>>PITCHSIDE VIEW Don’t wait until the thaw to tour
WELCOME TO PRACTICAL CARAVAN. As soon as ‘Auld Lang Syne’ fades into memory, it feels like the touring season is about to start. I appreciate that for many of you, it doesn’t really stop. To be honest, Mrs D and I enjoy a trip out in the cold weather with the van (provided it is not too wet), because the sites are quiet and the fees are lower, leaving more in the pot for a frothy pint and bar meal in the local pub. If you are normally a fair-weather caravanner, drag your tourer out of hibernation a month earlier this year and give cold-climate touring a go. It’s a different world on site in winter.
Chasing ghosts How do you choose which sites to stay at? Like pretty much everyone else, we end up at the same places year on year, because we like them. This year, though, we are determined to avoid our regular haunts and add variety to our touring calendar. How will we do this?
Controversially, we’ve decided we’re going to revisit the sites we’ve been to before. That may sound like perverse logic, but we are specifically targeting sites we visited when we were kids – places we haven’t been for years.
For Mrs Donnelly, that mainly means Forestry Commission (now Forest Holidays) campsites. During her childhood, they were ungated and you could roll up long after dark – ideal if you couldn’t leave home until Dad got in from work and drove you there.
For the Donnelly family, various sites across Dorset, Hampshire and Oxfordshire were homes for the weekend, while Cornwall and Devon were bases for longer breaks. I’ve looked up some of our favourites and they all still exist. Diamond Farm and Hardwick Parks, both in Oxfordshire, are definitely on the list, while Beacon Hill near Poole and Camping International (now Forest Edge) near Ringwood are likely to get visited.
Some are less likely though. Warmwell and Hoburne Christchurch no longer have touring pitches and Rosecliston in Cornwall looks to have turned into some sort of crèche for teenage surfers (no curfew; the bar is “perfect for drinks before heading into Newquay…”).
No matter, I’m looking forward to finding some new favourites among these barely remembered destinations. It might seem unadventurous, but chasing the ghost of my blissfully happy, five-year-old self across the country’s campsites holds a unique appeal.
Best guide to top sites If you want a little more science in your site choices, there’s not long to wait until Practical Caravan’s Top 100 Sites for 2012 is announced. The sites are chosen based on the votes of people who stay on them, and with more than 10,000 votes collected, there are no clunkers in there. If you are struggling to find inspiration for where to stay this year, make sure you pick up the April issue.
Nigel Donnelly Editor email@example.com www.practicalcaravan.com/blog/editors-blog
We st ay on th es it es We to wt he va ns We li ve th ed re am!
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