While we are off the road I have been missing being in our campervan so much and this got me thinking about what it is about travelling in the ‘van that I love so much. I get a big thrill from exploring new and beautiful places and learning about cultures and history as we go but what I have realised is that our van life is more than exotic foreign travel, being out and about in the ‘van is just comforting and relaxing in itself. Our campervan [and its previous versions] is ingrained with so many happy memories, as soon as I climb up the step in to the cab I feel enveloped in cosiness and where we take it doesn’t necessarily matter. Just at the moment I am really missing that feeling of well being.
I am always telling people how lucky we are to be living in Greater Manchester because we have so much beautiful countryside within easy reach. Only an hour or so in any direction and we are in stunning places and we tend to alternate our weekends between Yorkshire, the Peak District and North Wales or Cheshire. But this winter we took camping near to home to the extreme and didn’t even leave Greater Manchester. Life had been more hectic than usual and our ‘van had looked sulkily at us each time we left to catch the tram for yet another social occasion or cultural event. The Renault was itching to have a run out and we were missing camping so we chose to squeeze a night in at the Caravan Club’s Burrs Country Park site just 30 minutes from home.
We arrived in the dark, which is always disconcerting and so had little idea what our surroundings were like until the next morning. With an extension agreed with the wardens beyond the usual 12.00 leaving time we set off for a walk to nearby Ramsbottom along the river Irwell path; a river that also flows within spitting distance of our home. Our walk was accompanied by cheerful toots of the steam trains on the East Lancashire Railway.
Ramsbottom turned out to be another world from Salford, this foodie heaven was full of cosy independent cafes and delis and we sat outside the church in the unseasonably warm weather savouring a perfect bag of chips each; they were that faultless combination of crisp outside and soft and fluffy inside. The artisan market was in full swing in the cobbled market place but we decided to shun shopping for the steep walk up the hill to the landmark Peel Tower on the moors, built to commemorate Robert Peel who was born in nearby Bury. Here we savoured the fresh air and wide views before descending back to the Irwell valley down the steep old cobbled road. Leaving the campsite in the mid-afternoon, just half-an-hour later we were back among the urban neon of Salford Quays.
Our van life isn’t always about glamorous places but I love it!