We’ve just made a decision which commits us to holidaying in the UK for the next year or so, or certainly makes it unlikely that we’ll be booking any foreign package holidays. Our little campervan has served us well for 2½ years but suffice to say we’ve just about outgrown it. On the rare occasions that we’ve been lucky enough to have dry sunny weather for days on end, it’s been a wonderful experience – posh camping really. All mod cons – running water, heating, electricity, fridge, a gas hob and not forgetting the all important porta potty. In good weather we’ve really only cooked and slept in the van, preferring to be outdoors to eat, read etc.
But it’s a whole different story when the weather is less than perfect – 2 adults, 2 kids and a large, slobbery and very boisterous boxer dog are not meant to co-exist in small spaces. Even with the awning giving us twice as much living space, tempers fray quickly and the supposedly idyllic outdoor holiday turns into a nightmare. Mornings after the kids wake up are particularly hellish (whatever the weather) as they are understandably desperate to get out of their roof top cocoon. The only place for them to go until we’ve packed away our bed is on top of us and given that it’s often unreasonably early (for a holiday anyway) and that we’re usually slightly hungover having overindulged the night before (well, we are on holiday after all!), it doesn’t make for a great start to the day. I often retire shivering into the awning with a cup of tea, to avoid getting anymore sharp digs in the kidneys from little knees and elbows.
Life in the campervan has certainly had its ups and downs – for instance you can’t beat parking up at the sea front, a sparkling blue sea providing the view from the front window and lighting the stove to brew a cup of tea. I usually feel quite smug at this point as I watch other less lucky mortals queuing at the kiosk for an overpriced weak brew in a polystyrene cup. But it’s hard to feel smug crouching on the porta potty in the early hours of the morning, with the wind and rain lashing the awning and the loo roll soggy from standing in a pool of rain water which has mysteriously formed on the ground sheet.
But, on balance, we’ve all loved holidaying in the van – I’ll miss sitting on the backseat with the back door open, sipping a glass of wine and admiring the view – particularly on our first visit to Arrochar, where our pitch was by the side of a loch circled by mountains. And that magical time when the kids are tucked up in the roof, fast asleep after a day of tearing around the campsite with new found friends, and we’re snuggled up down below, curtains drawn, the outside world tightly shut out, relishing the rare opportunity to get through several chapters of a book without interruption. It’s somehow more precious than evenings at home where other distractions – chores, phone calls, computers, trashy TV – usually stop us spending such quality time together.
We’ve previously been puzzled by caravaners with their satellite dishes, table lamps, curtain tie backs and mini vacuum cleaners – surely they can’t truly experience the great outdoors when they wrap themselves in so many home comforts…? But we’ll be joining their ranks soon having made the decision to buy a “previously loved” caravan, which we’ll take ownership at the end of August. It will feel like a ballroom compared to the van – with fixed bunks for the kids (cue lots of shrieks of delight and arguments about who will sleep up top) 2 seating areas, a “proper” loo (no more squatting on the potty), a shower and an oven. No doubt we’ll be vilified by Wogan and Clarkson – but definitely welcomed by fellow caravanners. And I can’t wait – I’m still trying to persuade myself that this current and final adventure in the campervan is giving us chance to enjoy it one last time and say our goodbyes, but as the rain confines us to the awning yet again (kids are inside watching Spy Kids with the volume on high), I find myself daydreaming about our new palace on wheels and counting down the days to the end of the month.

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