Thursday, May 30 2024

One of my favourite spots in the south west of Eng­land is Ban­tham, Devon. The sur­round­ing coun­try­side is topped only by a fan­tas­tic beach at the mouth of the Riv­er Avon. When it comes to surf­ing, I’m no pro, far from it in fact, but occa­sion­al­ly it works for me and due to lack of fit­ness and rid­ing a long board, I tend to like the small­er waves. With the fore­cast show­ing a nice 2 foot wave with a gen­tle off­shore wind it was an oppor­tu­ni­ty that could­n’t be missed.

Although it would have been nice to stay the night in Ban­tham, espe­cial­ly as there is a great lit­tle camp site just up the road from the vil­lage where I’ve stayed before, it’s some­times more eco­nom­ic to take a day trip when get­ting in a surf ses­sion, par­tic­u­lar­ly as I can share the fuel costs with my mate Dave (aka David as he prefers to be called). It just means the day needs a bit of plan­ning and get­ting every­thing ready the day before so I thought I would add this post to show how a day trip can pan out and share a recipe that is brim­ming with com­fort and easy to cook up and eat when out for the day. Of course, any part of the recipe pro­vid­ed can be replaced, I doubt I’ll go to the trou­ble of bak­ing my own rolls again, but the rel­ish is a def­i­nite for the future.

Being that Ban­tham is over 100 miles from home, it’s worth start­ing out ear­ly so we were on the road by 7.30am and head­ing off down the A303. Break­fast was sim­ple, just a bowl of por­ridge before leav­ing home. Part of the rea­son for the ear­ly start was not just to get in the water as soon as pos­si­ble, the plan was to be out of the water and eat­ing lunch when the big game between Man­ches­ter Unit­ed and Liv­er­pool kicked off at 1.30pm.

Bantham Beach
The road towards Ban­tham beach beside the riv­er Avon estuary

So, after a stop off at Exeter ser­vices on the way, we arrived in Batham at around 10.15am and the sun was shin­ing. After park­ing up at the beach car park we had a quick peak over the sand dunes and it was look­ing good, per­fect for our longboards.

The sun was out on a gorgeous day in South Devon
The sun was out on a gor­geous day in South Devon
Nice 1-2 foot waves coming through on Bantham Beach
Nice 1–2 foot waves com­ing through on Ban­tham Beach
Parked up and getting everything ready for a surf
Dave sort­ing out his board

It was­n’t long before we were in the water, hood­ed up with boots and gloves too as the water is still only around 10°C. Per­son­al­ly I start­ed out pret­ty poor­ly as I have been a lot late­ly, I could­n’t get on any waves but as time went on we start­ed find­ing a few nice spots and I had a few good rides in. The waves were only 1–2 foot, with the odd 3 foot com­ing through so it was rel­a­tive­ly tame. Towards what would have been the end of our ses­sion is when things got a lit­tle more inter­est­ing. We were grouped up with a few oth­er surfers on what seemed to be the best spot at the time but sud­den­ly we were all took off away from the beach, caught in a sud­den rip which I don’t think any­one expect­ed on a small wave day. I think it had some­thing to do with the low spring tides, just 0.8m and it was near­ly at it’s low­est point. I’m guess­ing all of the water in the bay was try­ing to get out through a rel­a­tive­ly small area and unlike usu­al, the rip was going off down the coast, not back into the bay which meant a few of us had a long pad­dle back. After what seemed like ages pad­dling across the bay to get out of the rip I was approach­ing a group of kayaks, one had already helped anoth­er lad back so as I was pret­ty much spent I thought I’d swal­low my pride and ask for a cheeky tow and thank­ful­ly it got me back to the break­ers (lit­tle peel­ers real­ly), thanks again who­ev­er you are. Once I got to my feet we got out and called it a day, besides, we had burg­ers to eat and the foot­ball was about to start.

The prob­lem with watch­ing the game is that there is no 3G sig­nal at Ban­tham so we went over to Slap­ton Sands, I watch TV when I’m away on my iPad over the Inter­net with var­i­ous Apps, I was lucky to get one of the only avail­able unlim­it­ed Inter­net pack­ages with full teth­er­ing too so can use my iPhone as a kind of router for my iPad and Lap­top if I take it. Slap­ton Memo­r­i­al car park is right on the beach in a beau­ti­ful spot beside the Slap­ton Ley. With the iPad set up, it was time to relax, have a cof­fee and hope­ful­ly see Utd bring home the 3 points they so need­ed. The orig­i­nal plan was to have the burg­ers before the game but as we end­ed up run­ning a bit late we decid­ed to wait until after, that gave us a chance to chill out for a bit too, though not much chill­ing watch­ing that game, lol.


