The shake-down

Having done a couple of short weekend “shake-down” trips previously, this was to be the big one before the trip proper. The plan was a few days in Bude, Cornwall, moving onto Snowdonia, the Lake District and finishing in Suffolk. As is often the case, things didn’t exactly start off smoothly. First we were a day late setting off (packing up always takes longer than anticipated!), then having finally got on the road, after an hour in we received an SOS from Marcello’s brother. Already in Bude enjoying a few waves, Juliano “misplaced” his car keys on the beach (or as he says, they were stolen …), so we did an about-turn and went to collect the spare set. Back on our way, and with London behind us, our next hurdle was the bank holiday traffic. Still, the surf was looking good, so it would all be worthwhile. Nine hours later and in heavy rain, we finally reach the campsite. Unfortunately after all that, heros we were not: the keys we’d carefully retrieved were for the family’s previous Jeep (perhaps kept for sentimental reasons??!). Luckily Fiona was willing to step into the breach and came down to join us the following day, leaving the Jubilee celebrations behind her.


Despite the majority of our stay in Bude being wet and windy, we had a great time with the family and enjoyed some fabulous wine, champagne, braais (BBQs), oysters … a definite hint towards glamping! It was also nice to catch up over a few drinks with Bude friends. And the Inn on the Green never fails to provide some interesting characters to entertain!


The next stop was to be Wales, but with the weather doing its best to imitate the monsoon, we all headed back to London instead. For us it was a quick pit-stop to get a few more things organised before heading to the Lake District.


After another long drive, and the inevitable traffic delays (we’d best get used to these!), our first destination was Glenridding, Ullswater. The rain just kept coming, but looking on the positive side, this gave us the chance to test out our latest purchase – a “lightbulb moment” from Bude – a telescopic shower rail propped up to stop the rain building up on the awning roof. Very hi-tech eh, but did the job nicely!


Our next learning experience was not the most pleasant, but this is what a shake-down is for and best to find out now rather than in the middle of Africa! When getting into the tent on the first night, we noticed the mattress was quite damp. With all the heavy rain we initially put this down to wet clothes/rain getting in when the “door” was open. However, despite drying the mattress off in the farm’s shed, it got worse (soggy mattress, duvet and PJs!). So on closer inspection, despite assurances that it wouldn’t be the tent, the rain was in fact getting in through the zip seams. Still, problem identified meant it could be a problem solved (bigger flysheet!).


Our time in the Lakes took us from Glenridding, to Buttermere and finished in Wasdale. Each of the camping options providing us with some interesting camp-mates – in Glenridding we were amused to find a family of sheep that looked like they’d driven down and set up camp themselves (see the photo)! Then in Buttermere we had some very curious chickens clucking round checking us out and looking for scraps. All quite fun until they started emptying their bowels in our “kitchen”! Still, I guess they were there first … Our final camp was the National Trust campsite in Wasdale, which is in a fantastic location at the end of the lake with trees all around. Looking out of the tent at the treetops brought on a real excitement for what that view would be like in the various locations to come.


We did some fantastic walks, including Striding Edge and Scafell Pike: the scenery in the Lake District never fails to impress and it was great to have the chance to spend time in this wonderful part of England before leaving it behind for a while. Although, unfortunately for Marcello, despite the start of the ascent to Scafell Pike looking promising, he still didn’t get that elusive clear summit.


So all in all it was a great practice run and a taste of what life will be like over the next however many months. Next was to be back to London via Birmingham and Suffolk to say the goodbyes, buy those last useful bits, finalise the paperwork and tweak the packing. More to follow on this soon …



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