School summer holidays, the worst time of year when Satan’s Little Disciples are out and about making the planet uninhabitable for civilized adults. This is a time of year that we normally stay at home hiding. Complete escape is impossible, of course, because even local food shopping becomes a trial as the disciples run riot around supermarkets in the unrestrained fashion that seems to be the mark of modern parenting. Don’t control them or correct them but let the little sods “express” themselves freely. What bollocks!
For some reason, this year we have broken with our tradition of many years standing and have booked in to a couple of campsites in the southwest for almost two weeks. This is totally out of character and is either an act of complete madness or of desperation. Actually, it was driven by desperation (we’ve been at home for 4 or 5 weeks now and are getting stir-crazy) and will doubtless turn out to be complete madness. Since school holidays push prices up, one normally ends up paying through the nose to live in what has become a playground. Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised. Stranger things have been known. It’s quite exciting in a scary kind of way.
Our first port of call is a Caravan Club campsite just outside Ilfracombe, Devon. Being an area we are not very familiar with, it’s quite an interesting prospect and Francine has earmarked a couple of spots of the north Devon coast to investigate for photographic opportunities. Our target campsite has no sanitary block which we’re hoping may help keep most families away. Regrettably, it looks as if the site also lacks any Wi-Fi which these days may keep even more people away.
A leisurely start saw us on the road by about 9:30 AM. My first surprise was the lack of traffic on the roads. Rush hour had dissipated and I suppose that, leaving on a Monday, most people that intended to be away for this week would already have travelled and be there. Our journey down to the junction of the M4 and M5 motorways near Bristol was a dream, relative to normal travel in Britain, that is. Then we stopped. It’s always the same around Bristol, you simply cannot funnel almost the entire westbound contents of the M4 together with the entire southbound contents of the M5 without causing problems. After about 10 minutes of stop-start things eased up a little and traffic began flowing again.
Traffic continued to flow freely until we got to within about 10 miles of our destination. We had negotiated Barnstaple, the main town in these parts, without too much difficulty but then we stopped again. There is but one major-ish road into this corner of north Devon and there is a modestly sized town on it called Braunton. A single crossroads controlled by a set of traffic lights that seem to spend about 50% of their time on all red caused havoc heading north.
We eventually broke through the other side of the traffic light jam and pitched up at about 3:00 PM. Our site is only about half full. The warden told us it’s never full so maybe the lack of sanitary block and Wi-Fi is working some magic. There’s a couple of families with rugrats and one more with disciples but at first sight it doesn’t look too bad. We found Guillaume what appears to be a relatively calm side pitch near the entrance and set up.
We went for a first early evening look at Ilfracombe. As well as countless fish and chip shops, Ilfracombe has a harbour guarded by a bizarre statue/sculpture which I believe is called Verity by Damien Hirst, apparently a son of this parish. Verity appears to be a pregnant lady standing on a pile of books holding a sword aloft in her left hand whilst holding scales behind her backside in her right hand. The skin of her left side is largely either missing or falling off. Go figure! If I can eventually find a Wi-Fi signal I’ll look it up. I can’t help but wonder if artists set out to convey a specific message or whether they just sling something strange together and wait for pseudo-intellectual critics to read an invented message into it. Yes, I am cynical and proud of it.
Had Francine spotted anything worth pointing her camera at, I was on a promise of a fish and chip supper. She didn’t. 🙁