There’s one thing retired people seem to do with above average frequency. I’ll let you ponder that for a minute or two or complete the sentence for yourself. What I was thinking of was, they buy a caravan if they’re British, or a motorhome / campervan if they’re North American or Australian or you’re a friend who, having inherited some money, felt compelled to spend it as quickly as possible and on something frivolous before it was taken away from him and / or his guilt at the inheritance overwhelmed him. Anyway all that is beside the point as so much of my blogs are. In fact sometimes they don’t have any point at all. Whether this one has a point remains to be seen.
I know that the above assertion is a generalisation but I’m compelled to make it because the idea of us buying a caravan (see above) (the big plus is we can take the dogs with us) has come knocking at our door. Belatedly perhaps in terms of our retirement, bearing in mind we’ve been retired four years and the knock on the door has only just sounded. Some people have thought that, given we’re trying to simplify our lives by selling one of our houses (more of which if and when it happens), we are quite bonkers now trying to complicate it all over again. I mentioned our friends above buying a campervan which we have encouraged so that we can try it out (we have hired a campervan but only in foreign parts, never in this country) before committing to buying or, not buying, in the case of the caravan, if Mrs Summerhouse has anything to do with it, I’m afraid she has retained a certain degree of snobbishness about owning a caravan, we’re not caravan types she says. Terribly elitist but I know exactly what she means.
Where was I? Our friends getting a campervan and hence helping us to answer that age old question – caravan or campervan? I know I said in this country we tend to buy caravans but this is not entirely true, we do buy campervans as well. The debate as to which is ‘best’, centres around a number of issues – if you’re parked somewhere nice do you want to go to all the trouble of driving your probably quite large campervan into town for the shopping, losing your spot, as opposed to simply unhooking your vehicle and leaving your caravan where it is? Do you and your partner feel more comfortable towing a caravan or driving one vehicle but probably larger one than you’re used to? There are other complications but that will do I think. As far as we are concerned even after the sale of one of our houses we would not be prepared to spend say £50,000 on a campervan? Even second-hand ones don’t come cheap, whereas second-hand caravans do, come cheap, that is.
Our friends, the male half at least, is concerned that the campervan for £50K will be a millstone or was it albatross around his neck. In simple terms, we’ve spent all that money so we must use it, whether we want to or not. I wisely advised him that if he spent all that money that was bound to be the case whereas, when I had looked on the internet for second-hand caravans, you could buy one off Gumtree for £1,600. It’s true. At that price you’d probably be quite content or even compelled to leave it in your drive. Maybe not, as watching it slowly deteriorates (and for £1,600 even for a caravan, it would probably be well on the way to un-driveable deterioration anyway) would probably not be very therapeutic in one’s retirement. The comparison between the caravan’s and our own deterioration might be hard to ignore. But the point is, a second-hand caravan would be more of a small rock or pigeon around one’s neck, not millstone or albatross.
That said where would £5,750 fit on the continuum from small rock to millstone, albatross to pigeon? I ask the question because we have been offered a caravan for just this price. Let me explain. Mrs Summerhouse’s sister has a new partner, which is nice, I think. He is planning to sell his caravan and buy a campervan which is also nice. He is planning on asking £6,000 for it when he advertises it but we, and here’s the point, can have said caravan for, you’ve guessed it, £5,750. At the moment we can put off any decision about whether to buy or not until we have sold the Pateley cottage. Yes, we have a buyer but we know that much can go wrong between agreeing a sale and that sale actually being signed, sealed and delivered. So no need for a decision / commitment yet, but it’s coming oh, yes, Lord it’s a coming.
Suffice it to say, there is a fundamental disagreement between Mrs SH and I about the wise-ness of this retirement project and, truth be told, I’m not fully committed to the idea either. Oh, and it’s not going in the drive, she says and I agree. If we didn’t already have the Defender with a towing bar I wouldn’t even be thinking about the caravan project. But then, as you know if you’ve read these blogs before, the missing link of retirement (is this it?) looms even larger than the caravan, which is, in itself, quite large, being a four berth with a fixed double bed, one electric hob (which apparently is a big plus if you want to stop in a lay-by to make a cup of tea, it being illegal to make your tea on a gas hob in the layby in case it explodes and incinerates you and any unlucky passing motorist – all this and much, much, much more (did you know that caravans always have damp and you should check this with a special meter before buying? No, nor did I), I learned from my sister-in-law’s new partner – and it’s got a remote control motor something or other that moves the caravan around. Which means I wouldn’t have to reverse it because I know from driving with the trailer on the back of the Land Rover, that this is way above my pay grade.
So there we are our latest retirement project or not if Mrs SH has her way. Do we buy a caravan as a replacement in our lives for the Pateley cottage? Would we be able to drive up to Scotland or somewhere nice and remote thereby avoiding the horrible campsites with hundreds of other caravanning types, a kind of council estate* on wheels? Sorry. Better stop now, some people would say I’ve become more intolerant since I retired. You’ll know if we buy the damned caravan this is not true or only partially so.
*Mrs Summerhouse wishes it to be known that she was born and brought up on a council estate and has absolutely nothing against them.