” Home is where you make it”
So now we know where and when we will be going to site to commence our first season as Assistant Site Wardens, and we ( or should I say “I” ) have been busy preparing for our new home away from home.
Being on holiday in your caravan/motorhome for usually no more than 2 weeks at a time is a totally different concept to continuously living out of it 24/7 for 8 months or more. A seasons wear and tear on drawers, cupboard doors, upholstery and blinds will be like using your van for 17 two week holidays, or 34 weeks continuous in total, which could be up to 3-4 years worth of use for the average holidaying caravanner. Meaning after a couple of seasons as Assistant Wardens we will have had up to 8 years worth of manufacturers predicted normal use from our Sterling Eccles. In a “normal” life most likely by that time we would have traded it in for a new one well before the 8 years, something we most probably wont be able to do every two years, so looking after it and trying to limit the daily wear and tear as best we can will be a priority. As electric on site will be free we are also intending to run everything off electric rather than use any gas.
Advice we have received is telling us that you need to make your caravan/motorhome environment homely and relaxing, as it will be your only private space during your months on site. The awning will become our lounge, a place to relax and unwind, watch tv, put our feet up or have a snooze after a busy day out working on the site. It needs to be kitted with comfy chairs, cushions – (an item that always provokes a groan from Steve), lamps, family photographs, things that are personal to us, just as you would when you were in a lounge surrounded by bricks. Also depending on the set up of our on site compound it may need to be our kitchen and wardrobe areas aswell. Of course this was all like a green light to me who loves to shop.
I love to ebay, great satisfaction is felt when I win an item I’ve had my eye on for a fraction of the new price. Thankfully Steve’s current job takes him all around the Country so there is usually somewhere in the UK I am asking him to go to collect an item Ive just won! All in a good cause I remind him, I’ve saved us a tremendous amount of money over the years.
So with the prospect of kitting out our new home, I was on the case without delay. Within days I had sourced an all season full awning from Bristol, only been used for one season. A day later there was a full height annexe for sale to match the awning, never been used and £150 less than new cost, thankfully sent via courier as it was about 250 miles away from home! We now had the framework of our new “lounge” so we needed something to make it homely. Ikea chairs and footstool were sourced from Nottingham. A tv stand was found for £1.50 in Birmingham and they even delivered it to us for that price! A folding kitchen table was just the job from Conningsby and a side table from a local charity shop matches everything perfectly.
In the post Christmas sales I sourced a combination microwave/grill/oven and also managed to use a gift card we had as an Xmas present which made that a double bargain buy. We took a trip to a local Caravan supplies shop and came back armed with more goodies to tick off the list, mains water system, additional electric hook up and socket bank, bin, clothes airer, awning carpet, new step, electric hot plate, camping kitchen unit and most importantly a new kettle! The spare room and garage are filling up fast, the only thing we need to sort out is how on earth we are going to get it all transported from Staffordshire to Hampshire?
With weekends now down to single figures before we go to site we thought we should make a journey down to our new home town and suss out the area. After a sunrise start we made good time with clear motorways and were soon nearing the area. Following the satnav it took us off the motorway earlier than I would have done if following a map but we decided to go with it and see what route it would take. Winding our way through pretty lanes and very picturesque villages we soon realised that it may be the quickest route in a car but certainly not a way to tow the caravan, as we hadn’t got the van this time it was a lovely introduction to the local scenery, but we made a mental note not to follow “satnav Susie” next time but stick with good old faithful “mapreading Sally” instead.
We found the driveway entrance to the site but it was gated and padlocked ( as we knew it would be) so decided against jumping the gate and walking the mile down the muddy drive, we were content in just knowing where we have to turn off the road. We have already viewed the area on Google Earth so basically know the site layout. Having forfeited breakfast in our eagerness to get on the road we then went on the hunt for food. Recommendation came from our Head Wardens to head for Monster Micks a mobile café with views across Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. A quick Google search gave us the location and a short time later we parked up in a panoramic viewpoint layby and judging by the queue Micks was a very popular spot.
Suitably fed and watered we headed down to the coast below us. Parking up on the front in Southsea we were just in time to see the hovercraft departing off the beach to the Isle of Wight. It was a spectacular sight and something we look forward to doing on our days off. From there we walked along the esplanade and Royal Garrison to Old Portsmouth, an area where the original medieval town is situated. Cobbled streets are lined with many historic buildings, quaint tea rooms and several traditional pubs, which we also look forward to visiting again on our days off! We didn’t have enough carparking time left to make it to the Spinnaker Tower and the ships at the Historic Dock, but im sure we will in the months to come.
Next we made our way around the coast to Gosport on the opposite side of the harbour, spotting the locations of supermarkets, shops, petrol stations and anything of interest we thought we should be aware of on the way. Steve spotted the submarine museum which he is unlikely to forget about, so that’s another day out on the list ( oh joy)
The light was now fading fast and dropping cold so we decided to find the hotel we had booked nearby. Heading back towards Rookesbury Park area we drove through Wickham and as it is the nearest village to the site we parked up in the market square and had a wander around the small selection of shops and historic buildings. It looked very pretty with twinkly lights in the trees and inviting roaring open fires in the cosy pubs. We did only look through the windows this time though, honest. Wickham is a conservation area with the Romans establishing a settlement here as it was on the road between Chichester and Winchester. A traditional gypsy horse fair, the oldest and biggest in England is held in the square annually in May, a 4 day music festival in August and Taste of Wickham in September which is a food festival with stalls, crafts and music displays. Sounds like we might be kept busy then!
Continuing onto our bed for the night at Botley Park Hotel and Spa we were feeling very happy with our new found home County and cant wait to explore the area more and really get to know where we live.