Sunday, 24 May 2015

The open road beckons!

Three days hence I shall be well on my way up north.

It's a packed schedule, and the most ambitious caravan tour I've yet devised for myself.

# Sussex to North-east Scotland and back again, with stops at several places in between.
# 26 nights away.
# 10 Caravan Club sites visited. All of them carefully chosen and already booked.
# 1,430 towing miles, with the caravan hitched up behind Fiona.
# A minimum of 1,300 miles covered on days out, just me and Fiona, the caravan left on-site.
# £340 spent on site fees. So that's an average of £13 per night.
# A minimum of £450 spent on fuel over and above what I'd spend anyway at home.

My records indicate that my typical sight-seeing mileage is 50 miles per night at site. But in Scotland, that will be very hard to keep to, considering the big distances one might cover on a worthwhile day out. On the other hand, the roads are so empty of traffic - compared to Sussex - that my fuel consumption ought to be much better than usual, and so the fuel bill shouldn't get out of hand. In any case, in order to pay for extra fuel, I'm willing to sacrifice the odd meal out. And I won't be hitting the shops for tartan souvenirs.

Originally all but one of the ten sites were booked online some time back, on the Caravan Club's website. What a great convenience that was! The exception was the site at Huntly in Aberdeenshire, which was a commercial site affiliated to the Caravan Club, and matching or exceeding its standards. I had to email them specially.

I've just however rejigged my bookings for the final few days. I was going to have three nights in the Peak District, then three nights on the Cotswolds. Now it's four nights on the Welsh border at Chirk, then two nights on the Cotswolds (worry not, Angie: the Sunday pub-lunch-and-ramble remains sacrosanct!) before embarking on the final journey back to Sussex.

It was dead easy to cancel the Peak District booking, and shorten the Cotswolds booking, by visiting the Club website. But the new booking at Chirk had to be arranged over the phone. The website was showing 'fully booked' at Chirk for the fourth night that I wanted to be there. Now people rearrange their bookings all the time, and the website doesn't necessarily tell the up-to-the-minute truth. So on a hunch that I could still get in, I phoned them up. I was right. They did have a spare pitch for that fourth night. What good luck! So I nailed the booking.

I'm rather glad that I've switched from the Peak District to the Welsh borderland. Now I'll be able to revisit Welshpool, and see Lake Bala, and have a look at Denbigh and Flint. The Peak District is very worthy, of course, but I will go there another time.

As you can imagine, I am working through a long checklist of things to see to. Better get on with it.

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