Simple pleasures.

Simple pleasures. Some thoughtless campers fail to dampen a weekend in Devon.

One of the many joys of Carawagon ownership is that through the summer months I try to keep it in a ‘ready to go’ state, so that if the forecast is good and we have a free weekend we can, with the absolute minimum of forward planning, get away for a few days. That opportunity popped up at the beginning of July and a quick scan of the weather forecast indicated that the south coast would be a wise option. Over several years of such trips this process is now honed to perfection. The interior of the Carawagon is a masterpiece of ergonomic design and offers good storage facilities, so cupboards are kept topped up with spare clothes, non perishable foods, cutlery and plates etc. The fridge as always well stocked with beers and wine, so with the addition of some fresh provisions, we can be ready to roll in under an hour.

The revelation that I touched briefly on in a column last year is the addition of a slow cooker, run off a 240 volt inverter. I can’t begin to tell you just how reassuring it is to smell your supper cooking whilst trundling down the M5. The cooker itself was bought at a car boot sale for £1 and my inverter cost about £45. The planned meal for our Friday night was a Moroccan casserole*. Dead easy - diced mutton, dried apricots, vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar, onions, some fresh rosemary and thyme. Bung it all in the cooker and drive 300 miles! it certainly beats wrapping things in foil and lashing them to the exhaust manifold.

We have a favourite camp site in south Devon offering good sea views and minimal facilities, so it seemed logical to head there hoping they would not be full. The M5 is never pleasant on a Friday night heading south, and it was 11.30 pm when we finally switched off the 200 Tdi engine and raised the Carawagon’s roof. A cool can of lager barely touched the sides and the casserole was enjoyed with a magical view of the sea reflecting a full moon.

Saturday dawned sunny with a clear blue sky and we made a more permanent job of our camp. We fitted the awning to the rear of the Carawagon to extend the living space, then took our Honda C90 off the trailer to give us some transport independent of the Land Rover. Deck chairs were opened up and total relaxation stretched ahead of us. Lazy hours were passed watching boats out at sea and reading magazines. I was just wondering whether it was too early to crack open a small beer, when a chap strolled over and asked if this was the Land Rover he’d seen in Land Rover World? Flattered at the recognition (It has only happened once before and that was at the LRW Show at Eastnor, parked under a sign saying ‘Staff Land Rovers’ - bit of a give away!) Simon told me he had a Series 2a LWB that he was trying to ease through an MOT. It was currently struggling with 22 failing points! We had half an hour of intensive Landy chat until both of our partners were giving us looks and we went back to our respective deck chairs.

By mid afternoon I was getting restless so we took the Honda and rode into town to find some food for the evening. However, our idyllic bliss was to be short lived. When we returned to the camp site some newcomers had encroached on our space! About ten tents, five cars, noisy children and two dogs. One of the invaders cars was parked just a metre from the Land Rover. In a large, unregulated camp site I guess you can pitch camp wherever you like but I find such a wholesale invasion of privacy remarkably inconsiderate when the rest of the field had acres of space. I stomped off to find an alternative spot and a small group of fellow campers offered sympathy and suggested we moved to their, relatively empty, end of the site. I would not want to drive far like it, but it is possible to lift the pegs that hold the awning down and drive the length of a field with the roof up and the awning flapping around like a galleon under full sail. Another couple, similarly disgruntled joined us and actually managed to carry their lit fire over as well!

An invitation was offered to us refugees to gather around their fire later for a few beers and laugh. An offer too good to miss and we ended up sharing a very jolly evening with a party of complete strangers talking about all manner of subjects while the fire kept the chill of the evening away. A perfect camping weekend.

*There are several recipes on the internet for the Moroccan Casserole. Simply put ‘Moroccan Lamb Tagine’ into a search engine. Highly recommended!

Toby camp.jpeg: Warm sunshine and a field overlooking the Devon coastline are all that is required for a perfect weekend camping in this classic 1970 Carawagon. The original awning doubles the useable space.

Toby fire.jpeg: There are still some campsites that allow fires and few things can beat the camaraderie of enjoying a few beers around a crackling log fire.

Toby food.jpeg: Four hours gently stewing in a bargain slow cooker on the M5 and Toby and partner Jo were able to enjoy a delicious Moroccan Lamb Casserole on arrival in Devon.

July 2009.