Monday, 2 August 2010

Camp as... well Brighton

This is me on Saltdean beach drinking pink Pinot Grigio in honour of our good friend A's birthday and our first caravan holiday. Happy Days!
Our first adventure in the caravan, if you forget the night spent ten minutes down the road testing things out, was to Brighton. We played it safe, knowing there would be expert wardens on hand if we got stuck, and camped at a Caravan Club site. Sheepcote Valley Caravan club site also has lovely tent fields, accepts campervans and motorhomes and is brilliantly placed to explore Brighton. At the same time it is sheltered from the city and has lovely views of rolling hills.

Sure enough the wardens were fab, they provided us with wooden blocks and suggested we used a measuring jug in place of our forgotten spirit level to level the 'van. In the end we resorted to a baby bottle as a spirit level. I discovered in a fit of giggles and tears that I just could not get my brain to translate the water level in the bottle into logical directions to help Mr A to level the caravan. It seems everything about caravan manouvering is counter, counter intuitive. I am doomed! Fortunately this stuff seems to come naturally to Mr A, so all is not lost. (Mr A just read this and told me it is actually counter, counter, counter intuitive - I've got no chance then).

The kids loved the really imaginative playgrounds along the sea front which have sand, shade, sprinklers and paddling pools. They lobbed stones in the sea, wolfed pasta on the terrace at Alfresco Italian restaurant, gawped at the sharks, rays and turtles in the sea life centre and fed the penny slot machines the pier. They had their first taste of candy floss and my daughter discovered dummy shaped lollies. My son even had his picture taken by a German tourist who felt his messy ice cream eating epitomised her Brighton experience.

We even managed to watch Denise Robertson and Alison Hammond being filmed for This Morning live from the seafront. The only downsides were the seagulls, nettles and rabbit holes. When we lived in Brighton I loved the sound of gulls, but for some reason there was an almighty racket above our caravan, every morning at around 4am. I quizzed my dad on this, as the family bird expert, and he reckons it was because their offspring were still very young and so they were waking up ravenous. I can relate to that, nightfeeds with our little ones not being such distant memories. There were, to be fair, signs all over camp saying beware of rabbit holes. However, in hot pursuit of our one year old, who was heading for a wall of nettles, I forgot and managed to sprain my ankle pretty badly. This wasn't the end of our holiday, as I discovered it is much easier to limp round a caravan and get stuff done, than in a house.

So we learnt that its worth checking out your pitch for pitfalls as soon as you arrive, especially with little ones. Everything else can wait, help them and you, get bearings first. We could easily have asked for a pitch away from the nettles but by the time we had clocked it we had most of the caravan unpacked and a sprained ankle.

We had some lovely visits to the caravan from old friends, Guy, John and Caroline. Our camp cooking skills still need some work, although I am loving veggie sausage,veg kebabs in wraps with hummus and spicy relish. Still we were really proud of ourselves by the end of the week, and a lot calmer than on our previous tent and campervan family outings.

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