Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Tents, Campervans, Caravans and Boats Part 1

 No matter how hard up we were in our early years of marriage we always managed a holiday. Never abroad and always very basic. We camped in this country, cooking on a picnic stove and spending cheap days on the beach when the weather was good or visiting a castle if it rained.

Our honeymoon began it all in  September 1979 on the Isle of Wight, in a tent and cooking things borrowed from the Scout Group. I was slimmer back then!

We camped all through the mid 80's with two children until a really wet and cold week in Sutton on Sea, when we decided to save for a cheap caravan. Our first was old and tiny, 12 feet long I think, when the bed was set up there was no room for 4 people to stand up all together! I've got no photos - couldn't afford to get them printed back then.

 Youngest Daughter was born in November 1987 and in 1988 we went back to camping and sold the caravan. It had been a squash for 4 so no way could we fit a baby in as well. We had a tent with two end sections and a centre area for cooking and eating. So the two eldest were one end and me Col and baby at the other end.

A bit later as the children grew we had 3 small tents with me and Colin in one tent with the cooking and food storage and a smaller tents for the girls in one and son in the other. Plus the toilet tent. On this site we had to squash all the tents together as the warden moaned about us having 3 tents for 5 people

Sometime before moving to the smallholding in 1992 we bought a bigger second-hand caravan , we lived in it for the first two weeks at Fareacre while the house was totally re-wired, although we used the 3 tents  at Grizedale Forest in  1993 (below) because no caravans were allowed.

We were lucky as my Aunt and Uncle who had had a smallholding all their lives before retirement would come and stay on the campsite and look after everything for us. My Mum and Dad would often bring their caravan over too until Mum became too poorly to travel.

 We had a Toyota Hi-ace which pulled the caravan well, Colin fitted it out with two bus seats and lap belts behind the two front seats so there was plenty of room for all 5 of us and our gear. 

Here we are on a temporary holiday site at Lancing in Sussex. We had an awning and the two eldest children often slept out in it rather than squashing us all in the caravan

 Not long after moving to the smallholding we did something Colin had long wanted to do - a narrowboat holiday. We went at the cheapest time, out of main season right at the end of the school summer holidays and  boated down the South Oxford canal. It was an extra slow trip as there were water shortages and queues at the locks.

 This photo below is 1995, possibly the last holiday with all 5 of us. After that Eldest Daughter stayed at home.

 A couple of years later both the eldest didn't want to holiday with parents and we had our second narrowboat trip with just Youngest daughter. We went all round the Birmingham Ring of canals, stopping at the Black Country Museum and working our way through dozens of locks and a few tunnels.

By the time Youngest daughter was 16 she didn't want to holiday with us either and Col fitted out the Toyota with a frame to take the mattresses from the caravan so that when holidaying with just the two of us plus Lucy the dog we  didn't have the faff of towing a caravan.

I haven't got a photo of how it looked inside but we fitted in the porta-potti loo between the seats and bed and had the picnic stove at the back under the shelter of the back door of the van which lifted up. It was OK unless the weather was bad.

2002 somewhere in the Welsh borders

To be continued..................

Thank you to everyone for comments about the  Book Woman book yesterday, apologies for not replying but I had a chance to rough out some future blog posts in drafts - so got busy with that job.

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  1. Very interesting, similar with us but less camping. We mainly had holidays with the in laws, either canal or just staying with them. Sometimes on our own with son visiting castles, exploring nature etc. Great days

  2. We started camping as a way of affording a holiday with two young children. After a while of spending the whole of Saturday getting everything ready to pack into the car as soon as hubby got home from work, and then spending Sunday evening and all day Monday putting everything away again, for just one night camping I said enough was enough and refused to go again until we got a caravan. We got a small secondhand caravan and in the next few years, a week at a time, we went right round the coast of England, Scotland and Wales. Once he started keeping all the animals the travelling had to stop. We had some memorable times though.

  3. That's the Sugarloaf, so you were near Crickhowell by the look of it.

    All our holidays when the children were growing up were either spent staying with friends or family, or elsecamping holidays as we couldn't afford anything else. We went down to the West Country (Dartmoor of course), Scarborough (family roots), Northumberland and up to Scotland a couple of times - once doing Pictland after I'd been on my dig up there, and then across along the road to the Isles and Skye. I think that was our favourite. We would stop off in the Lake District on our way up and back - never been there long enough to explore properly though. We'd love to have a few days up there but not sure if Keith's health will ever improve enough for that to happen.

  4. I never went on holiday as a child - I would be taken to either my grandmother's or an aunt's farm at the beginning of the summer, and collected when it was time to go back to school. I spent a month living in a tent with a boyfriend once - he was on an archaeological dig. Never camped since, but loved several boating holidays, barges and cruisers, rivers and canals.

