As I sit here in a wet field in Norway, overlooking a fjord I can’t help wonder what the attraction is
and why Yorkshire people are so besotted with their love of caravans and camping. Even Jeremy Clarkson,
whether you love him or hate him couldn’t resist commenting on them.
Norway in the rain may seem a strange place to be. I agree. I work part time for the Caravan Club leading Tours all around Europe. The thing that amazes me is that no matter where the Tours go at least fifty percent of participants are from Yorkshire. .We get people from and all over Britain but by far the strongest representation is from Yorkshire. We have even had tours where the participant rate is as high as 75% It would appear that not only do we make our fair share of caravans, with Swift, Coachman, Willerby etc but we use them more than most.
To me, a true Yorkshire lass caravanning has always been a natural thing to do. Something that everyone did, as natural as owning a car or bicycle today. My first recollection was my grandfather who always owned a caravan. He had one sited at Hornsea. Apparently he bought it for all the family to have holidays in. It was my own giant Wendy house on wheels. Little did he know how this would shape my future life? It didn’t have a clock or radio in it, nothing fancy. We only knew what time it was by when the farmer appeared to milk his cows and must have weighed a ton to pull. I certainly don’t recollect it having running water and certainly not like caravans of today with central heating and all the mod cons. They were solidly built of wood and must have been horrendous to tow but I guess the cost of fuel and mpg wasn’t an issue then, like it is today.
I believe that it was 1964 when we arrived just in time to save our caravan as we watched others fall over the cliff !It was then somehow placed in his back garden in Hull. I say “somehow” it got back to Hull as my grandfather never owned a car or even had a driving licence! He spent many happy hours in it, just reading the newspaper in it. I don’t remember it going anywhere. It was later used as a greenhouse for his tomatoes. The smell was so distinctive of those old light mantels and then the added small of tomato plants. I shall never forget. What happened to that wonderful old caravan? It was actually left in the back garden when he died-it died too.
It seemed natural that my parents then bought a touring caravan as did we when we married and started exploring more of Europe. It only struck me that we were maybe something unusual when package holidays became popular and we shunned them in favour of our camping holidays. Not only were they more affordable to us but they were more enjoyable.
In 2007 we were victims of the flooding in Hull and we couldn’t live in our home. The solution? A caravan in the back garden where we lived for a year. Was it a hardship? We loved it! It just showed us that you really don’t need your big house to survive in we were as happy as larry with or caravan. This re ignited my love of caravans and desire to wander again, more than ever
When we retired from our professional jobs the caravanning bug just got worse. The kids were grown up and we could finally afford foreign holidays and hotels but no..That wasn’t us. A caravan was the sure way to see Europe and spend our time. We travelled where the road and the sunshine took us. Living our dream. We soon became bored of our own company and started sharing our experiences of places visited with others and leading Caravan Tours for the Caravan Club gave us the perfect opportunity. We have led Tours from as far afield as Romania to Russia but it’s the people as well as the places that amaze us. The majority are retired professionals who could afford to go in any hotel, probably anywhere in the world, yet they choose to come caravanning and touring with us! Why? Is it their crazy sense of adventure? Is it we all share a deep love of caravanning? Is it that we are a sociable county and enjoy travelling in groups? Are we related to gypsies?! Who draws the line? It could be argued that we are the lucky generation and being northerners with a relatively cheaper cost of living can afford the cost of caravans and touring holidays and we are just a little more “savvy” with our money? Whatever it is when there are Yorkshire folk on a Tour we are always guaranteed a good bit of fun. We don’t try to be anything we are not. We are what we are. We are from Yorkshire and proud. We make caravans and we certainly know how to use them!
By Jean H. McKee