It had been a difficult time for my wife, Chrissie. She had lost her dad a couple of years earlier, and now her mum had passed away. Left with her mum’s house to sell, we wondered how to make the best use of money we’d rather not have had. This was late 2008, just as the financial crisis hit. Little did we know that it would take two years to find a buyer for the house.
Initially, we’d decided to buy a caravan, certain that it was the better option with our lively dogs – a boxer and a Labrador. We couldn’t imagine leaving them in a motorhome and, with a car and a caravan, we’d have a built-in kennel: the boot of our estate car.
However, we had time to reconsider and our thoughts turned to motorhomes. We spent a happy morning crawling around smaller coachbuilts at a dealership near our home. Still, doubts remained about how the dogs would behave, cooped up in a home on wheels. We decided to find out by dipping our toes into the world of motorhome hire, renting a 'van to see how we got on. An internet search soon found a dog-friendly renter near my parents’ home in Wetherby and we booked our first outing in spring 2010.
We collected a four-berth Chausson Flash 14 on a Ford Transit base, and set off for a week in the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. We’d driven Land Rovers and minibuses, so the vehicle’s length wasn’t a problem, but the width was, particularly on a narrow road from Sedbergh to Hawes.
Already members of The Camping and Caravanning Club, we hopped from its site at Slingsby across to Kendal, and east to Boroughbridge. Constantly worried by the prospect of our daft dogs’ behaviour, we’d come armed with luggage nets to string between the front seats to stop them from joining us on the ‘flight deck’. In the end, all it took was a firm ‘no’ and they happily ensconced themselves on the rear passenger seats.
We delighted in the ability to stop pretty much anywhere, with our own café on hand. Kettle on, cakes out – such bliss.
The tour was such a success that months after the house was sold, an Auto-Sleeper Warwick Duo was parked on our drive. In three years, we’ve covered tens of thousands of miles with the dogs. We really can say that our week with the Flash 14 was a tour that changed our lives.