Having just loaded our bags into our new motorhome, who we’ve decided to call Nettle, and found places for things (still sitting in Steve the dealer’s driveway), we spent a little while online searching for a place to stay for the first night. We wanted somewhere close, but the best candidate was completely full, so we settled on one in a village called Bishop Sutton, a moderately short drive away — the Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park. A quick phone call over Skype, and we were booked in. £20, baby, quite a splurge.
The moderately short drive turned into a moderately lengthy one due to a number of wrong-turnings with interesting consequences, but we arrived intact and happy with nary a stressful moment. Having been assigned a site by the very friendly warden, we quickly invented a signalling system and Katherine stood behind Nettle and waved me in, in my right-hand mirror, while I reversed into the site. Piece of cake.
Feeling hungry, we walked back up the road we came in on, and into a pub proffering good food. The girl behind the counter explained, in a charming accent, that they didn’t serve food on a Monday (figures), and that the nearest place we could find some food was well out of walking distance. Damn!
So, we drove out into the night in search of…something. We ended up in the car-park of a big Tesco supermarket and stocked up on supplies, until we were virtually chased out by harried-looking staff ready to close up.
Back to our site, we invented a new night signalling system using a torch, and Katherine waved me in, airstrip-personnel style. A few minutes later, we had pasta cooking on the stove. Brilliant.
A fairly fitful night’s sleep, despite the comfort of our pull-down bed, with sleep hindered by our excitement at starting our new life.
The next day, we spent a little while online, picking the next place to stay, talking to friends and family over Skype and iChat (I gave Timmy and Jen a tour of the van over iChat AV video conference, taking the laptop around like a video camera), and Skype-calling the Caravan Club to sign up so we could get access to Certificated Locations, little privately-run sites where caravans and motorhomes can camp for very cheap (£3-£10 typically), with water/waste disposal, and often electrical hook-up facilities.
That sorted, we went for quite a long walk through the woods and meadows nearby, along the edge of the Chew Valley Lake. Sunny and warm, lots of birds, bumblebees, even a blue dragonfly or two; meadows full of yellow flowers and purple thistles, tall grass waving in the breeze, impressive and solid-looking cloudscapes in the blue sky, and deep dark green woods thick with ivy.