My wife Kirsty is not one for overly excessive cleanliness, but sometimes even she will admit that she gets a bee in her bonnet.
So it is that on these occasions I will return from a day away from home to find the entire contents of the garage on the driveway, or every dish, pan and utensil from the kitchen cupboards undergoing a process of sanitisation that would make a hospital operating room look grubby.
I can tell that she’s merely tolerated the hygienic idiosyncrasies of caravanning life for some time. No amount of toilet products can cause the cassette toilet to sparkle adequately. Meanwhile, some of the darker reaches of the under-bed storage are, for her, places of nightmares.
Let’s be honest for a moment: as much as I love caravans, as a place to perform minor surgery or encourage a visit from a hypoallergenic aunt, they are pretty rubbish. And, as happy to travel with our furry menagerie as we are, the combined effects of dog hair, guinea pig droppings and the detritus from two young children can lead to a carpet that looks more like a bizarre giant pizza.
Last week it had clearly finally got the better of Kirsty – she could stand it no longer. We had been preparing our tourer for a getaway, and I had to leave home for the day. I returned to find the driveway, the front garden, the back garden and most of the patio strewn with a variety of dismantled innards from the caravan. The equivalent of a professional kitchen ‘deep clean’ had resulted. She used my electric screwdriver with fiendish abandon to unhinge, unscrew, uncouple and open up just about everything she could lay her hands on.
Built-in units were built-in no longer. Self-closing doors didn’t self-close. The mattresses from the beds were removed, and all of the old tins, pots, pans, towels and bedding were piled up in various places on the drive. Food, kids’ toys, dogs’ toys, maps, books, tool kits, cleaning products… When you see it all unpacked and lying on the ground, it’s amazing quite how much the caravan holds in its numerous drawers, cupboards, cubbyholes and lockers. In short, by this stage our caravan looked like one of those exploded diagrams from an Airfix model kit, or a construction manual from Ikea – if it sold houses.
“That’s it,” she announced triumphantly after spending endless hours scrubbing, descaling, cleaning, polishing and sterilising each of the individual components that had once gone together to make up our ‘home from home’.
“I’m done now. All clean. You can put it all back together on your own, can’t you?” she said nonchalantly. “After all, I did the hard work taking it apart.”
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When you see it all unpacked and lying on the ground, it’s amazing quite how much the caravan holds