endure enjoyed 33 years of holidays together since we first met, so how did we end up with a caravan.
We both left school in 1983 aged 16 and started work at McDonalds, Bolton (UK), back in the days when people still expected a knife and fork with their food. Aged 17 we started courting, or whatever the modern term is … and so our holidays began. In the early days we could not drive so we would go for ‘Away-Day’ trips on the train to exotic destinations such as York, Stratford Upon Avon or Liverpool. A few months later The Boss got his car driving test date through and asked his Dad if he could teach him quick, he did, he passed, freedom. As we were now earning approx £30 per week we could afford a proper holiday – Norfolk Broads here we come, albeit in a group of seven holiday starved McDonalds teenagers. We must have enjoyed The Broads as we returned three or four further times in successive years.
Aged 18, in 1985 we took our first flight to the sun as a couple and flew to Menorca, looking at the pictures, back when we had beach bodies and big hair, or in Steve’s case .. had hair.
Fast Forward a few years, 1986 buy house, 1987 get married, 1989 move house, a time of limited holidays as we paid the mortgage and the bills. One of us became a HGV driver, one of us became a Special Needs Assistant. The key life change was the arrival of our two girls in 1991 and 1996 and a desire to enjoy family holidays, but how to do it? Holidays don’t come cheap. We bought a frame tent, our luxury three bedroom palace. Many of the things we love about our caravan today became evident in those early days, new destinations, fresh air, evenings without TV drinking wine and talking … but, it was blimin’ cold … note the wooly hats and jumpers, and that was just to go to bed. We would often look at the caravans on site with envy. We never even said “one day that will be us”, we simply thought we knew our place and would never have the means to purchase a caravan and enjoy our perfect holiday, but warm and dry too!!
We camped for about eight years, mostly on Camping and Caravanning Club sites and pretty much loved every minute until one particular trip to St David’s Bay when it rained every single minute. We realised that holidays under canvas were not guaranteed sun, and anyway, our finances were slowly improving.
We would try to holiday three times per year, starting to combine cheap deal Static Caravan Parks (Easter), a newly purchased Dome Tent (Summer) and holiday cottages (Winter) to maximise the kids holidays and minimise our funds. We even found a ‘Static Caravan’ in Normandy, France, where we alternated beach days with War history days … “Dad, are we looking at beaches or graves today?”
My sister’s employment gave her promotion opportunities that led to her relocating to, Geneva – Switzerland. This in turn gave our family the opportunity to holiday cheaply in, guess where?, Geneva – Switzerland.
Then she moved to Cincinnati – USA. Oh dear, another cheap family holiday. We even
nicked borrowed her car and drove it 12 hours across Eastern USA and into the heart of Manhattan, New York. One highlight for The Boss was a flight in a ‘Wright B Flyer’ with retired Major General Peter W. Odgers of the US Air Force at the controls.
In 2006 a major upheaval took place, Steve was being made redundant from his job in Trafford Park, Manchester. In a desperate ‘Why Not?’ he applied for a job at the Head Office in Guildford, Surrey. He was offered the job and we became Southerners in December 2006, it was a painful time but that is another story, in terms of holidays we moved up a step to match the increased finances that came with his new role.
From 2007 to 2012 we started to holiday in luxury apartments in Turkey (3 times), Crete and Montenegro in stunning locations with stunning views. As beautiful as these places were a pattern would emerge of days by the pool in the sun, then evenings spent getting ready and finding a restaurant for evening meals. Three of us were happy with this arrangement but The Boss found it “too hot” and a bit repetitive.
2013, another upheaval. Steve has what he calls his ‘wobble’ and decides he is unable to continue his role without his head exploding. Some may call this a breakdown, he just says the income was trapping him and the luxury trappings were ‘not him’. He throws in the towel just before our Montenegro holiday, again – another story, but in terms of holidays we have moved back a step financially as he returns to HGV driving on zero hours and approx 30% his previous salary.
This is where the caravan ‘nearly’ comes in. 2014, our girls are now 22 and 18, we decide to leave them home and holiday as a couple. Simple holiday? Sure. Let’s throw the tandem in the car and cycle approx 40 miles per day in every country of the UK plus as many Scottish Islands we can … In two weeks. Chirk (only just in Wales, sorry Paul), Ironbridge, Crosby, Blackpool, Windermere, Stranraer, Belfast, Oban, Isle of Mull (one too many miles nearly had the tandem thrown into the sea at Tobermory, pictured above) Isle of Skye, Inverness, Edinburgh, York, Peterborough, and many places in between. An amazing trip but every night we had to check in to a hotel, or B&B, or at a kind friends house before washing and thinking about evening meals. We were tired and needed some ‘us’ time with our feet up drinking ready chilled wine. How could the trip have been better?
… “Let’s buy a caravan”
If you want to read how we feel about caravan now – see links below.
An Evening In The Life Of