Like all grandparents with little ones overseas, Les Abercrombie jumped at the opportunity for time with her family
What my daughter failed to add was that her toddler would also be along for the ride. My heart sank. I couldn’t think of anything worse than four adults and a very active toddler living in a car for a week, sharing Cornwall with the rest of the UK during the summer school holidays. But (as all us grannies with children and grandchildren living far from home know) you simply have to suck it up and go with the flow.
The day dawned wet and miserable as we left London in a small car laden to the gills en route to collect our campervan. The M25 was having a bad day, so we were late collecting our vehicle – a 7x3m kombi with a bit of a raised roof. Our mound of gear was unceremoniously transferred from the car to the van, the child seat was fitted and we were off for our first night of glamping. “It shouldn’t take long, it’s only 20km to the camping site,” said one optimist. But the weather, driving an ungainly vehicle and the winding country roads of southern England got the better of us, and we arrived tired, irritable and damp, in the dark! But, it’s all about love, and even the toddler survived that first night.
The next day was sunny and warm and, after a hot shower and breakfast, we organised the interior of our new “home”. We then set off for Bude on Cornwall’s west coast to a loud, tuneless rendition of The wheels on the bus go round and round. It was a long, hard day with little CJ eventually stating, “I want out, NOW!”
Finally, we arrived at Wooda Campsite on Poughill, overlooking beautiful Bude Bay. What a delight!
Our four nights whizzed by. It’s a big, popular campsite, but the sites were spacious enough not to feel hemmed in. It was a toddler’s paradise with farm animals in petting enclosures and a well-equipped playground. The adults enjoyed an on-site pub and restaurant, tennis, fishing and rambling plus an “emergency” shop. To facilitate our lack of space, we invested in a tent where Oupa could sit and read, and where we were protected from the wind once CJ had gone to bed in the van.
Life slowed, everyone relaxed and we had fabulous, family fun without driving anywhere. We braai’ed, flew the kite and took a bus to the beach. We taught our young London-born boy about goats, sheep and cows, and Gogo mistakenly let him play on the older children’s jungle gym resulting in her running about underneath the equipment – a bit like a Trump staffer – ready to catch the body should it fall through the net. We discovered his likes and dislikes, his fears and his wonder at this amazing world – things that would have taken so much longer to learn under different circumstances.
Let’s face it, it was a learning curve for all of us, even our toddler. Living in such close proximity required infinite patience and was an exercise in true mindfulness, but in retrospect I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! I challenge all you Gogo’s and Oupa’s out there to give it a whirl.