As you know, I holiday alone, generally in my little caravan. And although comfortable and nicely-equipped in every way, my Elddis Avante 362 caravan (bought at the end of 2006) is a rather small travel capsule. It's supposed to accommodate two, and if the two people happen to be partners, and are prepared to live very intimately, and need no privacy, then yes, it can work.
But as things are, it would be impossible for me to consider sharing it now. For one thing, my personal need to have my own exclusive space has become acute. That's an emotional thing. But there are practical reasons too. I can't for instance push anyone out into the wind and rain every time I need the whole inside space, bathroom included, for a good wash-down. Or to carry out a regular medical procedure. And two weeks into any holiday, I do need to hand-wash some underwear, let it drip a bit, and then hang it up inside the caravan to dry completely. Don't tell me that anyone would be super-cool about having a row of damp knickers stuck in their face!
Besides, I've become used to having the wardrobe, and all the cupboards and drawers, completely to myself. When you are away for two or three weeks at a time, you need plenty of personal storage, and I'm not prepared to share what I have with anyone else. It's necessary to pack a wide range of clothing and footwear - and a lot of it - as you never know what weather you may encounter on a longish trip. That applies at any time of year. Such things as wellies are also required throughout the year, and they take up space (the morning dew on a farmer's field will soak ordinary shoes). Plus I want room to hang up a couple of smart outfits for any socialising or fine dining that I may do.
Mention of a wardrobe and cupboards and drawers tells you that there is a fantastic convenience attached to caravanning: you don't have to live out of a suitcase. Hotels mean packing to go, unpacking on arrival, then packing again to depart. Every time you move on and change accommodation. With a caravan, I literally carry coats and dresses (still on on their hangers) on my arm from my bedroom to the rail in the caravan wardrobe. Underwear and small stuff is popped straight from bedroom drawer to caravan cupboard. Most tops need folding for the caravan drawers I put them in, but that's the only 'work' involved in loading my attire into this hotel-room-on-wheels.
Did I say 'hotel room'? Well, the interior of my little travel capsule does resemble a very small living space of the hotel variety. Wood or wood-effect everywhere. Double glazing. Electric (or gas) heating. Insulation. Carpet. Curtains. Cushions. Mains sockets for kettle, laptop, chargers, hair dryer. Lamps. Spotlighting. Two single side-seats, one of which becomes a place to lounge on by day, and a bed by night. An ensuite bathroom with toilet, shower curtain and wash basin. A nice sound system with built-in stereo speakers. A TV shelf.
But not many hotel rooms also have a proper-sized fridge (with a freezer section), a gas cooker (hob, grill and oven), and a kitchen sink. Nor big windows with a country or sea view left, right and centre. Nor a skylight for watching fluffy white clouds drift across a blue sky.
True, I haven't got room service. I can't call up the captain and say, 'Bring me my wine', not will he say 'We haven't had that spirit here since 1969'. (From the 1977 song Hotel California by The Eagles, for those too young and callow to remember) And true, I do have to set up, connect the electric power cable (and perhaps the TV cable), fill my water containers, bin my rubbish bags, and clean out my toilet cassette all by myself.
But hey, this do-it-myself way gives me total freedom. In a hotel there are rules and procedures and staff to disturb you. And the room you get has been slept in by a thousand strangers before you.
I've had my caravan from new. I know that only two people have ever slept in it. I can say exactly who has ever sat in it, to join me for afternoon tea and biscuits perhaps; or a meal cooked on board by myself. It is unsullied by any stranger's hand. That makes it a special, very personal space to be in.
And on a sunny day, summer or winter, I will relax with a cup of tea and enjoy a fantastic feeling of wellbeing. And after the tea has been drunk, dozing off is an option, if not happily inevitable. And why not?
There: a recent holiday picture that sums it all up. Cheers! And I'll add another, taken at sunset at the same location (near Lyme Regis):
That sunset made even doing the dishes a magical thing:
Just over a month before my Welsh Tour begins. Can't wait.