Friday, June 21 2024

With sum­mer now firm­ly packed up and far behind, I final­ly find I’m back on the road again. It has been a good sum­mer this year, how­ev­er, explor­ing new places in the van has not been high on the agen­da. Most of my overnight stays in Corn­wall have been in a hotel car park, not even any views! June was a busy month, with three trips away, I have not fea­tured these on my blog as they will soon be appear­ing in the VW Bus mag­a­zine. The first two weeks in Sep­tem­ber were spent in Por­tu­gal, enjoy­ing the warm rays of the sun with some real pump­ing surf which a friend and I enjoyed for all but three days of our holiday.

Since my return from Por­tu­gal, the ocean has been fair­ly flat, with just the odd trick­le of swell get­ting through at times but this week the weath­er has changed and with a low pres­sure con­tain­ing the rem­nants of Hur­ri­cane Joaquin and light or off shore winds fore­cast, it seemed an ide­al time to get away for a few days.

Dur­ing my trip to Por­tu­gal, I could­n’t stop think­ing about the place I first attempt­ed to surf. It feels like my local break, but it’s 125 miles from my house. Saun­ton Sands is a com­plete con­trast to the fast waves of the west coast of Por­tu­gal, here you can see waves com­ing from far out, great for long­boards. This was the week­end’s first loca­tion, apart from a day trip in August to Puts­bor­ough, I have not surfed this area for a while now and Fri­day’s fore­cast of 1–2 foot with high sec­ond peri­od waves, it seemed too good to miss and on arrival it def­i­nite­ly appeared to be what I hoped.

After don­ning my wet­suit and booties I was straight out, not hard to get out back on a small day for­tu­nate­ly. I had very lit­tle sleep the night before, ear­li­er in the week I caught a nasty cold and was still recov­er­ing, I just had no ener­gy what­so­ev­er, I’d pad­dle but noth­ing. Luck­i­ly, after half an hour or so some­thing clicked and I start­ed catch­ing a few nice 1–2 foot green waves, there’s quite a long ride to be had on the waves at Saun­ton, even on a small day, great fun! It was quite busy too for a week­day, pret­ty much every­one with long­boards and many of my age or old­er which is great to see.

Some time lat­er I realised the sun had dropped low in the sky, time was get­ting on and I had not yet sort­ed where I’m going to stay and I need­ed to cook din­ner, so one more wave and it was back to the van. I grabbed my cam­era before leav­ing though and took a walk back to the beach for a few shots.

With the sun low in the sky, it was time to leave Saunton Sands
With the sun low in the sky, it was time to leave Saun­ton Sands

Know­ing I would be in Newquay on Sat­ur­day, I planned to stop at a camp­site some­where half way, close to the A39 Atlantic High­way. The Atlantic High­way is a great road, espe­cial­ly when qui­et, as it was when I trav­elled, the sweep­ing cor­ners and hills, togeth­er with a smooth sur­face make it fun to dri­ve and glimpses of the Atlantic often come into site along the route. I was now get­ting hun­gry so did­n’t hang around enjoy­ing the scenery too much. On arrival at Pen­halt Farm, it was almost com­plete­ly dark, I could just about make out Wide­mouth Bay far below. The own­er of the site was a friend­ly chap, I paid just £6 for the night which is well worth it.

Once the van was set up for the evening, I start­ed prepar­ing din­ner and at the same time, watch the England/Estonia game on my iPad. Trib­ute was my ale of choice this evening, see­ing I was now in Corn­wall and was much appre­ci­at­ed. I decid­ed to cook up rose­mary and gar­lic lamb chops with pars­ley but­ter pota­toes for din­ner, quite sim­ple real­ly and full of flavour, the full recipe and method is at the bot­tom of this page.

Watching the football
Van set up, time to watch the foot­ball and cook up dinner

The next morn­ing seemed quite dark on awak­en­ing, on pulling back the cur­tains I could see why. The whole coast­line was shroud­ed in mist, some­thing to be expect­ed this time of year. I also dis­cov­ered I was pret­ty much the only per­son on the whole camp­site, the few car­a­vans dot­ted about seemed to be empty.

Campsite view
Look­ing out across Wide­mouth Bay from the camp­site at Pen­halt Farm, North Devon
Gra­nola with cher­ry com­pote and banana at The Water­shed, Newquay

It was also a lit­tle chilly so I thought I’d fire up the Propex heater for a few min­utes and snooze in bed, but after just a minute or so, the heater had stopped, the light on the con­troller was flash­ing. Straight away I realised I had ran out of gas, absolute­ly gut­ted as I could­n’t even make a cup of tea, yet alone cook up break­fast. There­fore, the best thing to do was to pack up and move on, I did­n’t have too much time before I was plan­ning to meet a mate in Newquay anyway.

After an hour or so, and a stop at a garage to pick up some propane, I was in Newquay. Hav­ing not had any break­fast I was quite hun­gry by this point, so after meet­ing up with my mate Matt, we grabbed break­fast at the cafe upstairs in the Water­shed, Newquay which is a great lit­tle cafe, this set us up good for a surf session.

It was late morn­ing before we took to the water at Fis­tral, we watched for a while and fig­ured mid-beach would be good for us. Just as we were leav­ing the van, I heard a knock­ing com­ing from what seemed like the inside of the van. I then thought it might be the hand­brake so gave the van a bit of a nudge, the knock­ing increased slight­ly, very strange. I thought the van seemed fair­ly sol­id so set off any­way, it’s then when I noticed the cheeky seag­ull tap­ping his beak on my shiny front bumper, obvi­ous­ly think­ing he was hav­ing a go at anoth­er bird.

