Martin Roberts

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Recalling a trip from last year, Martin Roberts' wife proves that with a bit of confidence and care, first-time tow car drivers should not be afraid

Can women tow caravans? Hold on a minute... I’m not being sexist – it’s an open question! The reality is that they are probably rarely given the opportunity to prove things either way. A bit like sorting the barbecue, towing is generally ‘Man Stuff ’ and, to give us blokes our due, it’s the nearest thing most of us get to fulfil the childhood dream of driving a lorry.

Whoever takes the wheel of a car that’s towing a caravan for the first time has a terrifyingly steep learning curve. It’s not just the length of the van, it’s the weird and unexpected way that when you turn one way, it turns the other. And that’s just going forwards. Fear the day you have to go backwards! In my time, I’ve written off one van, and my current pride and joy is significantly scuffed in various places. So I’m not professing to be an expert. Note to self: get on one of those towing courses ASAP...

My wife Kirsty, on the other hand, is a meticulously careful driver. To my recollection she has never had an accident (and, no, she hasn’t ‘witnessed hundreds’ as the old joke goes). However, she’s never felt confident enough, or there hasn’t been the need for her to tow. But a trip to the Cornbury Music Festival, and the nearby Chipping Norton Camping & Caravan Club site in the Cotswolds, would have meant a four-hour detour from my work trip in the north in order to collect the caravan from our home in Bath.

So, with genuine concern – bordering on fear – I asked her if she felt she could undertake the journey. After serious contemplation she reluctantly agreed, recognising the potential challenges ahead. The combined length of our car and caravan would put many a juggernaut to shame, and the picturesque but minuscule roads of the Cotswolds had the potential to be a baptism of fire. Throw in two attention-seeking passengers – in the shapes of our then seven- and four-year olds – and some would say I was throwing her a pretty wicked curveball. But we agreed it made sense.

So when the allotted day of our rendezvous came, I set off from Sheffield around the time that I calculated Kirsty would be ‘wagons rolling’ out of Bath. I was petrified. Images of the crumpled carnage and traumatised children at the roadside following the inevitable disaster tormented me for my two-hour journey.

Just as I was passing through Evesham, the phone rang and a familiar number flashed on the display. This was it. I was already preparing the insurance claim.

“We’re here,” Kirsty said, nonchalantly. “How was the drive?” I spluttered.

“Piece of cake,” said she, almost smugly.

When I arrived at the campsite 20 minutes later, the caravan was perfectly pitched and levelled, electricity and water connected, homemade lasagne bubbling in the oven, wine chilling in the fridge and two children playing happily.

The site manager approached me the following day and said: “Your wife did well didn’t she? She’s obviously done that before!”

“No, first time,” I said, proudly.

There was silence. We looked at each other and shared a moment of realisation that one of our last bastions of manlihood was probably no longer.

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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