Nigel DonnellySee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Nigel Donnelly
NOWADAYS, WHAT WITH the entire population owning a digital camera, the tradition of sitting down on your return from holiday and boring your friends senseless with hundreds of photos of places they’ve never been and people they don’t know seems to have died out.
My dad used to carry around a huge rucksack packed with batteries, a variety of lenses, a tripod, a flash and the end result was always the same; by the time he’d worked out how to undo the camera case the sun had just set, or the never to be seen again steam locomotive hadentered a tunnel or my sister had already wiped the seagull poo from her face. As you can imagine, we have a very interesting family album.
But along with film cameras, photo albums have all but disappeared as well – not such a bad thing you might think, especially when visiting relatives you’ve not seen for a while. We have a laptop crammed with digital photos of our holidays and other memorable events yet we never print any of them off, and as a result my parents’ house is conspicuously devoid of framed pictures of the grandchildren but full of sepia prints of unknown Victorian children that my mum insists on buying from car boot sales. The only photos we actually have in our house are the ones from days of old when the other half wasn’t grey and I didn’t look like the 'before' picture for cosmetic surgery.
I like finding old photos – always kept in shoe boxes – and brushing the dust off them and looking at the faces of friends and family from years ago, laughing at the fashions and reminiscing about how badly we danced and what we danced to. My children won’t be able to do that; they barely have the patience to wait for the TV to switch on, never mind fire up the computer and search through hundreds of folders looking for the one entitled “Photos To Blackmail The Children With In Later Life”. Which is a pity really, because although we are a young family, we've had so many fantastic times already and a lot of those have taken place on caravanning trips.
Digital photography has rendered photo albums a thing of the past
I can safely say that I would rather be sat outside the flapping awning in a fold-up chair fighting the urge to go in and get a jumper than be sat around a hotel pool in 40 degrees of heat. I can safely say this because our holiday budget won’t stretch the distance needed to find somewhere that experiences 40 degrees of heat. And because my children are currently banned from entering every hotel and apartment complex within the EU.
Magic caravan moments
But there are so many magical moments that are unique to a caravanning holiday; like the awning being ripped away on a particularly breezy night onthe Norfolk coast, the time the toilet flush tank split and flooded the bathroom, the time I was pregnant and ever so slightly large and managed to break the bathroom floor... I’m sure everyone has had those moments of wondering why it was that you drove for hours to getaway from your real house, with individual bedrooms, proper toilets and a fitted kitchen. I tend to have mine when I’m sprinting back from the toilet block against driving wind and rain, toiletries flying from a rolled up towel and a small child flying from each hand.
But these become humourous anecdotes when sat with a Cornish Rattler in one hand (that’s a cider for the uninitiated) and a burnt sausage in the other watching the sky redden and reflect in the sea and the brightest stars you can imagine pick their way out in a jet sky. I love everything about it; I love the way everyone falls silent at the same time, I love the way people in tents think you can’t hear them just because you can’t see them. I love seeing shooting stars on the way to the showers – not a normal occurrence when back at home. I love hanging our wetsuits up to dry from the corners of the awning and I love pulling up the blind on the picture window of our Bailey Ranger and seeing a different view every trip.
My husband had the fantastic idea of taking a photo out of the front window every time we went away. We must have been away dozens of times since buying the van last year and we’ve yet to takea single photo. We usually remember as one of us is winding up the steadies and the other is searching the nearby hedges for Nerf darts and plastic arrows; the camera could be in one of numerous bags but the last time either of us saw it was in the hands of three-year-old Charlie who was encouraging his older brother to re-enact a scene from ‘Seaside Rescue’.
So yet another memory is reassigned to that very dusty shoe box in my head that is already crammed full with amazing snap shots of timesso magical I could never forget them. And the best part is that the shoe box can always accommodate more, I never have to rummage around under the bed to find them and I can always remember the occasion being just a little bit warmer and me just a little bit thinner.