We last­ed in the water no more than 10 min­utes, we found once in, the waves were quite fat, and with the large crowds, it was­n’t too much fun, so we thought we’d see what it was like around the head­land and Towan, this was a mis­take. There was­n’t any­thing there except for a bit of wind chop. We hung around for a lit­tle while, catch­ing a few tiny waves, I even pearled and wiped out on what could­n’t have been more than a 1ft wave, just from try­ing too hard. We decid­ed to call it a day, Matt had to work lat­er and I need­ed to sort out a camp­site to stay for the night.

My orig­i­nal plan for the week­end was to leave Newquay and head to South Devon, pick­ing up the surf at Ban­tham for Sun­day, but see­ing we had not achieved much in Newquay, I chose to find some­where local to stay and meet up again with Matt on the Sun­day. The fore­cast was still look­ing good, 2–3ft with up to 13s peri­ods, off­shore light winds.

After leav­ing Matt I seemed to dri­ve around for ages try­ing to find a camp­site, I want­ed to stay fair­ly local, but not in a ‘hol­i­day park’ type of place, these are great for fam­i­lies with kids but I just need some­where to park up. I even­tu­al­ly gave up try­ing to find some­where as most had closed in Sep­tem­ber, I end­ed up stay­ing at Quar­ry­field Car­a­van Park. By the time I arrived it was dark any­way, so just a case of set­tling down for the night. A cou­ple of ales and a movie and I was ready to sleep.

Next morn­ing, I was up with enough time to cook up some pan­cakes before meet­ing up for anoth­er surf. I had bought some straw­ber­ries before leav­ing home, these were in the fridge so nice and fresh still.

By 10am I was packed up and back in Newquay. There was plen­ty of time to get back in the water so we took a dri­ve around some of the local beach­es to see if we could get away from the crowds. The first stop was at Pol­ly Joke, this is a small bay to the south of Newquay which rarely picks up swell, fac­ing north west. It was a good place to take a lit­tle walk though. There is a Nation­al Trust car park here which is accessed by a small road through the Trea­go Farm camp site, this is where I should have stayed and will do in future as it’s in a love­ly set­ting on Nation­al Trust land.

There are two fam­i­lies of seals at Poly Joke, one either side of the bay, one was swim­ming across when we were there, I’ve not yet come across a seal when surf­ing, but I’m not look­ing for­ward to it, they’re huge.

After Poly Joke, we took a quick look at Cran­tock, the tide was a long way out but again, it did­n’t look too good so we decid­ed we would just take on Fis­tral again. We were parked up and in our wet­suits by mid­day and ready to get in.

The surf was real­ly good at Fis­tral, Matt caught quite a few waves on his board but I was strug­gling, I was not in the best of shape as I had lapsed on my exer­cis­ing while I had my recent cold, but I was also strug­gling again with crowds, by time I decid­ed to just take off at them, I was get­ting tired so then decid­ed to leave Matt out back and take on some scraps on the inside, this was good fun and I knew if there was nobody else on the wave, I would have it. Over­all though, it was a poor ses­sion for me, I just did­n’t get it together.

It was now mid after­noon and time to think about get­ting home, so I dropped Matt off at the Hotel Cal­i­for­nia and head­ed back on the A30.

Rosemary and garlic lamb chops with parsley butter potatoes

Serves 2–4


[tab title=“Equipment Required”]

  • 1 large fry­ing pan
  • 1 medi­um saucepan with lid
  • 1 small saucepan
  • 2 hobs
  • 1 Fridge (if not cook­ing straight away)
  • 2 plates
  • Kitchen tow­el
  • Alu­mini­um foil
  • 1 good kitchen knife
  • Cut­lery


[tab title=“Ingredients”]

Lamb Cutlets - Ingredients

  • 2–4 lamb cut­lets, trimmed of fat and bones wrapped in alu­mini­um foil
  • 450g Jer­sey Roy­al potatoes
  • Large knob of butter
  • Hand­ful of fresh pars­ley, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 table­spoon of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary


[tab title=“Cooking Method”]

  1. Cook the pota­toes in boil­ing salt­ed water until ten­der, 35 to 40 min­utes. This can be done while you cook the lamb cutlets.
  2. Sprin­kle the lamb cut­lets with salt and pepper
  3. Add the knob of but­ter to a plas­tic bowl and place on top of the pota­toes until the but­ter melts
    Lamb Cutlets - Melting butter
  4. Stir the pars­ley into the melt­ed butter
  5. Heat a fry­ing pan to a medi­um heat
  6. Add the olive oil, lamb cut­lets, gar­lic cloves and 2 sprigs of rosemary
  7. Fry the cut­lets until they are gold­en brown and cooked to your lik­ing, 3–4 min­utes on each side
  8. Remove the cut­lets from the pan and set aside
  9. Toss the but­ter mix with the drained pota­toes and sea­son with salt and pepper
    Lamb Cutlets - Tossing potatoes


[tab title=“To Serve”]

To serve, place the lamb on a plate, gar­nish with a sprig of rose­mary and top with a fried gar­lic clove and add the potatoes.



The Blue Moon Rising at Wilton Windmill


Just a little alteration to the bedding

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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