I went to sleep a few nights ago craving the rare experience of waking under canvas, I had a weird hankering to go camping… I miss the sound of the traditional British rain under the stars, lanterns, a thermos full of tea, card games and warm beer with friends…. What’s crazy, I thought, is the fact that I have all the gear ready to go after a fair few camping excursions over the years, so what was stopping me?!
… A Saturday morning of the last bank holiday weekend of the year, that’s what!
Every campsite along the Norfolk, Kent & Suffolk coast was booked up, pitch by pitch. Just as I was losing all hope (and baking a banana & chocolate chip loaf cake to console myself) I received a call back from my most favourite campsite (Sandie & Graham at Bailiffs Cottage in Hollesley are just superstars!) in Suffolk to advise me of a cancellation… this pitch was mine!
So a fast shower, a quick fanning of the loaf cake to cool it down, wrapping it up in a tea towel for the journey and I was off on my very first adventure for my “Around the world in 80 stays challenge”.
This wasn’t quite the exotic, luxurious stay I was hoping for to kick off this challenge, however with a small budget required and the peace and quiet of the outdoors, it truly appealed and really was a fantastic way to start me off on my way after a hectic few months at Stir Up Media.
The UK has some truly stunning scenery and places of beauty, with Suffolk being one of those places never to be ignored. I’ve had my fair share of stays in Aldeburgh, Dunwich & Southwold, but I much prefer to go a little off the tourist trail and head to Bawdsey, Orford (take a walk on Orford Ness if you EVER get the chance – it’s a curious, eery and equally relaxing place) and Shingle Street for a much more isolated & relaxing weekend retreat.
Bailiffs Cottage is host to a stunning secret garden full of rose bushes, vegetable patches and hens laying eggs for your breakfast, it’s a superb place to pitch up for a few days. With only a handful of well-spaced pitches, it’s wise to book ahead (ahem!) and as it’s a “Caravan Club” location, it’s not easy to find online and doesn’t attract hoards of people – it’s perfect for a peaceful break.
Along with my Vango Icarus 500 tent (a beast it is too!) and even my own duo camping stove with foldaway pots, pans & kettle, it was the perfect home away from home… however we forgot the gas canister needed to prepare any means of hot food or drink. So, instead of scrambled eggs on toasted sour dough bread (sourced from Pump Street Bakery), I had to make do with warm cheese sandwiches and some sweet treats (their butter tart was the single best sweet tart I’ve ever eaten – next time, I’m not sharing!) from said favourite bakery.
Luckily, I had prepared a large thermos of hot water to make tea & coffee on arrival to go with the banana bread (with an extra topping of Nutella & fresh banana, ooooh!) so we were still happy and toasty warm on the chilly mornings throughout the trip. In fact, this decorative thermos came all the way from the Philippines and the water stays hot for over two days, it’s blimmin’ terrific – who needs a hotel with a luxury tea tray and shortbread biscuits when you’ve got this sort of deliciousness under canvas?!… Ok, don’t answer that!
There’s also been a fun little game I’ve wanted to play for some time, simply titled “Roadside Bingo” where you stop at those little side tables along the road, stocking up on the random food and produce on sale at each stop to create a meal or two. We parked at many different stands over the two days, collecting homemade blackberry & plum jam, various boxes of eggs to take home… we even spotted a nifty cool-box hamper with fresh Cromer crabs to take down to the local beach – I love Suffolk!
The weekend involved early mornings curled up in fluffy blankets, 50p pieces for a hot shower, puppy walks along the stony beaches, reading magazines & books between afternoon power naps, exploring castles & old WW2 bunkers along the coast (and a few banged heads along the way!) as well as roast dinners in cosy pubs (The Sorrel Horse a mile down the road is perfect!) and not forgetting delicious cream teas overlooking the local quay.
If the only luxuries I need with me to make it homely are a few cups of Yorkshire tea, some home-baked treats (of which could have won me some new friends, SHOULD I have fancied sharing!) and a “real feel” inflatable king sized bed, then I’m all for it – I love a bit of a camping. For £16 a night, we pitched our tent for 2 nights, paying an extra £1 towards Cats Protection for my puppy companion tagging along for the ride.
Sandie & Graham welcome you with open arms and freshly grown produce a plenty, so do expect to enjoy locally sourced & seasonal food throughout your stay. In fact, a little tip…they can get low on eggs at Bailiffs Cottage (a very popular option for the resident campers & caravaners) so nab some on arrival to avoid disappointment – at just £1.10 per half a dozen, you’d be stupid not to indulge!
My first #80Stays trip was just what I needed to help relax me… It didn’t cost the earth, I’ve enjoyed some leisurely long walks, delicious & simple food and I haven’t come home with a cricked neck (for a change) so, a good call all round! The one downside to camping, especially with a puppy in tow?!.. The sand, mud and dribbled water… Everywhere. I believe I’ve been on my knees with a dustpan & brush at least four times like a good little tent-wife…gah!
Oh, and that feeling of “I really don’t want to get the tent down in that wind and rain” and deliberating for a good two hours whilst it spits large raindrops… only to actually take it down in an all-out hail storm – just typical of my luck!
Now, to make the second stay just as relaxing and fun…
But, where to go?!
Read more about my “Around The World In 80 Stays” challenge here & please get in touch if you would like to help, make a suggestion or get involved in any way.
More information on Bailiffs Cottage here.