[col­umn size=‘1/3’]Slapton Monument car park is about 30 minutes from Bantham facing east on the English Channel.[/column]

[col­umn size=‘1/3’]Always good to make sure you have coffee in the van.[/column]

[col­umn size=‘1/3’]Football[/column]


Result! Though not a very con­vinc­ing win, Utd got the 3 points by beat­ing Liv­er­pool at Anfield 2–1. We had now recov­ered from the surf/paddle ses­sion and were ready to eat. Being this was a day trip, with lit­tle time to pre­pare and cook in the van the food was pre­pared the day before and what bet­ter than the com­fort of a big fat burg­er! I’m no con­tender for the Great British Bake-off and not that great with bak­ing buns, but these actu­al­ly tast­ed fine. I have includ­ed the full recipe I used below which is plen­ty enough for 4 burg­ers, but the two of us could only man­age one each as they’re real­ly fill­ing once you add the bacon and sal­ad. They were def­i­nite­ly worth tak­ing, they tast­ed great and set me up for the rest of the day. I could have prob­a­bly pre­sent­ed bet­ter for the pho­to’s below but we were hungry,

Once we had eat­en our burg­ers we got set for the jour­ney home, it was now late after­noon so we would­n’t be back until evening. Despite it only being around 8°C, we could­n’t resist an ice cream from the res­i­dent ice cream van before hit­ting the road, for a while head­ing along the coast which has some great views.

Blackpool Sands
We left South Devon along the coast, pass­ing the beau­ti­ful Black­pool Sands on the way, a pop­u­lar place in the sum­mer no doubt

Burger aprés le surf

Classic burgers in sesame seed buns, served with a sweet caramelised onion and tomato relish

Serves 2–4


[col­umn size=‘1/2’]Not the most presentable picture but tasty none the less[/column]

[col­umn size=‘1/2’]Burger2[/column]



[tab title=“Equipment Required”]


[col­umn size=‘1/2’]

At home

  • Oven
  • Small bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Fridge
  • Mea­sur­ing spoon
  • 2 shal­low bak­ing trays
  • Cling film
  • Pas­try brush
  • Wire rack
  • Grease­proof paper
  • Mix­er (option­al)
  • Kitchen scales
  • Small stor­age con­tain­er for relish
  • Fry­ing pan
  • Cook­ing utensils


[col­umn size=‘1/2’]

In the van

  • 1 large fry­ing pan
  • 1 hob
  • Fridge
  • 2 plates
  • Knife for slic­ing buns and tomatoes
  • Wood­en skewers
  • Kitchen tow­ell




[tab title=“Ingredients”]


  • 1 red onion, fine­ly chopped
  • 8 cher­ry toma­toes, fine­ly chopped
  • 50g demer­ara sugar
  • 1 clove of gar­lic, fine­ly chopped
  • ½ tea­spoon salt
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 tea­spoons of toma­to purée

Relish Ingredients


  • 150ml warm water
  • 14g dried yeast
  • 2 table­spoon of milk (warm)
  • 2 table­spoons of cast­er sugar
  • 1 tea­spoon of salt
  • 325g of strong flour, plus a lit­tle extra for dusting
  • 2 table­spoons of unsalt­ed but­ter, softened
  • 2 medi­um eggs, plus 1 beat­en egg for glazing
  • Sesame seeds, for sprin­kling (option­al)


  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 70g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 onion, fine­ly chopped
  • 1 medi­um egg
  • ½ tea­spoon salt


  • 1 beef toma­to, sliced
  • 1 ice­berg let­tuce, leaves separated
  • Cheese slices
  • Bacon rash­es (smoked)
  • 1 red onion, sliced


[tab title=“Cooking Method”]


  1. Heat a lit­tle oil in a small pan and cook the onions for a few min­utes on a low heat until soft­ened, stir­ring occasionally.
  2. Add the toma­toes and gar­lic, mix well. Then add the sug­ar, toma­to purée and vine­gar and bring to the boil.
  3. Sim­mer for 20–30 min­utes until the mix­ture is thick like a paste, stir­ring more towards the end to avoid the mix­ture stick­ing to the pan.
  4. Sea­son to taste with a small amount of salt and set aside to cool.
  5. Add to small stor­age con­tain­er for use lat­er. The rel­ish con­tains vine­gar and sug­ar to pre­serve so it will be good got quite a while in a sealed container
Use a small container to take the relish with you
Use a small con­tain­er to take the rel­ish with you


