I never thought I’d say it, but I found myself saying it.
“I’ve had it with caravans,” I said.
Before you throw away your copy of Practical Caravan, or cancel your subscription in disgusted protest, please let me clarify. We’d just finished looking around caravan number 589 (ish) of the 10,376 (or so) on display at the recent Motorhome & Caravan Show at the NEC Birmingham, and it was all becoming a bit of a blur.
The thing is, our beloved 10-year-old Lunar is starting to creak in a rather worrying way. This wasn’t helped by my recent attempts to pitch it on the equivalent of an Austrian hillside that was only missing Julie Andrews. The noises as the scissor-jack stabilisers forced their way through the van’s wooden floor is something that I won’t forget in a hurry… Well, I didn’t like the way the drawer and bathroom units all lined up nicely anyway – and the new Picasso-esque twist is nothing if not characterful!
There are advantages to a van that now looks like the ‘before’ adverts for silicone sealant and generic cleaning products. It certainly leads to a relaxed attitude in use, which is especially fitting given that our caravan entourage now includes two kids, two dogs, two rabbits and two guinea pigs.
That said, after two hours of wandering through the sparkly new caravans on show at the exhibition, we were getting very excited about the possibilities. Making comparisons and analysing specifications became an almost Herculean task, as we struggled to remember the interior layouts of various vans. Having focused on two in particular, we concluded that the only way to really compare them was to look around one, and then run at great speed to the area where the other was located. Backwards and forwards we scuttled – at least three times. No, really!
Features such as automatic self-levelling steadies, underfloor heating, LED lighting, solar panels and on-board water storage were all rattling around our heads as salesmen competed to extol the virtues of each caravan. Apparently, ‘lithium analytic pro stabilising cross platform harpsicordial flange-volds’ are now the ‘must-have’ accessory in any new caravan we consider, even though before the show we weren’t even aware of their existence.
The task of whittling down our list of seemingly endless possibilities and variations of new caravans became a full family affair when we asked the children what they liked about the new models on offer. Bunk-beds were, understandably, at the top of our kids’ list. But when it came to the crunch, it was five-year-old Megan’s desire for a roller partition that comes down in the hatch between the kitchen area and the main sleeping area that was the deciding factor. Why? Because she can then play pretend ‘shops’.
And so our search has a focus. Forget all of those newfangled gadgets, it’s the ability to open a blind and serve imaginary tea and cakes that gets our vote.
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After two hours of wandering through the sparkly new caravans on show, we were getting very excited about the possibilities