Edward has been complaining about not having a holiday this year and I have been complaining about everything, so he very nicely took me with him on a camping trip to Devon. It turned out more like an expedition- this was my fault. I find camping hard to cope with on the primary level of ‘what the heck do you take with you?’ I did a little pre-packing research only to be dazzled by list upon list of items that one car simply could not hold. Ed had already decided we were not going to try to use a camping stove, and all food would be purchased there, so this eased a few issues- but not all. I took a bag of food ‘essentials’ just in case, which held a few cutlery items, and water. Ed added his needed oreo cookies. Apparently Devon may not have these in stock :) Waldo came too of course so he needed his cage, food, toys, bowl, face cleaning kit, saline for his eyes in case of sand accident, poo bags, shampoo, dog towel…. basically waldo had already taken up 90% of the car.
The list of clothes you should take boggled my mind. The unpredictable British weather can make packing the hardiest task ever…every weather forecast I looked at for the area was different, ranging from hard rain to blistering heat. AHHHHH!! The two things every blog list suggested (denim skirt and welly boots) I do not own, and my walking boots make my feet swell if its sunny. (as well as being about as hip as a cucumber wearing a carrot skirt) My new wax jacket of course was coming, but would have to be locked in the car when not in use as its the most expensive thing I have ever owned. I decided to make 3 outfits up that could be layered in the cold and have pieces removed for the sun.
- Outfit one: (for cold weather walking/campsite lazing) White river island pug tshirt, new look beige tube skirt, random brown leggins, tesco over sized flannel check shirt, Joules brown gillet, H&M long cream socks and Joules Muck boots
- Outfit two: (for village visiting and shopping) Cath Kidston Ella shirt, Topshop mustard Paperbag skirt, H&M blue sweater, Cath kidston Green long socks or cream short socks depending on weather, Barbour wax jacket, Office brogues for village walking and muck boots for country/sea exploration.
- Outfit three: (for day to evening chic) Boden brown Sicily dress, Joules cream or mustard holkien long sleeve top that doubles as a sweater on sunny days, Cath Kidston cream socks, Office brogues and Barbour wax jacket.
I also packed my levi black jeans, Boden stripped tunic, 1940s swimsuit and H&M Bretton pull on dress, a pair of ballerina pumps, Cath Kidston dino PJ’s, Deberhnams over sized wool poncho/cape and a wooly hat. My suit case was already full. I had to take things out and repack over and over to get it all to fit. I also had to take towels (2 in case on gets really wet and does not dry) wash bag with no make up included and medication. The most useless things I packed where my hairdryer and straighteners as the campsite had installed clever plugs meaning you had to rent theirs (which I refused to do on principle). Ed being a guy did not know about the plugs, as he never uses hairdryers….. The most useful thing I packed was my oversized poncho. It doubled up as a blanket in the tent, a pillow when in bed and a good cover up when dashing to the toilet at 3am. Oh and my Muck boots. Even without rain, they were very needed.
So the car contained my huge suitcase, eds huge holdall, the huge 20 man tent, 2 fold up chairs, a bag for life full of waldos stuff, a bag for life full of food, a dog cage, a dog, 2 blow up mattresses, my two duvets, eds two duvets, a body board and me and ed. Thank god he has an estate. We started in Birmingham and the first stop was in Cheltenham where I ran to the loo and Joules to buy muck boots whilst Edward perambulated waldo. We then headed straight to Lobb fields where we spent a really stressful two hours putting up Ed’s new tent. It was huge. When he said four man with separate sleeping areas I imagined that meant sleeping in the porch like my old tent, but this had a hanging bedroom area with a zip in/out divide to make two very spacious areas. The issue with this tent was the poles and instructions. They were so vague. Turned out two poles had white bits on them, which one would think denoted they were shorter or something. No, only one of them was so we spent ages trying to insert poles to see which fitted, with the other people from the campsite saying really useful things like ‘new tent?’ and ‘struggling are we’ but not actually helping. In the end we got the tent up and made a break for Saunton sands.
You have to pay £3/£6 for beach parking at Saunton depending on what time you go, so we only went twice. Waldo has never seen the sea before. He was a little apprehensive as you can tell, but he soon got his sea legs and I had to get my muck boots wet whilst running after him trying to catch birds as the tide came in. This is a great dog friendly beach so he got to interact with lots of other doggies, and in pure waldo style, when I left Ed in charge so I could take pictures of sea birds that waldo had not scared off, Ed turned his back for one moment and waldo pooped. Ed even filmed the event. (i will not share it with you) I came back to find ed carrying a sandy poo bag and waldo no where to be seen. He did a bunk whilst ed was busy with poo. Such a waldo thing to do. The moment I yelled Waldo appeared over a sand dune and pretended Ed had done the pooping and he was innocent of any crime. Not sure who I believe.
Well after this adventure we made our way co-op to buy evening dinner (a chicken salad, mango snack pot, banana, muller light and water for me) and then headed back to camp only to find both our lanterns did nothing in the huge new tent. I could hardly see what I was eating, and was not helped by eds constant funny comments about that squishy bit probably being a spider. I kept face farting into my salad as he made me laugh and panic in turn. The night got very cold, I was glad of the wool poncho and two duvets I brought and snuggled into Waldos contented snoring and ambient sounds of the neighbors campfire.
