It was the early 1970s, I was twelve and my parents borrowed a small motorhome from a friend of the family. We packed a few things and set off for a touring holiday, none of us really having a clue what we were letting ourselves in for. Despite being crowded and the ‘van being basic, we had so much fun we did this two years running, visiting Scotland and Cornwall. Before the words were even in common parlance my parents created wild camping holidays that were frugal; I loved it. We slept in lay-bys and car parks the majority of nights, with just one night on a campsite during the week so we could shower. I can remember trying to wash in the sea and being interested that the soap wouldn’t lather and watching boats on the Firth of the Clyde as the sun went down. I can remember having lots of freedom to explore places. This was the days before seat belts and on steeply winding roads it was the job of us children in the back to hold the cupboard doors shut as they had a tendency to swing open. We had no fridge and no toilet on board, just beds, a cooker and sink. The [blurry] photograph shows my sisters at the back door of the ‘van, it was a Commer vehicle but beyond that I have no idea what the conversion was called.
While staying overnight in a coastal car park near to Ayr in southern Scotland we were joined by another Commer van of the same style. I joined my Dad in going over to say hello and they proudly showed us around their ‘van, which we were impressed to see had a fridge. This retired couple, one Swiss and one American, were full-timing in their motorhome and were travelling around European countries. This was a lifestyle I hadn’t even dreamt was possible and at twelve years old I was immediately attracted to such a relaxed way to travel and my dream to own my own campervan began [it took me over 30 years to get there]. The couple were very friendly and told me how they kept in touch with their grown up family back in the US by sending a postcard every week and that they were currently learning Spanish as that was where they were heading next. They talked about how they spent their time in their ‘van and showed me crafts they made in the evenings.
I am not sure I would like to return to those days without all the modern technology that helps us communicate with our families today but I still remember those first holidays in a motorhome and I am thankful that I had those experiences. Without them I might not have seen the possibilities and be living the life I lead now.