I never thought I’d become a member of the travelling community. Offering to tell your fortune, re-tarmac your drive or sell lucky heather was never on my retirement bucket list. But “Never Say Never Again” as Sean Connery opined in a wig which only convinced his bank manager.
If you’ve ever sat behind a towed vehicle, as I have countless times, dawdling along on a single country road for ages until you’re finally able to pass, you might have caught a fleeting glimpse of the driver and his partner who had been impeding your journey. That’s going to be me smiling at your angry face. Because I’ve bought a caravan.
Why would I spend huge amounts, drive for miles getting 10 to the gallon, annoying everyone else on the road to sit in a field relying on batteries with no internet and a cassette toilet?
My sanity is often challenged and I’m normally gracious when acquiescing to logic – but on this issue even I think I’m right as there’s a kind of method in this madness. Bear with.
The United Kingdom and Ireland has some of the most wonderful countryside in the world. Many of us (including me) are blessed to live in or near it. The great British outdoors has an irresistible draw – and particularly now. As we’re finally allowed out of our Covid cages, there’s an irrepressible need to go outside, elsewhere and allow our senses to be flooded with nature, fresh air and ozone – but perhaps not abroad just yet (as there be dragons).
Accordingly, there is a rush to book holidays at home. Some of you may have tried to find places, trains and flights recently only to discover accommodation has skyrocketed faster than Richard Branson’s galactic share price. We all know why. Many have sympathy for the hospitality industry getting back on their feet and now finally starting to survive again. So no-one blames them for premium rates. But I won’t pay them as I’m from Yorkshire and we’re tighter than a gnat’s chuff.
Consequently I’ve equipped my Volvo with a detachable tow bar, rented a secure storage space and after some deliberation decided to purchase a second hand Elddis Odyssey caravan.
Now I’m on a steep learning curve. How do I connect, tow, reverse and secure this thing? Water, gas, electric, security and a host of other challenges are also shrouded in a fog of misunderstanding. I need so many accessories. Oh dear. Toyah sang “It’s a Mystery”. That’s the earworm in my head whilst I struggle to connect a toilet waste valve in a damp field far from home as the light fades.
My ability to hold on to fine detail also seems to be fading. I either can’t hear or remember, so am questioning my ability to do this. Perhaps I should just stay at home, watch game shows in my armchair and fade away.
But I’ve always loved a challenge. My legs are weak and wobbly but I can still walk. So I think I can. Yes it’s a gamble. No, I won’t fail. Why? In essence, support. My partner is totally un-technical and unable to kneel down due to chronic arthritis and two metal knees but is willing to go along, humour this loony and mop his brow. She’s what I need to do this. Why I can.
It seems taking on new challenges is not something those of a certain age are renowned for. We apparently like a comfy armchair (if you believe the adverts on ITV’s Tipping Point). Wrong. I will give it everything I’ve got – and I hope the reward will be peace. Blessed peace.
In Norfolk there will be wide blue skies and the crashing of ocean waves. Sunsets with cocktails. Seagulls walking on the roof waking me up to see the dawn. Fresh Cromer crab sandwiches – and finally having my daughter and grandchildren to be with and hug. I have eight year old Cole and a two year old Emila-Rose. Can you imagine what it’s like to be separated from them for so long and then to be re-united? More regular contact is essential – and the caravan will make that possible.
Yorkshire’s east coast is another planned destination. It’s suffered from over commercialisation and the fishing industry is a shadow of its former self. Avoid Scarborough and Bridlington at all costs. Whitby is lovely but overrun by tourism. Robin Hoods Bay is picturesque but no-one actually lives there full time. It’s a shame.
But there is Filey – and I so want to go back. A long time ago their councillors decided there would be no dreadful commercialisation of the town like their neighbours. No amusement arcades, candy floss, donkeys, shops selling sand buckets, spades or Bamforth postcards. Today there is a Tesco – but I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at the council meeting when they agreed that.
From Royal Parade to the Cobble Landing dogs are banned from Filey beach between 1st May to 30th September and the town is still much like it was 100 years ago – including the best lifeboat station. If you get the chance nearby Staithes is so beautiful and also unspoilt. Just don’t tell anyone.
There are many places I want to visit in Britain but that I have only seen in books and on TV. You can imagine. I’m looking forward to towing my temporary home and causing traffic jams behind me, pitching up, getting confused, chilling out, meeting new people, having amazing experiences and living my life as I always wanted it to be. Free.
Even without golf courses I think Sean would’ve approved – and perhaps even doffed his wig. Bond always had manners.