The obligatory festive season conversation goes a little something like this.......
Friend: This time next week, it’ll all be over for another year.
Me: Yep, I can’t believe where that year has gone, it gets faster and faster every year, it must be an age thing!
Friend: So, you spending Christmas at home?
Me: Yep, family for dinner, you?
Friend: Same as. Everybody round for Christmas. Love Christmas dinner, especially pigs in blankets. Do you have turkey?
Me: Yes and all the trimmings. We’re also having beef. You doing anything for new year?
Friend: No, not really, too old now, be in bed by 10 (fake chuckle). So it’ll be a quiet night in. Are you doing anything?
Me: We’re away in the caravan.
Friend: I bet that’s cold! Wouldn’t get me in a caravan in winter!
Cue defensive conversation about our Adria caravan, how wonderful it is and it’s ability in all weathers to look after you. The fact is, most caravans are more than capable of coping with the elements and what the British winter can throw at it. Wether it be a blown air system or wet heating, the truth is, caravanning is most definitely an all year round possibility.
Okay, there are some downsides as our most recent trip highlighted, like mud, wet feet, dirty jeans, damp conditions and setting up in dwindling day light hours, but some of these can all be avoided if your prepared, for example, suitable foot wear (not porous trainers), wet weather wear or maybe just tucking said jeans in to the top of my socks to stop them getting muddy around the hems. Then there's kneeling mats to keep you off the damp ground when searching for the foot winders or connecting up the waste and if you’re doing all this in the dark, a good bright head torch can shed light on the situation and also comes in handy throughout your stay.
The caravan, once set up, will pretty much look after its self to keep you warm and dry. Set the temperature and if your system allows, programme day and night temperatures and on/off times to suit, just as you would with your central heating at home. That’s it, your done, warm and cosy, nothing else to think about, well, that’s until it’s pack up time. You’ll probably spend days tracking the weather on an app, looking for the most ideal day to drop your awning and pack it away, after all, who wants to get it out again and dry it once your home. The reality in fact, is you’ll probably have to do this anyway, because if it’s not been raining, it’ll still be damp from the cold winter air, so don’t worry, just do it when you're ready and concede that you’ll be drying it when you're home.
I know I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture so far, but truth be told, once you understand the differences between summer and winter caravanning, it shouldn’t be dismissed or feared, as this time of year can prove to be very magical indeed. Plan your trip well and it can coincide with many festive celebrations and activities that start in November through to New Year. Try visiting one of the many Christmas Markets such as Lincoln, Bath, Birmingham or how about Chatsworth House which also has its own camp site on the grounds. Maybe visit a National Trust property and see a stately home and grounds dressed in all its finery for Christmas or see in the New Year at an organised firework display or how about celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh.
For us, we choose to wrap up several of these elements all in one neat little package, with a visit to Longleat, which each year hosts the Festival of Lights, decks the halls of the house with boughs of holly (as well as numerous Christmas trees), organises a spectacular firework display for New Year and of course, continues to provide all the adventures of a safari park. The benefit to visiting Longleat is it also boasts a camp site run by the Caravan and Motorhome Cub right next door, with pedestrian access to the grounds and house or if you prefer a short 3 minute drive to the safari (more on this in another blog).
Apart from all the festivities and wondrous spectacles to see wherever you decide to stay, the site you’re staying on can be just as magical. Many caravan and motorhomes adorn their outfits with light displays, adding to the sense of fun, friends meet and share experiences of the days activities and New Year will often see a celebration or two organised by the site wardens and the best bit, it’s only a very short walk or stagger back to a comfortable warm bed.
Winter caravanning has its own charms and I understand some peoples apprehensions about going away at this time of year, but if you go prepared and with an open mind you might just find…. its the most wonderful time of the year
Until next time, Cheerio.