As the sun rose and made the tent light, waldo decided it must be up time at 6am and I was forced to listen to him, scared his whining would have us kicked out of the campsite. With waldo fed and pooped I decided to check out the showers. I was the first one in, a great hot shower, but this is where I found out about the special plugs. How annoying. I now had wet wavy hair. Not a great look. I dressed in outfit number one again as it was cold but left off the skirt, wearing leggings instead and we walked into Braunton for a breakfast pasty. Now some of you may know I have crappy hips and even with a 5 stone weight loss I am in pain all the time. I get a little too confident that I can walk distance, when really its the drugs I take making the pain numb until it wears off and hits me as hard as the speeding truck in Pet Cemetery. We ate some very stogy pasties that I would not recommend and then ate a rather huge Chelsie iced bun from Warrens, which I would recommend. These buns are quite famous it seems and you can see every tourist stuffing their mouths with these sticky lovelies till they sell out at about lunch time. By now I had to strip down to my leggings and pug tshirt as it was 20 degrees and we had to walk back to the campsite full of wheat and fat. Did I mention my wheat intolerance
After a quick clothes change (outfit 3) we drove to Illfacombe where we found nothing in the town but people trying to push me off the pavement. I try not to use a stick after it got robbed off me and used against me, but Ed is not a very good substitute. We gave up with the town and drove to the front for a little drink of tea in a pub where the cleaner told me all about her illnesses (ever the NHS HCA) and then headed back to Braunton to peruse the shops and decide on dinner. I had a little bit of a flip out over dinner due to pain and tiredness and did not really want to eat out again. Coop provided more afternoon/early evening eats (a prawn and mayo light sandwich, banana, salad pack, and some oreos stolen from ed) and we relaxed back in the tent on my folding chairs. Well I relaxed. The 70Kg weight limit meant Ed was to scared to chance it and after perching nervously for a few long minutes took to the floor. It was now about 6pm but felt like 10pm. We had been up a very long time and waldo settled into bed making angry barks when anyone woke him. He gets as grumpy as me if he does not sleep. We woke him up, and took a trip to ‘look out point’ and then carried on to croyde where we stuffed our faces with freshly made cinnamon donuts. I strongly recommend these, and after meeting a cardigan corgi called Jay Jay we whiled away the fair summer evening in a bar next to the river.
That evening a rather chavvy group of mixed sex teenage chavs pitched tent a few 100 yards from us, but they may as well have camped on our heads. Their primitive conversations contained talk about procreation (using other colorful terminology) STD’s, swearing whilst procreating and at least one of the group was one of their mums. Yuk. They screeched their monosyllabic accents all over the field and their yapping dog kept making waldo bark in an angry fashion. The best moment they gave us was when one of them lost the yapping dog and told it off by saying ”don’t go out there on your own. I can not help you, if you get raped!” I would pay to see the look on that dog’s face. I wonder what she understood of that conversation.
Moving on from that awful nights sleep, the next day we decided to take a trip to Barnstaple. Now both me and Ed have been here before without each other, and we both hated it- but nothing ventured nothing gained. We parked in a small car park a few minutes walk from the town, as we could not seem to figure out how to get onto the main road, which meant we entered Barnstaple from a different direction than usual. The first shop we came to was Cool, Calm and Collected.
I ventured in leaving waldo outside, and was confronted with one of the most beautiful, well stocked and unusual fabric collections I have ever come across. Now, as I always search for fabric shops on the net before traveling and I had not come across anything worth while, this shop was a complete surprise. The shop had bolt upon bolt of printed cottons, fat quarters in baskets and pick and mix buttons. I wet myself. I knew I would be spending more time in here, so left whilst I could still form understandable words other than ‘fabric’ and ‘lots’ to butter ed up with finding somewhere to eat. Food makes Ed happy, and happy he would have to be if I wanted to spend time touching up fabric. We ate at The Corner Cafe opposite the fabric shop, which I strongly recommend for their unique milkshakes- but you have to sit outside with a dog. No issue when the sun is shining. The town itself has been incredibly transformed since my last visit. The streets were cleaner, the shops open and the people not as strange as I remember. I had once likened the place to Lovecraft’s Innsmouth, but without a fish man to be seen I take it back. Barnstaple turned out to be best for rummaging in charity/junk shops and relaxing in luxury at Cool, Calm and collected. I am adding them to my favorite suppliers, and they sell online- but I strongly suggest you go in to the store itself. I came back to purchase some very soft, thick plaid flannel in olive, beige and brown which will make a lovely skirt, or warm shirt. I also bought a fat quarter of Contrasting flower fabric to make bias binding and line the pockets of the unknown make. Lovely stuff.
The sun was still shining so we went back to Saunton sands to teach waldo to surf. Yep, you read right. Waldo is now a surfer. He made me drag him across the beach on a body board, much to everyone elses entertainment.
