It’s been a while, almost a year, since we had our last caravan holiday.
Despite having eight months on site this year, it certainly wasn’t a holiday. Our last sighting of the sea was way back in January when life was normal. We are craving the sight, the sound and the smell of the waves. We’ve a few free days, we hitch up and head to one of our local sites, The Centenary Site in the New Forest.
The route is familiar, it’s like going home. We arrive and find ourselves searching for masks and membership cards before barging into reception announcing our arrival. Our welcome was as lovely as expected, Marley, the staff staffie, recognised my voice and came bounding to meet us full of sloppy wet kisses, the welcome off the staff was ok, not a patch on the slobber of an excited staffie though.
Site was quiet as we drove the familiar one way system. Is it just us that struggles to find a pitch they like, the more choice they have. Despite having worked here we don’t have a favoured area or pitch. We ummmed and ahhhed over pitches here, there and everywhere before settling on one in Typhoon. Note to self, when choosing a pitch, if you’ve got a choice try to keep a distance from campervans with sliding doors. They don’t half make a din slamming in the middle of the night as the occupiers creep off into the darkness for the toilet block.
Even though it’s been a year, we are set up and kettle on in little over half an hour. We’ve still got the fine art of setting up down to a tee. The caravan still has the magic dust that comes out of the door frame as we step over the threshold and by the time we’ve finished our cup of builders we are well and truly back in caravan mode, feet up, Steve Wright in the afternoon coming through the speakers, nestling a still hot, empty cup on our laps, the blood pressure lowering abilities of our caravan are starting to kick in just as the light starts to fade.
Up and at ‘em the following morning, well, after a lovely lie in and a very lazy morning, we grabbed our coats and pointed the Volvo in the direction of the sea.
Mudeford Quay never fails to disappoint. The last time we were here it was one of the hottest days of the 2018 heatwave and we met Chris Evans. Today it’s piggin’ freezing with a biting sea breeze. The car park stands empty, it’s signs announcing a good few coins will be required to park on it’s tarmac so we choose street parking, for free. Zips pulled right up to our chins and hats pulled down to our eyebrows we head from the car down to the sea front. The sea is rather choppy and the sky is a steely grey. Cobwebs well and truly blown away we gaze across towards Hengistbury Head, our only company down here are the starlings, fluffed up against the wind, resting on the piles of lobster pots.
Ambling along, heads down against the wind, hands deep in our pockets, our walking boots hit the sand. Not quite the sand between our toes on the beaches of Lanzarote that we normally do this time of year. The odd brave dog walker but aside from that we have the beach to ourselves. The beach huts are all boarded up against the tide and weather, their battered pastel shades stand out against the threatening skies.
Despite the chill, a mad sea swimmer emerges from the waves and makes us pull our coats around us that little bit tighter. Shingle turns to sand and I let out a squeal, nearly falling in an attempt not to stand on a blooming dead shark, answers on a postcard please as to what it really is, but to me it will always be a shark.
As we leave the beach to head back towards the car, a pile of painted pebbles, a memorial to the strange year that has been 2020 caught our eye. A fantastic display of time, effort and talent to some of the extraordinary people of this very strange year.
Back in the car, heater on overtime, we head back to the caravan, deep in our own thoughts, just as the rain starts. Our need of the sea ticked off the list, back now to the warmth and cosiness of the van and slow cooker slop for tea, as The Boss likes to call it, beef stew to you and me.