Looking back - and ahead. Or not

Before I went for a shower I had all this written in my head - and yep, now it’s vanished. Oh well, I’ll make it up as a go along - nothing new there eh?

Observant Twitter friends will note that I’ve completely ignored the results of a little survey I did that suggested a vlog would be more welcome. My apologies, but I’ve always found it easier to write than talk - lets face it there was someone else very good at that bless him - and I can put together what I want to say without a couple of dozen frustrating takes in front of a camcorder.

So, shall we get to the point? 2018. Hmm. A year that will be remembered by me for one very wrong reason, but a number of right ones too.

Prior to the 1st August all was going well and we were loving our trips away in Patsy as much as ever. February saw us back at Baltic Wharf club site in Bristol - an appropriate name given the weather at times but we had a great week, hooking up again with caravanning friends Neil & Dave for sightseeing, the theatre and the inevitable but very enjoyable research expeditions. Patsy sprang a leak as the cold water pipe feeding the tank split but was easily and swiftly sorted.

The school Easter holiday saw us heading north again, stopping off on the way to hook up with my cousin at Somers Wood in Warwickshire. Hot water pipes played a part this time as ours split - again by the tank and Andy’s became detached under the sink. Again, a foray to a nearby accessory shop ensured a quick fix. The Beast from the East returned and we woke to snow.

The club site at Berwick became one of my favourites, not least for the lovely views across the harbour to Berwick. We had a fellow caravanning Twitterer as a neighbour, drove up along the coast to meet friends near North Berwick and followed the same route by train into Edinburgh for more catching up. The calming influence of Holy Island drew us back for a return visit.

The next site had a lot to live up to, but it did, the club’s Old Hartley site in Whitley Bay offering superb views of the coast and St Mary’s Lighthouse. A pub just a minutes walk away and others close by was a bonus.

The Beamish Museum was the undoubted highlight of our stay but the train across to Carlisle was fun too, the return journey by rail replacement bus not so much.

The weather in the shape of incessant rain was to play a part for the next leg of our trip. Thirsk had had to close so we headed instead to Naburn Locks just south of York meeting up with another friend David.

A good day was had meeting the gang at Pro-tec Covers in Bradford but on returning we had to move pitches and by the morning most of the site was under water.

There was more family and friends time on our last stop at Stroud Hill Park in Cambridgeshire.

Driving the kids to the New Forest for their Duke of Edinburgh expo a few years back had piqued our interest and so that was our destination for the may half term, pitching up at the club site near Bransgore. We met again with fellow bloggers - and first year wardens - Deb & Steve and many more caravanning pals including Andy & Sam, Karla & Steve and Gail & Mark. Patsy had her nose put somewhat out of joint when a grand old lady by the name of Gladys pitched up on site, having been lovingly restored by Lee and son Charlie. Sightseeing played a secondary role but Bucklers Hard got a visit alongside some of the lovely Hampshire coast.

The summer started so well. Great weather, and a cracking little site near Burford in the Cotswolds kicked things off. Twittercamp followed and whilst a few regulars couldn’t make it, it was great to see some new faces too. One highlight was the afternoon in the pub watching England beat Sweden in the World Cup - or more accurately watching fellow caravanning friends - who aren’t really into football - enjoying it so much too.

We were at last able to catch up with fellow caravanning blogger Paul when we returned to the lovely South Wales Touring Park in Carmarthenshire and had a very enjoyable evening quaffing some delicious Welsh ales. Paul gave us some pointers and we had a couple of great days out sightseeing too.

We were to meet Gail & Mark again, this time in their role as wardens at Longleat where we based ourselves for a few days, taking a day and night out for the launch of the Bailey Phoenix in Swindon.

Next up was Essex and the reason for heading east was the wedding of my cousin’s youngest. We found a cracking little adults only site just a few miles away and settled there for a fortnight. The first week, as the temperatures soared I caught up on some writing and video editing in the mornings while Trev started to clean and polish Patsy. We did a bit of sightseeing too in the second week, most notably a Treasure Trail walk around Colchester.

And then of course came August the 1st.

I’m not going to dwell on that here - that’s not what this blog is about. However Patsy once again proved invaluable and very much a real home from home, allowing me to be where I needed to be for appointments, making arrangements and so on, showing again how flexible caravanning can be when circumstances change so drastically.

Patsy then had her longest rest of the year, resuming duties towards the end of October for my first entirely solo trip. It didn’t start too well. Difficulty in getting Pasty around the sharp right hand turn in the storage yard had me questioning not only the merit of such a large ‘van for one but whether the whole caravanning thing was still worth it.

The two stop trip though went well, first at Brighton meeting friends and family for a very enjoyable few days showing them around my adopted home county before moving up to Crystal Palace for more meet ups and a couple of shows. I’ve said before - this was perhaps the most important trip since the very first one back in 2012 - it proved to me that not only could I caravan alone but enjoy it too.

Her Ladyship’s first outing of the last month of the year was for her annual service. A new gas regulator was the only thing required and the damp reading sheet was a joy to behold proving once again what a well built ‘van she is.

First stop on the Christmas holiday getaway was back in Cambridge after originally booking Henley. It was more important to catch up with friends and family - many of which I hadn’t seen since the funeral - and had an enjoyable if hectic few days during just that.

I’d discovered a lovely little one pitch site in Colchester complete with hook up and free WIFI and that was to be my stop for the Christmas period. It was my cousin’s drive and proved ideal meaning I could spent quality time with them but still retreat when needed.

And so we come to the current site - Bearstead in Kent. Again this is all about spending time with friends, the importance of which has become so much more apparent in recent months.

So that was 2018 - the caravanning part of it anyway. This was supposed to include a look ahead to 2019 but I’ve gone on long enough as it is. Look out for that sometime in January.

I have said thank you many times this year and with good reason, whether it be for reading my blogs, watching our videos or for such wonderful support following Trev’s death. You really did make a difference.

I’m going to dedicate this blog post - not to Trev - he wouldn’t want that - but to the Emergency Services. The ambulance crew, the paramedics, the air ambulance doctors and the pilot who on the 1st August worked tirelessly to try and save Trev. They tried everything and their dedication to the preservation of life along with such empathy towards me was clear to see and very heart warming even at such a traumatic time. I couldn’t have asked for more and well never forget it and am making a donation to the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance today in Trev’s memory.

Cheers and see you in 2019,

Rich.



2 comments:

  1. Hi Rich, thank you for a really enjoyable read.I can see how you are improving and looking forward now. You really have done very well. Looking forward to future Blogs.

    ReplyDelete