When we made our plans for our life on the road, we were definitely dreaming of warmer weather, sunshine and beaches. We had also planned to start our new life in Spring. But we got impatient after our tour last summer so we brought our plans forward. Even so, we had planned to get over to the south of Europe as soon as possible for a slightly warmer winter.
But in the words of John Lennon, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. And as such, we are now travelling and camping in winter in the UK in big storms, sub-zero temperatures, rain and the odd bit of sunshine, all while we wait to complete on our new house in Brixham which needs a bit of work doing on it when we get it. So far, there is no sign of us getting the keys anytime soon, so we’re staying put in the UK for now.
As we’re here now, we are taking the opportunity to explore the West Country, and really taking our time for it. We both absolutely love Cornwall and Devon and so far we’ve enjoyed stops at some beautiful places along the North Devon and north Cornwall coast (you can see the details of each stop on our Facebook page).
Winter camping has some very definite positives to it. For example, places are quieter, roads are quieter, parking is cheaper and free places to stop over are easier to find. Tourist attractions that would normally be really busy are now just for us. And the people we meet along the way have more time, so we get to spend more time talking with them and learning about them and the communities they live in.
For example, today I enjoyed listening to a shop keeper in Boscastle tell the story of a French tourist who asked to try on some shorts. As the shop keeper tried to point him to the changing room, the tourist decided to whip off his bottoms to reveal… everything! No pants! I thought that was a hilarious story.
It’s also really nice to get cosy in Rex while it’s stormy outside, reading a book, or doing some work on this blog or on photography or videography or some crochet, or just watching a film. We have a renewed appreciation for a hot steaming mug of tea, which is just lovely on a winter’s day.
Of course, there are also some challenges and limitations that come with winter camping. The weather plays a bigger role. When we were working, we would mostly be cooped up in the office so if it rained it didn’t really matter. And you don’t notice the wind as much when you’re sleeping in a house. Now, the wind and rain sound just that little bit worse than it really is. And rain means mud, which means dirt which means cleaning and washing. It also means the coastal path can be just that little bit more tricky to walk along. Luckily we have some good all weather gear, so we’re ready for any weather and a bit of rain doesn’t stop us.
A practical challenge during winter can be keeping the leisure batteries topped up with very limited daylight hours and even less sunlight. Driving helps, but we’re driving a lot less each day now, so without the extra power from a 2-hour drive, the solar panel (apparently called Solar Sam… you’ll need to speak to Stuart about that…) struggles to charge up to full again. And if the weather is bad, we spend more time in Rex and we use more battery power. So we’re getting quite inventive with our use of power, and how/when we charge up.
The best thing about the last week or so has been a renewed appreciation of the simple things, and taking less things for granted. It makes everything feel just that little bit better!