Because we bought Rosie in September, autumn was fast approaching and bearing in mind I’m not a seasoned camper, you can guess that we are going to be fair weather campers at best, at least initially. So we thought we ought to venture out for a night just to try her out and see if we, well I, could cope.
We didn’t want to travel too far, but far enough that we felt we were away so I got onto the Cool Camping website to see what was available. So she knows her websites! Well yes, I did do some research and we had bought a book called ‘Cool Camping Britain’ whilst browsing in Waterstones. Thought we would give it a go and found their website http://www.coolcamping.co.uk really helpful. Through the website I filtered for campsites which take campervans, have hook up facilities and had fairly high rating reviews. And more importantly had outstanding toilets and showers.
Toilets. Now I’ve always had a thing about public toilets since I was a child. There’s nothing like your own comfortable private toilet. Don’t know why but sometimes I am just happy to cross my legs, distract myself and at my age hope for the best, rather than go into poorly maintained, smelly, public conveniences with hundreds of other people. They really stress me out. I also have a bit of a dread that public showers are cold, damp, embarrassing places which remind me of taking communal showers after PE lessons at school or those horrible Victorian swimming baths where everything seems wet. You know you try and get dry and put on your clothes in a space big enough for a gnat, and then a sock, or worse, your knickers fall onto a wet floor and you spend the rest of the day feeling slightly uncomfortable and damp in places you don’t want to feel uncomfortable and damp. Sorry, I am digressing.
We decide on Norfolk. We wanted a bit of sea air and a bit of countryside, and so we settled on a campsite at North Runcton, near Kings Lynn http://www.kl-cc.co.uk
We started to plan what we might need and realised that actually we might have a van but we hadn’t really thought about what we might need to take in it, so again I researched a few advisory websites and the duvet and pillows went in along with our picnic basket, and we went out and bought a kettle, quite a nice retro one in pale yellow. We bought some basic food stuff, and bottles of his and her wine, (he drinks red, she drinks white) packed her up and off we went.
She (Rosie!) rides quite well and sitting high up you can see over hedges and into people’s houses and gardens quite well, so whilst Billypops manoeuvred her along the roads east, I sat back and enjoyed the views.
When we arrived at the campsite we were given our plot and Billypops got out and ‘hooked us up’! This is jargon for getting what looks like an oversized kettle connector and connecting the van to a plug socket somewhere hidden in the bushes behind us. And then the heavens opened.
Now one of the things that has put me off camping is the inclement weather. We had an experience when the kids were very small camping at Sutton-on-Sea where we arrived in a mini car with two children under four, my brother and all the gear and had to sit in the car whilst Billypops and brother put the tent up in rain. As you can imagine everything was wet and stayed wet for much of the two days we were there.
But when you have a campervan you don’t even have to get out. You just light the stove, put the kettle on and get your knitting out. Brilliant! This was pleasantly comfortable. First points to Rosie.
I was sitting there quite comfortably with my cuppa and my knitting, but Billypops was obviously getting bored, having read the newspaper and his book. As it had stopped raining I sent him on a rekky for somewhere to eat in the evening. I enjoyed the peace and quiet and knitted away quite happily.
The rain had stopped and off we trotted along the road to The Gate Inn at Fair Green, where I was served the tallest wedge of pie I have ever seen. It was delicious but my goodness it was like slicing through a wedge of a whole cheese. A pint of Humpty Dumpty Reedcutter beer (4.4%) helped it down. Then it was back to the van to make the bed.
Now there’s not a lot of room with two people in the van to swing a cat let alone attempt to put a duvet cover on a full size double duvet. You have to co-ordinate your movements, make sure all parts of the van with sharp corners are avoided and try not to end up with part of you embroiled in the duvet cover so that you have to start again.
Eventually we managed it and then it was out the van to the toilet block for ablutions before bed. With nerves a jingling, I was very pleasantly surprised. Warm and scrupulously clean, light and airey, the standard was close to a four star hotel, minus the towels and toiletries. I mean, I wouldn’t want to stay in there too long but the standard was such that the fear had gone.
Back in the van and comfortably snuggled in for the night, book lights on, it was actually cosy and snug and a comfortable night ensued.
Our little Rosie has central heating, so when we woke up a click of a switch and she warms up just nicely before we brave getting up on a cool September morning. Not fearing the shower block quite as much as previously I braved the outside air and showered before breakfast. Breakfast was cereal and a bacon sandwich. What is it about camping and having bacon sizzling in the pan? Yummy.
We didn’t use the awning on this first outing so it was easy to pack everything away (without removing duvet cover and getting embroiled in it again) unhooking ourselves from the hook up.
Off we drove to Sheringham to see the sea and when we got there we parked up and put the kettle on. This for me is the best thing so far with Rosie. The fact that you can park up, move into the back of the van and put the kettle on without even getting out the vehicle is great and quite liberating. I don’t know why, but you do feel like the cat who’s got the cream.
Having spent a lovely afternoon strolling the prom, with Rosie up top in the car park, we drove south to Trimingham to visits friends, Phil and Andrea. Here I discovered another highlight of the trip, Beetroot and Orange Chutney. Andrea runs a little business making homemade chutneys using local produce from her lovely little kitchen in their beautiful colonial house. Do try some. Such a clever couple, trying to be organic and environmentally friendly in Norfolk, living the ‘Good Life’ with chickens and ducks and guess what they have a hook-up for little vans that might want to come and stay. If only we had known we could have stayed another night. As it was we had to leave and off we travelled westwards home.
So First Outing complete what did we achieve?
1. We didn’t get wet. The self contained little Rosie means you don’t have to get out the vehicle to actually camp.
2. The cat got the cream. Parking up and putting the kettle on is liberating.
3. Shower blocks aren’t scarey.
4. Andrea’s Beetroot and orange chutney is yummy.
So Rosie, I think we might do this again.