The story behind Isadora Moon Goes Camping

Harriet Muncaster Goes Camping

Isadora Moon and her adventures are always very close to my heart. In my video interview last week I talked briefly about how Isadora and Mirabelle’s dolls’ house games reflected the way I loved to play as a child. This week I thought I’d look back at the inspiration and story behind Isadora Moon Goes Camping

In Goes Camping, Isadora and her family visit the Mermaid Bay campsite. Although I changed a few details, Mermaid Bay is actually based on one of my favourite places in the world: Polly Joke beach in Cornwall. This is a place I have visited all through my life, and I have more fond memories of it than I can count. I used to go here for long childhood holidays with my family, and I’ve been back lots of times as an adult. The whole time I was writing Goes Camping I was just pouring my memories of Polly Joke into it!

Isadora Moon and family on beachIsadora Moon and family on beach
Isadora Moon and her family visit the beach – note the rock out in the sea…
The rock off Crantock beach
…there’s a suspiciously similar rock off Holywell beach, a short walk from Polly Joke.
Mermaids in the bay
Mermaid bay sign
Welcome to Mermaid Bay!

Are there really mermaids at Polly Joke beach? I’ve never seen one, but I always used to imagine there could be. Sometimes we used to find mermaids’ purses on the beach, which only fuelled my speculations. Then there are these magical caves along the sides of the beach. They create a sharp contrast to the bright, sunny beach with their dark and mysterious atmosphere. I could imagine mermaids swimming into them when the tide is in and they fill with water.

Isadora Moon and family driving to the campsite
Isadora Moon and family driving to their camping holiday

The caves always used to hold a sense of wonder for me. Just up the coast from Polly Joke is Holywell, so named for its ‘Holy well’. This ‘well’ was believed to have healing properties, and in olden-times parents would bring their sick children for a dip in the well to cure them. Although the exact location of the well isn’t agreed on, I always imagined it to be a pool in one of the caves. In this cave the rocks form a sort of slide, which I imagined babies sliding down on into the pool to cure them.  

Magic all around

In my mind, the whole place used to be alive with magic. The rockpools enchanted me, and I envisaged fairies splashing and frolicking in them when there were no people around. Similarly, the sandcastles we used to build I could imagine lighting up at night. I thought of them as the homes of miniature rabbits who would come out and bustle about at dusk. Even without fantastical parents and mermaids, childhood holidays are always magical!

We used to spend these long days on the beach as a whole family, just like Isadora’s family do. (Although my dad was not so reluctant to enjoy it as Isadora’s dad is). We would have the windbreak up and the blankets spread, and my mum would hunt for cowry shells and seaglass in the sand. We would build sand castles and bodyboard in the sunshine all day until evening.  

Harriet Muncaster family on the beach
I used to love whole family days on the beach like this
Harriet Muncaster in a rock pool
Here I am (right) paddling in a rock pool with my sister
Games and experiences while camping
Polly Joke campsite from the hill
Polly Joke campsite from the nearby hill
Isadora Moon flying over Mermaid Bay campsite
Mermaid Bay campsite from the air

We didn’t camp every year – sometimes we stayed in one of the nearby cottages – but we did camp often. One year we camped for three weeks! Just like Mermaid Bay campsite, Polly Joke campsite is a short walk from the beach up a narrow sandy path. Alongside this path runs a little stream. One of my favourite games when I was about nine or ten was to put my ‘mascot’ characters into boats and watch them sail down this stream. (I still do that now sometimes!)

Harriet Muncaster sending mascots down the stream in a boat
Here is an old photo of me sending ‘mascot’ characters down the beach stream
'Mascot' Celestine goes boating in a rock pool
My ‘mascot’ Celestine goes boating in a rock pool

Also just like the Mermaid Bay campsite, the Polly Joke one has a toilet and shower block. I remember finding it novel to wear pyjamas in public when you go to brush your teeth – just like Isadora does. I also remember all the people queuing up to use the showers in the morning. That’s why I thought it would be funny to have Isadora’s dad spending hours in the shower grooming and relaxing.  

Isadora Moon brushing her teeth
Wearing pyjamas in public while camping is a novel experience.
Isadora Moon's Dad after shower
I found it funny for Isadora’s dad to treat the shower block showers like his personal bathroom at home.
Isadora Moon Goes Camping is available now!

Well, that’s just a little insight into one of the Isadora Moon stories. You can buy Isadora Moon Goes Camping and the whole Isadora Moon series on Amazon, in Waterstones, or in any good bookshop.

1 Comment

  1. Harriet Muncaster Goes on Holiday - Harriet Muncaster

    November 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    […] It’s been a busy (but wonderful) autumn for Isadora Moon and I so far! I still have some catching up to do on my blog with some of my events. In the next few weeks I’ll be writing about Manchester, Richmond, Hitchin, and my Leicestershire school visit… This last week though, I’ve been on a wintry holiday with Henry and Celestine. We’ve been down in Cornwall visiting my favourite place in the world. It was also my inspiration for Mermaid Bay in Isadora Moon Goes Camping. […]

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