  5. I now like to be able to stand up to put my trousers on.

  6. My holidays as a child were always spent at the YMCA holiday camp at Skegness - then after marrying Malcolm we managed cheap holiays abroad.

  7. My Mum came from Bristol so a lot of our holidays were spent there visiting relatives and we did have a caravan holiday once at Robin Hoods Bay when my Dad won £10 on the pools. The only time I've been camping was when I was about 11 or 12 and I went with an aunt and uncle to Rhyl in Wales. It was supposed to be for a fortnight, but I was so homesick they cut the holiday short. When I was 15 or 16 I went with a group of people (work colleagues of a friend) to Towyn also in Wales, staying in a barn of a local farmer. That was the time I actually walked half-way up Snowdon. With my husband we had a boating holiday on the Norfok Broads and when my daughter was little we had a caravan holiday in Beer, Devon.

  8. It looks like fond memories we never camped as kids but did get a yearly vacation. Husband and I camped for several years with lots of friends.

  9. I took the children camping when they were young, had a canvas tent, patchworked where holes had happened. But as you say packing up a wet tent in the rain is a killer. Also camped a couple of months at a time on archaeological digs as well. Terrible loos, but a shower in the barn, trading careful so that you didn't bring sand into the shower but fun with all the other people.

  10. We bought a tent and minimum camping gear and camped in the early 70s across Canada travelling east or west and staying in national parks. We saw so much of Canada. At that time non electric camp sites were really cheap. It was a good time. Now I don’t think we could get in or out of a tent very easily, but I would still love to camp again. I really enjoyed this post and hearing of your holidays.

  11. Holidays bring back so many wonderful memories. I've always loved being close to nature, the outdoors and the sea. Your camping and boating trips sound like so much fun. I've camped only once with friends on Cape Cod and it was good fun. The tent was an old (initially kind of smelly) US Army surplus tent owned by my friend. We fit 8 in the tent...what a lark it was.

  12. When I was young and growing up in the UK, we camped all over the UK and on the Continent. Lots of memories--especially the #%@ midgies in the Scottish Highlands while staying in a very, very damp rental caravan. Ugh. One of our most memorable camping trips was occurred near Glasgow. We pulled into a campground at night in heavy fog (1950s) and rain. No point putting up the tent. We simply strung out a leaking canvas off the back of our station wagon and sat under it to heat up some dinner over a burner before crawling into the car to sleep. My older sister was stretched across the front seat and my parents and I were three across on flimsy air mattresses in the back. The rain stopped and the fog began to lift. All was briefly quiet as we tried to get some sleep, when suddenly the whole car was lit up by bright lights and a deafening sound brought us upright as a large propeller aeroplane flew low overhead of us. Turned out we were camping near the end of Preswick Airport. More aeroplanes landed. Sleep was not achieved. But I learned a fair amount of colourful language from my father that night. :)

  13. I, too, have a lot of fond camping memories. Parking on the wrong side of the car tracks on Padre Island Beach (the tide came in and lapped up the sewn in ground sheet. Thinking the tent would blow away on Christmas Eve in Melbourne, thinking we’d found the last possible place for a tent in Florence only to find another one along side us when we woke up in the morning.

  14. I wouldn't ever sleep in a tent but caravans have always been fun. As long as the toilet and shower block was within easy walking distance, the children were fully self contained re food, clothes, games and sports :)

  15. What great memories to look back on. I bet you are glad you did these things when the opportunity was available :)

  16. Good memories. I remember sleeping in a tent ⛺️ when Phil and I were in England 🇬🇧 years ago on a weekend. A British couple invited us into their trailer or rv sp we could be outt of the rain and ate breakfast with them. We used a tent for years when the children were little. We now just stay in hotels even though I wouldn't mind having an rv or trailer. That's not going to happen though. I need to get photos into a post soon. I've been busy lately. Take care!

  17. What lovely memories to look back on. I have only started camping again during the past few years. We'll be going again next week for a week in a tent. We are meeting daughter and her husband, but they have a camper. Tents these days are so much easier to put up. I remember having to match all the poles. Now they just seem to pop up. We've had the same tent for a while - it might be time to think about a new one - but it is perfect for husband and me. It has survived all kinds of weather - storms, downpours and more.

  18. What a fascinating post.

    I've never actually camped in a tent, we were supposed to go with the Brownies but it was cancelled at the last minute. I camped in an old Army tent of my Dad's in the garden as a 'consolation' but it started raining and it turned out it was no longer waterproof. Family holidays with my boys were usually in hired static caravans in either Scorton or various Welsh sites.