Our first proper adventure in Little Ship 2. We packed her up, turned on the fridge, filled the water tank, checked the gas bottles, shut the windows and set up the satnav. Destination: Norfolk.
Except that somewhere between our car park and the petrol station, we’d talked ourselves out of it. What was there to see in Norfolk? Was there anything to do? Wasn’t there anywhere better?
I should at this point add that it has always been my dream to visit Norfolk. I grew up on Arthur Ransome and Coot Club/ Big 6 still remain two of my favourite books. I have always wanted to see the Broads- but I mainly want to sail on the Broads in a small, 1950’s dinghy, with several friends planning wild & exciting adventures with me. I’m not sure it would be quite the same in a motorhome with a disgruntled teenager.
It turns out Mr WB also had a dream. He wanted to go to Lands End. Having been to John o’Groats, he wanted to do them both in the same year. So at the end of the road we turned left instead of right. Guess we were heading to Cornwall. (I mean absolutely no disrespect to Norfolk- we will visit it eventually. Probably in a boat.)
At least it’s October, instead of August, so the traffic and crowds shouldn’t be too bad. We have a whole 6 days to explore a new area- but mostly we want to test out Little Ship and check her systems are working ok. We already seem to have an issue with the fridge- it really doesn’t like being on 12v. Gas or mains seem to work fine.
The fact that we are merrily heading somewhere totally new, with no planning whatsoever and no idea where we are going to stay that night, makes me feel incredibly proud. It was only May this year that I was completely freaked out about the idea of wild camping- and turning up somewhere without a booked space. Yet here we were, thundering down the motorway, (Little Ship will happily do 70mph- we like it!) and I hadn’t even bothered to open the ipad. There was plenty of time to find somewhere.
We headed past Exeter and, because it was a Sunday, decided to find a pub serving a Sunday Roast. TOP TIP for anyone visiting England- most pubs stop serving Sunday Roast around 3pm. And the girl who answers when you phone to ask if they are still serving at 4pm will act incredibly shocked and surprised- like wanting a Sunday roast at anytime after 3pm is totally and utterly BIZARRE. There is a chain of restaurants across the UK called Toby Carvery- these serve a Roast dinner with a variety of meats and a serve- yourself buffet ALL WEEK. At any time of the afternoon/ evening. I believe there’s even one in Exeter. But we’d already passed it and we weren’t heading back!
Eventually we found a pub still serving roast and thankfully pulled into the car park of the Fox & Hounds Hotel, Lydford. By this point we’d been driving for about four hours non-stop and we were all starving and grateful for whatever we could get. Which honestly was just as well- the food was ok but we certainly won’t be going back. It turns out the Fox & Hounds has camping facilities behind the hotel, but we decided to carry on to a place I’d found on searchforsites, next to a river. We love to camp next to water if possible.
HOWEVER- a downside to believing everything will work out is being overconfident. Turns out I hadn’t read the description properly on the website and it was actually a campsite. Not only was it a campsite, but they wanted £24 for ONE NIGHT! Without electricity. I was unamused, but also exhausted and didn’t want to drive any more, so Mr WB wisely paid the bill and we drove to our allocated pitch- which was nowhere near the river.
We are grateful that this van is so easy to set up for an evening. We set up Baby Bird’s bed, wound ours down from the ceiling- I love that bed so much- and we all collapsed into a heap. Weird how driving a few hours can be so tiring. I think most of it is overspill from the stresses of day to day life- that’s why escaping in the van is so fantastic as a break- it just takes us 24 hours or so to wind down into van life. We were very excited about what this new adventure might involve and what we might do tomorrow with the whole of Devon at our feet. Find out here.
How about you? Are you a planner when you travel or are you more ‘make it up as you go along’?