Following our first outing in the caravan this year, I’ve decided that there needs to be a new sport. Forget ‘extreme ironing’ – I bring you ‘extreme caravanning’.
The plan was simple enough. Arrive. Pitch. Wine. Bed. Admittedly, things were complicated, since, as in usual Roberts Family fashion, our scheduled departure time had been delayed by a critical few hours and we arrived on site as the light was fading.
Worse than that, my highly-prized electronic mover decided to give up, so I had to do things the old-fashioned way. But even so, the pitch we were faced with was the caravan equivalent of the north face of the Eiger. It was situated on a ridge at some undetermined angle to the access road, which in turn sloped steeply down and at a strange camber. And did I mention the kerbstone? Spurred on by increasingly agitated children and wife, I decided I only had one option: to turn the steering wheel, slam the car in reverse and hope for the best.
Luckily, my battered but reliable Volvo had enough grunt to push the van up the slope, but the severity of the camber, sloping hill and deep kerbstone caused it to teeter sideways to such a degree, I was expecting carnage. But, somehow, we made it to the ‘wine’ stage without another insurance write-off.
The following morning, we were approached by several fellow caravanners, who marvelled at our great pitching skills. Even the site staff were impressed.
“Nobody is normally brave enough to try to get on that one. You did very well!”
I didn’t have the heart to confess it was more by luck than skill. As it turned out, we’d misunderstood the late-arrival instructions and missed the flat, accessible pitch that we’d been allocated. The experience got me thinking.
Looking around the site, I was encouraged to note that it seems a diehard group of extreme caravanners, who relish this kind of experience, already exists. They manoeuvre their vans on to the most unlikely of pitches out of choice and then balance them on towers of breeze block, wooden posts, yellow plastic things and over-extended car scissor-jacks. Some are quite staggering constructions, above which the occupants must be tiptoeing around to avoid catastrophic destabilisation.
And so to the 2013 Practical Caravan Extreme Caravanning Awards. The basic rules are these: you must safely – and without damage to the van, your car, your family or anything in the surrounding area – pitch your caravan in the most unlikely, uneven, sloping, breathtakingly-complicated-to-manoeuvre-on to designated pitch that you find in the UK. Then send us a picture. At the end of the year, Practical Caravan and I will decide on the winner who will receive the small, but highly sought-after ‘Extreme Caravanner of the Year 2013’ award. I say all of this tongue in cheek, of course, but good luck anyway!
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The following morning, we were approached by several fellow caravanners, who marvelled at our great pitching skills