“I’ve got some good news,” said Gina on a Skype call. “We’re going to Dorset.”
“That’s fabbo!” I exclaimed. I was quite excited. I’d never been to Dorset before.
“Whereabouts is the hotel that we will be staying in?” I asked with glee for I love our road trips and I’ve loved staying in some wonderful hotels.
“Aah!” said Gina, who was trying to desperately to hide her smirk behind the coffee cup, which was strategically placed in front of her mouth.
“You’re not in a hotel this time.”
She stood up.
“Nor a B&B.”
She moved towards the door.
“Nor a self-catering cottage.”
The door was opened and Gina was halfway out.
She was through the door at top speed and was last seen running towards her car.
“You’re having a laugh!” I hollered to the empty room.
There was no way that I was going to camp.
I used to go camping.
In my younger days.
In my skint days.
In my ‘my children are little’ days.
I liked camping.
But that was then… Not now!
There was no way I was ever going to go camping now that:
- I was older
- I would be away from my home comforts
- I was a wheelchair user
I thought they were three very good reasons not to go camping ever again.
My mobile rang.
It was Gina.
“I forgot to mention,” she said, “I’m camping too!”
It was my turn to chuckle.
Belly laughing, rib-aching chuckles.
“Are you having a laugh? You in a tent?”
“Well I’m sort of camping,” she said. “I’ll be in the Bradder’s Bus.”
For those who do not know, Julia Bradbury is the first ever female President of the Camping and Caravanning Club. Due to her passion for the great outdoors, Julia was their natural choice and she was delighted to succeed David Bellamy, who had held the position previously. When travelling around the country on her walks, Julia will often take the motorhome, which was supplied by to us by Marquis Leisure. It has been affectionately re-named the ‘Bradder’s Bus’.
Gina explained that she was going to try out the Bradders Bus as, so far, she had not had the experience and wanted to see for herself why Julia was effervescing over the motorhome.
“Holly and you, being the outdoorsy folk that you are, are going under canvas.”
“But the Bradders Bus,” I stuttered, “Is large enough for two.”
“Yes, that’s right. For me and my clothing!”
Before the phone went dead, I’m sure I heard one more muffled giggle.
The day of the Dorset road trip arrived.
Holly travelled down to Dorset ahead of us whilst Gina waited for me to arrive by train into Euston, London. Together, we travelled down to Dorset in the Bradder’s Bus.
It was a great journey and a very comfortable ride. We sang along to the radio and time passed quite quickly.
Three hours later we arrived at the Corfe Castle Camping and Caravanning Club Site where a very jolly lady met us at Reception and told us Holly was already on the site and showed us to our pitch.
The campsite was so much better than I had given campsites credit for. My previous camping experience had always been a large, rather barren field with a breeze block shower and toilet block that was located at least four miles away from any of the campers.
In fact, this was a beautiful campsite. The club campsite at Corfe Castle lies at the foot of the Purbeck Hills, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with lots of trees and hedges, which gives privacy to each camper. There was a hard-standing pitch for the motorhome with an electric hookup for power. I was impressed.
Holly, full of energy as always, bounded up to greet us.
“Your tent is up!” she exclaimed and pointed in direction to the tiniest tent that I have ever seen.
My heart sank.
“You’re having a laugh!” I cried…. literally! Tears appeared from the corner of my eye. “My knickers are bigger than that tent!”
“No silly billy” explained Holly (she is always polite as well as always being full of energy), “That’s my tent. Yours is over there.”
She pointed in the direction of a tipi tent.
Oh my! It was wonderful. A brown Tipi tent from Robens was pitched next to the teeny weeny tent. It looked so different from any other on the campsite, standing tall and proud, like a mini big top!
Now I was getting excited.
“Come on, let me show you around,” said Holly.
“But move slowly and quietly … There’s a deer outside of your tent.”
And yes, there was. The most beautiful deer was roaming freely around the tents. It was obviously used to humans and was not worried or stressed at all by the moving vehicles and people passing by.
The inside of the tent was so roomy, I was able to wheel my chair into the tent with no problems at all. Holly had set up a Posadas double camp bed for me with an Dreamcatcher mattress, and an amazing double sleeping bag, which I was to have all to myself.
At the side of the bed was a little unit for my clothes on which stood a brilliant lantern.
There was no need for any cooking equipment as we had the Bradder’s Bus with us, but all the same there would have been plenty of room for a mini kitchen and camping chairs.
I was quite looking forward to bedtime.
Next it was time to check out the loo block. The campsite boasted that it had wheelchair accessible facilities and I was keen to see what provisions had been made. Down by the communal block was a disabled toilet and shower that was accessed by a RADAR key.
Inside the room was a toilet and a lovely roll-in shower with a stool and both with grab rails. There was a carefully placed mirror and a hairdryer, which I could use, and plenty of room to move around. It was ideal for my needs. I was impressed.
One thing that I had forgotten about camping is to always zip up the tent doors, unless of course you want wildlife visitors. Whilst nipping to the loo the camp chicken had taken a liking to my tent and had made itself quite at home under my bed. Now I had been promised fresh eggs for breakfast, but I had not anticipated this! Well I suppose that you couldn’t get any fresher!
Back at the motorhome, the electricity hookup had been connected and the kettle was on. We had everything we wanted in the motorhome – a microwave, a cooker, a fridge freezer, a toilet and shower. It really was home from home.
By now, the sun had begun to set and the lights from the campervans, caravans and tents began to twinkle as campers settled in for a relaxing evening. We sat outside with our glass of wine, our cheese and crackers.
“You don’t see this from a hotel bar.” I remarked looking up looking up at the vast dark sky. Above our heads, millions of stars shone brightly.
It was so beautiful.
I was glad we were outdoors.
When it was time to turn in, Gina quickly converted the sofa in the Bradder’s Bus into a double bed and laid a double duvet over the mattress. Her bed for the night looked so comfortable.
“I think I’ll pop the heating on,” she said. “I don’t want get cold.”
With a kiss goodnight, she closed the motorhome door and settled for the night.
After a quick trip to the toilet block to clean our teeth, Holly and I headed to our tents.
I loved my tent.
It was all aglow.
I put on my fleecy PJ’s and climbed into bed.
Though I was cold at first, I soon warmed up in my lovely sleeping bag.
It began to rain.
There’s something wonderful about hearing the rain fall on canvas.
The wind gently rustled around the tent.
An owl hooted in the nearby tree.
I’d forgotten these sounds.
I’d forgotten about being so close to nature.
And I fell asleep.
You’re having a laugh… I was… I was so happy.