You Can’t Read That in a Book; Storms, a Sunken Road and a COLOSSAL Sense of Humour Failure…
Trying is the first step towards failure – Homer Simpson
Packing up and towing is still stressful – my heart is in my mouth the whole time we are on the road, but we arrived at Portland unscathed. We had a tricky moment as we pulled into the wrong reception turning of Pebble Bank and had to reverse out down a small incline back onto the road. Our jockey wheel, which we had squared off nicely at our last site, was millimetres away from touching the tarmac!
Pitching didn’t get any less stressful. As trailer trash, we had one of the best seats in the house, with a perfect unobscured view of The Fleet, Chesil Beach and Portland. We even had a beautiful barn owl hunting over the field directly in front of us. All this came at a cost, however.
Our caravanning learning curve has been a steep one, which has progressed, basically, as we break things. The problem with siting the van here was that we couldn’t tow onto the pitch. We don’t have a motor mover; we made that decision because they are expensive, heavy on the battery and reduce the already limited payload of the caravan. Also, Mark said that he is confident in his reversing…
So here, we had no choice but to move the caravan by hand on our now-square jockey wheel; the first thing that we had broken. Mark seemed to find letting the caravan run freely downhill towards a sheer drop exhilarating. “Put the brake on. PUT THE BRAKE ON!!!!!” I yelled as he cackled like a madman. I suffered a complete sense of humour failure as our home, 1.5 Tonnes of caravan, bearing down on me and heading for a 12-foot drop into a sunken lane.
Then came the levelling. I was quite confident about the levelling; the instructor on my recent Caravan Course had given me the Truma App. We couldn’t fail! We had accidentally been completely off grid last week, so the phone was out of charge, so the levelling process went thus; plug the phone in to charge to load the app and then keep plugging it in between levelling readings so that it had just enough juice to take the next reading.
Like the Spirit Level App that we had tried on Mark’s phone, which had left us with a pronounced list to port, it didn’t work; but much more spectacularly! It said we were still down at the front when we had raised the caravan to a position so vertical that it had assumed the attitude of Apollo 8 ready to launch for the moon. This broke one of our back corner steadies. We fixed the corner steady by improvising with a tent peg then levelled the caravan to perfection by rolling a tennis ball down the middle of the floor! You can’t read THAT in a book.
No wonder that they told us on our course that “Caravanning is a spectator sport.” Thankfully, we had turned up in the middle of the day, so I am not sure anyone witnessed our incompetence.
The weather was mixed and entirely contrary to the forecast. Tuesday; we decided not to windsurf as there was a lot of rain due. In fact, it was beautiful sunshine and about a Force 5 Westerly – a classic day at Portland! In the end, we wouldn’t have sailed anyway, since our Scottish friends, Renny and Katharine dropped in from their tour of the South coast. Renny tested our levelling with his own app. My tennis ball approach had achieved a level within 1% of perfection. We felt quite smug!
Nevertheless, here we are caravanning. Another Severe Weather Warning has been issued. Tipton is under water.
We had a lot of visitors. I think many of our friends can’t believe that we really have gone and done it – rented out the house to live in the caravan – and want to come and see for themselves. People frequently ask us what we do with our time, now that we are not working. We seem to have been really busy! For example, Day 10 of Livin’ the Dream, I spent lining my drawers with Anti-Slip!
Sunday, it THREW it down all day! Helen and Bernie came to visit, bringing bikes, windsurfing gear and a will to walk. The highlight of the day was watching the dogs mesmerised by the screen saver on the TV! We put on a film and learnt another Caravan Confucious “Many people drinking many cups of tea soon fill up toilet.” We had to empty it twice!
Then we had to think about tomorrow. We need to push the caravan uphill off a wet pitch on a square jockey wheel and try to hitch without being crushed to death or losing the caravan down the bank. It’s the sort of thing that could give you a sleepless night.
We also have a potentially misplaced confidence in our ability to fashion a nose-weight guage from some cheap bathroom scales and a broom handle, saving ourselves £40. We did read that in a book, but watch this space as to how we get on and whether the scales make it with a 1.5t caravan on top of them!
The Ca-Lamberti Count thus far; 1 Jockey Wheel Squared; 1 Corner Steady Pin Sheared; 4 Fridge Shelves Destroyed & Superglued back together. I see it as EFT (Effective Failure Testing). And anyway, I am a Biochemist. Biochemists are known to take a reductive approach to research. We mash up everything and centrifuge it before we even attempt to study the whys and wherefores. I am uncomfortably aware, however, that this does not bode well for our move off the pitch tomorrow.
Well, we did have a sleepless night. It is Midsummer Day! It has rained solidly for 36 hours. The caravan was rocking – and we had to get ready to roll! Mark had to get up in the middle of the night to tighten the improvised storm straps holding down the awning (fabricated from cam straps and dog tethers. You can’t read THAT in a book) and open a vent in the awning to stop it blowing away in winds blasting a lusty Force 7 (near gale) and gusting Force 8 (gale). We considered ringing Bernie to see if he fancied going windsurfing now.
Don’t you just dread Monday Mornings? But a bad day caravanning is better than a good day in the office and in the end, getting off the pitch proved remarkably straightforward! We just swivelled Kismet round on the spot and hitched her up. Easy as that!
What was not so good was that all of our shoes (every pair we owned!) were sitting in a large puddle in the awning where the rain had blown through the vent that we had opened. We got the Yawning Awning down in the near gale and the kind of rain that could only be replicated by hurling buckets of water over someone without so much as a barked order (even when I laughed as water poured off the awning and straight down Mark’s neck.)
We were heading over to the New Forest. Our last stop before we stepped off the edge of the known world and into the great caravanning chasm; The Continent.
Featured photo – a walk with the Canine Crew at Portland Bill lighthouse.
For a review of Pebble Bank Caravan Park and some of the best things to do in the area, check out my 30s Site Review – Pebble Bank Portland.
Livin’ the Dream Week 3 – The Great Continental Divide – our voyage into Post-Brexit Europe; our 4th week caravanning; our 3rd severe weather warning; pups in PRISON & a proper pitching debacle.