The wasps of Stiffkey

We've just spent a hot summer's weekend at Stiffkey near Wells-next-the-sea. We'd driven past the High Sands Creek campsite on our way home from Cromer and decided to book it for a future weekend. It's featured on which for me is reason enough not to research any further.

The site is very well located, with nothing between itself and the mudflats of the north Norfolk coast. The facilities are top notch too and despite not having a website in this day and age it was packed with campers.

There is a but coming. At £22 per night for two people it's on the pricier end of the campsite spectrum. I'd expect electric hookup for that money but there was none. Price aside we were left with a problem because signs at reception and indeed the lady booking me in said no burning wood. When your only non-electric cooking stove works by burning sticks and pine cones and you have a fridge full of meat to cook for your weekend's meals what are you supposed to do?

Since the campsite has no website where you could learn the site rules and I wasn't told about the wood-burning policy when I phoned and book, I didn't feel guilty about burning sticks to cook two breakfasts and evening meals. That they'd rather people used flimsy tinfoil disposable barbecues than a professional wood gas camping stove is just bizarre.

So I'd have to sum up by saying the site is expensive and not prepared to let campers do the one thing you'd associate with camping - have a campfire.

On Saturday morning after illegally cooking my SPAM and baked beans we cycled to Wells-next-the-sea. We enjoyed a coffee sitting on the harbour wall and then continued to the beach where we lay in the sun for two or three hours before our appetite for fish and chips got the better of us. We had a large cod and chips between us, and by my reckoning it was as big as two small portions while costing £6 less.

I'd like to think we burned off some of the calories on our bumpy bike ride back to camp. There we continued sitting in the sun and reading until 8pm when we burned more wood. Dinner was beef meatballs in a Greek-siffado style tomato, cinnamon and dill sauce.

As the sun set over the mudflats thousands of giant, dopey wasps descended on the campsite. You could hear little yelps from all over the place as campers found themselves the object of interest to one or more of the wasps. A badminton racket, frying pan, towel and magazine were just a few of the objects people were using to bat them away. It made for a very comical end to the evening.


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