When we were younger, my wife and I enjoyed tent camping and, later, holidaying in static caravans. I’d never wanted to tow a touring caravan, but as retirement approached we decided to go and visit a large dealer in North Somerset for a look at motorhomes. There was no harm in just browsing, we thought.
As it was a hot August afternoon, all the vans seemed so appealing in the sunshine and we surprised ourselves by agreeing to part with most of our savings to buy a two-berth Ace Capri.
Soon after that, accompanied by Monty our Border Terrier, we motorhome novices set off for Cornwall during the first significant rainfall for months – and my windscreen wiper stopped wiping! After an improvised roadside repair, we continued driving in torrential rain before becoming snarled up in heavy traffic. We were much relieved to arrive finally at our campsite on the now rain-sodden Lizard Peninsula, where the awful weather continued until the following afternoon.
Rain, rain go away!
What with the basic campsite facilities we found there (wobbly toilet pan, temperamental showers) and being cooped up in our confined space with a wet, muddy Monty, wet weather gear and muddy boots, we soon found ourselves thinking that buying the motorhome had been a huge mistake. We were so miserable that we actually considered going home via the dealer, to get our money back.
But then the sun came out. Thankfully we were then able to spend quality time in charming and historic Cornish towns, villages and places of interest, some of which we’d been to before and others that we were visiting for the first time ever. The holiday was saved.
Even so, if something could go wrong, it generally did.
Lost and grumpy in the lanes
One day we got hopelessly lost when we took a ‘shortcut’ to Trebah Gardens, the lush 'sub-tropical garden paradise' in Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth. We'd chosen to drive there via minor country lanes.
Later, we kept driving past the campsite that we’d booked near St Austell, because we had no idea it was actually the one we wanted.
Another day, we found our way into Mevagissey easily, but then we couldn’t find our way out again, through the maze of narrow lanes and one-way streets. New to motorhome driving, at first we found it hard to do U-turns when we knew we'd gone a bit wrong somewhere.
Our confidence grew
In spite of these minor mishaps, we carried on, growing in confidence daily. Now we have absolutely no regrets about buying the motorhome. We are no longer motorhome novices and in the past seven years we’ve enjoyed many trips in the UK and France and we can’t imagine life without it.
In fact, our first motorhome holiday inspired me to write a humorous travel book about it! It's called, Some People Prefer Hotels (Motorhome Novices Tour Cornwall), published by Troubadour.
Can you imagine booking hotel holidays, after experiencing the freedom of motorhome touring? That wouldn't suit us – or our dog – at all. Our first ’van holiday could have been a disaster. But we’re so glad we stuck with it.