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Fitting In Nicely With Society

With a special needs child who can’t fit in with crowds, we struggle with the regular family holidays where children were meant to fit in with groups of people.  He was never made to be held in a small apartment, or to sit by a pool, or even to be able to join in with childrens’ clubs that are often a huge feature of mum and dad chilling by the pool and letting someone else look after teenies or tweenies.

The day we discovered caravanning was a total fluke.  After a disastrous trip to Disneyland Paris, we took stock on the way home.  Our trip began with a car breakdown in Glasgow while driving from Aberdeen to Paris.  It didn’t get better while we were away, when middler struggled to cope with any and all queues in Disneyland.

The complex we stayed in was not special needs friendly, and unless you were willing to spend a fortune, there was nowhere to go and play.  It was a disaster.

After a rotten few days, we decided to head for home early using the scenic route.  We stopped off near Le Havre and as it was a lovely day, we settled on the beach for a few hours.

Middler had a whale of a time on the near empty beach and on going to a supermarket, we decided to buy a tent on the spur of the moment.   With much trepidation, we found a local campsite close to the beach.

We pitched our tent.   We had our car, a tent, and two blow up beds.   Nothing to cook on, and nothing to eat off.  All the kids were in seventh heaven and had a whale of a time.   Nobody stared at middler when he did something silly or said something out-of-place.   At the time, I put that down to being a different language and that they had no idea what he was actually saying or doing.

When we got home, I booked us a static caravan up at Grannie’s Heilan Hame to see if the caravan environment was for us.   The man of the house was working, so I drove up from Aberdeen with the three kids and the dog.  They all loved it.

The next week we got home, we decided to just go and “look” at caravans to see if we would prefer a touring caravan as I didn’t fancy going to the same place all the time.

That “look” at second-hand caravans saw us walk away with a van for that year, and the following year we went back for one with a better layout for us.  We chose a triple bunk at the back.  Yes, it’s messy back there at times with three children.


Thus began our adventures into Caravanning…..

People on caravan sites are just fabulous.  I have rarely come across anyone who doesn’t show understanding for children with special needs.  We book sites where the childrens’ park is close by, or overlooking where we are parked in the van.  The boys  always find someone to play with, and adventures are always on our doorstep.

River Adventures

I prefer quieter sites to the big commercial ones, and with the boys growing faster than I can believe, I know that we will need to visit more of the big facility sites in the next few years for variety.  In 2012, we’d like to head down to France with the van, but that will depend on how the year goes.

There really is not that much to owning a caravan.  After deciding you want one, it is just the simple mechanics of getting one that your car is able to tow and getting out there and having fun.   My boys friends go on holiday once or twice a year, but we go away as often as we can, and in summer this year, we spent 5 out of the 6 weeks of school holidays on a site.

People buy caravans from upwards of a few hundred pounds, but you do have to try to find one that fits your family and isn’t damp.  It can be done on a budget, or for a fortune.

I loved the camping lark, but I was determined to have my comforts to do it.   If camping / caravanning was going to be our holiday future, I really couldn’t do without my hairdryer, kettle, cooker, bathroom or comfy bed.

Chilling Out Making Shadows on the Roof

Chilling Out Making Shadows on the Roof

Call me soft, but there is nothing better on a cold windy day than to be wrapped up warm and cosy inside the van listening to the rain pitter patter on the roof, and wondering how on earth those hardy campers in tents manage to do it.


We pondered over a motor home v a caravan.  For us, the benefit of a caravan and being able to leave it on a site while we had fun touring in the car won over the prospect of having to pack everything away to take a motor home everywhere we went.    Caravans also have less maintenance, and the prospect of cheap caravan insurance swung the decision for us.

We have had huge adventures in the last three years.   I have shared lots of them on my blog, but I’ve gathered some of the pictures taken while we were away to show you here.   We love the van  If we every had to sell her, we would be devastated.  It really is a second home for us.   We prefer Caravan Club sites to the Independent ones as having the security of wardens appeals to me if I take the boys away on my own.

Cool Dog

Our caravan is my own little corner of adventure.  What’s yours?


Disclaimer:  This is a featured post.

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The Crunch in Real Life – The Great British Holiday Empties

Sitting in a campsite, that is usually busting at the seams at this time of year – I am forced to reflect on the impact of the huge cuts that all of us below the levels of the wealthy pampered have been steam rollered into.

Around us, where there should be dozens of laughing and happy children, all enjoying the Great British Holiday, there are empty spaces. There are no children playing outside in the pouring rain. We were here the last two years at the same time of year, and the site was full of laughing, happy families and their children, splashing in huge puddles of thundering torrential rain. In a circle of 17 spaces that are usually crammed full, there are only three of us who have braved the economy, and the wet and wild scottish summer.

The site may fill up once the English children are all off school, but what does it say about the Scottish economy that a camping and caravan site that is usually full, is so empty? Yes, it is likely to fill up again for the weekender crowd, but without holidaymakers, there will be fewer sites to use, and the potential for “wild camping” will come back into business.

Camping and caravanning have seen a nice boom in recent years as money has tightened, although its safe to say that it is certainly not one of the cheapest hobbies around. There is something lovely about being able to relax in comfort, and away from your main home, and the absence of fellow holidaymakers this year has totally taken me by surprise.

Are seasoned caravanners and campers really giving up on their holidays and staying at home, or are they “wild camping” and being ostracised as travellers wherever they go.

It’s obvious that the campers and caravanners won’t be staying at home, but where are they? Are they staying closer to home to save petrol / diesel money, or are they taking off as our elder generations did?

My parents and grandparents both set off on adventures across the UK with packs on their backs in the summer time. I never did that. I wouldn’t feel safe doing that, especially now with the children, but I’d love to.

  • Should “wild camping” be allowed?
  • Should we be able to go, as we did as children – off into the wilds, and park where we felt the scenery is beautiful?
  • Are we too focussed on the “scare tactics” that seem to be evident as news in todays media that we are over cautious of where we go and what we do?
  • Is it really more dangerous today than it was in our grandparents younger days?

I don’t know. I only know that I don’t do some things that I would like to, and I shelve “just in case”. About the extent of my bravery, is my tin tenting with the kids while hub stays at home to work and keep an eye on grandma.

I am sad to see such an empty campsite and I hope the business picks up for them soon. I can’t really believe that people are “wild camping” instead, so it has to be that people have less money to spend using their lovely tents or caravans. Hopefully this isn’t one of the British Traditions that sees the end of many well run and well loved sites.