Weston ‘STORMY’ Mare!
One of the benefits of my place of employment is that I get the whole Christmas period off. I’ve decided upon a ‘mini break’ between Christmas and New Year, somewhere along the coast. The nearest place that comes to mind is Western Super Mare, only a couple of hours drive south down the M5. Neither my girlfriend or I have been there for years, so we both agree, we’d like to go. The two of us plan to be away for just the one night, spend the day together at the sea side, before heading back to celebrate the new year with the rest of our family. After a quick search on ukcampsite.co.uk I find a small site just 300yds from the beach. It’s well out of season but after a quick phone call to the owner, we have somewhere to stay for the night.
I pack light (one of the benefits of an impromptu one nighter), taking with me just a spare change of underwear, a coat, my phone, wallet and the dog. It may seem a cliche, but I can assure you this is true: my girlfriend has packed a suitcase! I outwardly smile, though through gritted teeth, complain “you’ll never need any of this…”. Yet I still do exactly as I’m told and load the case in the high top!
All packed and carrying enough of my girlfriends clothing for a three week holiday, we set off on our journey. The big plus to travelling in the middle of this festive period is roads with little traffic. I’m glad of this, not only have the heavens opened reducing our visibility, but the wind has picked up, pushing Rita from left to right, causing me to fight with the wheel to maintain any sort of lane discipline. It’s a relief to head off the motorway in the end, the wind a little less potent once we’re no longer so exposed. Using the SAT NAV to guide us the rest of the way, takes us down tiny little coastal roads. These become increasingly tight and so steep in places I become convinced we’re going to end up falling off a cliff into the sea! There’s no chance of us turning around, so I have to put my trust in both our modern electronic device and Rita’s not so modern brakes! In the end Rita’s brakes hold out, the SAT NAV proves it does know where it’s going and we arrive safely at a tiny little track opposite the beach: Sand Farm Lane.
The deluge has reduced the lane to a mud track, reminiscent of an ‘off road’ course. Huge pools of muddy water, of unknown depth, lie between us and the farm gate. Cautiously I drive through them, a little concerned we’ll end up getting stuck! With the gate barring our entrance and no solid ground to stand on, I telephone the owner, who comes out to greet us wearing wellingtons and clad head to toe in waterproofs. I wind down a window and after a brief (and wet) conversation, I pay her the £15 to stay. She seems a little surprised we’ve actually turned up in such conditions! Once inside the farm there is a tarmac track leading out to the fields. Being the only guests, we’re advised to use this little bit of solid ground, rather than brave any of the waterlogged pitches. Understandably keen to get back inside, she points out the toilet block and electric hookup station and then leaves us to it.
Sand Farm Caravan & Camping Site, Sand Farm Lane, Sand Bay, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, BS22 9UF
Tel: 01934 620 995
We climb over the dogs cage and into the back. He wants to get out, becoming restless as soon as the vehicle became stationary. Having thought ahead though, I brought a raw bone with us so pop it inside his cage, that’s one of us happy for the next few hours! I open the roof vent and turn on the fan, hoping this will be enough ventilation to heat the kettle on the stove. Normally I’d open the window, but in these conditions, that’s impossible. We snuggle up on the bench seat with our mugs of tea, and partake in a very ‘English’ custom: discussing the weather!
As soon as there’s a lull in the storm, I grab the opportunity to jump out and get hooked up to the electrics. Once outside, conditions seem to have eased considerably. The site itself appears to be pretty basic, quite literally a farmers field. To the left hand side of us, a large Farmhouse dominates the site. To the right, sits a barn along with some stables. All around this cluster of buildings I can see fields, presumably belonging to this farm. Obviously we’ve turned up well out of season so the grass has been left to grow, how much of the land is designated for camping I can’t tell. The field we’re parked next to probably has room for about 10-12 pitches at a guess. Obviously there are electric hookup points around the field perimeter and a brick built block I’ve been told houses the toilet etc. Unfortunately, this is the other side of the waterlogged field, getting over there when the need arises will be interesting! A static caravan resides on site too. I have no idea whether this is rental accommodation or not, although if I’m brutally honest, certainly at first glance, doesn’t appear to be in a adequate condition for that purpose. I can’t see anything in the way of ‘extra’ facilities, so I think it unlikely that this site would appeal to families. However, I must make it clear, I am here totally out of season, I’m aware this may not be the case all year round.
With a break in the stormy conditions, we decide to chance it, so pop on the dogs lead and introduce him to the beach.
We take a good long walk down the coast before the inevitable happens and the rain returns. We continue on regardless hoping for a pub where we can find shelter and perhaps even have a warm meal. Unfortunately we have no such luck and quickly resemble drowned rats. Our coats offer very little resistance to the deluge, so we’re literally soaked through too our skin. We do spot a Chinese takeout, just off the main coastal road. At present it’s closed, but we punch it’s telephone number into our phones for later and head back to the site.
Back at the van we strip off our wet clothes and get ourselves dry. Then it’s the dogs turn, using up both of our towels on his own, and he’s still damp! By now you’ve guessed it? Where as my girlfriend has a suitcase of dry clothes to choose from, I sit wrapped in a sleeping bag with nothing to change into! So I’m forced to eat humble pie and admit that in hindsight she was right and I was wrong.
I get the small electric fan heater out the box for the first time and switch it on. We immediately feel the benefit as it pumps out an amazing amount of heat for it’s small size. This turns out to be an excellent buy, costing just £10 from Tesco. I think the wattage may be too high for some campsites, so perhaps I’ll need to be careful where I use it. Right now though, the van becomes toasty and warm within a few minutes. We’re now snuggled up together, warm and dry. Outside conditions continue to deteriorate. Rita, battered by the intensity of the wind, rocks from side to side, making us feel more like we’re on a boat at sea, than in a camper on land.
Using the number we obtained earlier, we order a Chinese takeaway and ask for it to be delivered to the farm. After 35 minutes we get a call to say they’re waiting outside the gate, my girlfriend braves the storm once more and I plate up. The food’s delicious. The restaurant is called TASTE, and tasty it is! I can’t find a link on the internet, but if you’re ever at Sand Bay and you feel peckish, here’s the number: 01934 424787
Our bellies full, we spend the rest of the evening playing cards and sharing a little drink. It’s nice to spend some quality ‘alone’ time together, there’s no tv, no chores to worry about, no distractions at all. Just the two of us (along with the dog & Rita), camping in the middle of what turns out to be: Storm EVA.