Camber Sands holiday 2003

After the brilliant time we had at Pontins a few years ago we decided it was about time we once again experienced lumpy, shiny mattresses and smelly bedclothes. This time we were allocated Camber at the far end of East Sussex's coast for a long weekend. This time my father declined to join us for some reason, but we got to share the joys of Pontins with my sisters and their husbands and my young nephew.

Getting there

With seven of us including baby D we had to take two cars. The plan was that my sister B would do a short morning's work, then her husband S would pick up my mum and then B at work and go straight on to Camber with D. My other brother-in-law T had just finished a week of night shifts so he, C and I would follow later in the afternoon in his car, giving him a chance to sleep. That was the plan.

The evening before the holiday S's clutch cable clip broke so he had to nurse it to a garage the next morning and hope they could fix it that day. Unfortunately they ended up, without realising it, with the bunch of cowboys that converted my other sister C's leaky water pump problem into a written-off cooked engine, but they did manage to fix up S's car well enough that he could just about select some of the higher gears with the help of crunching and swearing. They left just in time to hit rush hour on the busy A27 and A259.

T needed to sleep later than ideal and we didn't leave until about 8pm, first having a burger in Hedge End - not quite matching our previous record of Tesco at Bursledon, but gaining extra points for starting off in the wrong direction. By then he decided that although the A27 and A259 would be a nicer drive it would be quicker at that time of evening to take the motorway route to Ashford via the M25 and backtrack a little. It probably would have been quicker if there hadn't been a huge accident on the M25 earlier, creating a 3 hour tailback, so we didn't arrive until gone 1am.

S was waiting for us in the bar near the entrance gate so that he could get us through the checkpoint with the papers. He phoned me at frequent intervals to see if we were nearly there or if he'd have to go back for another pint, and gave me increasingly garbled accounts involving cockneys, gruesome conditions and meat markets.

The accommodation

As before we upgraded our accommodation from the most basic standard, meaning that some attempt had been made to clean the bedclothes and the smell of the pillowcases was only due to them having been put away damp, and the sofa beds only had mildly disgusting stains and were comfortable enough to be slept on by a drunk person. I was lucky enough to get a twin room to myself with fairly unremarkable bunks. The sheets somehow stayed on by themselves and I didn't dare look beneath. I explored both beds in my quest to avoid the noise from the gushing overflow pipe outside. At least this place had usable showers if you didn't mind it leaking all over the floor.

By having two "chalets" next door to each other we were able to pool resources and have enough crockery and cutlery to all eat at once, and come up with one frying pan and working tin opener between us.

The location and weather

Just like Brean, Camber is rather remote with a very nice beach. This time we were able to get to the sea without special anti-quicksand equipment, but although the weather was mainly warm and dry it wasn't hot enough to swim. There seems to be only one road into Camber, with lots of sharp bends despite the land being very flat; perhaps they decided to build it around where the sheep were standing at the time.

The nontertainment

This seemed to be even more limited than Brean. On the first evening B decided to look in the upstairs bar to see if there was an alternative to karaoke, only to find a man with an accordion singing I'm a Wanker, so she wasn't very impressed.

Pontins rules karaoke

Out and about

The others enjoyed a tour of Battle - just about the only local place of interest - but I wasn't really feeling like a long trek that day so I stayed behind to watch the Grand Prix and then get bored.

The end

The journey home was a lot less eventful than the one there. This time we took the A roads nearer the coast. We did get some mild entertainment from a woman who suddenly stopped speeding when she spotted a water board van at the side of the road then took off again when it was out of sight.