I LOVE MY BAILEY. I honestly do. But we’ve been together a while now and once a week, I look through the Sunday travel supplements and dream of eloping with a four bedroom villa, tossing about swathes of Egyptian cotton with reckless abandon.
I tell myself it’s not cheating; there’s no touching.
[tl:gallery size=460×307]There’s a guilty pleasure imagining a holiday where the nightly routine doesn’t start with sofa cushion jigsaw to put up the double bed and end with polite conversation while swilling out a cassette toilet.
Having been a caravanner for so long, I am out of touch with non-van holidays and have to express my utter shock at the financial outlay required to access a beach so white it may cause snow-blindness.
For £3000, I could head to a Balinese island and spend the week being taught how to breathe properly. Despite my initial reservations, I have concluded that this could potentially be money well spent. Having just parted with £3000 for instruction in an activity in which I consider myself moderately able, I would be hyperventilating and M would most likely have stopped breathing altogether.
The more frugal traveller already accomplished in the art of inhale/exhale might wish to spend £42 for admission to a beach in Montenegro. That’s £42 each. Each! Does that include a sun lounger? Patio set?
You can guarantee that once the Asquith family has descended ,the tide will come in and we’ll have five minutes to pack up or watch a collection of counterfeit Crocs drift out into the sparkling Adriatic.
Much more suitable would be the ‘child-friendly’ trip to Peru. Highlights include a night hunt to find Caymans, mountain biking down a rocky ridge only slightly wider than a bike tyre and learning the ancient custom of skull-drilling. Before I’d finished reading the itinerary, my children had scampered off to the garage in delight. (“I can’t find the drill, will a saw do?”).
In my opinion, child-friendly is a site you can pull onto without fear of grown-ups booing and hissing as you unload offspring from the back of a people carrier and sturdy fencing around anything deep and watery containing Caymans.
Much as I would never turn down the opportunity to travel to exotic locations, I do believe that adventure and discovery don’t have to come at such a high price, and caravanning is the ideal way to experience this. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country and stay in some awesome locations. Those of you who have ever visited Robin Hood’s Bay will know what I’m talking about.
The boys, ordinarily unable to walk the half a mile to Sainsbury’s suddenly become mini Indiana Joneses when leaping and scrambling down the steep and windblown cliffs at Ravenscar and spend hours collecting the ammonite and belemnite fossils that litter the beach below. We were lucky enough to discover a fossilised Ichthyosaur vertebrae on our last visit, and managed to get it to the cliff top in one piece (unlike the fragile ammonite fossils that have lain undisturbed for 120 million years) and then hear it crumble when a four year old sits on your rucksack.
Along the beautiful Jurassic Coast, we have stood in the footprints of dinosaurs and the poo of many dogs; we have searched ruined abbeys and winding cobbled streets for ghosts, vampires and car keys.
We have fought and won skirmishes with battle-hardened Vikings, Pirates, sea monsters and Caravan Club site wardens. All this without having to leave our shore, and with the safe retreat of our trusty van.
I know there is a whole world of adventure out there but for the moment I am content to explore the thrills on my doorstep, until such time as I don’t have to sell a kidney to be able to afford a trip to the beach.
Or I forget how to breathe.