Martin Roberts

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We love caravan holidays, but there's an art to them, right? TV star and Practical Caravan columnist Martin Roberts ponders what it takes to make the grade

There’a a question that has puzzled me for a long time. Namely, why doesn’t everybody love caravanning and do it on a regular basis? It would seem to tick all the boxes when it comes to an ideal pastime or holiday idea.

After a bit of work your van can be like a home from home, with all the familiar items and luxuries that you wouldn’t get in a hotel or tent.

It’s flexible, allowing you to travel wherever you want, whenever you want.

Caravan holidays are relatively inexpensive, allowing even big families the chance to get away on a great break from the norm.

You get to cook the food you want to cook or eat out at pubs and restaurants. Plus, more often than not, you’ll be in beautiful scenery or idyllic natural surroundings.

Surely, then, it’s a no-brainer?

My thoughts exactly. Until last week when we were away in the van and it occurred to me just how many separate skill sets and levels of experience were needed for a successful trip.

Are you qualified to do that?

For a start, you have to have the driving ability of an articulated-lorry driver, going forwards and backwards and in particular manoeuvring into the tightest of spaces without mishap.

For successful touring you ideally need to have the engineering skills of a Formula One mechanic, fixing a variety of nuts, bolts, screws, bearings, motors, tow bars and levelling devices on regular occasions.

You must be plumber and electrician, familiar not only with mains voltage but also 12V micro devices that pump water and various other ‘Heath Robinson’ contraptions.

You need to be a master chef, able to whip up gourmet feasts from the ingredients that can be squeezed into a fridge the size of a small wastepaper bin, utilising unfamiliar forms of combustion on a cooker that’s only fit for a doll’s house.

You also need the ability of a boy scout or girl guide to unfathom a bewildering selection of knots and ropes, and light fires or barbecues in all weather conditions.

To erect an awning you need to have the brain of a competitor on The Krypton Factor. Likewise to reassemble a variety of fold-down furniture and use the myriad onboard storage facilities to their maximum effectiveness.

You need to be a children’s party entertainer and Monopoly, chess and Scrabble grand master to keep the kids amused on rainy afternoons.

Finally, you need to be a tour guide and natural-history expert to make the most of the places you visit.

Who is the ideal caravanner?

So a combination of Eddie Stobart, Einstein, James Dyson, Mary Berry, Mr Tumble and Sir Ranulph Fiennes would make the perfect caravanner.

For the rest of us, given that there are so many of us who clearly fumble our way by, I think we should be very proud of the multi-talented abilities we possess that enable us to enjoy this most wonderful of hobbies.

Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter.
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