Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sunny days - I wish I were off touring!

Two mornings in a row have been gorgeously sunny down here in Sussex. Cold, of course, but so bright and energising, a lovely change from the drab winter world of rain and mist and leaden skies. If it were just a little warmer, you might assert that spring is here; but I don't believe that winter has done with us all yet.

Yesterday I towed my caravan over to Peacehaven, a town on the cliffy coast east of Brighton, to the premises of Stewart Mouland Motorcaravans. They are the local agents for Speedcoat, whose repair product will fix the cracks in the shower tray on the caravan, and extend its holiday life for years ahead. Originally Stewart Mouland were going to do the job on the drive outside my house. But the cold weather, especially the very cold nights, would make it difficult for the various stages of the treatment to set properly, and so carrying out the work inside their workshop would be best. I agreed, and so I hitched up and took the caravan down to Peacehaven. Surprisingly, it was an indirect drive of some twenty miles, as I wanted to stay on good roads, and avoid narrow village streets. But it was a lovely experience. I'd spring-cleaned the interior of the caravan, checked the tyres, and was really in the mood for an extended tour! I grew very wistful. But just now I can't afford it. My first outing will have to be a few days in south Wales in late March - over a month ahead.

My caravan was bought new for about £11,000 in December 2006, jointly with M---. We put in the same amount of money. After she asked for the return of her share in July 2009, I became the outright owner. But for a long time I made no alterations to suit myself. I felt it would upset and alienate M--- if I did. But of course all that has receded into the past. So I'm now looking at ways to usefully customise my caravan. Only little things, but they can make a difference.

One problem with small spaces like a caravan interior is where do you hang up things to dry? Sopping wet items, like a rain-soaked jacket, can be hung over the bathroom basin. But items such as towels and flannels, or clothes that are only slightly damp, or anything that merely needs an airing in warm air from the sun or the electric heater, pose a problem. There's a dearth of hooks and lines. I'd been hanging things up on cupboard door handles with clothes pegs! But now I've finally added some proper brushed metal hooks at the front end (just under the Sony speakers), and strung curtain wire between them, so that things can dry off overnight, or while I'm out for the day:

For an encore, I've put some more curtain wire up just inside the entrance door, to hang damp rain jackets from:

That'll do for now. But I may think of other little innovations that will make caravan life more convenient.

The caravan is now six years old, but still looks good. Here it is, as left at Stewart Mouland yesterday:

A bit like a wedge of Cheshire cheese on wheels! Once it's had an exterior wash, it'll look even better. I haven't researched this carefully, but if I were selling it privately, I think I would still expect to ask £5,000 or so. But if trading it in to a dealer, I would get less of course; and I wouldn't be surprised to see it subsequently offered for £7,000 or more. Well-maintained caravans and motorcarvans are expensive, even second-hand examples. They last a long time, and depreciate slowly. Which may explain the £6,000 Stewart Mouland were asking for this rare motorcaravan combo:

A Mark II Ford Cortina married to a Luton body! I'd never seen one of these before. The front end looked immaculate. The old 'R' registration mark indicated a date between August 1976 and July 1977, and the 'PAH' part of the registration mark meant Norfolk or Norwich. And here it was in Sussex, after one or more caring owners. Somebody will buy it. It's different, individual, a bit whacky. Someone who likes weekends away, perhaps at a Cortina rally, or simply to attend a boozy Rockabilly get-together at the Hop Farm near Paddock Wood in Kent.

Not for me. I had my fill of motorcaravanning during those two months in New Zealand in 2007. This was the offending beast, in a variety of locations in the North and South Islands:

It got M--- and I to all sorts of places, and it ran faultlessly, but it was uninsulated and comfortless. The next time I 'do' New Zealand - if there ever is a next time - it'll be in a car, staying in cabins and guest houses. And that might actually work out cheaper.


  1. Lucy,

    That is a cool Cortina based camper, thanks for including the photo. I am very familiar with Norwich as it was the closest big city to my grandparents in Reepham and my school in Holt.

  2. Oh to be able to go for a 'camping trip' in March!
    We have the same sort of issue finding places to hang things and came up with a similar idea. I used some heavy cord between two hooks and found that it was useful to put loops at regular intervals so we could put clothes hangers on them. Without the loops, everything slides to the middle.

    Lucy, I read your "I welcome sincere comments" note and understand perfectly if you decide not to publish this. You get the suggestion either way. :)

  3. Hope the van gets repaired as well you hope Lucy. March is only round the corner so you've not long to wait for your first real outing with the caravan this year. I had a thought about the clothesline problem and wondered if fitting the type you can buy for indoors which stretches across the room and retracts when not in use. They usually come with four lines.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. Halle, you are safe! Fear not.


  5. Shirley Anne, thanks for your suggestion. The lines I've now put up are not in the way and will be in use most of the time to dry off this and that. So a retractable line wouldn't actually be a great advantage.

    Future improvements might include cleverer ways to organise my pots and pans and cutlery, although what I do at present - which is much as it was in the M--- era - is perfectly adequate. And in any case, I'm no DIY expert, and anything I do will have to be simple and not detract from the appeal of the caravan as a selling proposition!



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