Tuesday, 27 April 2010
A few weeks ago we spent an amazing weekend camper vanning in Cornwall. The sun shone and we had a lovely time. We had planned to head for Eden to show our kids a marvel of our world but instead we ended up at a tiny beach not far from Mevagissey. We made camp and cooked up home made lamb and mint burgers in the van (much to the envy of our neighbours) and then splashed out on a Cornish ice cream. Oh how we live! The beach was stunning but, like many other beaches on our coast, it had its fair share of rubbish. Some would have floated in from the sea, some left by holidaymakers, some lost by the fishing fleet. All of it damages the marine environment in some way or other. If it's plastic it will never go away. It'll just break down into smaller and smaller pieces.
On the way home we went to Gweek Seal Sanctuary near Helston. The kids loved it. Seeing the seals was a real thrill. Then they noticed this one. You can see the scar on its neck. We asked one of the keepers what had happened to it. Apparently this young seal was found in a very bad way with a fishing net around his neck. The net, discarded or lost, was still doing its work, long after being separated from its owner. It's called ghost fishing.
There's a point to be made here isn't there? It's quite simple I think. If you enjoyed a day out somewhere, anywhere, it wouldn't be too hard to take a piece of someone else's litter home with you. You could easily dispose of it or, better still recycle it. A bottle, a bag, an aluminium can, a piece of fishing net. Think of it as a small 'thank you' to the beach for giving you a nice day. To a seal like this one, it could mean a lot more than that.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Once all the businessy bits (if that's what you could call anything to do with The Camper van Cookbook) were over I schlepped off to Shepherd’s Bush to see a band whose music I haven’t listened to for a very long time. They split some time ago and, until this reunion tour, hadn’t played live in seven years. Having never seen them live I couldn’t believe my luck in nabbing two 'golden' tickets for the sell out gig.
There is something about Reef’s music that makes you want to kick off your shoes, grow your hair and disappear off for the summer. It’s got swagger and soul in equal measures. But it’s not about sticking your fingers up at the world. It’s not angry. The swagger comes from good times. It’s music that can make your day. There was a time - when I was working away on a long and difficult project - that I listened to Reef every morning. It woke me up and got me through. I have a lot to thank Reef for.
My relationship with Reef has always been good. So when they came out on stage yesterday I was transported back to the times when it rarely came off the stereo. Back to surf trips, barbecues, beach fires and home made camper conversions. Being barefoot all summer. You know the feeling?
I was taken back to Speke’s on sunny summer days, sitting in the channel at Marsland hooting another late drop, surfing the morning glass, camping out at Duckies under the stars, smacking the lip of a clean four foot wave, drinking in Welcombe, driving to the coast, travelling, making a legend out of breakfast.
It was always worth putting in the hours for. And things haven’t changed that much really, have they? Every moment I spend in my camper van these days is worth the effort too. OK, so some of us have got a little bigger and slower and have less hair than we used to. Perhaps a bit more responsibility too. But most of my friends can still pass off a decent cutback and still get to take their shoes off every so often. Do you? If you don't then you should ask yourself why. You could do worse than stick Reef on the stereo, fire up the van and cancel that appointment at the barber.
REEF: 10/10 for Jack and the boys.
AUDIENCE: 10/10 for the dads who think they can still rock.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Monday, 19 April 2010
Sunday, 18 April 2010
I went out last night. Yes thanks, it was ok. But I did end up in the middle of nowhere, walking between two isolated North Devon hamlets in the wee hours. Admittedly I was buzzing a bit from the boozing, but it was still a great time to be alive. The night was clean, clear and cool. Without a torch, street lights or night vision capabilities I had to walk along the white lines in the middle of the road to keep myself from stumbling into hedges or disappearing into ditches. It’s really dark out there. Surprisingly, it isn’t totally black. Far from it. As my eyes got used to the light conditions, I saw more stars than I think have ever seen before. I was astonished. The night sky is an amazing place. I don’t know if the closing of our airspace had anything to do with it, whether I just don’t look up enough or if I was feeling a little wide eyed and wonderful, but there was so much to see. I was mesmerised. I saw my own star sign, Scorpio, perhaps for the first time. I could see the bear, the plough and a few of the other well known constellations. Beyond that though, I was lost. If only I knew more.
It would be amazing to be able to look up at the sky and read it like a book. It’d be brilliant to know that you only have to raise your eyes to the heavens to read stories or work out where you are. I think it’d be pretty humbling too: to be faced by the vastness of the universe every night. Just like they did before they had telly or the internet. You’d feel tiny wouldn’t you? It’d make a nice change from feeling like your dream could come true if only Simon Cowell could see you dance.
So why not? Next time you’re camper vanning and find yourself in the middle of nowhere with half a bottle of wine inside you, lie on your back and stare up at the night sky. Turn your back on planes, light pollution, torches, telly, cars, sat nav and the internet for a while and be inspired by something wonderful.
Someday, when they switch off the electricity, the planes can’t fly anymore and books and maps are banned, you might even be able to find your way home. And you don’t even need a subscription to see it.
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Do you ever get the feeling that you're stuck in a time warp? I do. It even affects the way I take photos. But then, when the results are this good, who cares? This weekend my family and I took our beloved camper, Pootle, for the first camping trip of the season. As soon as the sun came out we packed him up with food, duvets and wine and spluttered off for Stithians Lake in Cornwall.
If we'd bought a modern camper we'd have been there before the sun set but, seeing as Pootle is a 1981 VW T25 with a top speed of about 65-ish, we got there with just enough light to throw up a tent, plug in the electric and cook some easy camper van nosh. (In case you were wondering it was the pasta with artichokes, olives and mozarella. D-lish.)
So why do we do it? Why drive a classic VW? Why bother with no mod cons? We don't have to. We don't have to stand at the side of the road waiting for the AA. We don't have to wait nervously for the MOT. We don't have to pootle along if we don't have to. But we do. And we love it.
Because you can't go fast. That's why. Because you couldn't hurry if you tried. And that means you can stop and admire the view along the way, which was lovely. So it didn't matter that we arrived after dark. Cornwall was there when we woke up in the morning.
CAMPSITE: Camping at the Golden Lion Inn, Stithians, Cornwall.
RATING: 7/10 Excellent pub, lovely lake, nice quiet campsite.