With the wheelchair conversion half completed (there will be a blog post when it’s fully done) we decided it was time to go on our first trip in the caravan. It wasn’t ideal that I couldn’t get my chair inside yet but it was only for a short trip and we knew we could work around it. Not only were we desperate to take it on an adventure as we’d had it in storage for over a month while we worked on it, but we needed some experience caravanning somewhere local before our planned trip up to Birmingham for the Caravan and Motorhome show the following week.
Luckily we found a site that had availability at short notice and it was less than an hour from home.
After a smooth tow (if you don’t count a road closure and diversion) we arrived at Haycraft Caravan and Motorhome club site in the Purbecks, where we were greeted by a very friendly site warden. After chatting for a little while he showed me around the disabled facilities- a small but perfectly functional wet room and toilet. It was nice and clean but a bit outdated. Then we sheepishly admitted it was our first ever trip in the caravan and he gave us a site map and pointed out the most suitable pitch for a newbie to reverse into.
As we approached our pitch we were aware of other caravanners watching us, it was almost as if they knew it was our first time! (No pressure Stephen!). We had a good size pitch but just in front of it was a speed bump so we ended up wheel spinning on the grass as we tried to reverse over the bump. After a little bit of back and forth (entertaining for other campers I’m sure) we got perfectly aligned on our pitch and we began setting up.The pitch wasn’t quite level so we had fun trying out the new levelling blocks whilst trying to get the wheel rotation just right for the Alko wheel lock to work. Then it was time to put our new awning up! We got a small, basic awning so Stephen wouldn’t have too much trouble putting it up, but the coastal wind had other ideas. We put on another comedy show for the campers as I battled to keep hold of the instruction manual and Stephen battled with the awning. Needless to say, rock pegs are now on the list of essential items!
After taking an embarrassingly long time to set up we were both worn out and hungry, so we decided to go into Swanage to pick up some supplies- pasta, cheese and bacon, along with the most delicious Purbeck ice cream. Then we settled back into the cosy caravan for the evening, finally relaxing after a busy day.
We woke the next morning feeling well rested after a good sleep. The weather was beautiful so we decided to go and explore Corfe Castle, a nice little village full of history. Although it was narrow and cobbled it was nothing my chair couldn’t handle and we made our way around the model village before heading to the remains of the Castle. It was a steep and bumpy climb but we made it up to where the steps begin, admiring the views over Corfe, the bright blue sky creating the perfect backdrop. Stephen continued up to the top to take some photos while I waited in the sunshine, admiring the view and the passing steam trains. From there he was able to see as far as Bournemouth and Poole Harbour. Then we paused for a break in the National Trust tea gardens and enjoyed further views of the castle whilst having coffee and ice cream.
The sun was starting to set as we got back so there was a chill in the air, but that wasn’t going to stop us having our first campsite BBQ- Stephen was particularly excited about being able to use the external BBQ point on the caravan. As we ate our steak and Mediterranean vegetables an eery mist rolled in and the temperature dropped, we quickly decided it was time to clear up and get back inside the warm caravan. We were amazed at how well the caravan held its heat and we actually had to open the skylights late on a cold October night because we’d underestimated the Alde central heating and insulation.
The next morning it was time to get packed up and come home. Again, this took longer than expected and we only just made it out of the campsite exactly at the check out time- 12:00, narrowly squeezing past the queue of caravans and motorhomes already waiting to come in.
Although it had only been a short trip we felt like we gained knowledge and experience and were a lot more prepared for our trip up to Birmingham the next week. There’s still a lot to learn and we know we’ll get a lot faster at doing everything but it’s all part of the adventure… And the adventures are really only just beginning.