We went on a few trips in our beloved campervan Gertie last year, to test her out, and to check we had fully equipped her.
The very first trip was two nights at a motorhome show up at Romsey. We wanted to look at all the accessories stalls, talk to dealers about getting solar panels and bike racks fitted, and also pick up any tips from other motorhome owners. This show was quite an experience. There was evening entertainment both nights. Not quite our kettle of fish, but good to have gone and tried it out. One evening we wandered around the site, looking at everyone’s set-up, commenting on things like mats for muddy shoes under the step, portable aerials and satellite dishes, external gas points for barbecues. It certainly gave us some ideas. I don’t think I should mention our little run-in with ‘Caravan Club Man’.
The next trip was a fortnight in the south-west of Ireland, in early May.
We took the ferry to Rosslare, drove along the coast to Cork, and then went in and out of all the south-west peninsulas – Mizen Head, the Sheep’s Head, the Beara, the Ring of Kerry and Dingle. Ignatius is Irish (from county Meath in the east of the country) and so of course we have had many holidays in Ireland before. I think County Cork is my favourite part of Ireland, and this holiday was amazing. It was a real test of Gertie and all our kit. We took bikes, did some cycling and walking, free-camped most of the time and generally thoroughly enjoyed every minute (the highlight for Ignatius being the rugby match we went to in Limerick, which Munster comfortably won; the highlight for me being our hike up Carauntoohil). My next novel is set in County Cork so as well as testing our Gertie and having a wonderful holiday, I was also researching and being inspired for the book.
In July we took Gertie to the Lake District for a week. We spent three nights camping in Langdale, and three at Castlerigg outside Keswick. We walked or cycled (or both) every day. (This was immediately after a three-day writers’ conference. My idea of total heaven – three days talking writing followed by six days in the mountains…sigh.)
And finally in September we packed our younger son (then 18) in the van, drove up to Sheffield where we kidnapped our older son (21) and then into the Peak District for a couple of days. The boys took a small tent, as Gertie is really only a 2-berth van (3 at a pinch). We cheekily free-camped in a pretty amazing spot (could tell you where, but then I’d have to kill you), did some walking, and played games in the evenings with the boys. It was lovely having a little family holiday at the end of the summer.
These were great try-outs for Gertie. All in all we felt everything was pretty much perfect, and now we cannot wait for the big trip this year!