Regardless of whether you are a seasoned ‘tin tenter’ or a complete novice, ecstatic about statics or drawn to tourers, caravan holidays really can be the best way to enjoy a fun-filled break with family and friends. No longer the butt of snobbish jokes and snide comments, caravanning is growing in popularity at a rate of knots – partly due to the improvement of the caravans themselves but also because of the terrific parks you can visit.
A caravan holiday is so easy to organise, and does away with the dreaded 4am trip to the airport, the need for malaria jabs and panic attacks about passports, phrase books and PG Tips. You decide when to go and are not herded about like a flock of indignant sheep. It’s your decision to stop en route to enjoy the scenery or make a diversion via the local attraction, should you decide to change your final destination at the last minute, many sites are more than happy to accommodate you if they have the space.
It’s hardly surprising then that caravanning is enjoying a rise in popularity. Another plus point is the environmental benefits. We are all well aware of the need to be energy-efficient and eco-friendly in order to protect our planet and to ensure that future generations can enjoy it as much as we do. Most of us understand the need to cut our carbon footprint and, even though we are still driving to our destinations, we are certainly not using the same amount of fuel as the gas-guzzling jets which transport us overseas. A lot of caravan manufacturers are even producing environmentally friendly models these days – lighter vehicles and more efficient towing designs, timber sourced from sustainable forests, and energy saving appliances to name just a few innovations.
For families with children, a good caravan park provides a safe environment for the kids to play and many are now providing the kind of facilities that modern families desire, from organised entertainment in the evenings to indoor swimming pools. If, however, you desire the quiet life and would rather not be woken up at silly o’clock every morning by small, shrieking maniacs, or prefer to sit and watch the sun go down in the evenings quietly, then you might well decide that an adults only site is the way to go.
An adults-only site can offer a more relaxed environment away from the frenzied excitement synonymous with the traditional family getaway. We love our children and grandchildren and happily tolerate other people’s bundles of joy but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to escape the accompanying pandemonium… and relax! Check, before you book, what the age restrictions are – generally it’s 18 and over but some caravan parks have age limits which can range between 14 – 25.
Although caravanning is a liberating and relatively hassle-free way to enjoy your holiday, there is one area that many people tend to overlook – caravan insurance. This is of vital importance. Before you take the plunge and buy a caravan, you should consider this aspect for your own peace of mind and security. If you already own a caravan, it may be time to re-evaluate your current insurance and shop around, acquiring quotes from other insurance providers.
Let’s go glamping!
Long before the luxurious caravan or the quaint cabin was the humble tent. In many people’s opinion, it doesn’t get much better than this – back to nature and head on the ground, that’s what it’s all about ladies and gentlemen!
The tent – If you are planning on doing this in style, then you will need room for all your cooking equipment, chairs, dining table, sleeping equipment and of course, large living quarters as one may need to shelter from the rain. Not to mention the bedrooms – one must have a decent night’s sleep after all.
The Bell Tent: Bell tents have a beautifully elegant silhouette, are quick to put up and pack down small – they were used as military kit in the 19th Century. The design is simple: natural cotton canvas drapes down from a central pole, and is held tight by guy ropes to create a distinctive old-fashioned shape outside. They are fully waterproof, and in full sun you can roll up the sides and lounge about enjoying the breezy shade beneath. From £319
Other budgets: if the natural cotton tent isn’t for you, Coleman has a fine range of brilliant deluxe tents, with everything you need to make your camping trip a holiday to remember. The 4-man starts at just £149 from www.amazon.co.uk. The 8-man deluxe complete with carpet, canopy and footprint is a lifetime bargain at just £359.99 – that’s a lot of tent (not to mention family holidays) for your money!
Cooking and heating
Portable Wood Burning Stove - Originally designed for the relief market to be shipped to disasters at a moment’s notice, this wonderfully thought out stove is lightweight and easily transportable - just pick it up like a suitcase. The flue / chimney sections store inside the stove making the whole thing self-contained. From £129
The Bell Tent Stove – Nights round the camp fire have come indoors! This is the perfect accompaniment to your bell tent, it truly captures all that it is to camp in style! From £215
Portable Fire Pit – At last – a Portable Fire Pit that is properly portable! Four foldable legs means you're zero to hero in seconds and a zip-up bag keeps all that ash out of your life. £59
Kampa Commander Camp – field kitchen stand plus larder and waste bin camping stove stand. This little beauty is from Amazon and does everything you need it to. £43.89
Tent including pegs/stakes, guy ropes
Cooker, stove, barbecue kit
Bottled gas or other form of fire igniting material – wood or charcoal, for example
Cooking utensils and cutlery (don’t forget the tin opener!)
