Category Archives: England

Chilling in the sun

Sunday morning was  another lazy start, the sun was out and we made a decision fairly quickly to not venture anywhere in the van and instead hang out, walk the other way along the coast and have a BBQ, for the best part of the morning we just sat about outside the van catching rays and then made breakfast, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast. 

While I was making tea I took a shot from inside the van looking out,


As you can see Lolly is very pregnant, 31 weeks to be precise and still up for an adventure in the van, top wife!

After breakfast we walked to the village and got everything we needed for our BBQ later, mincemeat to make our own burgers, sausages, halloumi, salad and beer. We stashed our goodies, put our walking shoes on and set off along the coast.

This probably the least eventful walk we have been on, just walking along the coast path, sea to the left and the military road to the right with the occasional super bike or jap sports car hooning past. We walked for an hour, sat down for a bit and then made our way back which took about an hour.

Lolly made us 2 fat burger patties, and I got the cobb on the go, the great thing about the cobb is once you set fire to one of the cobblestones it takes about 5 mins to go off and then you’re ready to cook.


For most of what you cook on the Cobb it’s great that it doesn’t pass any of the fuels flavour to the food, however on this occasion I wish we had brought some charcoal so we could have used used the BBQ grill attachments, although we seasoned the burgers the meat tasted a bit bland, would have been better with a bit of BBQ taste, they looked the part though!


The sausages and halloumi however were amazing, the sausages were from a local farm and Lolly added oil and garlic to the halloumi which completely transformed it.

After we ate I took an arty pic of the van for my instagram account.


I also took one of Lolly by the van watching the beautiful sunset.


After a few drinks (me) the sun set, I did the washing up and we settled in for the night with a movie, Jackie with Natalie Portman. I lasted about 15 mins before I declared this was the worst film I had ever seen and Ms Portman voice was truly annoying, Lolly agreed, we switched it off, best thing for it.

While Lolly turned in I grabbed my camera and took some pictures of the van under the stars, at the time of writing I haven’t edited them but they don’t look too shabby raw, I’ll post them up when they are done.

This was our last night on the Island, home the following day at some point.

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A very lazy day

The morning after my birthday we woke up late, partly due to me not turning in till 2.30 am and also because the bed we were in was super comfy. 

We hung out for most of the day at Dans, I made brunch for all that wanted some and then helped Dan with some network stuff for the new flat.  The weather was drizzly so hanging about inside wasn’t the worst thing to do. Eventually the drizzle stopped and the sun poked its head out so we decided to make tracks, we thanked Dan and Bec for looking after us, jumped in the van and drove to St Catherine’s lighthouse in Niton. 

You can look around the lighthouse but it was closing just as we arrived which was a shame, there is a path to the right of the lighthouse that takes you along the coastline so we walked along for a bit admiring the view, in the distance we could see some surfers catching waves so we found a spot to sit down on and watched them for a bit. 


You can just about see the the surfers in the picture above, I didn’t realise you could surf on the island.

The sun continued to shine so we both agreed it would be a good idea to have a BBQ and watch the sunset, the last time we were here two years ago our sunset was hampered by cloud and rain, not this time! We stopped off at the village shop near to our campsite, bought some goodies and headed off to a car park that overlooks the sea for some car park dining, within no time at all our trusty cobb BBQ was on the go with sausages and halloumi sizzling away much to the admiration of others that came to watch the sun go down.


As we ate our food the sun began to fall into the sea and we were treated to a quite spectacular sunset.


After the sun went down we drove back to Grange Farm and settled down with a movie, Hacksaw Ridge, if you haven’t seen it watch it, an incredible true story of bravery and the power of faith.

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Happy birthday me!

We awoke on Friday morning to a slightly overcast day, it was also my birthday so we made tea, opened cards and ate Star Wars biscuits that Lolly made me especially for my birthday.


She bought an amazing tin for them to go in, she’s the best wife 🙂


We had planned to make breakfast in the van but decided we’d go in search of a cafe instead, by the time we got ready to roll the clouds and cleared and the sun was shining.


We headed off in search of a place called Sevens but couldn’t find it, we then found out there was a cafe at the pearl centre so we made our way there. The pearl centre is basically a pearl showroom where you can buy all manner of jewellery so long as it has pearls on it, you can even pick your own pearl from a live oyster though I’m sure the oyster doesn’t see the appeal in this. As you can imagine, the clientele was of the older generation, Lolly and I had the least grey hair.

