Happy Campers

Chilly days in Danbury

Delia in Danbury

Ugh. The nights are drawing in and the days are getting cold. In years gone by it’s been very tempting to sit indoors with the heating on, but having a Camper on the drive means we’ve spent far more afternoons outdoors in spite of the season.

There’s something quite magical about heading out on a chilly day, driving into the woods and parking up with a brew on the go. The gas hob is surprisingly effective at heating up the van, so the three of us who took Delia off to Danbury Country Park this afternoon were snug as the proverbial bugs in rugs (or, more accurately, on rugs, as we dug out the fleece and threw it across the back seat) as we waited for our coffee to boil.

I know I’m biased, but she looked great sitting there among the trees, and she got a lot of admiring glances from the passing walkers — particularly from the kids.

We didn’t actually walk, which some might say means we missed the point, but I don’t think we did. We had a wonderful picnic sitting at the table in the back of the van. We were protected from the elements and bookended our trip out with a lovely drive through the countryside.

Can’t get better.

Rich in Delia in Danbury Country Park

Campervans go east

Delia in Bradwell Village

We took out both Delia and Floyd for a good run through the Essex countryside this weekend. They loved it, and they proved to be a great couple of bases for exploring an area none of us knew very well.

We rented a low top campervan from Campervan Finder and took a circuitous route out of Chelmsford, and then along the Dengie Peninsular to a holiday park at Steeple Bay. It’s probably not the first place you’d think of when Essex comes to mind, but the peninsular, which runs roughly from Danbury out to Bradwell, is great for walking, and bird-watching if that’s your thing, courtesy of the extremely broad views across Osea Island and the north sea inlet. We walked for a couple of hours without seeing another soul — it was just us, the sheep and the salt marshes.

We’d pitched up for the night on a couple of hardstanding plots with electric hook ups, which really came into their own after dinner and bingo, as the sun went down and we lit ourselves up for cards and wine in our cosy campers.

Playing cards in Floyd

After an excellent night’s sleep, we struck out further east this morning — towards Bradwell, which is best known for the nuclear power station. That’s a shame as it’s actually a very pretty part of the world, and home to some lovely villages. In fact, the picture at the top of this post is Delia in Bradwell Village.

And just look how excited Sal was to be taking Floyd there, too. Here she is driving him out of Steeple Bay…

Sal in Floyd

If you haven’t explored that part of the country then we’d highly recommend it — even if you just head out in the car for the day. It’s pretty much a perfect mix of picturesque villages, wide open skies and waterside walks.

Campers at Hylands Park

Floyd at Hylands car park

We took advantage of the last of the summer sunshine and took Floyd on a little trip to Hylands Park in Chelmsford on Sunday afternoon.  He had plenty of space inside for scooters and bikes as well as me and two kids and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to get out in the Essex countryside!

We started off with a little scoot around the house and a look at the exhibits in the sculpture trail in the pleasure gardens containing work from talented Essex sculptors. The boys particularly loved the spidery webs hanging from the trees, while my favourite was the fiery dragon protecting the beautiful lawns.

Pool at Hylands House

After feeding the ravenous ducks and a plethora of koi carp, we swapped scooters for bikes and set off in search of conkers. While most of the conkers were still sitting very comfortably on their branches, we managed to find enough to fill our pockets up, ready to install by our doors and windows at home in an attempt to keep the spiders out of the house. I don’t think it actually works, but always make me feel a bit better knowing they’re there!

It felt like we managed to cover almost all the 500 acres of beautiful parkland at Hylands after that, heading away from the house down to the Serpentine lake where there were a few more ducks waiting to be fed. After a short breather, we headed back up the hill at a slightly slower pace and back to Floyd for a cheeky hot chocolate and piece of cake!

Hylands House