A day trip to South Devon for a bit of a surf and my home made burgers, nice! Well, most of it anyway.

One of my favourite spots in the south west of Eng­land is Ban­tham, Devon. The sur­round­ing coun­try­side is topped only by a fan­tas­tic beach at the mouth of the Riv­er Avon. When it comes to surf­ing, I’m no pro, far from it in fact, but occa­sion­al­ly it works for me and due to lack of fit­ness and rid­ing a long board, I tend to like the small­er waves. With the fore­cast show­ing a nice 2 foot wave with a gen­tle off­shore wind it was an oppor­tu­ni­ty that could­n’t be missed.

Although it would have been nice to stay the night in Ban­tham, espe­cial­ly as there is a great lit­tle camp site just up the road from the vil­lage where I’ve stayed before, it’s some­times more eco­nom­ic to take a day trip when get­ting in a surf ses­sion, par­tic­u­lar­ly as I can share the fuel costs with my mate Dave (aka David as he prefers to be called). It just means the day needs a bit of plan­ning and get­ting every­thing ready the day before so I thought I would add this post to show how a day trip can pan out and share a recipe that is brim­ming with com­fort and easy to cook up and eat when out for the day. Of course, any part of the recipe pro­vid­ed can be replaced, I doubt I’ll go to the trou­ble of bak­ing my own rolls again, but the rel­ish is a def­i­nite for the future.

Being that Ban­tham is over 100 miles from home, it’s worth start­ing out ear­ly so we were on the road by 7.30am and head­ing off down the A303. Break­fast was sim­ple, just a bowl of por­ridge before leav­ing home. Part of the rea­son for the ear­ly start was not just to get in the water as soon as pos­si­ble, the plan was to be out of the water and eat­ing lunch when the big game between Man­ches­ter Unit­ed and Liv­er­pool kicked off at 1.30pm.

Bantham Beach
The road towards Ban­tham beach beside the riv­er Avon estuary

So, after a stop off at Exeter ser­vices on the way, we arrived in Batham at around 10.15am and the sun was shin­ing. After park­ing up at the beach car park we had a quick peak over the sand dunes and it was look­ing good, per­fect for our longboards.

The sun was out on a gorgeous day in South Devon
The sun was out on a gor­geous day in South Devon
Nice 1-2 foot waves coming through on Bantham Beach
Nice 1–2 foot waves com­ing through on Ban­tham Beach
Parked up and getting everything ready for a surf
Dave sort­ing out his board

It was­n’t long before we were in the water, hood­ed up with boots and gloves too as the water is still only around 10°C. Per­son­al­ly I start­ed out pret­ty poor­ly as I have been a lot late­ly, I could­n’t get on any waves but as time went on we start­ed find­ing a few nice spots and I had a few good rides in. The waves were only 1–2 foot, with the odd 3 foot com­ing through so it was rel­a­tive­ly tame. Towards what would have been the end of our ses­sion is when things got a lit­tle more inter­est­ing. We were grouped up with a few oth­er surfers on what seemed to be the best spot at the time but sud­den­ly we were all took off away from the beach, caught in a sud­den rip which I don’t think any­one expect­ed on a small wave day. I think it had some­thing to do with the low spring tides, just 0.8m and it was near­ly at it’s low­est point. I’m guess­ing all of the water in the bay was try­ing to get out through a rel­a­tive­ly small area and unlike usu­al, the rip was going off down the coast, not back into the bay which meant a few of us had a long pad­dle back. After what seemed like ages pad­dling across the bay to get out of the rip I was approach­ing a group of kayaks, one had already helped anoth­er lad back so as I was pret­ty much spent I thought I’d swal­low my pride and ask for a cheeky tow and thank­ful­ly it got me back to the break­ers (lit­tle peel­ers real­ly), thanks again who­ev­er you are. Once I got to my feet we got out and called it a day, besides, we had burg­ers to eat and the foot­ball was about to start.

