The first one was easy as it was all about one particular event, me and a bunch of other pilots in a handfull of small planes flying round the world… if you really want to have a look its called “Round The World Flight“
So, whats this blog all about then?
In May 2011 I had a photographic shoot to do in Essex and normally I’d have driven down from the North West, done the shoot and driven home again. A round trip of 400ish miles and a very long day. As Sue had some time off we decided to hire a caravan to see if it was something we would enjoy. Now you don’t just sit there reading a paper and suddenly announce to your partner “I think we will hire a caravan next week dear” how did we get to this point?
A few months earlier we had gone to stay with some good friends, Pete & Julie, who live in near total isolation in a small valley called Bramsdale in the North Yorkshire Moores. Now when I say small…. there are only around 12 homes in the whole valley and running water is a modern invention. Needless to say, the internet and mobile phones have not yet reached there.
While sat watching the lambs in the front garden, munching on one of Petes best chargrilled BBQ steaks, Pete & Julie told us of their three months touring Spain and Portugal over winter in a caravan. Little did I know at this point Sue would be even the slightest bit interested in a caravan. The stories all sounded wonderful… if not fraught with challenges… like changing the oil in a Shogun while parked over a drainage ditch and… well thats for Pete to tell one day, not me.
After spending a couple of days with Pete and Julie and asking the odd question about the caravan, it was time to drive back to Manchester. On the way back, we stopped to pick up pie supplies, and with these stowed, we continued home and the conversation turned to Pete & Julies caravan. Since I had hung up my flying gloves, we both missed the touring. Holidays for us had usually consisted of packing the plane and setting off somewhere, spending a day or two, then flying on to another location. More than once we had flown the complete Iberian coastline, stopping off at eight or nine places on a two week holiday. We both missed this and I think Pete (who was also a pilot) and Julie’s adventure had sparked something inside us both.
Now at this point, I have a confession to make – I have always wanted a caravan.
So, back to May 2011… we decided to hire a caravan. That decision was simple, actually finding somewhere to hire one from was more of a challenge. After searching the internet for a few hours, I found one that was only a few miles from home in Cheadle, North Western Caravans. They hired out some of the pre owned caravans they have for sale. It seemed ideal. Now, what did we need… the next trip was up to Glossop Caravans to have a look at the range of caravans we thought we wanted. After wandering round for an hour or so looking in all the pre owned caravans we had decided on a 4 berth, end washroom, with a dinette.
Off we went to North Western Caravans with our decision on what we wanted. When we arrived we had a look round the pre owned vans, and yes, they did have a couple of vans that were similar to the layout we wanted. We went into the shop to make further enquiries and hopefully book a caravan. I started to fill in the booking form and Sue was asking about the different vans…. it nearly all came to a screeching halt. Sue was told that they couldn’t tell us which caravan we would have, only that we would have a van for the dates booked. Its that moment when decisions have to be made quickly, that you may come to regret at a later date.
We decided that we still wanted to try out the caravan and we would just accept what we got…. little did I know what dramas that was going to cause later.
Caravan booked, all we needed to do now was find somewhere to stay in it. The original idea was to use it while I was on a shoot in Essex, so searching on the internet I found a site within 5 miles of my shoot…. the Camping & Caravanning Club site at Kelvedon Hatch. I was now on the Camping & Caravanning Club’s web site… so I started browsing other sites in the area. Sue and I had flown over Kent for years, often using the Dover VOR as a way point on entering and leaving the UK, but apart from a few business trips we had never visited anywhere in the South East. Canterbury C & CC site looked ideal so we would stop there for a couple of nights. Now, we had to be back on the Thursday to return the Caravan, so I needed to find a site between Canterbury and home, that was going to be an easy run back with as little chance of delays as possible. Oxford C & CC site looked ideal. I rang up Kelvedon Hatch and booked in for two nights, the Friday and Saturday. My shoot was on the Saturday, so it gave us all day to tow the van down to Kelvedon Hatch on the Friday…. and all day Sunday when the traffic was quiet, to get to Canterbury. Two nights at Canterbury and then off to Oxford for another two nights. This should give us plenty of time to get from one place to another, test our pitching skills and towing skills but not be too stressful if anything went pear shape.
The lady I spoke to at Kelvedon Hatch was ever so helpful and told me all about the C & CC membership and pointed out, if we liked caravanning and joined before we left Kelvedon Hatch, we would get a refund on what we had paid as non members and also Canterbury and Oxford would be at members rates. Working it out, It would actually be cheaper to join for the trip than it would to pay non members rates!
So, we had a caravan booked and the three sites booked. All I had to do now was learn everything there was to know about caravanning…. Oh and install a 12S socket on my tow bar.
That’s it for the moment for part one….