A very steep curve

This caravan business is tougher than it looks! There’s so many things that must be super obvious and easy for the seasoned pro, but as a newbie I’ve had to do an awful lot of googling and asking questions.

I mostly ask for advice on the Facebook forum Caravanners R Us @CaravannersRUs. There is often a healthy debate  (people do things differently though, so that’s all good) however the advice given is usually great. There’s always the odd <insert rude word of your choice> who has nothing positive or useful to say, but that’s life isn’t it. 

My advice seeking post from this morning seems to have opened quite a can of worms: 

Answers ranging from “it’s fine, loop it round the towbar” to “it is illegal to loop it round your tow bar. You’ll get 3 points on your license and a fine”.

Sometimes the answers and advice causes me added confusion or stress, but overall I’m really grateful that forums like this exist. I know that someone will always answer my ridiculous noob questions. And it’s allowed me to attempt fixing things that I never thought I would. I’m much more comfortable with a crochet hook and some wool than I am with tools/hoses/regulators /door seal and whatever else. But (with a little assistance) I’ve fixed some problems and learnt new skills while I’m at it.

Beginning caravanning is a pretty steep learning curve, but it’ll all be worth it.

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Dilemmas

Been a while since our maiden voyage and my last post.

This was going to  be a post about the various bits that need fixing up/checking…

*the gas/the grill

*the indicators 

*the towing mechanism/brakes

.. and my ponderings about where to get Bertha serviced. However it’s turned into a bigger dilemma….Do I sell Bertha and get something smaller?

While we are legal to tow her we are very close to the limit at 1200kg laden weight. And based on the overheating clutch issues of our trip, I don’t think our car is a big fan. I’m quite fond of our car, and couldn’t afford to change it even if I wanted to (I dont)…but I’m scared about killing the car!

Maybe it’s just a confidence thing about towing and practice will make perfect??

On our trip Bertha felt very roomy and “luxurious” but we don’t really NEED all that space…do we?

I also REALLY don’t want to lose any money. I think she was a decent bargain and we’ve spent very little on her (hence why I’m reluctant to spend money getting her serviced), so hope I’d be able to get what we paid back and put it towards a smaller caravan. But then there’s the faff of eBay or whatever. And then there’s the further hassle of finding a new caravan. Do considerably lighter 4 berths exist or are they a bit rare? And are towbars pretty much universal? 

I definitely want to keep caravanning (until one day in the distant future when we can afford a camper!)…that’s a no brainer. But I just can’t decide what to do…

All advice and words of wisdom welcome!

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The Tale of our Maiden Voyage

Our first trip out was a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. Good bits, bad bits and the bits in between.

FRIDAY: The day of tears and doom

Packing went remarkably well on Friday morning, although after some small issues with legs and jockey wheels we set off rather later than planned.

First lot of tears were mine at trying to get the caravan out of the drive. Numerous attempts with both the husband and the lady from across the road trying to instruct me. We got out though…eventually!

On the road. Towing was definitely not my favourite. Kept forgetting to breath. And panicking when the car juddered everytime I set off and “shunted” when I stopped. Cue more stress. And a few tears.

Missed various turns so the simple and easy route turned into one involving very narrow country roads. I’m very glad the babies were both asleep in the back as they may have learnt some interesting new vocabulary if awake.

We arrived at our campsite. With a massively ovetheated car. More tears. Trying to get in our alloted space. More tears. Thankfully the campsite owner came to our rescue and drove us into our spot.

Next came a bit of teamwork to get us all in and warm and hook all the necessary bits up.

Must confess that here I had a bit of a moment. Build up of stress I guess. But there was a definite moment of “we can never go camping again as it’s killing my car and I can’t reverse in an empty bloody field. Everything is going wrong and I want to go home” and yep…you guessed it…more tears.

By now it was tea time. Hit with the realisation that we couldn’t find a lighter. The husband tried lighting it from the gas heater, declared we would eat cold chilli, eventually went and asked the caravan next door (who gave us some very, very old and not working matches), went to try the cigarette lighter  and came back victorious having found a lighter in the glove box. Score…tea was underway…

But of course the toddler shunned tasty chilli and wanted toast. Daddy dutifully set about making toast.

But then Disaster Struck! Husband went to check the toast. Popping noise and a fireball shot out of the grill. Poor Roy wasn’t too seriously hurt, but has singed all his hair (beard, arms, hands, eyebrows, eyelashes, the lot) and burnt his nose and cheek. Poor man went in to shock (tears all round!) and the rest of the evening was largely spent with him recovering.

Saturday : The Day of Rain


We slept ok. Kept surprisingly warm by heaters and ALL the blankets, although the tiddler insisted on getting her hands out of every blanket so her tiny hands were cold. Adlibbed breakfast of fried bread (no way we were going near the grill!) And then ready for the day. It rained non-stop all day, but we persevered and went to wander round Clitheroe. Lunch at the Castle and then off to soft play (a dry indoor way to get rid of toddler energy) 

Thankfully we’d packed our old George Foreman grill, this proved useful for tea and Sunday breakfast.