The prob­lem with watch­ing the game is that there is no 3G sig­nal at Ban­tham so we went over to Slap­ton Sands, I watch TV when I’m away on my iPad over the Inter­net with var­i­ous Apps, I was lucky to get one of the only avail­able unlim­it­ed Inter­net pack­ages with full teth­er­ing too so can use my iPhone as a kind of router for my iPad and Lap­top if I take it. Slap­ton Memo­r­i­al car park is right on the beach in a beau­ti­ful spot beside the Slap­ton Ley. With the iPad set up, it was time to relax, have a cof­fee and hope­ful­ly see Utd bring home the 3 points they so need­ed. The orig­i­nal plan was to have the burg­ers before the game but as we end­ed up run­ning a bit late we decid­ed to wait until after, that gave us a chance to chill out for a bit too, though not much chill­ing watch­ing that game, lol.

Slapton Monument car park is about 30 minutes from Bantham facing east on the English Channel.
Always good to make sure you have coffee in the van.

Result! Though not a very con­vinc­ing win, Utd got the 3 points by beat­ing Liv­er­pool at Anfield 2–1. We had now recov­ered from the surf/paddle ses­sion and were ready to eat. Being this was a day trip, with lit­tle time to pre­pare and cook in the van the food was pre­pared the day before and what bet­ter than the com­fort of a big fat burg­er! I’m no con­tender for the Great British Bake-off and not that great with bak­ing buns, but these actu­al­ly tast­ed fine. I have includ­ed the full recipe I used below which is plen­ty enough for 4 burg­ers, but the two of us could only man­age one each as they’re real­ly fill­ing once you add the bacon and sal­ad. They were def­i­nite­ly worth tak­ing, they tast­ed great and set me up for the rest of the day. I could have prob­a­bly pre­sent­ed bet­ter for the pho­to’s below but we were hungry,

Once we had eat­en our burg­ers we got set for the jour­ney home, it was now late after­noon so we would­n’t be back until evening. Despite it only being around 8°C, we could­n’t resist an ice cream from the res­i­dent ice cream van before hit­ting the road, for a while head­ing along the coast which has some great views.

Blackpool Sands
We left South Devon along the coast, pass­ing the beau­ti­ful Black­pool Sands on the way, a pop­u­lar place in the sum­mer no doubt

Burger aprés le surf

Classic burgers in sesame seed buns, served with a sweet caramelised onion and tomato relish

Serves 2–4

Not the most presentable picture but tasty none the less
Equip­ment Required

At home

  • Oven
  • Small bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Fridge
  • Mea­sur­ing spoon
  • 2 shal­low bak­ing trays
  • Cling film
  • Pas­try brush
  • Wire rack
  • Grease­proof paper
  • Mix­er (option­al)
  • Kitchen scales
  • Small stor­age con­tain­er for relish
  • Fry­ing pan
  • Cook­ing utensils

In the van

  • 1 large fry­ing pan
  • 1 hob
  • Fridge
  • 2 plates
  • Knife for slic­ing buns and tomatoes
  • Wood­en skewers
  • Kitchen tow­ell



  • 1 red onion, fine­ly chopped
  • 8 cher­ry toma­toes, fine­ly chopped
  • 50g demer­ara sugar
  • 1 clove of gar­lic, fine­ly chopped
  • ½ tea­spoon salt
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 tea­spoons of toma­to purée

Relish Ingredients


  • 150ml warm water
  • 14g dried yeast
  • 2 table­spoon of milk (warm)
  • 2 table­spoons of cast­er sugar
  • 1 tea­spoon of salt
  • 325g of strong flour, plus a lit­tle extra for dusting
  • 2 table­spoons of unsalt­ed but­ter, softened
  • 2 medi­um eggs, plus 1 beat­en egg for glazing
  • Sesame seeds, for sprin­kling (option­al)


  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 70g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 onion, fine­ly chopped
  • 1 medi­um egg
  • ½ tea­spoon salt


  • 1 beef toma­to, sliced
  • 1 ice­berg let­tuce, leaves separated
  • Cheese slices
  • Bacon rash­es (smoked)
  • 1 red onion, sliced

Cook­ing Method


  1. Heat a lit­tle oil in a small pan and cook the onions for a few min­utes on a low heat until soft­ened, stir­ring occasionally.
  2. Add the toma­toes and gar­lic, mix well. Then add the sug­ar, toma­to purée and vine­gar and bring to the boil.
  3. Sim­mer for 20–30 min­utes until the mix­ture is thick like a paste, stir­ring more towards the end to avoid the mix­ture stick­ing to the pan.
  4. Sea­son to taste with a small amount of salt and set aside to cool.
  5. Add to small stor­age con­tain­er for use lat­er. The rel­ish con­tains vine­gar and sug­ar to pre­serve so it will be good got quite a while in a sealed container

Use a small container to take the relish with you
Use a small con­tain­er to take the rel­ish with you


    1. Mix the warm water, yeast, warm milk and sug­ar in a bowl and leave to stand for 5 min­utes. The mix should become frothy, this is how you know the yeast is working.

