Q & A | Part 1

Firstly, thank you to everyone that took the time to read my previous blog post. Not my usual tone I know but it was important to me to try and accurately convey how I felt at the time. However, on to more light hearted matters.

Thank you again to everyone that came with some great questions. They really got me thinking - a rare and sometimes hazardous occupation given the state of my brain cells just recently. I’ve roughly collated them in to caravanning and non - and in some sort of vaguely sensible order too. So, here we go with Part 1:

What made you start caravanning?

In 2011 we holidayed in Spain at an apartment own by friends of friends. We got talking - well Trev did - and enquired how they ended up where they were. When the decided to sell up and retire, they knew they wanted to move to Spain but wasn’t sure where. They hitched up and toured for several months trying out different places until they settled on somewhere they felt they could call home. We’d had vague notions of ‘doing’ Europe and perhaps eventually retiring to Spain too. This started us thinking.

Back in the UK that winter we got talking to two friends who were long time caravanners - the only two caravanners we knew at the time - and had a nose around their van. Not knowing anything about caravanning we were really impressed with all the creature comforts and what a home from home it was.

Our job at the time was parcel delivery - we both detested it, it was only ever meant to be a stop gap  - and the company were making things harder and harder. The straw that broke the camels back came early January 2012 and we packed it in. We had a holiday already booked to Gran Canaria and decided that we would use our time there to make a decision, which we did. It was to sell up, downsize our home, buy a caravan and go travelling - for a year or may be more.

What was your first caravanning trip you and Trev went on and did the first setting up go smoothly or was there the ‘set up tiff’?

Our first trip was in March 2012 to the Crystal Palace club site - a relatively short, if not quick, trundle up the A23. Our friends mentioned above were already going, so we could follow without worrying about the route and they would be on hand to help with any teething troubles. I had already had a practice setting up the utilities on the drive anyway and the weekend prior they’d helped Trev with loading the inside of the caravan correctly.

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Set up went fine until it came to the dreaded awning. There had been an awning supplied with the ‘van which the previous owners had left - a little porch thing. I was all for not bothering but Trev insisted - after all, pretty much everyone one else on site had one, so why not? It didn't go well - there were no instructions, not that either of us would have ready them initially anyway - and after many crossed words it ended up back in the bag, and was not used for several months after.

When you and Trev went out in Patsy did you have your own favoured jobs when setting up?

Yes, I did the outside and he did the inside. If I’d completed the outside jobs quickly I’d be inside drumming my fingers waiting for him to get the kettle on!  He’d often replenish the water though once set up, the only thing that seemed to be exclusively ‘my’ job was the bog! Didn't bother me though and the arrangement worked well. The various awnings though - when we had them - were always a joint effort.

Favourite site and why?

A favourite site is very subjective as we look for different things - in the middle of nowhere, close to attractions, on site amenities etc. A strong contender was the Old Hartley club site, overlooking St Marys’ Lighthouse and Whitley Bay, with the added bonus of a great pub not two minutes walk away. However I would have to concur with the questioner on this one and that’s the Berwick-on-Tweed club site. We’d left Warwickshire in snow and had a long drive up the A1. When we finally arrived it was several degrees warmer and the sun was out. The site was easy to get to and the views were stunning, looking out over the harbour and across the the town.

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Facilities were the usual club standard and there was plenty to do in the area. We drove up to North Berwick along the coast, down to Holy Island, to Wooler and Etal and Ford. We got the train to Edinburgh and enjoyed walking around Berwick itself too, particularly around the walls surrounding the town. A fabulous stay and one I hope to repeat at some point.

What is your absolute favourite number 1 thing about caravanning?

Seeing so much more of this great country of ours, something we would have never done otherwise. Start up costs aside, it makes places more accessible, being able to stay for longer in our little home from home, surrounded by creature comforts and not tied to meal times. I wished we had done it a long while ago but have certainly made the most of it since.

What single caravan item do you regret wasting money on the most?

Fortunately, neither of us were one for stuff or gadgets, so this was quite easy: the pump-up awning.

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At the time, for a bit, we thought it was good but was extremely heavy and prone to condensation. With the purchase of Patsy 2 and the greater indoor space she gave us we found that it was no longer necessary and more of a hindrance. It was replaced with the pull out canopy which was undoubtedly one of the best caravanning items we bought.

While away in the ‘van do you cook? If you do, what type of meals do you prepare?

Short answer is no. I normally bring the results of my batch cooking at home with me and buy or bring sides like frozen chips, jacket potatoes and veg. On longer trips I’ll intersperse these with ready meals or a meal out with friends if they are nearby. Sometimes I’ll buy something like a gammon joint and roast or boil it for a meal and then keep the rest for sandwiches.

However on a recent trip a friend was staying nearby and cooked two delicious meals in the ‘van, both from scratch, and made it look very easy indeed. Cooking has never been my thing - although eating certainly is - Trev did all the cooking by choice and I was more than happy for him to do so.

Right, that’s it for Part 1 folks, I hope you enjoyed it. In Part 2 we’ll cover Patsy, other forms of travel, real ale - sorry, research - and a bit about our life too. Until then…..







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