From canvas to tin top

This story happened on: 07/03/2012

I'm busy trying to catch up with my caravan adventures diary but most inconveniently..for the diary anyway.. we are so addicted we keep on going away at weekends..

Anyway I thought it would be fun to share with fellow members how 12 months ago, got into the caravan lifestyle.

I'd enjoyed caravanning growing up with my parents as members of a small club in Leicestershire who met every 3 or 4 weeks during the season, they truly were some of my fondest childhood memories. So as our children (Now 6 & 3) progressed from bottle feeding and nappies, I had a hankering to get out more into the great outdoors and give them the opportunity to enjoy caravanning as much as I had.

So with nothing to do on an Autumn Saturday in 2010 we visited Lowdhams in Nottingham, just for a nosey. We made the fatal mistake of walking into a brand new 2011 Swift Challenger in the showroom as soon as we walked in. After that the 'Pre-loved' vans just did not cut it for us.

The idea of caravanning got shelved at that point because as is typical with me, the 'If I can't have that one I don't want to play' attitude kicked in and we could not afford a new one. Nevertheless I couldn't resist buying the magazines and could not shed the burning urge to get into it.

I should say before I go on that after leaving home I became a keen camper and with my now wife we visited festivals and had some lovely times away in our tent together, indeed we continued to camp when our children came along. Camping with travel cots, sterlising equipment and all the other clobber you need for babies was most definitely our apprenticeship to the camping life in general and from those days onwards things have only got easier... thank god!

So in March 2011, Spring had sprung on a lovely Saturday so we decided to take a walk along the River Trent near our home for a pub lunch at Gunthorpe, which to anyone who knows the area is dangerously close to Lowdham Caravans...We had no plans whatsoever to buy a caravan. Sat enjoying our lunch in the sunshine I suggested calling in for another nosey... and I think this is the point where I could add 'The rest is history'..

Call in we did and several hours later we'd invested in our first caravan, not the 2011 Swift Challenger but a quite delightful 2005 Sterling Eccles Moonstone. Positioned just at the entrance to the pre-loved area it was love at first sight for our kids, who decided to stand guard at the door as my wife and I set off to at least look at the others, nobody was getting in to look at this caravan as far as they were concerned so we quickly returned 5 minutes later and 'Did the deal', Got ourselves sorted with batteries, locks gas etc and began our adventure with caravanning...

At risk of boring everyone I'll leave it there for now but I'll put some more up about our first time and how things have progressed since another time

FiatBessacarr commented on 07/03/2012 16:12

Commented on 07/03/2012 16:12

As I'm sure many others have experienced, it all started when a child in a ridge tent with the parents before owning our own tent, having kids (still got it in fact for the grand-children to use), then progressed to a frame tent (proper thick heavy fabric), then a trailer tent (Conway) with detachable kitchen on the back. One summer when on holiday in the New Forest it was so cold, wet and windy (typical English summer I hear you say!!) we had to go and buy a new 12v lamp so went to look at the nearby caravan sales centre. Woah! saw a caravan as we pulled in immediately caught our eye (2nd hand Rambler 4-berth) so went straight over to have a look around - forgetting the lamp we needed of course! We made enquiries but someone else had just beaten us to it by a few minutes! Disappointment wasn't the word with wife and kids fed up wanting to go home and didn't like another one on display! Just then a very friendly sales person appeared out of nowhere rubbing his hands with a great big smile on his face - probably saw me coming with family looking right miserable! - and said for an extra £200 we could order a brand spanking new one though a different make would be an identical van layout obviously newer Perle Argos with everything in fridge, hot water, gas fire, nice hob & grill but no oven. I asked "what was the catch?" and he replied it's a new sales drive they are able to offer. I was blinded for a minute or two so, with wallet in tow and credit card wanting a little flexibility (wife and kids all giving me a little encouragement we went for it. Since then we caravanned for over 25 years (the kids stopped caravanning with us when they were 16 as they do - not street cred to be seen with your parents let alone actually speak to them!!) it's just me and the other half to argue with!! We then got thinking after the kids eventually left home to sort their own lives (though one has left and come back like a fiddlers elbow) we should look into a motorhome which we felt better suited our needs and so much easier to use, particularly abroad as we've spent a lot of time out on the continent in France, Spain and Portugal on our own and with friends. For me (and I am sometimes allowed to speak for my other half on ocassions) we would certainly not go back to the days of sleeping under canvas having tasted the more luxury side of living away from home and from all the stresses and strains of setting up, sorting everything out and packing it all away again in the rain. For me tin top wins the day! Happy vanning (& trailer tenting!) whatever your preference.