It was the summer of 1965, and my family and I were thinking of upgrading from a frame tent to a trailer tent when my mum saw an advert for a Bedford Romany motorhome for sale. That advert changed our lives and started a 50-year love affair with motorcaravans.
I remember our friends who were tent campers saying: “Oh, it wouldn’t do for us, it would be like sleeping in a tin can!” A few months and a couple of weekend breaks later they were scouring the papers for similar ’vans.
How we loved the freedom our Romany motorhome gave us. Life was always full of excitement and adventures. Every weekend we would meet my father from work and go away – often only 20 miles to Old Hills Common near Malvern, sometimes to Brean in Somerset, and occasionally much further afield. But it was always a couple of days full of freedom and fun, a break from the norm, a chance to enjoy time together as a family and to explore new places.
When I began learning French at school, we would spend every school holiday touring through France, Germany, Switzerland and the rest of Europe, testing my dodgy, schoolroom French on unsuspecting locals.
In those days motorhomes were a novelty. We would call at a farm to buy eggs and be invited to stay for a few days. We stopped traffic in Cannes as people crowded around the motorhome arguing about where people would sleep and the local gendarmes had to move people on. When we stopped in lay-bys in the UK a queue of people would appear wanting to buy cups of tea; we never sold any but we gave away quite a few as we gave people a tour of the ’van. We were welcomed wherever we went, made wonderful friendships that will last a lifetime and I became very proficient in describing the motorhome’s layout in French!
There is nothing quite like being able to jump in your 'van, take an impromptu holiday, make new friends and discover the hidden delights of a region, wherever in the world it may be.
When we retired the Romany we replaced it with a VW Dormobile, a Leyland Sherpa Auto-Sleeper and finally a VW Auto-Sleeper Trident, which my mother drove until she was 92 and we still use to this day.
I can’t imagine a time when a motorhome will not be an important part of our lives and so our lifetime of adventures continues!