Waldo took to the sea like a natural and stayed on the board most of the time, only lunging into the surf every so often. He kind of looked like an otter in the water. Maybe pugs are actually just fat land otters with cheese flavored feet and faces.
The beach is really fantastic, it stretches for miles and even when full of other people you get lots of room to chill and be undisturbed. Waldo made more friends whilst me and Ed chilled out in the sun. It was very very hot. Well for England at least. Ed attempted dune boarding whilst I tried to dry off from the sea, but he gave up after climbing the dunes twice and sweating all his bodily fluids out onto his clean t-shirt.
We moved on back to the campsite for waldo washing and de-sanding. If anyone reading this has a pug, you will know about their bum issues. The regular ‘cleaning out’ one has to give a pug’s bum in order to stop vet bills piling up. Yes, its gross but necessary. The issue on Lobb Field is that the dog washing sink ‘wet suit cleaner’ is where everyone walks by to go to the loos. I was washing wally and giving him a needed bum ‘juiceing’, when everyone on the campsite decided to walk by. The usual comments of ‘mummy look at that cute little doggie’ where mixed with ‘what is that god awful smell?’ Yeah. That would be my dog.
Moving on from the awful stench of embarrassment, we wrapped waldo up nice and snug to help him dry off in the sun and made dinner plans to go to Squire’s fish and chip shop in Braunton. Best place ever. We had to eat outside as waldo was not allowed in, but as its a wait in queue type of affair this actually worked in our favour. No one else wanted to eat outside so we got seated straight away. Well almost. Their was this women of about 60 who had plonked herself down at the outside table whilst waiting to be seated. I Kindly explained that we would be sitting here to eat and where just waiting for the menus and another chair, but she obviously did not like that we were getting seated before her/did not listen to what I was saying as she seemed to think I wanted to push her off a chair so I could simply sit down whilst queuing like she was doing. Now, this is the issue with old people. I love old people who want to tell you about the past, who have interesting things to say and who just like a bit of company, but I hate rude people who just think because they were born before you it gives them soul right to tell you off. I am 27 not 7, I have displaced hips and I give my seat up for people on the bus. She must have realized we were actually eating at the table after her rant about ‘respecting elders’ as she refused to make eye contact with me or waldo. Anyway the food was awesome and I look forward to eating there again sometime in the future. I recommend the ‘famous chip supper’ and the honeycomb sundae.
The next day was home time. I was not looking forward to packing up the tent but we managed it. Hard work, and a lot of squishing and ed’s glasses went missing, but it could have been worse. I marked that short pole out for the next time Ed uses his tent, and then we headed to some place Ed kept going on about but had no idea of the name.
Turns out it was lynmouth. The place I had told him about because 34 people died there when the river flooded and swept people out to sea. Here I am next to that river hoping no flood will sweep me and my otter away with it, and showing off some very wavy hair. This place has a little museum about the floods, which displays sleeping bags of two of the dead (we found this a bit odd), a steam, mountainside railway and a bunch of weird shops.
We had eaten breakfast at The thatch In croyde (which was excellent and waldo was welcome) at about 9am so now it was lunch /dinner time and we only has an hour on the car before we had to leave. We settled with eating at the queens at lynmouth as we had little time and needed a waldo friendly eatery. I was still quite stuffed from brunch so decided to have just a starter of mussels and Ed went for a Gourmet Burger, which is his favorite. The menu states locally sourced produce and the prices are about £10 for a main £6 for a stater. Sadly the food that arrived was horrid. I could not eat the mussels as they were like rubber, smelt bad and the bread roll was stale. Ed’s burger was dripping with grease and looked more like a rustlers burger than gourmet. He ate his, but I went hungry. We were so rushed for time that we did not comment on the food, and left as quick as possible. We passed many other lovely looking eatery’s but alas not all can me squires now can they?
Here is the famous cliff railway, where you can link between the two towns with ease and a view. It was £3 return for adults and waldo was allowed on free due to his puny whipster size. Real dogs cost £1.50. You can not stand on the carriage platform with a dog, but we stood in the covered part with Waldo sticking his head out into the breeze. When we got back to the car we found out we were 5 minutes over, but no ticket. We laughed about how “if this was Birmingham, the car would have been towed” and got back in the car for the last very long leg of the journey.
On the way back we managed to stop at the Cribbs cause way near Bristol to have a drink and for me to run around the huge John Lewis. I wanted to see if they had a fabric sale on, but alas no. I went to the joules section and ogled the jumpers until I gave in and bought the Mallard jumper I have wanted so much I love it. As I was purchasing this top, the girl at the till commented on my liking joules as I was wearing Joules and I told her I have a thing for Joules, Cath Kidston and Boden. She then mentioned how they had a few left over sale items of Cath’s lurking but they were all the rubbish no one else wants. Turns out I only wear the rubbish no one else wants and found the hazel dress I have been searching for (in the black) and the denim skirt I do not own I returned to the car with a bag of goodies, only to find Ed hugging a whole load of GI Joe’s he did (but does now) own. We left for Birmingham smiling, happy and contented agreeing- THIS WAS THE BEST TRIP EVER!