The day of the Blackpool Sands Beach Clean Up finally arrived, and we headed off bright and early to the beach to take part. Our beach clean up is one of over 100 taking place this week, all organised by Marks & Spencer and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). The idea is to raise awareness about sea pollution, to do something positive, and to collect information on the amount and types of rubbish on our beaches, for the MCS to use in their research.
Blackpool Sands is in the South Hams area of Devon, close to Dartmouth. It’s a beautiful stretch of coast, and this beach is a stunner. Granted, today the weather didn’t show it to its best advantage, but it was still gorgeous.
I guess about a dozen volunteers turned up, as well as two M&S organisers, who split us up into teams, and sent us off to pick over our own stretch of the beach.
I’ve been thinking about bridges recently, not least because our next big trip will see us travelling over the mighty Øresund Bridge (pic above) between Denmark and Sweden. There’s something undeniably beautiful and awe-inspiring about most big bridges that makes them a must-do part of our road trips. Of course, they’re often a teensy bit scary too, with narrow traffic lanes, too much to look at and quite a lot going on around you as you gingerly steer your van over the watery vastness below. But it all adds up to a great trip in the end, doesn’t it? Here’s my pick of five great bridges to include in your own road trips:
Øresund Bridge, between Denmark & Sweden
This is currently the bridge of my dreams. When I’m not travelling, I like to be planning and plotting where we might go next.
Well, we’ve registered today to do the Marks and Spencers/MCS Big Beach Clean-Up in a few weeks’ time. You should too! It’ll be fun, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside about actually doing something positive about the state of our beaches, and it will make a tiny, but definite difference.
Marks & Spencers have teamed up with the Marine Conservation Society to organise an annual series of beach cleaning events up and down the country. You can find out what beaches are involved on the MCS website, and then you just register to let them know you’ll be coming along. It’s a couple of hours out of one day, and all you need is a pair of thick gloves, warm clothes and a positive attitude. What could be simpler?
We’ve been touring round Europe for most of the last year, and we’ve been to a fair few beaches…Mediterranean, English Channel, Atlantic Coast…and it truly is shocking how much rubbish there is on almost every beach these days.
Writing about Martin Dorey’s wild weekends the other day, I realised that we’d been staying in Devon for two whole weeks, and we hadn’t made it to a single Devon beach. We’ve been busy, the weather’s been rubbish, yada yada…. So today we decided that things had to change, and we headed out to the nearest beach…the glorious Bantham Beach, just a couple of miles from Kingsbridge, where we’re currently staying.
It’s March and last week most of the UK saw significant snow. So we didn’t have any expectations of actually sunbathing or picnicking on the beach. But the sun was shining and it was great to clear the cobwebs and get some fresh air.
Bantham Beach is accessed via a long, long single-track road. In summer and at weekends, this road can turn into a Chelsea Tractor nightmare, with drivers who should know better just refusing to reverse even a few feet back to a passing place, preferring the ‘I will not back down, you will go back a quarter of a mile’ option.
So we’re finally back in the UK. We’ve crept up the western side of France over the last couple of weeks, staying on aires for the whole time. Hook-up was infrequent, hence no blog posts for a little while. Then, suddenly, we were at Calais and it was time to head back to the UK for a little while. We’ve got quite a lot of stuff to do whilst we’re here in the UK over the next couple of months, but we’ll still be road-tripping and blogging just the same. But we’ll be in a new van! Yes, yes, I know we change vans more often than is healthy…such is life. Anyway, we have, rather recklessly perhaps, bought Eugene Junior via eBay…without actually seeing her first! I’ll be blogging more about Eugene Junior in due course, but first a potted version of the last couple of weeks.
Maybe I’ve been sitting in the sun too much lately. For some reason, Christmas Day swimming has started to sound like a great idea. Granted I’m on the Cote D’Azur at the moment, so things could be a lot worse, but it’s still going to be cold, right? But, I’m taken with the idea, nonetheless. So I started doing a little research, and it seems there are quite a lot of nutters avid swimmers out there, as these Christmas Day swimming events are quite common. So I thought I’d do a little round-up in case any of you fancy a festive dip.
Brighton Beach Christmas Day Swim
This is very much the grand-daddy of all the Christmas swims, and has been going on for years. Years ago, it was mostly just the members of Brighton Swimming Club who got in the water, but more recently there have been a lot more members of the public taking part.
Pottering around Lincolnshire for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been surprised by two things. How busy the campsites are, and how pretty some bits of Lincolnshire (the bits where I didn’t grow up) actually are.
We’re currently camped at the Camping & Caravanning Club’s Woodhall Spa site. It’s divided into several parts – you’re either in one of several big, open grassy fields or you’re nestled in amongst the trees in a kind of woodland glade (sort of). Either way the site is great and the location is pretty without being twee, peaceful without being dull. I guess that’s why we keep coming back.
This evening we walked up to the top of the lane, to the Kirkby Moor nature reserve. Having grown up in Lincolnshire, I’m pre-conditioned to think it’s dull beyond words. But Kirkby Moor is truly lovely, a big, wide space full of grasses, heathers and ferns.
Well, we have finally arrived at the start of our mid-life gap year. It’s just after 8pm on Wednesday, and tomorrow morning we hop down the road to Dover for a mid-morning crossing to Calais. Very excited. We’re tucked up in the van on a campsite just a couple of miles outside Dover, waiting for it to be bedtime, so that we can lie awake saying “I’m so excited”…
Since we drove from my parents’ in Lincolnshire, straight here to the campsite in Dover, there’s very little to report for day 1 of our trip. The campsite, Hawthorn Farm, is immaculate and spot on for a pre-ferry overnighter but there’s little of wow to report, aside from the bunnies. Those pesky bunnies ran off when I got even remotely close with the camera, but since I like to put a photo on every blog post, this bunny pic will be it.
Bristol is my home city, so I haven’t ever camped here. But yesterday was a beautiful day, and I needed an excuse to test out my new (but pre-owned) camera, so we headed down for a stroll around Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Bristol’s city-centre campsite is adjacent to the Floating Harbour, and I’m an ardent fan of all things Bristolian, so I thought I’d write about what makes Bristol such a great place to go camping.
Camping in cities can be a bit fraught, but Bristol’s Baltic Wharf campsite is actually quite a stress-free affair. It’s really centrally located and easily accessed by main roads. But whilst it’s perfectly positioned to stroll into the city centre for shops, restaurants and sights, it’s also tucked away at the quieter end of the Harbourside, and most Bristolians probably don’t even know it’s there!
It’s a Caravan Club site, so facilities should be good.
We camped at Holmsley, in the New Forest, the night before the site closed for the season at the end of October. Thankfully, that made the site much less busy than it would be at any other time. I’m guessing that ‘busy’ at Holmsley is really very busy indeed, as the site has a whopping 600 pitches. To be fair, the pitches aren’t marked out, so a full Holmsley might not feel so crowded as a full site where the pitches are rigorously specified.
It’s a quirky kind of layout at Holmsley, owing to the fact that it’s an old WWII airfield. There’s a fair amount of concrete, with grassy areas off to the sides. We pitched on grass, fairly close to the front of the campsite. It had rained hard all week so the ground was fairly boggy, with patches of standing water.