Caravan Tales: Meet the Kneeshaws
The Kneeshaws are bold continental caravan tourers, even if they do forget important accessories.
Name: Margaret and Stuart Kneeshaw with Max (the cat)
Location: Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Occupation: Retired guest house proprietors
Caravan: Lunar Ultima 544
Car: Ford C MAX
How did you get involved in caravanning?
My father was in his 90s, and we owned a guest house in Knaresborough, so holidays were out of the question.
All the same, we needed to get away now and again for a few days to relax and unwind. But not too far, because of my elderly father.
In 2003, we purchased a three-year-old Swift Meridian. Our attitude to it was 'what's the worst that can happen if we don't like it? Sell the thing and lose a grand!'
Anyway, it had to be better than tenting with our kids; at least we had somewhere dry when it rained!
And was it better than camping with the kids?
What's better than 100%? We had camped for eight years during the 70s and had to stop when Dan and Sarah said, "enough, is enough!"
Sarah hated campsite toilets, referred to as 'the black hole!' A wooden bench seat over a bottomless pit.
She even refuses, to this day, to look inside our modern, beautiful caravan. If it's not five stars then forget it!
As for Dan, he lives on the other side of the world — making sure he never goes camping with us again!
None of your family goes caravanning with you?
Does Max count? Our lovely four-year-old tabby cat loves caravanning.
We follow campsite rules and keep him on a long cord, although he would be happy free. He doesn't run off and knows his van. He has his own dirt tray and loves going for a walk with us. Max might be the best-travelled cat around.
Best travelled cat?
Oh, yes, he goes abroad with us yearly.
Since 2006, we go abroad for six to eight weeks early in the year. We enjoy the sights and sounds of Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Austria and, of course, France.
In the last four years we have got into a bit of a habit!
After crossing into France, we drive down to the Carcassonne area. We rest for a few days before venturing into Spain. You can't beat the beautiful coastline of the Costa Brava for its walking and swimming.
Is it difficult crossing the Channel with a cat?
It's simpler and easier than with a dog!
He has his own detailed passport and a rabies injection every three years. We pay £18 each way for the ferry crossing, and he stays in the car.
Coming home is straightforward. There are no vet visits, worming or Frontline is necessary. Although we keep him treated for our own peace of mind.
We don't even have to have him chipped!
Come on spill the beans, why Spain again this year?
There is another reason why we're off to Tossa La Mer this year.
Pulling out of the site last year, we left a £200 hitch lock in the side locker. And, stupid me, I forgot to lock the outside locker.
At the first or second roundabout, the locker opened and the hitch lock fell out. It should be useless without the key. But, in case someone is using it, one night we're going round all the vans to see if our key fits!
And that wasn't the only expense last year!
What else did you lose?
We didn't lose it, more like forgot it.
About 50 miles (ca. 80 km) from home and Margaret thought I had packed our tablet PC. And I thought she had packed it. We had to buy another one.
That is our lifeline abroad, Skyping our son in New Zealand and Sarah at home.
Don't you go caravanning in the UK any more?
Of course, we do!
We're not weekend-caravanners due to our work with the church and the garden.
But once September arrives we're off again, to Devon, Dorset or Cornwall to enjoy the last of the summer weather.
We schedule our garden planting and harvesting around the caravan.
What can't do without?
Our Huawei box gives us secure Wi-Fi anywhere — it costs about £60. Each year we buy an 80 GB SD MIFI card. No more tantrums when we can't chat with our children.
Our caravan tip
Invest in a weather station.
It helps you to plan ahead, knowing what the day has in store. And a Snooper Ventura Sat Nav for towing — enter the size of your rig and enjoy angst-free towing right to the door!
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