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CARRY ON CAMPING?

There is something that is almost over-poweringly nostalgic about encountering a Bedford CF motor caravan at a classic show. There is the elaborate use of oranges and browns for the sofa and curtains, the Formica-topped dining table and that faint but unmistakeable aroma  - if it a perfume it would be branded as ‘Essence de Bottled Gas and UHT Milk’. 

Most importantly, a motor home hired for the August Bank Holiday was a fitting way to conclude the long summer vacation in style before returning to the rigours of SMP geometry and revising Twelfth Night for GCE Eng. Lit. But to really enjoy a long weekend element away, the following ingredients were essential:

a) Commencing The Journey.

A parent – quite often a father with visions of Convoy or at least Stanley Baker in Hell Drivers – attempts to start the motor home and head for the holiday destination in style. The reality is that he had never encountered a vehicle built on such a scale and the Bedford kangaroos down the drive.

 

b) The Traffic Jams.

 No matter how early in the morning you set off – dawn, pre-dawn or 2 AM – there would be a 10-mile tailback along the A35. Clouds of steam would start to emerge from beneath the bonnet and if you were fortunate enough to have a motor home equipped with a cassette deck, it would proceed to eat Now That’s What I Call Music 3. Alternatively, the radio would became unaccountably jammed to Turnip MW, (‘Broadcasting to Three Villages Near Yeovil!) with its unaccountable obsession with the works of Leo Sayer.

 

c) The Camping Site.

 The advertisements in the brochures promised a veritable paradise but you would settle for a decent shower block and a pleasant dining hall. The reality quite often made the site in Carry On Camping resemble a 5-star resort and I still have nightmares about a 1984 stay in a West Country venue. The  local shops looked as though they had last been updated when Marty Wilde was in the Hit Parade and the ‘facilities’ seemed to a network of WWII surplus huts.  

 

d) The Catering.

 Those readers who are my age (born the year of Monty Python’s Flying Circus making their debut on BBC TV) will doubtless recall that the late 1970s and 1980s were not a vintage period for British cuisine. That said, after two days of feasting on tinned burgers cooked in a two-burned gas grille and coffee made from cartons of UHT milk and you too would start to regard a Vesta Curry as the height of fine dining. There was, of course, the option of the on-site café but the breakfasts frequently appeared to be fried in sump oil from a Morris 1100.

 

e) The Rain.

 Naturally. And there are only so many times you can play Rummy or Pontoon without turning in Father Dougal.

 

f) The Return Journey.

 This time with a 15-mile tale back and the only radio station with clear reception being one that is devoted to playing Orville’s Song, amongst other fine singles.

 

g) Do It Again Next Year.

 Of course!

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