My expectations for breakfast were not high, this was no greasy spoon, more your department store kind of cafe / restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised to see croque monsieurs on the menu but then spotted what turned out to be the most spectacular surprise breakfast.


I can’t actually remember what this is called but I shall call it the Breakfast Ciabatta, basically most of the ciabatta has been scooped out and replaced by bacon lardons, chopped sausage, beans, chopped egg all mixed in a kind of bechemal sauce topped with melted cheese and a fried egg, it was awesome, we had one each, the chef even came out to ask us what we thought, thumbs up five stars smiley face, or words to that effect.

Our destination for the remainder of the day was the Needles which are the furthest West Point of the Island and just off the coast of Alum Bay. There is a kind of theme park thing which has lots for kids to do and you can buy a book of tickets that saves you money on each attraction, we were only interested in the chairlift to take us down to the beach, you can walk but for three quid you might as well experience the chairlift, I’ve only ever been up with a snowboard attached on a chairlift so going down was a new experience for me, it’s quite steep!


You hop off the bottom and there is a shingle beach you can walk along the coastline here is quite dramatic.


The cliffs are also all different colours, once upon a time you used to be able to scrape the different colours off the cliffs and take them home in a jar but you’re not allowed to anymore, they are really beautiful colours, especially on a bright sunny day.


We walked along the beach and then found an alternative route back up to the top, you can take the chairlift or walk up some steps but we decided to hike up a land slip instead, fair play to Lolly, she made up to the top despite being 32 weeks pregnant!


I’d like to add that on several occasions I did suggest we head back down but Lolly was having none of it. In the distance of the picture above you can see The Needles, three bits of rock sticking out of the sea that look like needles with a light house on the end. There is also an old military battery which is free to visit if you are a national trust member, we are so we made our way over. 

En route we stopped by a little house that has a quite incredible amount of ornaments on display in it’s garden.


The walk to the battery is along the cliff tops and takes about 20 mins, there are options if you are disabled to get you there quicker. For a pound you can buy a guide book that tells you all about the battery and the different rooms and every room has information on what it was used for and what life was like there.


There is also a really cool tunnel.


This leads to the old searchlight room.


Look where the search light was made!


We had a really great time at the Battery, it’s well worth a visit.

Our next stop was over to an old school friends who owns a hotel on the island, Lyon Court in Shankhill.


If you are looking for somewhere to stay on the Island his place is excellent and I’m not just saying that because he’s a mate, he’s just renovated the ground floor flat which sleeps 8 people, it’s so nice I’d live there!

We went for food at a restaurant on Shankhill seafront called Steamers, we both had amazing burgers and Dan treated us which was really nice, thanks Dan.

The kids made me a lovely chocolate birthday cake, we lit candles, sang happy birthday and then carried on drinking till 2.30 in the morning, well, me and Dan did, the girls went to bed way earlier.

I had an excellent birthday and the sun shone all day which was most unusual!

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And we’re off!

So the time of year has come for one of our two yearly birthday trips, usually this trip in March to celebrate my birthday will involve a drive far north of the M25 in search of mountains to climb, trails to ride and paths to walk in generally the worst of the British weather.

This year however we’re heading south, Lolly is 32 weeks pregnant and wasn’t massively up for mountains or mountain bikes so we’ve jumped on a ferry to the Isle of Wight to stay at a campsite right by the beach and enjoy some easy going walks around the countryside, as I write there are patches of blue sky and the sun is doing it’s very best to shine.

Unlike all our previous trips there is an air of calm prior to our departure even though we are running 20 mins late, I think I’ve finally realised that getting annoyed isn’t going to change the fact that we are late, if anything it’s a hindrance and just makes things misearable all round.

Whilst I was fairly confident we would miss the ferry we made it by the skin of our teeth and are now on our way across the channel to the island, just before we boarded a ferry I got a quick snap of the bus. 


Once on the ferry a quick selfie to mark the start of our trip!


Being a naval port there are lots of ships about that can blow stuff up like this one. 

Once we land we’ll be off to check into Grange Farm and then head out for a walk, might have a cup of tea too. 

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Friday Night @ Firle

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As i’ve mentioned before, there is something really quite nice about finishing a week at work, jumping in the van and buggering off away from the smoke for a night or two.

