I want to tell you a story. A story of growing up and seeing the school holidays stretched out before me. A story of UK beaches and fairgrounds and Punch and Judy and fish and chips and bacon sizzling on a makeshift gas stove. Of hammocks, of rainy days and brilliant board games. Of sea life centres and boats and awnings and tents.

I want to tell you a story about caravan holidays, and why I’ll always be a caravan girl at heart.

Caravan Girl

Caravan holidays have been in my blood since I can remember. Although there were a couple of early holidays to Portugal and Spain, I remember spending most of my Summer holidays in Dorset and Devon. And always in some sort of caravan. You see my Grandad, at some point in the mid-eighties, bought a VW Campervan to do up and renovate to take my brother and I on mini breaks and holidays across the South Coast of England. Sometimes we’d take it out for day trips, huddling inside the van on windy days eating egg sandwiches and salad and quiches and what ever else my Nan had managed to squeeze into the campervan fridge.

We’d play bat and ball on the damp grass, drink fizzy pop and sprawl out on picnic blankets enjoying the outside. And then we’d all bundle back into the van for the drive home, the two children dozing in the back – tired from the novelty of being in a house on wheels.

Caravan Girl

But sometimes (and these were the best times) we’d go on proper holidays in the van. After my brother passed away, my Grandad installed a hammock that would hang across the front seats for me to sleep in, and the three of us would head south for a week or longer. We’d pack my jelly shoes (how awesome where they, fellow children of the eighties?!), my hat and my bucket and spade. I spent overcast days getting sandy, making friends on the beach and eating pop ices until it was time to pack up and go back to the van. Again and again and again I would do this and I never got bored at all.

Sometimes, if I was really lucky, we’d visit a funfair or one of my favourite places – Corfe Castleย near Swanage or the Sealife Centre in Weymouth where I watched Rays swim and went down a slide shaped like a whale. I remember it all like yesterday, and I remember it fondly.

Caravan Girl

One day, the maroon VW Campervan was gone from my Nan and Grandad’s drive, which still fills me with much regret and sadness. No more jumping in the van for adventures and no more sleeping in a hammock above the passenger seat. I had long since grown a little too big for the hammock, and the awning wasn’t large enough to house everyone that wanted to adventure with us.

So that’s when our caravan holidays truly began. A STATIC CARAVAN! To this day, I’m still worryingly obsessed with the static caravan. It’s like a house, but it has weird seats that can turn into beds, a tiny shower and cute little net curtains at the windows that go almost the whole circumference of the van. They have cute names (we stayed in Bubbles many times), and they are lined up in rows, full of other children to play with and maybe become pen-pals with.

Our favourite campsite was in Swanage – in Dorset along the Jurassic coastline. We’d go for a few weeks and be joined by my Dad or my Uncle at various times during our stay. I went here with my Mum too, and also spent a wonderful week at Rockley Parkย  in Poole where I won the disco dancing competition. I was really really good at the running man when I was younger.

Caravan Girl

When we first started our caravan holiday adventures, the sites were basic. We had a huge slide cut into the hillside which had bumps in it and you could go down two at a time. I’d spend hours clambering up the hill and sliding down it, sometimes on my own but often with new friends. We’d hold hands, close our eyes and shriek all the way down. It was all I needed for fun.

Sometimes I wonder if travelling has become a little bit complicated. I plan my itineraries for city breaks with precision, looking for quirky spots and hot bars and restaurants hoping to find that hidden gem. As a child, I was happy burying myself in sand and throwing myself down a hill, with dirty hands and scabby knees. It was joyful and it was joyous.

I want to recapture that free spirit – that little girl who was happy with some grass and some sticks and a funny little van to sleep in. I adored caravan holidays and I still do. That’s why I’ll always be a caravan girl at heart.

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UK Tourism | Camping + Glamping | Holiday Memories | Travel Inspiration

UK Tourism | Camping + Glamping | Holiday Memories | Travel Inspiration

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  • Anthony Jury

    That’s a cool story and your love of caravans is quite obvious. Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I stayed in any kind of caravan, although I do camp a bit. But that’s not the same.

  • Kate AndKris

    Oh that fringe! I think most people in the UK had one of those back in the day! I’m still amazed how many people could fit into a static caravan!

  • Such a great post. I was always dreaming of traveling with caravan even for a while. Maybe it will happen one day ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Danish Akhtar Multani

    such a interesting and beautiful post. it seems traveling is in your blood. happy to see you like this.

  • Kallsy Page

    I’m a caravan gal at heart too! So much that my husband (also a caravaner) and I are RVing all summer ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Pack Your Baguios

    Your post brought back many fond memories of fishing trips with my grandmother and camping with my parents. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face!

  • Neha Verma

    This is such a beautiful story. And your pictures are so pretty. I wish to give a similar experience to my daughter

  • Punita Malhotra

    You have wonderful memories attached to caravans. Caravans remind me of books we used to read as children. Family is the word that comes to mind.

  • The Stylish Trotter

    Beautiful story!!
    I enjoyed reading it

  • So nostalgic! It reminds me of myself a bit, as we were having our summer holidays in tents, doing free camping back in the 80’s! I always was a fan of the RV’s (ok its not a caravan…) and someday I want to have my own and hit the road with my family to have vacations the way we want ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Adventurous Travels

    That’s nice! I’d love to do a holiday like that – in a caravan, especially around Cornwall which I found so beautiful and the beaches unbelievably Mediterranean-looking. I also had a chance to stay in a caravan site in Ireland in Wicklow – it was the “static” caravan – it was so amazing, right at the see side ๐Ÿ™‚
    Tom

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    How sweet that you so fondly remember those caravan days with your grandparents and that those memories are etched in your mind! I’m sure you’ll recapture that spirit and let it soar when you travel!

  • What lovely memories! I also love the photos of you as a child that you included with the essay. It sounds like you shared many important experiences with your family and the caravan, and that is why the caravan is still important to you today.

  • I can relate to this post! Childhood travels were of different make altogether. There was no rush to see things… these days it is more like striking places off the list. Thanks for giving us a peep into your memories.

  • Tom

    I remember my own grandparents taking us
    grandkids camping when we were young, in a pop-up camper and some tents. I guess people who love traveling will retain
    the first impressions our family gave us.
    I can’t quite say I’m a camping person at heart, always, but those first
    impressions are quite strong.

  • We never had a caravan, but we sometimes stayed at camp sites when we traveled. We also did that on our first tour of a few European countries. I was pretty young and it was my first time abroad, so I did not care we had tents put up in every city we visited, and not a hotel room. I think I was about thirteen, and those camp sites were amazing! So many kids from around the world using what English we knew from school to communicate, it was so amazing! Plus my parents were so excited to finally be allowed to go abroad without requiring any special permissions (it was only a few years after the Revolution) and that enthusiasm rubbed off on me.

  • Caravans remind me of old stories, poems and children books! You have such cute memories that it makes me want to try Caravans atleast once in future. Lovely post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What an amazing way to grow up. Love the nostalgia that I can sense in your words and pictures. Caravans are really full of memories for you.

  • Honeypot Blogs

    Oh this blog post made me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside!! When I was young we used to do a lot of static caravan holidays, they were the best! We often used Haven Holidays and my sheer excitement when I ran into the bedroom to see that yellow and red duvet cover!! Great post!!xx

    http://www.honeypotblogs.com

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