Tag Archives: sunshine

A lovely weekend in Arundel

Our good friends Jez and Jo we’re throwing a moving in party even though they are now actually moving out, instead of just turning up on the day and heading home straight after, we decided to make a weekend of it, find somewhere to stay, head down on Friday night, go home Sunday.

Using the power of google I searched for campsites in Arundel, quite a few came up but the one that caught my eye was called Acorns. It caught my eye because every review was glowing and it’s set in a woodland which is the kind of thing Lolly and I like, the less commercial and more natural the better, whilst it might seem a bit pricier than other sites I checked there were no hidden extras, you pay your money and then forget about it, the price included electricity, permission to put up an awning and a generous sized pitch, if you added that all up on the other sites it’s about the same cost.

The drive down was really quite nice, we expected traffic heading to the coast but the roads were relatively clear and once we turned off the M23 the drive to Acorns was quiet to say the least, literally no cars on the road! The site is really easy to find, a turn off from the A27 and then a small signpost on the left leads you to a gate and a drive way with clear instructions of where to go and what to do on arrival. Don’t be put off that the A27 is a stones throw away, it’s not the busiest of roads and I can honestly say we never heard it once.

I’d mailed ahead and advised the owners we’d be arriving just after 20.00 and received a mail back to say that’s fine, we rocked up about 20.15, parked up, Lolly was having a panic about teething gel so we’d agreed to check in and then head off to the local supermarket and grab some. The site reception is the owners house, I rung the door bell and in no time at all was warmly greated by Albert, after signing in and being given codes for the loo’s Albert gave us the choice of two pitches, one in the shade and one in the sun, I also explained the teething gel situation and was given directions to the nearest supermarket that would be open. The reviews for the site are bang on, Albert is a very nice man and very helpful too.

As it turned out, Lolly had packed the teething gel after all so we proceeded to pitch up.


As you can see, the site wasn’t terribly busy, very well kept and each pitch is massive, another nice touch is each pitch comes with recycling and composting boxes, another tick for us 🙂

It was getting late and both Lolly and I were hungry, there is a pub a short walk from the site so we headed off there to grab some food. Unfortunately the kitchen closed at 21.00 and we got there about 21.15 so we settled for a couple of drinks and sat in the garden admiring the flowers, Stella woke up and demanded food, turns out we weren’t the only ones that were hungry. We headed back to the van and I knocked up some pesto pasta, good old Bumblebee, he always provides when we need something!

Next day was a fairly lazy affair, Stella sleeps really well in the van which means we do too. We got up and I made us breakfast, I decided that I wanted to make a breakfast hash, my ingredients were as follows:

Eggs, spinach, new potatos, chorizo, smoked bacon lardons, cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Basically you par boil the potatos, while they are doing fry the chorizo and bacon, when the potatoes are done cut them into smaller chunks and throw in the pan so they soak up some of the chorizo oil, halve the cherry tomatoes and throw them in too, put the spinach on top to steam it for a bit, then stir in and add the eggs, I’d whisked them up and seasoned a bit in a separate pan beforehand, when you’re happy everything is cooked to your liking, serve it up.


It tasted lovely and was cooked on one of those 10 quid stoves with gas in a can from Decathlon.

After breakfast we jumped in the van and made our way to Jez and Jo’s, we now have a drive away awning which means we can leave a load of stuff in it and then head out in the van, it attaches to a rail my mate Rob put on the van, we can also still put the roof rack on as you can see below, we left gaps..


When you drive away this is what you are left with


You can’t see it in the picture but before I moved the van off I used a spare tent peg to mark where the front wheel should be, the idea being it would make life a lot easier to get the van lined up correctly to reconnect the awning later when it was dark.

We went straights to Jez and Jo’s, I manned the BBQ and my good mate Appy Andz spun the platters that matter


It was also a good chance for some of our friends to meet Stella


We stayed at the party till the sun went down, Lolly drove us back as I drank loads of beer, when we got back it was my job to reattach the van to the awning, despite being a bit drunk I managed to get the van and awning connected without issue, as I was in a field and not on a public highway I don’t believe I broke any drink drive laws. The peg I put in before we left was very useful as was the second peg with an LED built in I put in beside it, I knew they would come in handy when I saw them in Aldi!

I had a great nights sleep, so did Stella, she slept from 23.30 till about 07.00, Lolly on the other hand didn’t sleep so well, as a parent or maybe more accurately a mother, you soon find out that when your baby doesn’t sleep, you wish it would so you can sleep and when it does sleep you think there is something wrong, the end result is either way, you don’t get much sleep!

I made breakfast again the following morning, I made the same thing but added an onion to the ingredients. As we approached midday (checkout time) i popped off to grab a quick shower. I should mention that the toilets / shower and washing up block are quite possibly the best kept I’ve come across in this country, spotlessly clean to the point that they look brand new.


On my way back I noticed that Albert was chatting to Lolly by the awning, we’d had a fairly laid back morning and had made no effort to pack down just yet planing to leave it all to the last minute and just chuck everything in the van and go. I apologised to Albert for not checking out on time and he very kindly said don’t worry, he had no-one checking in after us so to take our time which was really nice, we got to feed and settle Stella, Lolly had a shower and I got to pack down properly without feeling we were against the clock.

We drove back to Jez and Jo’s to pick up some things we left behind and ended up staying there for a few hours, Lolly sat in the sun and I sat with Stella in the shade, we then went for a little walk round Arundel.


We had planned to grab some food from the restaurant Jez works in but time was against us and after speaking to Jez on the phone we decided to do the same as them and grab fish and chips and eat them by the river, halfway through our meal we were joined by Jez, Jo and Raph which was a really nice surprise.

We had a great time in Arundel and I cannot recommend were we stayed enough, Acorns is a lovely, well kept site with a fantastic and friendly owner, we’ll definitely be going back 🙂

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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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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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Le Ocean

We got up early Monday morning, packed up and left Ile de Re, our destination, Soulac sur mer. We should have already been there but we stayed an extra day at Il De Re, the drive down was fairly straight forward, we headed to Royan and caught the ferry across. I took a quick pic of the van in the queue, Lolly looks excited!!

  
The ferry crossing takes about 20 minutes and there isn’t much to do so I took a picture of the van on the ferry, seriously, there is that little to do! 

  
Back on the main land the drive to Camping L’Ocean is about 20 minutes, Lolly found it in the cool camping website, it’s a lovely place, right by the beach and pitches set up amongst the trees, I really liked it there, we promptly set up camp and then headed to the beach. 

  
I guess I’ve been spoilt on the beach front after spending so many years going to Ibiza, the beach at Soulac isn’t much to look at, sand, sea defence and sea. 

  
There are no bars or music playing, just a beach with surf, the surf is quite tame and I taught Lolly to body board, her face when she caught her first wave was brilliant!

We both fell asleep on the beach, luckily no major burnage as we are pretty good on the sun creme front, P20 is your friend, look it up!

Food was on the agenda so we chipped back to the van and got the BBQ on. 

 Dinner was another random meat BBQ pack I chose, it was alright but I’ve now been told I can longer choose the meat to cook, we had some drinks, read our books and crashed.

Morning came and the sun was out, we had a quick wash, packed up and headed for Arcachon. On the way we stopped off at the super market, I saw two awesome things, this bus:

 
And for Darran and Fresh Face, crack in a jar!

 We’ve arrived at Arcachon, the sun is blistering hot and the  campsite whilst being the most expensive is my least favourite, maybe it’s just our pitch.  I’ll let you know how we get on here in my next post. 

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