Lolly and I were new to the whole wild camping thing but once you get your head round it all then as Arthur Daley would say, “the world is you lobster”, especially if your life allows you the spontaneity to head out at a moments notice without having to worry about things that require your absolute care and attention, pets and children for example!

Our destination came about from a chat we’d had with a fella we met at a boot sale who complimented us on our van, a long conversation followed covering all sorts of van and boot sale related topics, one of which was about wild camping on the south downs and Firle, a favourite location for our new friend.

Neither of us had heard of Firle so Lolly did a little bit of investigation on the interweb and discovered a good spot for wild camping would be Firle Beacon, a Marylin (hill over 150ft) which is situated on the south downs between Newhaven and Eastbourne.

Soon as I got back from work, Lolly had the van packed and we made our way to the M23 and then on to the A27, traffic was average but we arrived in good time and parked up.

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From the picture above you can just about see the sea, you can also see a couple of of other vans, one of which referred to herself as a van dweller which for no explainable reason made me chuckle! At the very top of this post is a picture that says no overnight camping, this sign (amongst others) is located on the opposite side of the road to us with a couple more near the other vans and in the car park behind us that you can’t see from this photo. There are none on the side we parked on and I suspect (don’t qoute me) the odd night here and there is accepted and overlooked but any kind of semi permenant camp would attract the authorities. We did get a visit from the police, they came up, sat in their car for a bit probably checking registrations and then left, last we saw of them.

As with all our little excusrions, food and a few drinks were on the menu so we got our Cobb BBQ going and knocked up some Wagyu burgers Lauren picked up from Aldi, they’re massive and really quite nice. After some food  and lovely rocky road that Lolly made we went for a walk across the fields and took in the lovely view of the south downs, we also encountered Cockchafers.

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Mad as these things look they are in fact completely harmless and if you come across one you should feel privileged, they only come out of the ground every 4 years because thats how long it takes them to grow from a larvae and they have a lifespan of about 6 weeks, there are loads of them at firle and they really like vans !

After our walk we returned to the van, put up the thermal blinds, setup the bed, put a movie on and settled in for the night. Over the course of the evening a few cars passed us but we had no hassle and woke the next day to glorious sunshine!

The photo below is looking the opposite way to the coast and over the south downs.

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The field in front of us had also been besieged by cows.

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My funniest memory of this outing is Lauren telling me how calming cow watching was which she spent some time doing!

Alas time was against us and we had to leave at around 9 in the morning, other plans for Saturday meant we could only stay one night but we will definitely be coming back with the bikes so we can go on a proper explore!

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A trip down to Weymouth

The beginning of July is our wedding anniversary and due to a slight oversight by myself I spent the majority of it on a flight back from Moscow, I got to spend a couple of hours with Lolly on our actual anniversary and arranged to head out in the van and go somewhere for the weekend together to celebrate properly..

Our destination was Rosewall campsite in Weymouth, google said it would take us about 2.5 hours which I think is just far enough to drive for a weekend trip, we decided to take the A3 and then the A31, two roads I never wish to see again.

The first issue arose getting from ours to the A3, there is a route that Lolly’s dad takes that both of us are convinced we know, we don’t and had agreed not to try taking it, before we knew it we were trying to work out the route, we failed miserably and it took an age to get to the A3, one unimpressed wife, especially as the sun was blazing and we were stuck in a van.

The A31 wasn’t much better, there was traffic leading up to the A31 on the A3, for a while we were belting along before we hit the first roundabout, one of many all of which came with a queue to reach them, progress was slow, really slow, it was so bad we pulled off the A31 around the new forest area into a little pub for lunch, annoyingly I can’t remember the name of the pub which is a real shame as the food was excellent and I recommend a visit, if I remember I will update the post.

After eating we carried on to Weymouth in rubbish traffic and reached our destination just before Lolly was about to explode, she also made me promise no more weekend excursions more than an hours drive.

We booked in, found ourselves a spot with a nice view looking out to sea, grabbed the bikes and headed off for a ride, we made our way to the coastal path and it became clear very quickly that it was completely unsuitable for bikes, we headed back to the van, dropped the bikes off and went back the way we came on foot.

We followed the path down to the beach, the beach was a large pebble / stone beach with boulders thrown in for good measure. In Ibiza, along the shoreline, especially where there are rocks people build little stone towers, seems they do the same here so we decided to make a couple of our own.

