Retirement, caravanning, comfort zone. These four words, in a so far limited experience (we only arrived yesterday and spent one night on this campsite), do not equate. Nope, not at all. Things as they say, can only get better or, I suppose, they could stay the same. Bear in mind this trip is our joint 70th birthday celebration. Having arranged it, naturally I feel bad that, so far (I’ll stop saying this now), things have not been celebratory. I’ll go further, it’s been shite. Maybe I’m not a campsite kind of guy? Watch this space.
Maybe too strong I’ll reflect again at the end of the blog, right now I don’t know what I’m going to write. I may perk up as I go along. Writing as therapy yet again. Of course there was the drive up here. 4 hours or so with a stop in Craster to Edinburgh to stay with an old friend of Mrs Summerhouse. That was fine. Then another 4 hours with stop for petrol and coffee to Inverness. That was a pretty drive but I only need so much of mountains and glens to make the point, yes nature is wonderful.
We arrive in Inverness and try to find a place to park. Not easy, we park in Morrison’s carpark. We’ve been here before a few years ago and enjoyed it but then we came by train. Having done both car and train, tip number one – get here by train, it’s a long way by car and of course we’re only just beginning the three week drive. Hmm. We shop for the caravan meals and lunch on the beach. We get food but can’t find a beach even though there seems to be one on our road atlas. Tip number two – don’t assume because it’s yellow on the map that it’s a beach.
We eventually get to the place where we will pick up our caravan. I have worried about this all the way up here and, for some considerable time before. I’ve already written about my fears of pulling or, worse still, reversing a caravan, in a recent blog. I won’t repeat myself except to say, right now my anxiety is super high and I debate asking the guy if we can change the caravan for a campervan. I tell myself to man up and that I’ve faced bigger challenges. Try to remember what they were and come up short. The guy, call him Malcolm, explains everything we need to know about a caravan. It is a lot and even though the two of us try and listen intently, we forget about 80% of it. Tip number three – have a notebook or tape recorder or ask for a book of instructions – no the caravan does not come with one*, only one for how you put the second bed together.
Just how much I’ve forgotten becomes clear when we get to our first campsite. I should explain this campsite is about 100 yards from where we picked the caravan up. Tip number four, don’t drive far with a caravan on the back. We thought we’d been pretty clever staying for the first night, near at hand (and second night as it turned out) so Malcolm could remind us of all that information we’d already forgotten. First job, he’d explained to us was how to unhook (and later re-hook) the caravan from the Land Rover. Couldn’t do it, the bloody thing would not detach. Bear in mind this was our first task and I was failing badly. Tip number five, if you’ve got a caravan don’t spoil things by attaching it to your vehicle. Leave it in the drive. You can sit in it whenever you like, but don’t move it.
Mrs SH had to leave at this point as her language was likely to get us banned from our first ever campsite. Eventually, after a great deal of effort and trial and error, mostly the latter, I unhooked the caravan. Successfully attached electrics and felt childishly pleased with myself. Didn’t attach waste water pipes. Tip number six, it there’s a bit of equipment (in this case two pipes) that appears to have no purpose, it does, nothing is there for show. Couldn’t get water pump to actually pump water. Turns out we’d forgotten to turn on water pump switch. Did turn on gas and get fridge to work. This helped a lot as it meant we could have a fairly chilled glass of wine. Tip number seven – make sure you have several bottles of wine, or equivalent, you will need it.
So, after a minor dispute with neighbours about dogs not being on lead, smarting from the rebuke we skulk inside. Tip number eight – if you’re thinking of asking your neighbour on the site for some help with connecting bits of your caravan, don’t piss him off with unleaded dogs. Anyway we settled down to an interesting evening in a partially connected caravan. Time to take a look at our new surroundings. It’s smaller than it looks from the outside. Tip number nine – a four berth caravan is only big enough for one person moving with caution, not two people and two dogs. It’s like a tardis in reverse and considering most of the inside is taken up with cupboards and drawers it defies the laws of physics that there should not be enough storage space, but there isn’t. We spent a semi comfortable night but at least it was only a short distance to the toilet even if it wasn’t connected. Only Archie taking up most of floor space came between me and having a pee.
So we awake the next day, a Sunday, and wonder where the hell we are, that’s my first thought and the second is why? Incidentally it’s lashing down outside but that’s OK, well, for me, I didn’t take the pups out for their morning constitutional, on their leads of course. But the weather was always predicted to be a part of the Scottish equation, so no bother as they say in these parts.
It’s not been an auspicious start to the holiday. We’ve been here two days and only just worked out how to flush the toilet. We do now have running water but not in the toilet. So yes, technically the caravan has a toilet but we can’t really use it to its full extent if you take ma meaning. Turns out *there is a booklet that goes with it but its usefulness depends on knowing whether you’ve got the 260 or 262 model. We’re still trying to work this out. So tip number ten – just because the brochure says you’ve got one, don’t assume you will, be able to make it work or use it. That’s it for now, I will probably write a Friday version but surprise, surprise I may not be able to post it because the wifi doesn’t work. Are we having fun yet?