After 45 years of caravanning, this is the valued advice of Alcester customer Peter Ratledge... Hitch-Up & Go!

We are sad. We have just returned home after taking our caravan to be sold. Broad Lane Leisure who will deliver the last rites for us have been consoling and practically helpful as usual. Ill health has forced the dreaded deed to be done. It’s like losing a dear friend of 45 years.

We return home and turn to the liquor which helps to resolve most problems in life- a nice cup of tea! As we ponder what life has in store for the future our thoughts turn back to the past and the memories flood back.

Buying our first van a new Sprite Alpine for £350 and having to go cap in hand to the bank manager to borrow £50 to finance the deal. Our first trip out at Easter to the Forest of Dean where the tow bar collapsed on my foot. The hiss of the gas mantles, the airlock in the foot pedal water pump, the condensation dripping from the windows. We loved it all and were truly hooked.

Joining the Caravan club and remembering when we used to wave to every passing fellow member, who sported the triangular pennant proudly in the front window of their van. The first shower blocks usually converted stables or cow sheds, two toilets and two showers, each with their resident spiders who resented any intrusion. The interminable queues awaiting their own destiny, would all the hot water be gone! The Wardens who were masters of all they surveyed, and having to site your van were you were told to. Total obedience was obligatory.

Our first summer holiday in South Devon on the old Stokeley Meadow site (now Start Bay ) where we made new friends whom we still see every year to this day. Two weeks of nonstop activity, cricket, fishing and swimming on the beach. Highly competitive games both outdoor and indoor on the site after tea, and maybe a walk to the local when the children were tucked up in their bunk beds.  Since those early days the joy of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, Silver, Gold, and Diamond, the pleasure of attending the children’s weddings and watching their children grow up. We have done the lot.

We have travelled all over the U.K staying on sites from central London to the wilds of Scotland.  Firstly with our children who revelled in the open air life, the wonders of the countryside, and the freedom of the open road. Then with our grandchildren during school holidays. What joyful memories.

For the past 25 years we have made continental Europe our playground. Sometimes leaving a trail of havoc in our wake. Who has blown the campsite fuses this time? Why do some French car drivers make those funny signs and wave their arms at us? Sorry officer we did not see the height restriction sign when we entered the underpass. From wine festivals in Germany to flamenco dancing in Spain. From the icy glaciers above Interlaken to ritzy Biarritz and Monte Carlo. From the tranquillity of Lake Annecy to the hurly burly of Paris and Amsterdam, Oysters in the Charente Maritime to tripe a la Normandier. Did we do all that?

So the tea has done its work we are now refreshed, invigorated, and ready to move on to whatever awaits us in the future.

Our advice to anyone contemplating a life of leisure on the open road.  Just do it, take the plunge, you will never regret it, be like us and start building those memories.


Get up and go ...................Caravanning





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