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We spent a couple of hours clambering about the rocks, watching these weird things hop about out of the sea, they looked like wood louse and shrimps but weren’t either, very strange! We then followed the path up past the pub which gave us lovely views out over the bay. As the sun started to set we made our way back as cooking in the dark is always a bit of a challenge, we swerved into a pub just by the beach called the smugglers inn, we had a drink, contemplated eating as the food looked awesome but stuck with our plan and walked back to the van to cook some chicken on the cob.

Back at the van we got our chicken on the go, made some drinks and settled in for the evening, about 15 mins into cooking the heavens opened, prior to the rain there were loads of fire baskets alight outside campers tents or vans, they went out pretty quickly! Having a lid means you can leave the cobb doing it’s thing in the rain which to be fair stopped after 20 mins or so. Following the rain was a quite spectacular electrical storm, we sat up for about an hour after we ate watching the lightshow before turning in for the night, dinner was lovely, Harissa chicken with avocado salad and cous cous.

Next morning was a bit of grey damp affair but in no time at all the sun came up, perfect for a picture of camp mashley!

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Rosewall campsite is a bit like wild camping in the sense there are no pitches, you just find a spot and that’s you for your stay, there is a shop that sells all sorts of things, milk, biscuits, bbq food, camping supplies and local beer! The toilet and shower blocks are well maintained as are the washing up areas. There are two blocks, one at the top of the hill near the shop and one at the bottom. The bottom of the hill is flatter but at the expense of the view, we found a flat spot at the top of the campsite with a really nice view out to sea.

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We drank plenty of tea and got some breakfast down us whilst the campsite started to fill up. Our plan was to grab the bikes, head for a ride to Weymouth and possibly on to Portland, a small tied island which is the southern most tip of Dorset.

The ride into Weymouth took about 15 minutes and our first stop was the beach, we arrived just in time for a punch and judy show which is not something I woud bother with but Lolly wanted to watch it, while I went to get a couple of beers, Lolly found us a spot and put a couple of quid in the donations box.

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I’ve got to admit, the show was really funny, it’s main content was for children but there was quite a lot of stuff that was clearly for adults without being risque or offensive for the kids, i’m glad we stopped to watch it. From here we rode to the harbour, all around there are little coffee shops, restaurants and kids with their parents on the harbour wall fishing for crabs, they caught plenty!

You can see the beach and some of the harbour behind us in the picture below

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Just up from where this photo was taken is Nothe park and fort, we stopped for a delicious sandwich and then pressed on.

We followed the coastal path which for most of the way hugs the coastline but deviates between that and residential areas, this is where we came across Sandsfoot castle, a ruined castle set in a little landscaped park that sells amongst other things very nice ice cream which of course tried!

It had taken us about 2 hours to get this far as we kept stopping to look at things or eat, we were less than halfway to our destination, I knew we had a way to go and wasn’t looking forward to the ride back and in my usual style got a bit grumpy.

Next stop was Chesil Beach, we locked up the bikes and walked up the pebble dune to see what was on the other side, ferocious sea and wind with some nutters in a tent was what was on the other side! I think we lasted about a minute at best before we decided being blown to pieces wasn’t that attractive and headed back to the bikes.

At this point I really didn’t want to carry on and just wanted to turn back, i’d had enough riding bikes and we had a long ride home but Lolly really wanted to reach the island, reluctantly I agreed and we cycled over, when we arrived we cycled through a kind of marine industrial estate, past that we followed the path to a dead end, turning round we found a little pebble launch called scimitar wharf  which it turns out is owned by Scimitar diving, we both had a drink each so we sat down, drank our drinks and then started the journey back.

The ride back wasn’t as bad as I thought apart from the hill near where we were staying, it took about 80 mins and below is the strava output from the return leg.

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I didn’t realise we rode that far, a 20.6 mile round trip!

Back at the van we made ourselves a drink each, got the cobb on the go and cooked up some peri peri chicken with the rest of the salad from the night before, we were pretty shattered so put the latest episode of Penny Dreadful on and settled down for the night.

We had planned to get up early on Sunday, dodge the traffic and be home before the afternoon, we woke up about 10 am so failed massively on that front, I packed up the van, we showered and then went for breakfast which was lovely, then began the journey home which wasn’t that bad this time around.

There is so much more to Weymouth than we thought and we’ll be heading back there again, just not exactly sure when, if you are heading that way then I really would recommend the Rosewall campsite.

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