New Bongo buddies!

On our Isle of Wight holiday we met, not one, but two sets of people on their first overnighter in their Bongo. This reminded me of our first trip in Bernice to Northmoor Lock in June 2014 with a weeny SC. It’s a beautiful site in Oxfordshire where you can swim in the river, have campfires and canoe to the pub.

It was exciting to meet Lisa and Gail at Grange Farm on their first overnighter with their fabulous new Betty Bongo.

They were accompanied by their 5 yr old grandson T. The kids became best buddies and tore around together playing footie, scooting and poking around the Bongos. I love the transient mini communities that pop up when camping, ours also included Maisie, Asher and Boo the poodle in the VW on the other side.

It was lovely to have some camping buddies and we spent most of Thursday on the beach trying out Lisa’s amazing inflable sofa type thing until it got a puncture and gracefully deflated. Despite having the whole beach at their disposal the kids were obsessed with a small pool of water with a splinter inducing wooden bridge.

There was sun (lots of sun!) and buckets and rock pooling and a boat and so the day passed in a happy, slightly sunburnt, haze.

Just as we were steeling ourselves to get up, pack up and drive to Cowes for the ferry on Saturday we spied a welcome distraction of another Bongo + owner. Jem bought his Bongo as a retirement present and had a busy schedule of trips planned.

I would never describe myself as a expert but I am definitely a Bongo geek and it’s always fun nosing in others vans, sharing your top storage tips and swapping camping stories, successful and otherwise. The people are one of the main reasons I love camping. You’d never have enough in common to get chatting with loads of people in an all inclusive hotel but I’ve had the best tips for days out in the washing up room and the chip van queue.

Here’s to Bongo friends, old, new and not met yet! The last instalment of highlights of the Isle of Wight is coming….

Highlights of the Island – part 1

I recently became aware of a well known abbreviation relating to text on the internet. TL;DR means “too long; didn’t read”. Whilst I could apply this liberally to my work email and almost everything sent to me by the Labour Party I don’t want it to be used in relation to my blog. In light of this I have tried to spread out the highlights of our trip to the Isle of Wight into two (or maybe three) posts so bear with me.

One of our highlights was definitely the campsite. We stayed at Grange Farm which is in Brighstone on the south west of the island. It’s a lovely non-commercial site perched on the cliff and only 100 yards to the beach.

Gorgeous view of the sea (and a fellow Bongo!)

It has all the usual facilities you’d expect, showers, washing up, playground etc but it is also working farm with goats, donkeys, alpacas, chickens, bunnies and turkeys. There’s an Aladdin’s cave of a shop selling all kind of things you didn’t know you needed plus the most amazing croissants and baguettes which are baked on site.

There’s also an iron and ironing board available which was a great relief to me. Got to keep one’s standards up when camping 😂

It’s a short, steep walk to the beach but definitely worth it. This is about as busy as it got….

After our gloomy start the weather picked up and stayed glorious for the rest of our stay. Following her fall on the ferry SC had stoically sat through having her various cuts and scrapes inexpertly examined, dabbed, poked, washed and redressed so, as a treat, we decided that our first day out would be to Robin Hill Country Park in Newport which looked to be chock full of 5yr old girl pleasing things.

And so it was. Highlights included:

  • Owl show – lots of swooping owls close to your head and comedy commentary. Did you know that the “wise old owl” is in fact a myth? Most of their heads are taken up with their eyes and their brains are very small…..
  •  Toboggan run – there’s a quarter mile toboggan run which is great fun. Given the ruinous entry fee to the park it’s a bit a nerve that you have to pay separately for this however (£1.50 for adults, 50p age 3-7)
  • 4D cinema – this was awesome. 3D glasses plus the seats tilt in all directions plus a smoke machine! I felt like I was actually on the moon. When is all cinema going to be 4D?
  • Pirate ship ride – you know when your child goes back to school you want them to talk about all the enriching and educational activities they did over the holidays? I think that having three goes in a row on the pirate ship will probably feature more heavily in SC’s account. I swear because there was no queue the bloke just let it swing on for ages – SC was absolutely delighted, I needed an ice cream to recover.

As well as the big stuff there is beautiful wooded grounds, roman remains, a sculpture trail, falconry and tonnes of play areas. A great day out was had by all and I highly recommend it.

Is there anything nicer than getting back to your campsite on a lovely sunny evening with nothing to worry about except what to have for tea and whether to play Guess Who or Uno? In fact, at Grange Farm, you never have to worry about going hungry, they have a full programme of visiting food vans – curry, wood fired pizza, fish & chips in rotation!

On returning we spied the arrival of a new Bongo and speculated in whispers about whether we should go over and give a big Bongo welcome. We did and you can read more about that to follow….. 🚐🚐

Bernice on the Island

Bernice’s triumphant return and our half term holiday to the Isle of Wight had an inauspicious start when SC fell down a full flight of outside stairs on the ferry leaving her covered in nasty scrapes and howling.

Whilst the Red Funnel staff were delightful, helpful and concerned they were also lacking in any basic first aid supplies and someone had to be dispatched to the kitchen to get some industrial sized blue catering plasters while we mopped up the blood as best we could.

We had already long docked at East Cowes by this point so we were no one’s favourite people as we ran the length of the boat carrying a bawling SC to where Bernice was blocking the exit to the car deck.

And thus began our holiday on the Isle of Wight….

Last smile for a while…..

We were booked into Grange Farm campsite in Brightstone Bay on the south west of the island. We arrived in a persistent drizzle and found a spot supposedly overlooking the sea although the fog was so dense you could barely see your Bongo from six foot away.

I’ve got a confession to make. I love camping, I really do and as a camping blogger I feel I should be intrepid and enthusiastic embracing the amazing possibilities of every new place we arrive in.

As anyone that knows me will tell you I don’t actually deal well with change and, with SC still below par, spent the first evening mooching about despondently in the rain finding unwarranted fault with everything at the campsite.
We needn’t have worried though as sunnier times we’re just around the corner!