Campervan First Trip

We bought a campervan on Saturday, got the camping equipment on Sunday, and set off on Monday!
We spent about a week viewing new and used campervans, and with the help of the members of the VW California Club – quickly made a decision to buy on Saturday. I will write up more later about our decision to get a VW Campervan soon.

Campervan at Woolacombe
Campervan at Woolacombe

I knew we would be nervous about getting out there and doing the first trip, so we just wanted to get it done. Sophie’s parents and family were holidaying down in Devon this week so we thought we could head over there and potientially meet up with them. We only planned on staying away for 2 nights as we thought this would be a good test to see what other equipment and camping stuff we would need.

Leaving things to the last minute as we usually do we didn’t have a lot of campsite options that had space with electric hookup. But we found one and booked it on Monday morning just before we set off.

As we were driving down the hill to Woolacombe and our campsite we saw a couple of fire engines and soon realized that the campsite that we were staying at was on fire! The main facilities building that housed the reception, bar, swimming pool and sauna had caught fire! Thankfully nobody was hurt, and after a couple of hours at the beach and a fish n chips supper we headed back and were allowed in.

The reception was moved to a bungalow near the site entrance, and although they had no record of our booking they slotted us in. All credit to them for continuing to run and sort things out after such a stressful event!

Unfortunately the fire had knocked out a lot of the electrics in the park and so our hook up point wasn’t working. That was the assumption anyway – or there was something wrong with it in the van! Either way, we had to use the leisure battery to cool the fridge and turned it off once it got cold. It stayed cold enough during the night which was the main concern.

The weather started to take a turn for the worse once we were allowed into the park. Really windy, and heavy showers. I’d read some tips on the VW California Club forums about pointing the van so the lowest point of the raised roof was in the direction of wind and this seemed to work. While we still did get moved a bit by large gusts – it was nothing compared to the battering people in tents were getting. It was certainly a good test for the van, and I think we can now be safe in the knowledge that it can take most of the bad wind and rain conditions the UK can throw at it.

bad weather at Woolacombe
bad weather at Woolacombe

Sleeping arrangements worked out great. Isabel slept in the boot – which she thought was a great adventure, and Sophie and I slept in the roof. With Sophie being 3 months pregnant I’m not sure how much longer she will be able to get up on the top bunk – but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Isabel in her boot bed!
Isabel in her boot bed!

The campsite was Europa Park and it was ok, but with the swimming pool closed and the weather looking like heavy showers and windy we decided to pack up and head over to meet Sophies family near Westward Ho! It took about 15 minutes to pack everything away apart from the roof which I waited until Sophie came back to lower so she could check the material wasn’t getting snagged in the roof mechanism from the outside.

We met up with the Calienda’s and gave the tour of the van which we have done a few times. It is good fun showing them all the storage, gadgets and clever things that are packed in. Sophies dad has a Mazda Bongo campervan, but I reckon we might see him in a VW soon!
After hanging out at a windy and cold beach for a few hours as the kids hunted for fish and crabs in the rock pools we set off again. We didn’t want to head back to Woolacombe as that was going away from home – so we set off either with the aim of finding a campsite close by or just driving back to Reading. A few miles the other side of Bideford we came across Riverside Caravan and Camping Park¬†and they had space for us that night. The site had a small river flowing through it and 3 fishing lakes which would be great for any anglers out there.

This campsite was really nice with gravel parking areas for the hookup spots. We plugged in and the electric hookup was all working which was great so we could leave the fridge on overnight. It was a relief to know the hookup worked as it should. The Riverside campsite had a restaurant and bar on site so we ate there that night as the shop didn’t have much food for us to cook and we didn’t really fancy getting the stove and stuff unpacked.

South Molton Riverside Caravan and Camping Park
South Molton Riverside Caravan and Camping Park

The only meal we really had in the van during this first trip was the breakfast before we set off for home on Wednesday morning. Shreddies and milk was enjoyed by all. Isabel thought it was great fun eating her breakfast outside on a picnic bench. It is funny how odd little quircks bring smilies to toddlers faces.

We learnt a ton of things from this 2 night trip. Immediate things we need to buy:
– drive away awning – will give us so much more space
– CO monitor – don’t feel comfortable hooking up the gas until we have one

We have a few things coming up such as baby scans which mean we won’t be able to get away for a couple of weeks so we should get the awning sorted by then.