After having a few days to recover from our trip to The Purbecks, the Caravan and Motorhome show in Birmingham was just around the corner. We weren’t sure if we’d be ready to camp up there since it was a lot further away and the caravan still hadn’t been adapted for my chair, but after our first trip we were confident it would be fine. The fact that we had left it late before booking a campsite meant that we weren’t likely to find one close to the NEC (National Exhibition Centre), but we were in luck and amazingly found out that Chapel Lane caravan and motorhome club site had some last minute availability!
We set off on the Wednesday morning, excited for the trip and of course visiting the NEC show again. It wasn’t long after we’d left when we joined the motorway for the first time with the caravan. We took it easy for a while, taking time to get used to the speed and the air turbulence of the lorries along side us, before having the courage to do our very first motorway overtake. It went smoothly and we carried on our way. The plan was to stop off for some lunch at Warwick services but we drove through the entrance and were intimidated by the sheer number of HGV’s in there, there was little room to drive through, let alone park! So we drove straight back out again and continued on to the campsite, since it was only half an hour further.
We arrived early afternoon and checked in with the site warden, he pointed out the allocated disabled pitches which were close to the toilet block but we opted not to use those as we much prefer to be tucked away in a quiet corner somewhere, plus we like to use our own on board facilities. So we drove around to find our perfect pitch- the far side of the campsite in a quiet corner. Despite the miserable October weather I thought the Chapel Lane site was beautiful, the pitches were on winding lanes nestled between big trees and it had a cosy autumnal feel about it.
Stephen started to set up while I made my way from our pitch to reception (whilst trying not to get lost, directions aren’t my strong point!) to tell the site warden where we were pitched and to get an entrance key. I made my way there in the drizzling rain and arrived at reception where a friendly site warden helped me with the door. There was a smooth ramp up but it had a small lip at the entrance which made my wet wheels slip a little, but I made it in and after a bit of a chat he gave me the site key and I was heading back to the pitch.
When I got back I was pleased to see that Stephen had almost finished setting up and all that was left to do was fetch the water and put up the awning. Luckily this site was a lot less windy and we remembered to bring the rock pegs!
After a quicker and much more straight forward set up we had a lot more time and energy than last time, so we had something to eat and we decided to enjoy the rest of the evening by seeing a film at the cinema. With a strong 4G signal we did a quick google search and found one only 15 minutes away- a Vue cinema in Redditch. It had been a while since we’d been to a cinema and we had a lovely time, although I think Stephen enjoyed covering me in popcorn more than he actually enjoyed the film!
When we got back to the campsite at 10:30pm we heard a noise that we really didn’t want to hear- the sound of a puncture on our Transporter. After hunting around with a torch Stephen found the culprit, a small nail sticking out of the tread. It was pitch black and getting late so we decided this was a problem that would have to wait until the morning. So we kept the nail lodged in the tyre in the hope that it would stop it from going down too much and we headed inside to sleep, ahead of the busy day planned tomorrow.
We woke up the next morning to the sound of raindrops on the caravan roof, it was quite a soothing sound until we remembered that Stephen had to go out and change the wheel before we could go to the NEC. Luckily our Transporter comes with a full sized spare, although he was not impressed that we had to go around with one odd wheel that didn’t match his beloved alloys. The rain seemed to get heavier as he went out to make a start and I definitely wasn’t teasing him by smiling and waving from inside the warm, dry caravan (okay maybe a little!).
With the Transporter ready to go we made our way to the NEC. From Chapel Lane it was only a short 20 minute drive so we made it in good time and were directed straight to the disabled parking spaces- still a little walk/roll to the entrance but it was the closest car park and the weather was clearing up. Although there is a drop off area right outside the entrance that has come in handy in previous years when the rain has been a lot heavier.
We’ve been to the show a few times before but we are always astounded by the size of it when we go inside, there are 11 huge halls full of caravans, motorhomes, awnings, information stalls and any accessory you could possibly want.
After picking up a map we made our way into one of the halls, the very first stall we came across was giving out information about Valencia, which happens to be one of the places I’m most keen to visit. So we picked up some brochures and carried on, gradually making our way to the live theatre in anticipation for the talk on Bailey’s Arctic Adventure. We were really excited to see this as we’d followed their journey when they did it and couldn’t wait to hear all about it from them in person. The talk didn’t disappoint and made us even more determined to do our own arctic adventure one day. It really proved that caravans are so versatile and can be used in any climate! We were thrilled when Simon Howard and Lee Davey came to introduce themselves to us after their talk and we look forward to hopefully catching up with them at future shows.
We then continued wandering around, picking up many brochures, leaflets and magazines, and even some free pens from the caravan and motorhome club stand (because who doesn’t love a free pen!) The main things we wanted to look at were awnings and mattress toppers as we only got a cheap awning which we wanted to upgrade in the future and the bed in our caravan was a little too firm for my liking. After this it was time for the YouTubers meet up, arranged by some of our favourite vloggers- Andrew Ditton and The Trudgians. We’d watched these guys for years so it was great to finally meet them, as well as other like minded people. Everyone there was as lovely and friendly as we’d imagined, and really encouraged me to start this very blog!
After a long day we were both ready to go back to the caravan, we’d worked out that we’d walked/rolled 3 miles just around the exhibition halls! So we headed back and enjoyed the rest of the evening snuggled up on the sofa while the rain patted down on the roof.
In the morning we woke up feeling well rested and started to pack up to leave. Of course since we were heading home, the sunshine finally decided to make an appearance- typical!
The drive home went smoothly and gave us time to reflect on our trip. Despite the puncture everything went a lot smoother and we felt a lot more fluent and confident in what we were doing, which made the whole trip a lot more enjoyable.
We’d gained more knowledge and experience, picked up lots of informative reading material and met some lovely people along the way, familiar faces and new.
We can’t wait to do it all again!