This is a heartfelt homage to the great ‘Spirit of Caravanning’.

Have you, like me, lived through an event that would normally have resulted in disaster and that calamity was averted because you were looked after by some inexplicable caravanning higher power?

Take the couple in the neighbouring caravan on a recent trip I took with my family. Lying on the grass to the side of their van were the remains of a caravan wheel, a battered mudguard and a pair of hubcaps, carefully arranged to create a happy, smiling face. I asked them why these scrapyard bits were lying as they were. And so unfolded their story.

The duo had been travelling along the dual carriageway at a fair old speed when the centre of one of the main wheels of their tourer disintegrated. No half-hearted malfunction this, but an explosive redesign that threatened both life and caravan. It was the sort of mechanical failure that would – and should – naturally have resulted in the caravan chassis dropping to the road surface. At best, it would have caused the whole outfit to come to a halt in a shower of sparks befitting a space-shuttle launch. More likely, it could have set off a chain of events that could have culminated in the caravan’s performing a spectacular loop-the-loop manoeuvre and spewing its entire contents over the Keynsham bypass.

“Where’s the caravan now?” I asked the lady who was peering from the window of what must obviously have been a replacement for their beloved tourer. But no. With a smile, she announced: “This is it!”

“We saw some sparks and pulled over,” she explained. “Hubby managed to get the spare wheel on in the lay-by and we were on our way.”

“You were lucky,” I said, with dramatic understatement.

“I know,” she replied, “which is why we put together a little sculpture as a ‘thank you’ to the Spirit of Caravanning.”

Now, at the risk of alienating anybody who hasn’t been as lucky in a mechanical crisis, I just want to teeter on the edge of otherworldly mumbo jumbo and suggest this: perhaps there is something/somebody/whoever/whatever that looks after us touring types as we trundle the length and breadth of this fair isle (and further afield), in pursuit of our beloved pastime.

And, on behalf of all of us, I would just like to state how happy I am to know that it/they/he/she exists.

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