Mike Le Caplain

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Mike Le Caplain
Extend the hand of friendship on your caravan holidays, says our Mike Le Caplain, after gaining a new perspective on a particular type of caravanner

I, along with a healthy chunk of the Practical Caravan team and over 800 of you lovely readers, spent the early May bank holiday at Stowford Farm Meadows in Devon on our much-loved Reader Rally.

The weather wasn’t great, to be honest (despite the sunshine in the above photo!), but I think everyone had a good time, whether it was tucking into the Saturday barbecue or Sunday cream teas, or witnessing Group Director, Tim Bulley’s frankly awe-inspiring performance on the microphone during the bingo and raffle. I know I did. As our Group Editor Alastair Clements blogged recently, it really is the best of caravanning.

And yet, for all the fun and jollity, there was a bit of a dark cloud on the horizon – for me, at any rate. Actually, there were loads of dark clouds on the horizon, most of which brought torrential rain, but you get my meaning. This was because my wife and son had to pull out of attending at the eleventh hour. So while I enjoyed giving our new Suzuki S-Cross DDiS ALLGRIP long-term test car its first run with a caravan hitched on the back (namely our comfortable Swift Lifestyle 4), I was missing the company of my family.

As you'd expect, flying solo (as I like to call it) in a caravan is par for the course in my line of work. I’ve done it loads of times over the years, often in the depths of winter, in the dark and the cold in the middle of nowhere, when mine is the only unit on a given site. And it didn’t bother me in the slightest, because it was work.

But at such a family-friendly event, like the Reader Rally, it was rather different. Granted, it was still very much a working weekend (I’m not sure I want to see a Styrofoam cup of tea again for quite some time, that’s for sure), but the difference on this occasion was that just about everyone else on the rally was there with family and/or friends. Whereas my loved ones were stuck back at home, over 300 miles away.

It got me thinking and helped me gain a fresh insight into the lifestyle of a particular type of caravanner. Because while my enforced solitude was a one-off (you can bet your bottom dollar that Mrs Le C and Le C Junior will be with me on next year’s Practical Caravan Reader Rally), it’s very much the norm for a lot of caravanners out there.

Of course, some people prefer to spend their caravan holidays on their own. But what about those who don’t? This is where the wonderful community spirit of caravanning kicks in, especially at an event like the Reader Rally.

If you happen to spot someone on their own on your future travels, might I suggest a gentle, no-strings-attached offer of coming around to yours for a couple of beers (for example) one night, or maybe stopping by for a burger at your next barbecue? And if they politely decline – hey, no sweat. But there might just come a time when someone listens to your offer, and then practically snaps your hand off.

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