The choice of caravans was mind boggling; so many layouts, so many models, and we wanted a second hand one. We decided to visit the Caravan Show to get a feel for the options, and we dragged Mavis along (much to her disgust) as we felt she should have a part in the decision making. In point of fact she spent most of the time complaining of being bored and demanding cake and chips – not on the same plate.
We looked at caravans with fixed beds, end shower rooms, bunk options but eventually decided that we wanted one with bench seats – a double bed – at both ends and a dividing door in between This would give Whizz and I some privacy from Mavis and a friend, and vice versa. It transpired that the layout was only available in a five berth ‘van.
Having chosen the layout we set about researching second hand caravans and concluded, with forum help, that we should try and get a van no more than six years old.
After visiting local dealers and failing to find anything suitable we week-ended with my parents in North Kent and dropped into a dealership nearby. There it was, exactly what we had been looking for at a price we could afford. So with some trepidation we signed on the line and went home to finalise clearing and making good the spot in our back garden, previously occupied by a sectional concrete garage. The tape measure emerged again and there was more furrowing in Whizz’s upper head area.
We had also invested in a caravan mover, a huge expense but necessary if we wanted to have accurate control of the caravan on its journey down the side of the house.
Collection date approached and Whizz was getting nervous. He had never towed a caravan before and ours was pretty large. ‘It will stick out to here.’ he said anxiously in the back garden, then in the front’ And we will have to get it to here before it is off the road.’ That tape measure is worn out!
All things considered Whizz and I make a pretty good team. I am rather gung ho, impulsive even but happy to deal with obstacles and mistakes encountered as a result. Whizz is much more careful, planning and MEASURING for England. It isn’t always an easy path we follow but we get the right results – usually! I sold the garage on an impulse (Whizz wasn’t there to stop me) and then Whizz worked out the logistics of the project: the journey home (avoiding scary bends), the capacity of the car, the best type of tow bar and so on, I would never have thought of that and we would have turned up at the dealership with a tow bar that set off our reversing alarm and would have wedged the van under a low bridge on the way home. Whizz is a planner and I am a doer – mind you when I had sold the garage Whizz certainly did his share of ‘doing’. To be fair, I also do a bit of planning – when I have to.
This is going on a bit so I’ll cut to the chase. The journey was uneventful if fraught with anxious moments: our first roundabout, a narrow road with parked cars, three crowded lanes of traffic and motorists pulling out in front of us, to avoid being stuck behind us. We eventually arrived in Pebbleditch and pulled up to the kerb – more or less parallel. The caravan mover was engaged, traffic halted and Bertha (Five Bertha) crawled across the road and reversed as if by magic onto the front of our drive and Dave nonchalantly following behind with the remote control.
There followed two hours of intense and stressful yelling. Whizz in the back garden and me at the front. The caravan almost wedged between us. Neighbours all around watched discretely. The traffic at my end made it impossible to hear what Whizz was saying unless he shouted down the side of the caravan and I blocked one ear and stuck the other one into the space. The thing we had not considered in all that measuring was the level of the ground. It sloped so that the top of the caravan was nearer the house than the bottom. Eventually our neighbour came to help, the one whose fence and oil tank were in danger of being caved in. He climbed on top of his tank and held the caravan away from it while I watched the wall of the house, which the caravan cleared by less than a centimetre in places. Finally we got it through and parked in its allotted place but then all we could think about was how the devil we were ever going to get it out again!