‘The worst of Bath was the number of its plain women’

The wifely foot has gone down and we are going away for a few days on Sunday. A cottage near Bath has been procured for the Hairy Farmer Family, before sheep shearing gets properly underway in mid-May. Except this time we have a baby in tow, and I’m just so ridiculously dithered about it all. I never used to be like this; my decision-making ability and confidence to just DO stuff have taken such a walloping hit since Harry’s arrival. 

I fancied a holiday somewhere warm in February, but kept butting up against the solid facts that A) it would involve an aeroplane, and B) Harry cries buckets in the night still. I quailed at the thought of pushing myself to board a plane that I’m scared stiff of, with a wailing, earachy (the spell checker tells me that’s wrong, but it can totally bugger off) baby, to reach a hotel with thin walls and angry neighbours. The brochures looked so inviting (I practically licked the Bay of Naples pages), but I always ended up mithering (spell checker hates that too) about the stress outweighing any possible benefit. And what if Harry was poorly? And I make all his food myself; how was that supposed to work abroad? All waaay too complicated and scary.

Now, John and I own (and I do not admit this lightly) a caravan. Any UK reader will instantly understand the connotations therein, but for any overseas visitors: suffice it to say that caravans are Not Cool, and we are 20 years too young to own one. Motorhomes, now they’re cool. They have satellite dishes and little smart cars towed behind and everything. And they cost 5 year’s salary, so we don’t have one of those. No. We have (note how John looks slightly embarrassed?)


an elderly caravan of indeterminate vintage, peculiar colour, a leak in one corner, dog-urine stained furnishings, and a toilet with a inconsistent flush – which is not a characteristic you hope for in a bog. And this caravan was an upgrade. Our first caravan, an Ebay purchase nicknamed the Jolly Green Courgette, I forget quite why,

was half the size, and considerably more beaten-up. Alarmingly, the top section was only vaguely associated with the chassis until John set about it with a welder.

The news of our purchase travelled round our friends like wildfire, instantly eclipsing other, meatier gossip. We were blushing but toughed it out, as bunging the dogs in the back and bouncing merrily down to the south coast rather suited us. John, a vastly proficient tower and reverser of trailers, always derived immense enjoyment watching the feeble efforts of others to reverse their caravans towards the approximate area of their pitch, whilst anxious wives beckoned and flapped frantically.

I was 5 months pregnant when we *upgraded* to this bigger caravan and despite abysmal weather, immediately set off to Cornwall. The first intimation that we had erred was when we found high winds and a deserted site; we were the only tourer. Then John could not make our toilet flush. Bad, when it’s raining hard, you’re 300 yds from the shower blocks, and you’re peeing every hour. We eventually erected the awning, although it flapped so uncontrollably in the wind that at one point I was wallpapered flat to the side of the caravan like the Canterville Ghost. The dogs were installed in their baskets in the creaking awning, glancing nervously at the thrumming canvas, whilst I unpacked John’s stuff. I couldn’t unpack my own, as I had left my suitcase in the hall at home. John cynically accused me of hatching a plot to acquire a fresh maternity wardrobe, which I took badly and cried. We sat down to brew up, whereupon the wind began to seriously over-achieve, and it became obvious that the awning would have to come down before it was ripped off, and the caravan rotated to face into the wind. I began to worry.

Deprived of their awning, the hounds piled gleefully (I have not photoshopped my spaniel’s expression) inside the previously verboten inner sanctum, (note the oil-filled radiator in the foreground; my new best friend for the duration of our stay)

Tebbit auditions for Aardman

and proceeded to make themselves comfy.


We did not detect their (few, but nevertheless, hideous) fleas until later that evening. Tebbit’s recently prescribed antibiotics did ghastly things to his bladder, and he promptly peed over the seat and the carpet. The rain continued torrential for four days. Every time John strode intrepidly outside in full storm jacket and boots to walk the dogs,

they all came back very wet and objectionable, to my mind. I curled petulantly up in the corner amongst the damp coats and my holiday library, repeatedly watched all the Jeeves and Wooster DVDs we had brought, and essentially refused to budge. I did not enjoy myself.

I will brave the caravan again, as the in-laws have used it since and pronounced it de-loused and urine-free, when Harry is older and owns far less impedimenta. I have visions of our having to turn out the lights at 8pm and sit still and silently in the dark lest he wake, like friends of ours did in their Lanzarote studio accommodation last year.

All in all, I think our little barn conversion in the hills above Bath will do us nicely, as our usual Cornwall coastline is a 5hr drive. I’m still convinced that Harry will hate his travel cot (I can’t see my Mummy… WAH!) and worried that the apnoea (I missed the o in apnoea; the spellchecker has redeemed itself) monitor can’t be used with it, and also that the neighbours might hear him bawling through the walls (WAH!), and that our painfully acquired bedtime sleep routine will be spoilt. But hey.

And it would be lovely and nice and wonderful if my period would stop before I get there. Yep, 34 days and still steady. 



4 Responses

  1. […] given the pressurised circumstances, I tend to under-perform and forget things. Like my suitcase of maternity clothes at 5 months pregnant. I’d committed the heinous crime of falling back asleep this morning after he left for work, […]

  2. […] year; Hubby will be even more jumpy about expenditure than ever. Can we come to your house? We have a caravan: just sling us a extension lead through the window, and we’ll be quite happy in your […]

  3. […] Royal United Hospital Children’s ward, I finally listened to my water and came home. The holiday before that  (and do click through if you are amused by photos of ancient caravans and gormless spaniels) […]

  4. […] satisfied my predictions by changing from warmly optimistic to wetly foreboding. I said I would never caravan in the rain again, but it’s a choice between biting the meterological bullet or going nowhere, as the budget […]

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