So during the Easter holidays we took our caravan down to Dorset for a midweek break. We didn’t take Jessie with us this time as she is in heat and it would have been a bit of a nightmare with her. The weather was forecast to be poor but we decided to embrace our inner campers and go for it anyway. Now my husband spent much of his youth in Dorset and so is really familiar with the area and since being with him I’ve fallen in love with the area as well. For our first trip with the caravan down there we decided to go for a holiday park called Highlands End which we’d visited before to use the facilities in our pre-caravan-owning stage. The nice thing about going on holiday in a touring caravan as opposed to another form of self-catering accommodation is that you can have everything unpacked and ready before you leave home. Before we set off I had already put our clothes in the drawers and wardrobe in the van. Our food was already in the fridge and freezer and C’s toys were already in her toy cupboard. This meant that when we arrived there was only the setting up of the actual caravan onto the pitch to do.
J is responsible for all the external sorting of the van and C and I do the inside. Although if I’m honest her assistance generally involves playing with her toys right in the middle of where I want to be. We are fairly efficient at setting up now to be honest and it’s lovely to arrive and feel your holiday can begin straight away. The weather whilst we were away was forecast to be rubbish rain all week so we had plans to visit the aquarium or go and see the new Peter Rabbit movie at the cinema or to visit the swimming pool on site or just stay holed up in the van watching movies. As it happens the weather was poor on the Monday night and into Tuesday morning but brightened up enough for us to head out for fish and chips in Weymouth for Tuesday lunchtime. It was even nice enough to have an ice cream on the beach. There is something about having fish and chips by the seaside isn’t there? It’s a proper British thing to do and it does taste so much better, and not just because it is inevitably fresher. Our favourite place for fish and chip in Weymouth is the Marlboro as their batter is really crispy and the fish is so delicate.
Wednesday the weather was a bit more hit and miss and we debated a cinema trip but instead I insisted on visiting one of my favourite places, Lyme Regis. I don’t know what it is about Lyme that I really like but it’s just somewhere that makes me happy. We parked in the harbour car park and walked along the front to the base of the hill and high street. For C going onto the beach is what makes it a proper holiday and she loved walking along the sand picking up stones and shells for me to carry in my pockets. She has a little bowl of shells in her bedroom at home which they will be added to. It did drizzle on and off so we had to pop into a couple of shops to keep dry, but thats part of the fun on a British holiday. C is going through a phrase where she’s really obsessed with dinosaurs so we picked up some toy dinosaurs for her and some fudge for myself and J. There are some really lovely shops in Lyme where you could pick up some nice bits for the home but given that we’re about to rip our house apart I had to resist the temptation to get anything.
Thursday we were blessed with incredible weather for the time of year which was perfect as we had plans to meet an old friend of J’s and her two daughters in Lyme. We had some fun times playing on the beach and paddling in the sea, I let J take charge of that one and I supervised from the comfort of the towels. Even though the sun was out there was still a bit of a breeze in the air but we were able to enjoy lunch overlooking the water and then a bit of crazy golf with an incredible view. I can highly recommend the crazy golf in Lyme, even though it’s not the best course I’ve been on, it is in an incredible location. That said, crazy golf was maybe a little ambitious for the two three year olds in the group. One of which had a tantrum and C only avoided a tantrum by picking the ball up and putting it directly in front of the hole before putting it in. But providing you aren’t too fussed about keeping score it’s not too bad a way to spend an afternoon. After all that fresh air the little ones were exhausted but we still had time to try out the new soft play at Highlands End which was the perfect way to end a very busy day.
Friday was time to head home after a thoroughly enjoyable few days away. It always amazes me how a few days away can make such a difference. I feel so much more rested and relaxed and we’ve made some good family memories. C in particular was sad to come home and that was on alleviated by the promise that we could do some baking when we got home. Holiday really makes you appreciate the importance of family time and the simple pleasures that spending some time together can bring.
So next Spring we are going to do some massive renovation work on our house. And when I say massive I really do mean massive. We have to do a single story extension, move the staircase and remodel upstairs, install a new roof, install a central heating system, new windows and doors, rip up and replace all floors (not just flooring actual floors) and walls. So obviously we can’t really live in the house whilst this is going on. So we are going to hvae to move out. We did lots of thinking about where to live for this time. One option was to rent a flat for six months but that would probably cost a fair amount in terms of removal costs, rent, council tax and bills on both properties so we dismissed it as we’ve both always felt rent was dead money. Another was move in with J’s dad who lives just down the road which would be free but after consideration we decided that we would all end up killing each other and that actually it would be best to manage a big renovation project from on site. So we looked at getting a second hand static caravan in the field to live in which seems to be fairly common for large renovation projects. However, we hit a snag as static vans are 12 foot wide and the gap between our garage and the neighbours hedge is about 10 feet. So it wouldn’t fit up the drive into the field. The only way to get one into the field then would be to have a crane lift it over the hedge. Which would cost seriously mental money so we dismissed it. So our only solution really was to get a large touring caravan which we could drive into the field. A major advantage of this is that we can also use it for holidays in the future so extending it’s useage beyond the build. We made this decision quite some time ago hence why we had an area prepped for it in the field (I’ll give more details on that another time).
So anyway, we had thought for ages about when to buy our van. We won’t need it until next March/April time but didn’t want to wait until just before then in case we couldn’t find the van we were after (as we were planning to buy second hand). As I had never stayed or even been in a touring caravan before (J’s family had one when he was younger), J said it was essential for me to look at a good few to be convinced that I would be happy to live in one and to holiday in them. For some reason my husband seems to think I’m quite fussy, I don’t know what gave him that impression. So early summer we had gone to a few caravan shops (pretty sure they’re not actually called shops as it just doesn’t sound right) and I had made sure that I went into all different types and sizes of caravans. It was a really useful exercise as I was immediately able to determine what were must haves and what were no way in hell will I live in thats. So my must haves were a decent sized bathroom. Not only do I have a toddler but neither J nor I are exactly small so we needed a big enough space to move about in. Ideally I also wanted the bathroom to be at the back of the caravan out of the way. Even though there are only three of us (and are planning on staying a trio) we wanted a good sized van, big enough so that if C ever wanted to bring a friend on holiday then she could do so we were looking at probably a five or six berth van. As we are planning on living there we need some kind of central heating system and a decent sized kitchen.
Now the sleeping arrangements in caravans tend to have a few distinct options. You can have a fixed double bed at the back, or you can have either fixed twin or bunk beds at the back. Then most vans also have the option to convert the front sofas into either another double bed or twin beds. Some also have a small table somewhere at the back that can convert into another bed. We wanted to avoid as much as possible having to convert a bed every day when we’re living there so after lots of looking in different vans we have gone for a set up where there are bunk beds at the back and a small table which converts into another single bed (which we will probably keep converted at all times when living there). There is also a decent sized bathroom at the back. That whole back section can be closed off its a curtain/door thing which will be useful when we put C to bed early. We’re also getting a large awning which we can have as extra outside living space. I’ll post some pictures of the inside etc when we collect it this weekend as we’re planning to spend a night in it on Saturday to see how Charlie settles into sleeping in it (and because J is ridiculously excited about us squeezing in some weekends away in it before the weather gets too cold. For now I’m just trying desperately to think what kind of essentials I need to get to in, what are the kitchen essentials for a caravan? How many games and toys do I need? I’ve never been massive on camping so I don’t really have a clue what kind of things to get for it? I’ll try and write a post on Sunday to let you know how our first night went!