We've been going away in a camping car for about six or seven years now and had our own for about three. Before that my husband would borrow one from the garage where he worked and I would spend all holidays dashing around screeching " don't break that", "don't touch that", at the kids.
Now is that time of year when we start to see camping cars about on the roads, and I'm sure some of you envy the freedom associated with them. Don't.
I’m not saying it’s not lovely to be able to pull up in a beautiful area and play house. It’s deluxe camping and you can find everything you’ve packed because it’s all in the cupboards (unless you’ve forgotten the plates, or even worse – the cork screw.
The toilet is great, as toilets in general are. We tend to under-estimate them (except for on World Toilet Day of course) but the year we went away and my son was in the middle of potty training it was very handy to fling him on the loo whenever he needed.
It’s wonderful to have that great outdoors/camping thing while still sleeping in a comfy bed ( the mattress is newer than the one in our room back home). The fridge and cooking facilities mean cold beers and something other than sarnies for lunch everyday.
The best part is when the weather gets really bad, then you can sit and play family monopoly and watch all the poor campers digging moats around their soggy tents.
HOWEVER, there is a big but, several in fact. Look at the time we broke down and spent three days in a village I’ll call Armpit of the Universe for want of a better name.
We were on our way home, so the fridge and the water tank were almost empty, even worse so was our booze supply and I had finished all my books. The garage we were towed to said it would take a few days to get the parts but we could sleep in the camping car on their forecourt in the meantime. We would hang our washing line between the petrol pumps after closing time.
In retrospect I should have worried about the drinks fridge, it was full of booze, this is the only garage I’ve ever seen to stock more than one type of whisky. At the time however we scrambled to the cold white wine as soon as we saw it.
There was no fresh fruit or veg in the village, but everywhere, even the butcher’s and baker’s sold alcohol. This wasn’t necessarily a problem as we had nowhere to empty the toilet if we filled it. We would get up, walk to the park, watch the children bickering until the newsagent’s opened, buy a paper, take it back to the park… buy bread… go to the park…
I know many people for whom unlimited time with their nearest and dearest would be a dream come true, I’m sorry, I’m not one of those people.
Then we noticed our daughter had got nits. In a camping car where we were all inches away from each other’s beds, where we couldn’t wash the sheets, or our hair either, for three days.
I think the garage made more on our drinks tab than on the reparation.
I can still remember the time we came back from the park and saw they had moved the camping car, we broke into a sprint, we paid and threw the kids in the back as we tore out of Armpit and headed for home.
My husband didn’t stop driving for six hours. No-one asked him to.