From camping to caravan holidays
As we sat in the tent with the zips all done up and the heater on, shouting at each other because the rain was now battering the tent so hard we couldn’t hear ourselves think, we could have been forgiven for thinking we were on our October half-term holiday.
In reality, though, this was August, and our family's main two-week holiday of the year. The weather had been even worse than usual for a summer in the UK.
Our conversation quickly turned to a debate about whether we should start searching for a caravan for sale.
The thought of this was a little daunting. We didn't know what to look out for when buying a new caravan. I had once done a towing taster course at an NEC show, but it’s easy towing and manoeuvring when there’s an instructor by your side.
Then there’s the issue of the lack of space. Of course, we could use an awning, or ‘divorce in a bag’ as they are affectionately known, but then is that going to take as long to put up as a tent?
All of that said, the prospect of being able to have a wash, and clean my teeth in the caravan, without having to go out in monsoon-like rain, definitely appealed. As did the thought of being able to cook meals without a coat on, while trying to get various family members to act as a windshield to stop the gas blowing out on the stove.
Our minds were now made up, that a caravan would be the right thing for us to upgrade to at this point. But where to start?
We to visited local caravan dealerships to have a look at what was available and at what cost. We began to realise that actually, for us, a rear dinette would suit our family situation, giving us more usable space in the daytime, and more privacy for children at the back, and adults at the front.
We also started watching lots of YouTube videos. We found these to be extremely helpful, from caravan reviews, to how to set up your caravan when you arrive on site, to hints and tips of what to look for when buying a secondhand caravan.
Eventually, we were fortunate enough to find one that was our exact desired layout, and in really good condition for its age. Following collection, we decided to take it straight to a site for the weekend.
We went to Kingsbury Water Park because it was still early in the year, so many campsites weren’t open, and this site is a favourite of ours. We knew that if we told the wardens we were new to caravanning, they would find us somewhere easy to pull the caravan into for our first time. In fact, they went further than this, and the warden gave my husband, Mark, instructions as to how to reverse the car into the perfect spot.
Mark was keen to get the awning up, so, once the gas and electric were switched on, and the Aquaroll filled, despite my protests at wanting to make sure the water was working first, the awning was out of the bag and it was time to pitch it.
Once it was up, surprisingly quickly, Mark was going to peg it all out while I then went in to sort the water out. I won’t make the mistake of not closing the drain-down valve again!
It was time to finally relax, and enjoy our first weekend away in our caravan.
Despite the couple of small issues we had setting up (and, surprisingly, the awning wasn’t one of them), we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
We already know that we have made the right decision, and we are looking forward to many more trips, and making lots of happy memories with our caravan.
For the full feature, see the Summer issue of Caravan magazine.