Strictly speaking the first time was on my father-in-law's driveway, but that was just a test run. It was the Easter break and because the Husband and I could now sleep in our newly acquired Autosleeper Symbol campervan, there was room for the daughter, her boyfriend and Gran to sleep in the bungalow, so the family could spend the holiday together instead of some of us being billeted at a hotel. We hooked up to the power supply in father-in-law’s shed and all went well, apart from shivering through the first night because I had not fastened the sliding door properly.
Feeling more confident and eager to buy even more essential camper van bits, the next weekend I dragged the Husband along to the Peterborough Motorhome Show and we broke our journey there by staying at a site about half an hour away. When we arrived I told the warden it was our first time and we didn’t know much about anything, so he found us a spot between the toilets and the rubbish skip, immediately next to an abandoned caravan that had a huge piece of grubby plastic in front of it, weighed down with paving slabs. It didn’t quite match up to the photos I had been showing the Husband over the last three years of isolated hilltops overlooking luscious green fields and wide expanses of still blue water, when trying to convince him that spending a huge chunk of my pension on a camper van was a really, really good idea. However there was a beautiful golf course next to the site and a water mill converted into a very attractive restaurant where we had an excellent meal.
At Peterborough I joined the team of people who stroll around every motorhome show holding one of those long handled brushes. I always thought they were the same people, a sort of touring theatre group but, as the television aerial outside our house is used by all the birds in the neighbourhood for their ablutions and it unfortunately overhangs the van, I now understand the necessity for one of these things.
A couple of weekends ago a new milestone was achieved. I went solo! Well, I was pitched next to some friends and later met up with the rest of our local art society, who were all soon asking me to boil up water for their flasks of coffee and supply them with water for their paint pots before we set off into a Sussex forest on a painting expedition. Oh, how wonderful it was to be able to pee in the comfort of the van, instead of squatting behind a bush.
So, three trips and no major mishaps. (That incident with the tractor, well, that really wasn’t my fault.) The following weekend was our Wedding Anniversary and I had enjoyed the site in Sussex so much that I suggested I take the Husband there. He agreed quite readily, with, well, a hint of enthusiasm. I put that down to my timing, after I knew a few beers had been consumed but dare I even whisper that he may actually be enjoying the van?
Am I pleased with my new van? Oh, yes, no regrets at all. We are now planning a whole week away in it! Photos soon will appear – when I get someone to take one of me that makes me look a little less hyper-actively delirious with joy to the ones I have at the moment.
Many, many thanks to everyone who gave advice over the three years I was searching for my ideal vehicle.