We bought a Bailey Pagaent Series 5 for a bargain price, thinking ‘might be cheaper to get a caravan and go on lots of holidays than our usual one big holiday abroad‘, especially after lockdown and being unsure about travel restrictions.
We set about with zero knowledge, found a storage facility to keep to caravan while we were home as our drive way is too narrow to be manageable with anything to be honest. Cost of storage £320 p/a
We then set about getting a tow bar fitted. Oh my days, who knew having a tow bar fitted and an electric wire plugged into the car was so expensive! Good bye a hard earned £250.00 and that was the cheap price, they can cost anything up to £750.00, so if your doing this, shop around.
Joined a club to get better deals. £40.00. Could have just looked on some well known booking sites we found out later.
Booked our first break away! Hooray! And second.. and third…
Then we realised we needed to check the caravan we’d had dropped off at the storage yard was leak proof, see if anything was missing and make a list of what we needed.
Bad news, we had a leak. A crack in the roof we couldn’t see when we first looked at it and some really dodgy repairs had been carried out throughout the van. It needed some new gas hose, new cupboard push buttons, handles, some window catches had been glued on badly just for show, the made up bed was made up because there was no seating, cooker hood and sink hood were broken but had been covered at the time. Oh Sugar.
I started googling. Spares and repairs. Now I know why caravan owners are so meticulously careful with their vans. The price of replacement parts is amazing. It cost £150 just to replace all the push buttons and the surrounds. I’m still short two as I miss calculated. I also bought new handles, £50.00. I decided the £48 and £28 plus postage for the cooker and sink hoods could wait.
We also needed plates, cups, cutlery, kettle, tv, aerial (the caravan aerial had been removed), wing mirror extensions, gas struts, bedding, outdoor table, chairs, blankets, food, water purifier, chemicals, outdoor table, spare tyre, wheel lock, replacement locks for the broken front storage box, these were just the essentials.
I put this all on my credit card to keep track of it. £800 later. I had really bad headache. Was this going to be worth it.
We had one week to get this shed into working van order before our first towing and caravanning experience. I’d not been brave enough to book to far away. I booked Castle Howard near York and hoped our caravan didn’t let the site down. £113 for a long weekend plus dog and awning.
My husband got to fixing the body work, changing locks, replacing gas struts, etc
I started replacing handles, buttons, cleaning, I vinyl wrapped the splash back area and unpacked our new belongings.
All we needed now were the kids, clothes and fresh food items.
The day arrived and my daughter and niece were ready. We decided to leave the dog with our son for now. We all hopped in the car, headed down the the caravan, everything went smoothly, hooked up, mirrors on, feet up, brake off, electric attached. Off we went. Only to realise on the motorway our left hand indicator wasn’t working. No where to stop we had to keep going.
We arrived, incident free. I think my husband was secretly proud of himself, when I say incident free, we went past the entrance to the site and he had to turn on a narrow lane for the first time with a caravan. I did my dutiful wife duties, got out the car and shouted ‘turn left, no no not that left!’ Etc. Till he got round.
On arrival, a lovely lady greeted us, gave us our pitch number and directions. We were opposite a tourer and in the corner next to another caravan… so now he had to manoeuvre in a strange way between the two and somehow end up straight. This caused a fair bit of swearing. But he managed it.
Note to all new caravaners. At this point. Unhitch the caravan from your car.
The husband started levelling up the caravan, neither of us noticed the car getting higher too. Once it was level, I then realised we were still attached to the car and released the car. Which went with a thud. Bounced a bit. Made a horrible noise but seems okay.
What are we missing… the waste water, the other caravans have a two pipe attachment which goes into one on the grey waste water tank. That’s what we are missing. We have one and only one. So shower water is released under the van, as the shower block is closed till the following week, queue us all stinking.
Plus, our electric hook up lead was not long enough at all, luckily the lady at reception let us borrow one.
The awning came with no instructions, leading to another row and it took us three hours to erect it. I’m hoping now it will take minutes. I’ll take a photo before we dismantle it.
£7230 so far by the way.
My husband then decides a long weekend isn’t long enough and pays £160 to stay the full week after.
I’m crying at the bank account. The bank account is crying at me. Caravanning is not a cheap holiday option.
We also realised we were missing a ground sheet £17 from B&Q.
The kids are getting restless, we take them out, pub lunch, shops, walk, flamingo land. The niece then goes home. The daughter gets restless, we go for walks, Goathland, Whitby, Scarborough, York Shopping Outlet. Thank goodness she spent her own money haha.
We go to Wales in four weeks.
What have I learnt.
We don’t need to buy anything else for the caravan especially now shower blocks are open.
Buy a guide! See where to walk, things to see, don’t wing it, ask other people! I’d be happy sat in my chair drinking soup with a book. Kids not so much. So if you’ve got kids, book places where there are things they can do without you having to go out. After all this is supposed to be your unwind time.
All in all site fees are reasonable, especially if you can go anytime of the year. If we get three holidays and see three new places in the UK then it will have been worth it.
Our caravan had a huge leak which was well covered. Beware wall paper! Mine will always be papered now even though the damage is fixed because it hides the water marks.
Don’t be afraid to ask others on site for help or advice! We met some great people.
Explore! Don’t just sit in your van. It’s a place to rest your head, have bbqs, a home away from home. The outside world is beckoning you! We found some great pubs, villages, fabulous scenery, beautiful walks, historic places.
Castle Howard is worth a visit! The house is unique. The gardens even more so.