Food storage containers
Kitchen foil, kitchen tissue, napkins
Washing up bowl and liquid
Dishcloths and tea towels
Food and drink supplies
First Aid kit (including insect repellent and sun cream)
Outdoor ‘furniture’ e.g. foldaway chairs/tables
Clothes for all weather
Alun Hughes, a local man from Froncysyllte, is no stranger to caravans. Over the last 20 years he has built up an enviable reputation and an impressive array of new and second-hand touring caravans at his showroom in Ruabon, Wrexham. Yattar Yattar paid him a visit and asked him why the great British public still hold caravanning close to their hearts ...
Unlike the drab and draughty caravans of our childhood, today’s are modern, friendly, bright and fun. Alun explains, ‘Many contain the necessary features and amenities required for the perfect ‘home from home’ atmosphere. They include, well-appointed kitchens, spacious bedrooms in some, air conditioning, central heating, refrigerators, microwave ovens and even satellite dishes and the best of it is, caravans allow you the freedom to choose your location and explore the surroundings at your own pace.’
Alun’s 7,500 sq ft showroom houses around 30 new touring caravans (as well as an assortment of second-hand ones) and he is an agent for Venus, Coachman, Elddis, Buccaneer and Lunar. Additionally, in the 5000 sq ft shop, he stocks a vast selection of awnings and accessories including wheel clamps, barbecue equipment, telescopic hiking sticks, teapots – pretty much anything a self-respecting caravan fan desires! Also on site there is a workshop for servicing and repairs and friendly, knowledgeable staff who are keen to help.
The caravans themselves cost anything between £2,500 (for second-hand) – £30,000. Alun has just taken delivery of the new Venus range costing between £11,500 and £13,500. Before you take delivery, a member of staff will spend a couple of hours with you explaining every aspect of your new purchase and answering any questions you may have.
Visit Alun's website at www.clwydcaravans.co.uk. or, better still, pop in and see him in person at Clwyd Caravans and Leisure Ltd, The Green, Ruabon, Wrexham. LL14 6DP.
Looking for the perfect location? Think Conwy, North Wales.
Gorse Hill caravan park, set in 60 acres of breathtaking countryside is the perfect 'home from home' location for the whole family. Offering panoramic views across the beautiful Conwy Valley and a stone's throw away from the Snowdonia National Park, it is ideally located for those wishing to enjoy and explore all that the countryside and coastline has to offer. It's an exciting time for the good folks at Gorse Hill; completion of the historic 19th century manor house, with its oak-panelled fire places and and other period pieces is imminent and they are also working on a new bar and restaurant in which you can unwind and relax in tasteful surroundings. The historic town of Conwy with its 13th century castle, marina, and RSPB nature reserve is is only a mile away and the eleven lakes above the village of Trefriw are ideal for exploring so what are you waiting for?
For more information or to arrange a park visit, please telephone (01492) 593465 or visit www.gorsehill.co.uk.
Barcdy Caravan and Camping Park.
Looking for a friendly, family run holiday destination where the emphasis is on relaxation? Then look no further! Barcdy Caravan and Camping Park, set in the beautiful, rolling countryside of Gwynedd, near Harlech, is perfect for you!
With its 40 fully serviced all-weather touring pitches and over 40 pitches for tents (some of which with electric hook-up points), this site is ideal for those with a yen for comfort and a love of nature. The expansive grounds are a haven to wildlife including badgers, owls and many migratory birds.
Barcdy boasts clean and well-maintained facilities including the all-important hot water for showers as well as washing machines and dryers, shaver points, tourist information and gas supplies. At this dog-free site, children are welcome, in fact encouraged, as the site lends itself perfectly to exploration and discovery in safe surroundings.
Owner, Anwen Roberts, is understandably proud of the park and says: 'Barcdy has been in the family for 67 years now and we are thrilled to see many of our visitors returning year after year and also new ones too. The scenery is a great attraction – we are ideally located for exploring Snowdonia, the famous Italianate village of Portmeirion, (which was the setting for the 60s television series, The Prisoner), and the historic Harlech Castle. The Ffestiniog Railway is also hugely popular with our guests and is within easy reach of the park.’
For more information, visit Barcdy Caravan and Camping Park at their website: www.barcdy.co.uk
Did You Know?
• Servicing - Your touring caravan needs to be serviced regularly as road-worthiness is crucial for the safety of yourself and other road users. Many dealers offer approved workshops for quality tourer servicing.
• Compare the Market! - It may sound ‘simples’ but choosing your perfect caravan can be a confusing time. Visit a selection of dealers and, if possible, a caravan show before parting with your hard-earned cash!
• Weighty Issue - Overloading a caravan will negatively affect your car’s handling and stability. If you are unsure about the safe weight to tow, ask an expert.
• Static Statistics - Owning a static caravan is like owning a car in that the value will depreciate. Also you must bear in mind the cost of site fees. These can be rather expensive - be prepared to pay on average £2,500.
• By the Way - VAT is paid at the standard rate of 20% for touring caravans and was zero rated for statics. However, as part as his annual budget, Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to bring statics in line with tourers from October 1st.
The first time a caravan was towed by a car as opposed to a horse was in 1919.