The yeast mixture will begin to froth, this indicates the yeast is working
The yeast mix­ture will begin to froth, this indi­cates the yeast is working
  1. Pour the flour and salt into a large mix­ing bowl and add the but­ter, rub­bing togeth­er with your fin­ger­tips until the mix­ture is like fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Form a small well in the cen­tre of the but­tery flour and add the warm yeast mix­ture and eggs.
  3. For the purist, using your hands, mix into a sticky dough. If it feels wet, it will come togeth­er when knead­ing. When done, tip the dough onto a floured work sur­face. I per­son­al­ly cheat at this point and trans­fer to my bread mak­er on dough mak­ing mode for around 30 min­utes which is a lot less messy on the hands, then skip to step 6.
  4. Knead the dough for 10 min­utes, stretch­ing it on the work sur­face. Note, it will still be sticky at this stage but don’t be tempt­ed to add too much flour.
  5. When done, the dough should feel soft and have a bounce to it. Place in an oiled bowl and cov­er with cling film or a tea tow­el, then set aside to rise for 1–3 hours or until it is dou­ble the orig­i­nal size. Tim­ing will vary depend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture, if your kitchen is not very warm, per­haps make space in an air­ing cupboard.
  6. Once the dough has dou­bled in size, knock the air out and knead again for 2 min­utes. The dough should now be much less sticky, but may need a lit­tle flour added.
  7. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces and flat­ten each piece like a pan­cake on a floured sur­face, turn in each cor­ner to the cen­tre until the ball is sealed, then flip it over and use your hands to gen­tly roll into a smooth ball.
  8. Add the grease­proof paper to a bak­ing tray and place the dough on the tray. Loose­ly cov­er with oiled cling film and leave for about 1 hour or until dou­bled in size again. Then, heat the oven to 200°C (180°C for fan ovens) / gas 6 and place a shal­low bak­ing tray at the bottom.

The dough will increase quite an amount so leave plenty of room between the pieces
The dough will increase quite an amount so leave plen­ty of room between the pieces
  1. Pour a cup of water into the bak­ing tray at the bot­tom of the oven to cre­ate steam before the buns are put in. Remove the cling film, brush the buns with egg and sprin­kle with sesame seeds.
  2. Bake for 20 min­utes or until gold­en in the cen­tre of the oven, then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Let the buns cool on a wire rack
Let the buns cool on a wire rack


  1. In a bowl, mix the mince, egg, onion, bread crumbs and salt until well blended.
  2. Divide the mix­ture into four equal por­tions and shape each into a pat­ty about 10cm wide.
  3. Place the pat­ties onto a tray that wil fit into your van’s fridge and cov­er in cling film.
  4. To cook burg­ers, remove from tray and heat a lit­tle oil in a fry­ing pan. If using bacon as a top­ping, add a lit­tle oil to a sep­a­rate pan and cook until golden-brown.
  5. Turn the burg­ers once only, cook­ing for about 5–6 min­utes each side. (Alter­na­tive­ly if you have the lux­u­ry of a grill in your van, you can cook them under a grill for the same time turn­ing half way through).

All the ingredients in a bowl ready to mix.
All the ingre­di­ents in a bowl ready to mix.

To Serve

Toppings (all optional)

  • Cheese slices
  • Sliced Beef­steak tomato
  • Ice­berg lettuce
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Bacon rash­es

To serve, slice the buns in half and hov­er over the flame of the hob to toast a the inner side a lit­tle, being care­ful not to burn your­self. Place the buns toast­ed side up onto serv­ing plates and add some of the rel­ish, then the burg­er pat­ties, top with a lit­tle more rel­ish and your addi­tion­al choice of top­pings. Cov­er with the top side of the bun and pierce through with half of a wood­en skew­er, per­haps topped off with half a cher­ry tomato.

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The Author



A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.