It was amazing the amount of tents we had to choose from that were reasonably priced and practical for our purposes. We purchased one similar to this for the princely sum of £60. Roomy and lightweight, with poles that you fed through sleeves in the outer canopy, it was easy to put up, even in the wind. The camp beds were too big for it but we had a piece of carpet we could use to put underneath us, and with our sleeping bags, duvets, and of course the dog, we would still be able to keep warm.
For a while, we actually had some good weather. We tried Wales again and stayed at a very nice camp site we’d used before that was pretty central and could be used as a base. We were still looking for something suitable to open a B&B so couldn’t settle for ‘just any house’.
We ended up looking at several places we’d already seen because different agents had taken their photographs from different angles. Funny thing about some roads in Wales is that they tend to only go where the sign says, so you have to turn round and come back! The GPS had us going round in circles, so we ditched it and put it back in the box after nearly driving off a ravine in the dark!
We moved across country towards Gloucestershire, but there was nothing in the areas we looked in that appealed, or if they did, they were beyond our budget. We’d had the occasional burst of rain, but nothing we couldn’t handle, and our spirits were finally beginning to lift. The dog was content to curl up at our feet in the tent, and although we couldn’t stand up in it, we had plenty of room and being warm and dry, slept pretty well.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to last. Bad weather came at us with a vengeance and this time, we got absolutely soaked having pitched on a site that we didn’t realise had poor to no drainage until it was too late. I decided to ring relatives who owned some farmland to ask if we could dry out in their barn, but they weren’t prepared to help us, so again we found ourselves in B&B, this time for 2 nights.
We looked at everything from every possible angle and decided that enough was enough. We had been under canvas for over 2 months, were more often wet than dry and couldn’t keep invading our friend’s lawn or privacy, so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a small second hand caravan using some of the money from the proceeds of selling our house.
We were limited to the weight we could tow and the one we purchased was similar to the above. Inside we had a cooker, hob and fridge, a bathroom with shower, loo and wash basin, and the seating area converted to a double bed. There was a heater so we could have hot water and plenty of storage for our travelling possessions. We also bought a cheap microwave, small electric kettle and an iron!
I had never towed anything before, let alone a caravan, so it was quite a learning curve for me. I did my fair share of the driving though and going through one way systems in town centres always seemed to be on my ‘shift’, but I’m pleased to say that I didn’t hit anything or anyone, not even a kerb.
I could not get to grips with reversing or parking it though, and memories of that very first time we’d gone camping in the pup tent were forefront in my memory when I tried, so my laughter probably didn’t help my concentration, especially as Hubby remembered it too and laughed harder!
Maggie was happy as there was a little corner for her to curl up in at night at the bottom of the bed. She never made any effort to get on it (or the settees when they were down) until a green throwover blanket was in place. In fact wherever the green blanket was lying, she felt she could too.
Typically, almost as soon as the ink was dry on the bill of sale, the sun came out, and stayed out.
We continued to cover a lot of the country but still pitched on official sites even though we had our own facilities. We stayed at quieter sites as we weren’t interested in cafes, pools or entertainment, including some fishing lakes for a few nights, and Maggie made no attempt to chase the ducks or interfere with the fishermen’s lines, so we were extremely proud of her.
Moving further east, we stayed in several places, even helping out on one site with maintenance and in their tea rooms. In lieu of wages, we were given a couple of ‘free’ nights.
Due to an idiot pulling out in front of us at a junction (luckily we were not towing the caravan at the time as we were on our way to a viewing) we ended up staying on one site for almost a month. The courtesy car offered was no bigger than a Smart car and totally useless for towing. The dog wasn’t allowed in it anyway, so we had to stay put until the other driver’s insurance company agreed to the minor repair to ours. ‘Surprisingly’, we had to take it to a specific garage for the work to be done.
If that hadn’t happened, chances are we would have kept looking and not bought our current house.