So the time came, exactly 4 months to the day the van was delivered and we were setting out on its first adventure. The naval term would be “Sea Trials” except were doing it on land. We had planned a week away to Cornwall and back visiting friends old and new on the way.
Loaded up at around 3750kg the van travelled well and made for easy driving. Aiming for Devon and Exmouth the first night would provide a mix of single and dual A road as a well as a bit of motorway without having to push it. Clearly silly season is upon us when we tried to stop for coffee on the A27 and the lay-by we normally use was blocked by a 40 tonne artic – not his fault though – it was the idiot with the caravan that had literals pulled into the entrance and parked up with his legs and step down. It makes you wonder if they should be allowed…
We were hoping to try a mix of camping including pub stop overs. So the first night we looked for a small Camping and Caravaning Club certified site. The first one we found, Grindlebrook Farm, looked dreadful and we turned around straight away but a trip down a nearby lane took us to Forringdon Caravan Site. A nice property with adequate facilities and although their listing says no dogs Fred was quite welcome. The following morning we popped down to Exmouth and parked up on the sea from for coffee. The Social Media links on our back door worked their magic and we got messages on Facebook and our Blog.
Our next stop was a visit to Dartmoor and an afternoon and evening with Tim and Carole, we haven’t seen Tim for 35 years or more. Getting the van in and out of their tight driveway was a lesson of what is to come but we managed. We ate at the Old Inn at Widicombe in the Moor and tasted our first experience of pub car park camping. A very peaceful night with the odd owl and a cuckoo in the morning. We were sold on it.
The next morning we headed into Totnes for a quick shop and a cup of coffee before heading for Cornwall and and a beach for Fred. The Camping and Caravan Club site at Westgate bay provided a perfect location although the staff were a bit difficult about providing a decent sized grass pitch without electric but relented in the end. The surf was busy and there was plenty of beach for Fred to run around on.
We had a couple of visits to do in Cornwall. First we were keen to show the van off to Mirko at Premium Camper in Wadebridge. Mirko did the California Roof and the furniture for Van Blanc, our T6, and he has been following our build of this van. Suffice to say he seemed impressed.
Our second visit was to see Steve and Sue Rogers who recently retired to St Agnes. Dinner with them was at their local, the Victory Inn and another night of pub stopovers. After dinner we had a stroll across the heath toward the coast and the settled to watch a crimson sunset from the comfort of the van. The following morning we took a drive into Penzance to buy lunch and dinner and stopped by Marazion for coffee and to let Fred have dip in the sea.
We headed for a CC&C site at Tavistock but were disappointed by the unfriendly welcome so we left. A fairly quick drive across Dartmoor found us at California Cross near Kingsbridge where another and this time friendly CC&C site restored our faith in the club.
From California Cross we headed East for West Bay at Bridport in Dorset where we were meeting cousin Stuart and Marina for pizza lunch at our favourite Watch House Cafe. Before lunch we were able to talk along the beach under the Dorset Jursaic cliffs. It was a glorious morning with a flat calm sea with clear views as far as the Isle of Wight. The first car park would not allow Camper Vans but looking further just around the corner was a car park with bays specially for Motorhomes, we had arrived.
Our last night was at the C&CC site in Salisbury before a visit to Jason at Absolute Audio. In a couple of weeks time they are going to have a poke around the VCDS for me and see if we can change a couple of things. On the way home we payed a visit to another company who are going to do a bit of work for us in a couple of week but lets keep that a surprise. Unfortunately they have some large speed bumps in their access road and our side step bottomed on it and is badly damaged. I knew it was low so it needs looking at.