When we were kids, my parents bought a tent and, for a while, we became ‘camping people.’
It wasn’t all bad, there were some lovely holidays in France, barbecuing under the stars next to the Dordogne. But these have been largely overshadowed in my head by memories of soggy weekends in Robin Hoods Bay, living out of a washbag and traipsing through wet fields to the toilet block in the middle of the night. I was utterly relieved when they hung up their tent a decade or so back and became ‘hotel people,’ and ‘country house people’ instead.
So when they got the idea in their heads recently to buy a caravan, I couldn’t wrap my head around this desire to strap their accommodation to the back of their car.
Their first move was to set the caravan up at a little campsite a few miles from their home and stay there for a few days, to get to grips with all of its inner-workings and iron out any kinks while still close to home. Every morning, my dad would drop my mum off at nearby Wakefield train station and she’d hop on the train to work in Leeds. My dad would then spend the day pottering around the caravan, collect my mum from the station that evening and bring her back. All of this three miles away from their spacious home.
I needed to see this for myself, so, on my last day off, my daughter Imogen and I went to visit my dad at the caravan. Far from a dingy, cramped space – with washbags slung in the corner and pull-out beds – I was amazed to find a kitchen, with full-sized fridge, freezer and cooker, a comfy living room with a big screen TV and bathroom with a big walk-in shower. It even has a double bed – and not one of those you have to assemble yourself at 11.30pm after a couple of glasses of Chardonnay.
We put Imogen down for a nap on the bed, my dad made us a cuppa (the whistling kettle was the only throwback to my youth) and we sat on comfy sofas enjoying the warm breeze coming in through the window. It was so peaceful. When Imogen woke up, we took a lovely long walk and, when we got back, I watched with envy as my dad began to prep steaks to throw on the barbecue that evening. Maybe they were onto something. After all, camping made a big comeback – Glamping! Can Glaravaning be that far behind?
I’m not saying I’m going to rush out and buy my very own home on wheels, but I might be tempted to borrow my parents’ for the odd relaxing weekend in Wakefield...
* Nik Brear