Firstly apologies for it being so long since the last blog update. The last one ended just as the site had reopened on 4th July, so basically that’s the reason I haven’t had the time to write one since! From that day on as we raised the arrival barrier to welcome members back once again it has been non stop. There wasn’t a night where we weren’t full to capacity all through July and August and right up until the last week of September. The weather held out into early October so weekends were still chocablock as we then took capacity down to hardstanding pitches only. From July it would normally have been a steady build up to the school holiday break up at the end of the month with weekdays having a constant tickover and weekends full, but it was noticeable that from day one the site was full of children and families as although the lockdown had eased for travel and some businesses, the majority of schools remained closed and many parents were still furloughed. Having had 9 days of warden life back in March then 96 days furlough, meant that July and August was quite a hard slog and felt like a continual groundhog day. Days went by in a blur, a whirlwind of bin emptying, checking in, block cleaning and keeping members happy on their holidays. It was unbelievable just how many people were wanting to get out in their caravans motorhomes and tents, and also how many families were embracing the lifestyle for the first time. I guess everyone has had to rethink their holiday plans for 2020, those that would have normally spent their time abroad have now had a staycation instead and the freedom and ease of caravanning seems to have appealed to many.
So our summer season was spent in a whirlwind, when at last the August Bank Holiday was over a gentle decline in the numbers on site would normally have begun, families having had their fill of nights in a wobbly box, burnt bbq’s and the sound of rain on the roof. But no, the site was still full weekdays and weekends, everyone was intent on making up for their lost leisure time during the lockdown months and so our season was still going at full steam ahead. It was certainly a full on introduction to life as a Campsite Warden, but as we didn’t know any different it was just another day in paradise to us. The site was taking a hammering from the amount of people using it, grass was looking threadbare in places and there just wasn’t enough time to grass cut, hedge trim and carry out repairs as we would have liked. But members were still very complimentary about the happy atmosphere, friendliness of staff and how they felt safe being on site with all the sanitising and Covid measures we had in place, mask wearing, hand sanitising and social distancing now being normal as part of everyday life. What will normal life look like when they return next season – who knows?
The hot sunny weather of lockdown was now hit and miss during the holiday summer months but we did still manage our days out when the rota allowed. We ( I mean Steve) has always hankered after a van instead of a car, both to tow the caravan and just because he enjoys driving vans. In our previous jobs it was me who drove our own car everyday for work and social outings so for practicality a van was not on my agenda. But now, since I hadn’t actually driven any vehicle other than the site tractor since February, it was decided to change the Kuga for a van. More practical now that we had so much stuff to carry about with us and also we wanted a vehicle that could double up as an overnight stay in case we ever got the chance to stay on another site on our time off. So the hunt was on, ideally a VW camper conversion was our goal but we soon realised this wasn’t going to be within our budget so alternatives had to be thought of. After much searching we finally found a possible within a few miles so headed over there to view it on Steve’s birthday at the end of July. It was a Transit Custom, still a panel van but we had big ideas for a conversion to suit our needs and were quite excited at the prospect of doing the work ourselves. The purchase was made and we picked it up two weeks later, our journey into nomadic living had just taken another leap forward, we now owned a van and a caravan.
Vinny (the van) was now about to be transformed into a day van with a pull out bed, a Club requirement for staying on a site is that the vehicle has to have a proper fixed sleeping area so a blow up Lilo in the back would not suffice. We felt we didn’t need to have a permanent kitchen area, sink or wardrobe as it would only be used for the odd 1 maybe 2 night stay away and we could erect a driveaway awning or tent to house the cooking facilities if needed for then. What we mainly wanted it for was to drive to the beach and sit looking at the view drinking coffee and eating cake. Spare time was spent researching the “look” we wanted and many purchases began arriving daily from ebay and Amazon. The first thing we did was remove the bulkhead and have windows fitted either side. The sides, floor and roof were sound deadened and insulated, new side and roof panels lined with carpet, lights installed and carpet floor tiles fitted. Now the basics had been done it was time for the part I’d been looking forward to – all the furnishings inside. We had a trip to Ikea in Southampton and found a pull out sofa bed that was the exact size to fit between the wheelarches, cushions, throws, curtains and rugs were added and our little home from home was transformed. There are still some areas around the rear doors and pillars that need carpet lining but unfortunately by this time it was the middle of October and the weather had changed to wet and windy. We still managed a few day trips out in Vinny and are eagerly planning many more.
We had a day trip to Brighton which is about 50 miles away from the site. It was a lovely blue sky and sunshine day and quite warm still, after taking an age to find somewhere to park we then had a walk along the seafront and pier and enjoyed a free icecream. There was a sign out infront of an icecream shop saying “have a free icecream if your name is Sally” so I did! We didn’t get to see much more in Brighton due to parking time restrictions so on the way back stopped off at Arundel and its Castle. Arundel is a picturesque market town with a magnificent medieval castle and Cathedral. It is stylish and full of history with many independent boutiques, antique shops, art galleries and pretty waterside pubs and cafes. A very nice place to wander around its charming back streets, walk along the River Arun and enjoy views of England’s second largest castle.
Back on site Autumn was now visibly on its way, trees were turning all shades of red, orange and yellow, some with their red fruits hanging low ready for birds to feast on, conkers and acorns dropping on those who were unfortunate to pitch under overhanging branches. Leaves were falling ankle deep in places, the leaf blower going into overdrive to keep the roadways and pitches as clear as possible. Threadbare grass pitches were scarrified, raked and reseeded, then we eagerly waited to see the bright green new grass growth, relieved when it started to appear that the birds hadn’t pecked all the new seed away. With the member numbers now dwindling Rookesbury’s animal life was beginning to emerge once again, pheasants strutted their stuff, squarking and showing off their colourful feathers, squirrels were busy collecting acorns stashing them away in their secret stores ready for a winter supper. The woodpecker had also returned to the tree overhanging our compound and could be heard hammering away acting as our morning wakeup alarm call.
The wildlife should have been lining up to reclaim the site back as their own from 31st October as this was the official season end date, that is up until 10 days before that when we were informed the season had been extended and the new close date was now 3rd January. The phone started ringing off the hook again and bookings began mounting for Christmas and New Year. Members were elated they now had the opportunity to continue making memories and see out the year, one we’ll never forget, in their happy places.
Catch up with us next time as our season comes to a close, we pack up our belongings and prepare to head home.