Saturday, 4 August 2012

Damage Barton, Devon, episode two.......

So, where was I?

Oh yes, being rocked to sleep by gale force winds, on top of a cliff, in a metal box. I think that just about sums it up.

I was the first to wake next morning and full of expectant hope, I jumped out of bed and opened the front curtains to see the view. Still no panaramic view. Buggar this for a game of soldiers. Come on Sue, we're catching the bus to Ilfracombe.

We stood out on the road, in the fog, hoping the bus would be able to see us in enough time to stop. We heard it before we saw it and gingerly edged forward to wave it down. The people who lived in that area must be used to the extreme weather, they didn't seem to bat an eyelid. We got on the bus and told the driver where we wished to go.

"Is the weather a bit better in Ilfracombe?" I asked, with more than a hint of hope in my voice.

"The weather's the same as here, but at least you won't be sat in the clouds." I'm sure I saw the bus driver's lips twitch, trying to stifle a grin.

Well, the bus went down and down and down and down. My ears were popping and much to our delight, there was scenery.

Ilfracombe is a tiny fishing village with a quay and marina. It was quite quaint actually, but VERY HILLY. The houses were all built into the hillside and it was really lovely, even though it was bleak and windy.

We had a good walk around the quay and marina and then ventured into the main town. We were looking for a craft shop, no, not for me. Sue had brought odd needles with her and if she couldn't knit......... Anyway, we asked for directions and headed up this 1:4 hill to get to it. Poor old Sue has a bad back and found it a bit of a struggle, but her tenacity kicked in, she needed her needles. We got to the shop at about five past one, it closed at one and didn't open again until two-thirty. Neither of us said a word, our mood was so low we were past moaning.

Back down the hill to the quayside it was and to console ourselves we had a traditional Cornish pasty, comfort food. Lovely.  Two thirty, off we went again, up the hill. Yeh, the shop's open. I got there before Sue, so I went into the shop and asked for no5 needles.

"Sorry," said the young lady, "we don't sell knitting needles."  I didn't swear, honest.

"Do you know where we can get some please?"

She gave us directions and off we went, down the bloody hill again. We seemed to be walking around for ages  looking for this shop, when I spotted a craft exhibition. I went in to ask directions and the man in there asked how fit we were, he could send us the short hard way, or the long easy way. I looked round at Sue and asked for the long, easy way.

We found it eventually and Sue got her needles and some wool. She's worse than me with my craft stuff, well nearly. The rest of the day wasn't too bad, it rained a few times early on, but later in the afternoon this bright orange thing appeared in the sky and we actually took our coats off.

The sea was a bit choppy though and some folk had actually ventured down onto the beach. Mad fools. By about four, we were getting ready to go back to the van. We were going to have a barby that night, if the clouds had lifted, so off we went, looking for the bus station. We knew where it was, it was at the bottom of that hill we had become so well acquainted with. :)

When we got back to the camp site it was lovely and clear, still windy and cloudy, but we could see. I got quite excited, I was going to get to try out my new bucket barby, a bright orange one. I got cracking with the barby and Sue got the potatoes and salad done. It was 5-30pm.

By 7-30 we were still waiting for the sausages to cook, I think the wind was cooling the sausages before the heat could cook them. We got our food eventually and had a nice restful evening. Sue was happy, she could do her knitting. We were feeling quite upbeat by now, the weather was supposed to be changing tomorrow and perhaps our holiday could start.

I made the rule that the van was a no smoking area, I know I know, why are we smoking? LOOK, it'd been a stressful 3 days. God, was that all it had been, 3 days? Anyway, we could have a wind free smoke in the awning, we just pushed the van door too, so the smoke didn't go in. We were all ready for bed and hoping for a better nights sleep, seeing as the wind had dropped a bit. Only 20miles an hour now. We went out into the awning and wound up the camping lantern, yes, wind up and had a last ciggie of the night.

Sue went to get back into the van and looked round at me with a look of sheer panic on her face.

" The door won't open."

I got up and tried it too, she was right, it had locked?!?!   Shit shit shit. Now what? She saw one of the ladies from the neighbouring van coming back from the loo, so she went out to grab her. My mind was working overtime. I tried the cab doors, LOCKED. The lady asked where the keys were.

"On the hook inside the door."

"Do you have spares?"

"Yes, in my handbag."

"Where's your handbag?"

" In the van." Like I'd bring my bag out into the awning evertime I came out!

By this time her hubby had arrived and the three of them were stood rubbing their heads. The lady informed us that there wasn't a resident warden on the site, but I wasn't convinced. I remembered that there was a caravan near the shower block that was fenced off. The campsite was pitch black at night, so I grabbed my wind up lantern and headed for the shower block. Sure enough, there was the fenced off caravan. I touched the gate to open it and a dog started barking a BIG dog. Well, if there was anybody in there, that would wake them, so I waited, for what seemed like an eternity.

A very sleepy, half clad man came to the door and gave me a thunderous look. Shit. It was 11-30. I explained what had happened and he said he'd come to the van.

" You're on C7 aren't you?"  How did he know that? Wonder if he'd been watching me putting the awning up?

 I made my way back to the van and a few minutes later he turned up with a couple of wire coat hangers. He tried, in vain, to pop the latch up in the cab door.

"Is there a window open?"


"A skylight?"

"No." I felt like screaming the fact at him, that it had been blowing a gale for 3 days, but decided against it.

"Where are the keys?"

"On the hook inside the door."

"Do you have spares?"

"Yes, in my handbag."

"Where's your handbag?"

" In the van."  I had a feeling of  deja vu at that point.

He decided to try and get in through the skylight and proceeded to climb the ladder onto the roof. The only problem was, the awning flap was over the skylight and it was fastened firmly down with two guy ropes. Remember the awning? So the other man released the guy ropes and it sort of groaned and lurched forward. I just prayed it wouldn't fall over.

He fiddled and wiggled and eventually the skylight popped up. We watched as the wire came through the skylight towards the keys. Hope he's good at fishing. He managed to hook them on the end and with one deft move, grabbed them with his free hand, before they could fall on the floor. He threw them down to me and I unlocked the door. The relief was palpable. I wanted to give him something for his trouble but hadn't a clue how much, so I grabbed a £20 note from my purse and headed to the back of the van just as he was coming down the ladder. I pressed it into his hand and thanked him profusely. I didn't know what else to do, I felt like hugging him, but decided that would be inappropriate, besides, he didn't look very happy!!!!!

Our neighbours disappeared, as did our knight in shining armour and we both went inside and sat on our beds and just looked at each other. 

" I want to go home............."

Thanks for coming by, hope you're enjoying my calamitous  camper capers and do come back for episode three.... Will it be the last one or is there still so much more to tell?

bye for now.........

Jools.  xxx


  1. oh lol.. i know i shouldn't laugh .. but it really is the joy of camping .. and you never forget these moments .. at least it isn't boring!!
    We once went to Woolacome and when we arrived the fog was so bad we couldn't see a thing .. but the rest of the fortnight was red hot .. a fantastic holiday
    Lisa x

  2. I feel exhausted just reading this.I bet you left a spare outside the next day..........

  3. Ok Jools youve had more than a week to compose one. Another episode please.