Saturday night was wonderfully chilled out though. What we needed after Fridays drama. Games were played…

And crochet was crocheted…

.And it was lovely.

Sunday: The Day We Came Home

A leisurely morning with sausage butties and lots of nice family times. 

All packed up and absolutely dreading the journey home. We said we’d take it super easy and stop whenever the car overheated. We were also having some mystery issues with indicators, assuming the bulb has gone (can’t win with these electrics can we?!) We unscrewed with a knife (must pack a screwdrive) but the bulbs were encased so we couldn’t easily get to them. So on the way home there was some sticking arms out of windows! And a substanial detour due to me getting in the wrong lane and ending up back on the motorway.

However, the drive home was still a bit white knuckle BUT it was so much calmer. No wheel spin, less shunting and no overheating until it came to maneuvering back up the drive. 

Thankfully my dad was on hand to do the reversing. How many people does it take to park a caravan? 5 if you count the one who was watching the babies. Unhooking and pushing up the drive was the answer…the man from across the road helped this time.

Will reflect more in a few days and work out what needs doing  and fixing before next trip.

This was always a test run anyway so stuff was bound to go wrong, so I shouldn’t be disappointed . But we are all agreed that we mostly enjoyed it and we are looking forward to our next trip, whenever/wherever it may be.

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Twas the night before…

Tomorrow! We’re going off in our Lovely Bertha TOMORROW! 

Been dreaming of this for months, how wonderful it will be to be able to get away and have our own little home from home with us, but now I’m nervous! 

The husband has been working late shifts this week, leaving very little baby free time to do anything, let alone pack and prep the caravan.

So it’s all happening tomorrow morning. Eek. Place your bets for what time we will actually leave…I’m reckoning mid afternoon at the earliest. Happy to be surprised though!

And what crucial thing will we forget?

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Will we eat in the caravan?

Towbar is fitted and car is fixed. We are ready to go! 

Unfortunately due to some car issues I didn’t get to do a test drive this weekend. So we’ll just have to cross our fingers. Will he booking a site in the morning, last minute I know, but wanted the car all clear first. And  it’s not as if there’ll be that many other people crazy enough to go camping in the cold! I highly doubt every will be fully booked.

Started creating a list of things we will need, although I’m positive we will forget something important!

Also been trying to prepare the 2 year old for her first trip. Telling her that we will be sleeping in the caravan. This of course was met by a dozen questions…”will we be eating/playing/brushing our teeth/getting dressed (the list went on!) in the caravan?”

Feeling excited, but also incredibly nervous about our maiden voyage 

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The Fear of Towing

It’s all happening . I *think* everything is working. And in 4 days we will have a towbar and be ready to roll.

However, the reality of Towing is setting in. I’m the only Morewin who can drive so it’s all down to me. I have driven vans but have never towed. 

My biggest worry is reversing it back up our driveway. We live in a fairly narrow cul-de-sac which is regularly littered with cars. 

“It’ll be fine” I say “we can just unhook and then me and Roy can push it up the drive”. “No” replied the fatherly one with a serious face “you won’t be able to push it on your gravel drive”.

Arse! So….I’ve been having some Dad Lessons

Firstly a lesson about angles. And how I will either need to reverse down the cul-de-sac OR turn car and caravan around at the bottom. Neither of which I feel very confident about. 

The next lesson was all about the caravan travelling in unexpected directions depending on whether I do left hand or right hand down. For this we needed some props…

Think it was the 3rd attempt when I finally managed to get in without taking out a pretend gate post or a pretend car across the road!

Future things that may help: motor movers, getting rid of the gravel drive, widening the gate posts, courses…all out of the question currently as we don’t have the funds.

Until then I’m just going to have to brave it! Eek! Hopefully get a chance to have a practice run at the weekend…will it be a disaster? We will see…

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Day of much success!

I won’t normally be posting everyday, but today is an excellent caravan day which needs recording! 

Tiniest Morewin had her jabs today so the grandparents were called in to watch the slightly bigger Morewin. My mum entertained the toddler whilst my dad went off pottering in the caravan…he’d obviously been pondering overnight.

Off I trotted to the doctors, Tiny Morewin was a super star despite being stabbed with needles! 

I returned to the news that the gas was now working! 🙂 Apparently the issue was some oily gunk in the regulator. Win Number 1.

He’d also fixed the sticky lock in the front locker. Win Number 2.

Whilst calpolling and feeding Tiny, Dad went off to potter again. He returned to report that the heater was on!!! Score! Win Number 3.

We went back to nosey and caravan was pleasantly warm. Time for a lesson in heater turning on. But then. ..Disaster Struck…the dial fell off! 

Dad to the rescue though. Heater taken off, dial replaced, and turned back on. Phew. Win Number 4.

But the success doesn’t stop there….

Win Number 5 : picked up these off Gumtree 


And Win Number 6..got a towbar man (who sounds like the young Werewolf in Being Human) coming next week! Friday the 13th…but all will be well.

So here’s to our 6 Caravan Wins of the day! 


Thumbs up!

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