The First Trip!
This story happened on: 19/10/2018
So, a few years ago my wife Emma said we should get a campervan. I wasn’t keen, “It’ll cost too much money”; “Will we actually use it?”; blah, blah, blah…
However, the idea kept floating around in my mind and gradually I started to think that it would be kind of cool to come home from work on a Friday, throw some things in it and clear off for the weekend!
I started to look at what sort would suit and more importantly prices and confirmed my initial fear – they are quite expensive!
We did think that it might be a good idea to hire one to see if we actually liked it and so we found ourselves off to a site near to Brands Hatch as I had a car driving experience booked there.
This all went off without a hitch so we decided to go to the coast in it and there the first problem arose – parking! Most carparks wouldn’t allow motorhome parking so after that we came around to the idea of getting a caravan.
Again I started to look around at what was available and one day at work, just over two years ago, I received a phone call from Emma – “I’ve bought a caravan!” Our childminder had decided to relocate to Cornwall and was selling up so we became the proud owners of a 2001 Eldis Crusader Storm.
I’ll be honest, it was a bit bigger than I’d thought our first caravan would be, in fact it seemed enormous!
Luckily the car that we had at the time had a towbar so the day arrived to tow it to our house which wasn’t far away. This went OK apart from the fact that it took about an hour to get it onto the front of the drive…
The drive does go all the way down the side of our house which would be a much better place for it but there was no way I felt confident enough to get it down there so we had to wait for the childminder’s husband to come home on leave from the navy and he reversed it down there in a couple of minutes.
There it sat for quite a while… I booked onto the club’s basic manoeuvring a year or so ago and then had a panic to get a towbar fitted as we’d changed cars at that point.
The course went well and seemed to make sense but the caravan just sat there still doing nothing…
Emma said that we should either use it or sell it so a decision was made to go away for a long weekend during the October half term week.
After reading up on caravan maintenance I then realised that I should get it serviced. This wasn’t something I had considered before but like a car a caravan has systems that need regular maintenance and checks so it’s pretty obvious when you think about it!
Next job was to wash it as it as it had stood partially under a tree and next to a hedge so it was a bit green at both ends. The kids helped with this so it wasn’t quite so much of a chore.
The departure day arrived and I nervously hitched up the van to the car. What I’d learned on the course started to come back to me - the green button popping out when the hitch was properly located on the ball, raising the jockey wheel, connecting the breakaway cable and connecting the electrics.
First problem when checking the electrics the left hand indicator on the van isn’t working which was annoying as it was working the previous day… We’ll have to use hand signals on that side says Emma.
So we set off! The worst part of the journey turned out to be getting through our village because a van driver would come through when I flashed him he seemed to want us to go through which I could see would cause a jam, ho hum…
We’d picked the Sandringham site to visit as it was only just over an hour away and on arrival was greeted by name from the warden.
I ‘fessed up that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and he helped me get the van onto the pitch and took us through the basics of all of the systems.
We managed to trip the electrics when we turned the kettle on and had to knock on a neighbour’s door to find out how we should should reset it but other than that it was plain sailing.
All in all we had a great stay and the whole family loved it so I’m already planning another trip for the first half term of next year.
One last thing, when we hitched up to go home the left hand indicator started working so I guess I’ll be taking the connector apart to see what’s wrong.
Hopefully this might prove useful to other new caravanners, just take you time and if you’re stuck people are only too happy to help.
Emma, Dave, Lily & Harry Johnson