing breast-stroke in his tent and not being a great lover of exercise at the best of times this was the straw that broke the camels back. After many arguments, a full on diva style strop (my husband) and weather searches on the internet we finally gave up and packed up our gear.
Hours of washing later and the next day being warm and sunny (ironic huh) my Son and I sat and played scrabble but from the words you see I must have been traumatised by it all! My husband who is obviously not traumatised by it sodded off in the van to spend yet another day in a field at with VW’s at a show but he got a sunnier day (git). Would I do it again? Yes sadly I would and I am already planning next years trip but perhaps Spain would be kinder to us weather wise.
As we had brownie sundaes on holiday I just had to bake some when I got home – a perfect holiday memory and the coffee addition well thats there to always remind me of that moment in Costa (tee hee). There won’t be posh pictures this time as quite frankly sometimes life is too short but trust me they hit the spot.
100g plain chocolate
175g dark muscavado sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tbs instant coffee mixed wtih 1 tsp of boiling water
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g white chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)
50g milk chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)
1. Preheat oven to 180C / 160 Fan / Gas 4
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and melt . Stir and leave to cool.
3. Put the sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in the choclate mixture and then sift the flour and baking powder over. Fold in carefully (lightly). add the chopped chocolate and pour into a 18cm tin round or square.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins (depends on how you like your brownies – if you like really gooey you may even fnd it is 20 mins)
5. Leave in the tin to cool and then cut into squares. Job done, sit back and dry off if you have just got back from camping like me. If you have a 20cm tin it will still work but bake for 20 -25 mins and it will be a little bit flatter. Always tastes the same.