This week we’ve been thinking about Christmas, and planning a trip to Ireland to see my sister and her family, so it got us thinking back to our Ireland road trip. I asked my fiancé to tell you a bit more about what he thought about our Bailey of Bristol summer motorhome extravaganza.
Holiday destinations really matter to me. I like heat, a swimming pool, the sea, not many people and somewhere quiet. I’d never been in a motorhome before this summer. Come to think of it, I’d never been in a caravan either. When I left school, I went camping in Cornwall with some friends, and we met an American couple who had just retired. They’d shipped a Winnebago from New York to Southampton and were in the process of driving through Europe. Their motorhome was amazing. The owner was busy putting up a picket fence as his wife put away their motorbike in the Winnebago’s garage. Yes. The garage.
From that moment on, I’ve rather fancied the idea of driving a massive home on wheels and the freedom it gives you. I had to wait a further 18 years before I finally got the chance to drive a motorhome, but the excitement hadn’t gone. Despite it being the middle of summer, there was an air of Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ as I drove our Bailey of Bristol motorhome down the M4 into Wales at the start of our trip.
Everyone I’ve told about our trip has asked how we managed to get a motorhome around the narrow lanes of Ireland. The truth is, it was so easy to drive. It certainly was no wider than a large family car, and as long as you remember it’s somewhat longer, you’re okay. In fact, as a driving experience, the Bailey of Bristol motorhome was rather great. I loved the acknowledgment from other motorhome drivers as you meet each other on roads, and the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ element when you arrive at a new site. People pretend not to be checking out your motorhome with envy. After all, the majority of people will have spent a long time researching what they’re going to buy as a gift to themselves in retirement, so the last thing they want to see is a shiny, gorgeous new home being driven by someone half their age.
That’s exactly what happened on our first night. I was returning to our pitch from the toilet block. A man approached me.
“Have you just picked it up? We dream of owning something like that,” he asked, nodding at our van while he struggled with a washing up bowl full of dirty dishes.
I came clean and told him that motorhome wasn’t actually ours, which softened the blow to the man, but it wasn’t the only time on holiday our shiny motorhome turned heads.
I’d been quietly cautious about the idea of two weeks in a motorhome as a family. Holidays can be fractious as a family, and in a confined space surely we had the ingredients for lethal feuds. In fact, the opposite happened. We bonded and found routines that have left indelible happy memories. We spent more time as a family talking and learning about each other. Meal times were about conversation and sharing stories rather than a race before watching TV or doing homework. I learnt how funny Belle is and what an exceptional double act she is with her mother and that card games can cause the start of a world war.
Mostly, I learned that it doesn’t matter where you go on holiday; it’s who you go with.
We were loaned a Bailey of Bristol motorhome for our trip. All opinions are my own.