    1. Mix the warm water, yeast, warm milk and sug­ar in a bowl and leave to stand for 5 min­utes. The mix should become frothy, this is how you know the yeast is working.
The yeast mixture will begin to froth, this indicates the yeast is working
The yeast mix­ture will begin to froth, this indi­cates the yeast is working
  1. Pour the flour and salt into a large mix­ing bowl and add the but­ter, rub­bing togeth­er with your fin­ger­tips until the mix­ture is like fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Form a small well in the cen­tre of the but­tery flour and add the warm yeast mix­ture and eggs.
  3. For the purist, using your hands, mix into a sticky dough. If it feels wet, it will come togeth­er when knead­ing. When done, tip the dough onto a floured work sur­face. I per­son­al­ly cheat at this point and trans­fer to my bread mak­er on dough mak­ing mode for around 30 min­utes which is a lot less messy on the hands, then skip to step 6.
  4. Knead the dough for 10 min­utes, stretch­ing it on the work sur­face. Note, it will still be sticky at this stage but don’t be tempt­ed to add too much flour.
  5. When done, the dough should feel soft and have a bounce to it. Place in an oiled bowl and cov­er with cling film or a tea tow­el, then set aside to rise for 1–3 hours or until it is dou­ble the orig­i­nal size. Tim­ing will vary depend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture, if your kitchen is not very warm, per­haps make space in an air­ing cupboard.
  6. Once the dough has dou­bled in size, knock the air out and knead again for 2 min­utes. The dough should now be much less sticky, but may need a lit­tle flour added.
  7. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces and flat­ten each piece like a pan­cake on a floured sur­face, turn in each cor­ner to the cen­tre until the ball is sealed, then flip it over and use your hands to gen­tly roll into a smooth ball.
  8. Add the grease­proof paper to a bak­ing tray and place the dough on the tray. Loose­ly cov­er with oiled cling film and leave for about 1 hour or until dou­bled in size again. Then, heat the oven to 200°C (180°C for fan ovens) / gas 6 and place a shal­low bak­ing tray at the bottom.
The dough will increase quite an amount so leave plenty of room between the pieces
The dough will increase quite an amount so leave plen­ty of room between the pieces
  1. Pour a cup of water into the bak­ing tray at the bot­tom of the oven to cre­ate steam before the buns are put in. Remove the cling film, brush the buns with egg and sprin­kle with sesame seeds.
  2. Bake for 20 min­utes or until gold­en in the cen­tre of the oven, then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Let the buns cool on a wire rack
Let the buns cool on a wire rack


  1. In a bowl, mix the mince, egg, onion, bread crumbs and salt until well blended.
  2. Divide the mix­ture into four equal por­tions and shape each into a pat­ty about 10cm wide.
  3. Place the pat­ties onto a tray that wil fit into your van’s fridge and cov­er in cling film.
  4. To cook burg­ers, remove from tray and heat a lit­tle oil in a fry­ing pan. If using bacon as a top­ping, add a lit­tle oil to a sep­a­rate pan and cook until golden-brown.
  5. Turn the burg­ers once only, cook­ing for about 5–6 min­utes each side. (Alter­na­tive­ly if you have the lux­u­ry of a grill in your van, you can cook them under a grill for the same time turn­ing half way through).
All the ingredients in a bowl ready to mix.
All the ingre­di­ents in a bowl ready to mix.


[tab title=“To Serve”]

Toppings (all optional)

  • Cheese slices
  • Sliced Beef­steak tomato
  • Ice­berg lettuce
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Bacon rash­es

To serve, slice the buns in half and hov­er over the flame of the hob to toast a the inner side a lit­tle, being care­ful not to burn your­self. Place the buns toast­ed side up onto serv­ing plates and add some of the rel­ish, then the burg­er pat­ties, top with a lit­tle more rel­ish and your addi­tion­al choice of top­pings. Cov­er with the top side of the bun and pierce through with half of a wood­en skew­er, per­haps topped off with half a cher­ry tomato.



The South Downs for a bike ride and a chicken curry



About Author

The Moonraker

A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.

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