So many moons ago, about last August, just after we returned from our summer holiday in France we began the annual ‘Where shall we go on holiday next summer’ debate.
This is a long and often fractious process with wildly differing views and opinions and indeed aspirations.
Suffice to say that Eldest and I won out and we booked 2 weeks all inclusive in the Canaries. We had been to this particular hotel twice before please see Sunbed Wars for further info.
Then the pandemic happened. The quite astronomical balance was due by the beginning of April, (never have 3 kids seriously or if you do never allow them to grow up) people were struggling to get refunds for holidays actually cancelled and it was likely that even if we were able to go by late July all the best bits of an all inclusive (buffets, discos, karaoke, squashing balloons against virile German chests etc etc) were unlikely to be allowed. Add to that booking a pool slot or beach hexagon and wearing a mask in 38 degree heat and the whole idea seemed, well frankly, much less appealing.
So we cancelled. And yes we lost the deposit. But hey if you can afford 2 weeks in the Canaries you can afford to lose the deposit. And someone’s job might be saved.
My husband then began another round of the great and now twice annual ‘Where shall we go on holiday this summer’ debate but with bells on.
He decided to buy a caravan.
My initial reaction was one of horror. This is often the case. I am wont to see the downsides in his hair brained ideas.
Once I calmed down it seemed like a relatively good plan. We were still in the midst of full lock down. But logic and rumour dictated that camping sites were likely to open early on due to them being outside and naturally socially distanced. A caravan with it’s own loo and shower meant that if shared showers we ruled out we could still go.
We are quite good campers and had all the gear. My hips no longer cope with more than 3 nights sleeping on the floor so a caravan would allow for a longer stay.
It cost about 2 lots of the holiday we had just cancelled. And had a resale value.
Hubby did the research, as he likes to do, and found our perfect caravan for sale at a local ish dealer and booked a showroom visit on the weekend that became allowed.
We also booked two campsites. To begin with hubby was keen on north Devon. I reminded him that on our trip to Woolacombe in February half term we had nearly had kittens driving our car down the really very narrow roads flanked by high solid verges and having to badly reverse when meeting a tractor coming the other way. I suggested that our cortisol levels may take 10 days to return to normal if we added an 8ft wide caravan into that mix. We went for Norfolk (flat, relatively wide roads, soft hedging) and Northumberland (A1)…
Again this was a punt. Neither site was open or knew if they would be. However the Norfolk one was doing full refunds and the Northumberland one was for the end of August and cheap as chips it being oop north.
The site in Norfolk was well known to us as we had been numerous times in our tent. We knew the pitches were generous and the site large.
The weekend of our caravan viewing arrived wet and miserable. We took the kids (the whole event had the feel of a carnival as the kids had not been out of our village at this point for 3 months) and even Eldest who remained sceptical was won over by the ingenious cupboards and fridge.
So we purchased, collected a few weeks later and spent 2 hours manoeuvering it onto our drive, emptied our camping trailer into it, sold the trailer and tent and waited for our holiday to arrive.
And now we are here. Thankfully all the planets aligned. We managed to get the van off our drive with only minimal damage (when we manoeuvre it back on the drive upon our return we must park it further away from the fence), tow it successfully and reverse it onto the pitch with the motor mover which I am so glad we bought as our reversing failed spectacularly. As soon as they are allowed again we are booking onto the Caravan Club’s reversing course… I can vouch for the fact that watching you tube videos is absolutely no substitute for doing it in person.
The communal facilities are open here which is fortunate because during the first night we had a spectacular water leak which saw us awaken to 2 inches of water on the floor, sodden carpet and flooded cupboards..not so ingenious now… a repairman and part is coming Fri evening.
We also failed to put up the awning correctly (the instructions made IKEA ones look comprehensive) and so it nearly broke on that first night under the weight of the pissing down rain. But it didn’t and we worked it out the next day.
After 5 days here are my observations about staycating in a caravan (without water) during a pandemic:
The facilities which are usually clean here are pristine.
The site is half empty which means there are no queues for anything. Except the shop. And plenty of space to play cricket, footie, catch etc. And to try to reverse your caravan (badly)…
There is a booking system for everything from pool, to tennis, to moth walks.
This favours the organised. And that is me all over. Before we had even left home I had booked 2 National Trust gardens and parklands.
The National Trust is still doing socially distanced al fresco cream teas. Thank god.
It is the first time in a long while that I have forgotten about the pandemic for hours at a time.
Suffice to say we are officially sold on caravanning. We all love the beds. Eldest loves the fridge as he can eat as much cereal as he wants. We all love sitting in it at night playing poker at a table without the need for thermals or head torches.
We may never fly again. Seriously.