Thursday, 5 May 2016

The freedom bug.....Part 1

I'm the joint owner of a motorhome and have been for the past 17 years. How did I get into motorcaravanning? I reckon it all started when I was sat on the back seat of my dad’s black Ford Anglia a long time ago. Here’s how. 
The caravan where it all started

We were following our brand new Connaught Cruiser caravan which was being towed from the dealer’s in Ilford to a campsite near the Essex coast. It was 1950, I was 5 years old and completely innocent – I had no idea that the “freedom” bug would bite me hard as soon as we started taking holidays in that caravan. A magical exploration of seaside and countryside opened up. There were sand pies, Punch and Judy shows, dens to be made in undergrowth, and a stream to be paddled and fished in. Then there were the birds, butterflies and wild flowers to spot and tick off in “I-Spy” books, and long grasses to lie in watching bugs and insects of all kinds at close quarters.

The freedom bug that bit me continued to nibble away contently. In my 20’s, as a young mum, we took our 6 month old son on his first camping holiday in France. This was the 1970’s and there was a horrified reaction from family and friends to taking a baby abroad, let alone go camping with him. “You can’t do that!” they said. Fortunately, I’d married someone who was quite happy to go along with my passion for the freedom, fresh air and flexibility that camping offers. He’d never had holidays like it and he’s probably just a tad more enthusiastic about the freedom and flexibility thing than I am, having not grown up with it and coming to it later in life, so to speak.

We graduated from holidays in hired tents to owning our own but for years there had been a background yearning, a constant inner gnawing at us by the freedom bug, to have our own motorcaravan. In the 1980’s we nurtured a pipe dream of taking the children to the United States, hiring an RV and having the holiday of a lifetime; the dream dissipated when we did the sums.  Practically, this wasn’t going to work as we simply couldn’t afford it. But the open road still beckoned along with the attraction of having a home on wheels.

Fast forward now to the 1990’s. On my way home from work every day I passed the showroom of a local motorcaravan dealer. Lured by the line up of second hand vehicles on the forecourt, I sometimes stopped and had look around. Finding a small, used, modestly priced van unlocked I went inside and was transported back to childhood memories of holidays in our old caravan. The owner had left a neatly written notice giving details of the vehicle’s height and width, and where various switches were located. It reminded me of my dad’s handwritten instructions in our caravan, one of them being “Please extend leg before lowering bed” (teenage friends I was allowed to take on holiday in the caravan found this hilarious).

I got excited. We could afford this van. But was it the van for us? I went home full of enthusiasm, told my husband about it and began campaigning in earnest. We were going to have a motorhome. He will claim that I made noises like a seagull every time we passed a motorhome on the road, or drove by the forecourt of the local dealer. I claim it was more like the sound of a small puppy making excited, whimpering noises of joy. And I’m always right.

To be continued.....

This article was first published in MMM magazine, November 2013

Photograph is mine

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