After suggesting to my wife many times that a motorhome might be a good idea for our retirement, she finally relented: “OK, if you really want one, go and get one!”
I have had the camping bug all my life – with the Scouts at 11, with the school at 14 and occasionally with my parents who took up camping in middle age until my father’s untimely death at 54. The bug bit deeper because our closest friends were caravanners and we spent holidays with them.
I wanted a motorhome because I felt I could not tow and my disabilities meant that dealing with the other aspects of a tourer might be too much. I had occasionally driven large vehicles, with a certain amount of stress, but managed it.
Finally scratching the itch
I decided that a Romahome would be a good fit, and found a sad- and tired-looking example from 2003 at a large dealership.
Scruffy inside and out and with a cracked windscreen, this Duo Outlook was mechanically sound and its Citroën Berlingo 2.0-litre diesel roared into life at the turn of the key.
So two weeks later, following a fine spruce-up by the dealer, I started planning my first big tour – looking up a long-lost friend in Scotland.
I spent Christmas 1960 with his family at Castle Douglas in Kircudbright. Amazingly, four years later we both married on the same day, but a few miles apart.
Hitting the road
So I decided to go to Castle Douglas to see if there was any trace of my friend.
Following an eventful journey via Windermere, the Kirkstone Pass, Penrith, Gretna and Dumfries – including some challenging weather and a hairy encounter with a coach – I made it to a CS on the outskirts of Castle Douglas.
Next day, I took the ’van into town and went for lunch in the Douglas Arms where, 51 years before, we had our Christmas dinner: three generations of my friend’s family were present.
The barman lent me the phone book, I listed all the people with the same surname and walked around knocking on doors.
People were helpful, and some knew of the family in times past, but my enquiries were fruitless.
An unforgettable journey
My return journey was via the Solway coast to Dumfries, calling at Sweetheart Abbey, then going over Shap in a storm – the Berlingo roaring along at 60, rocking from side to side with my white knuckles on the wheel trying to hold her straight. A stop-off with our caravan friends in Cheshire followed.
I owned the Romahome until the following year when I changed it for a smart Nu Venture Surf.
I enjoyed some good tours in it, but nothing was as eventful – or memorable – as my first motorhome holiday!