A weekend in a rented campervan in West Sussex? In a standard yr, it wouldn’t be many individuals’s first alternative. However when turning up on the airport with a boarding card in your hand doesn’t essentially imply you’re going wherever, properly, it makes good sense.
Current figures counsel the pandemic led to a increase in tenting and campervan holidays. One grownup in 5, reportedly, has opted for one or the opposite of those up to now couple of years.
So my spouse and I, and my seven-year-old son Nicholas, determined to hitch the pattern.
Thomas W Hodgkinson and his household spent a weekend in a rented campervan in West Sussex, with one night spent parked on the foot of the majestic Arundel Citadel (pictured)
Thomas and his spouse, Georgia, and son, Nicholas, throughout their street journey
The outline of our automobile was pleasingly suggestive. The Mercedes Vario 614D transformed van, mentioned the blurb, was a ‘sexy motorhome’ with an Artwork Deco inside that was assured to ‘rekindle your relationship’. Provided that Georgia and I solely tied the knot a yr in the past, we hoped this wasn’t strictly needed. Like I say, it wasn’t clearly romantic however it turned out to be one thing of a revelation — and it was really easy to organise.
We popped onto the Goboony web site, which operates alongside related strains to Airbnb. The primary distinction is that the three,500 ‘properties’ marketed on the location all have wheels and most of them run on diesel.
Subsequent, we scooped up Nicholas after faculty on a Friday and raced south to Chichester, West Sussex, to climb aboard Black Booty. That’s proper — this was the lubricious identify our black campervan had been given by its proprietor, Simon Wickins.
He’s the proud possessor of a fleet of six motorhomes, starting from a gleaming Airstream to our glowering 24ft-long juggernaut.
We hadn’t actually deliberate a route. Fortunately, we requested Simon for recommendation and he escorted us to close by Arundel. This was useful, because it took time to get used to the heavy steering and a cussed gearstick. It was a pleasure to not fear about the place we had been going. Simon ushered us right into a roadside parking spot on the leafy fringes of the city — after which we had been on our personal.
So there we had been: two hours out of London in one of many prettiest spots in England and from our base beside a medieval limestone bridge, on the foot of the majestic Arundel Citadel, we strolled that night to the Black Rabbit pub for dinner. Afterwards, we gazed again on the darkening silhouette of the fortress, which appeared to drift above the wetland like a mirage.
Returning to Black Booty, we settled in for the night time. After half an hour with Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Nicholas stretched out on his crimson leather-based banquette. Later, Georgia and I eased into our sleeping space. It wasn’t fairly lengthy sufficient for my lanky body, however a number of glasses from a bottle of Metaxa did the trick. We slept like proverbial logs.
Thomas describes Arundel, pictured, as ‘one of many prettiest spots in England’. Throughout their keep, he dined on the city’s Black Rabbit pub for dinner
It’s in all probability time to handle a number of questions that spring to thoughts when you consider campervans. No 1: are they naff? Ours wasn’t. Quite the opposite, it was fairly swanky, prompting admiring feedback from a number of passers-by. No 2: the place do you park? Reply: campsites or, higher nonetheless, beside leafy rural roads. No 3: are they cramped?
The reply to that one is essentially sure. It’s like going crusing. You must like each other. In Black Booty, the aisle led from the driving force’s cabin to the mattress, with range and fridge on one aspect, bathe and toilet on the opposite. Nicholas discovered an area resolution of his personal the following morning, climbing on to the roof and hanging attitudes in his pyjamas.
Breakfast was on the cafe beside the pleasant Swanbourne Lake, watching swans cruising throughout its glassy floor. Then we returned to Black Booty and ensured the crockery was stashed within the cabinets, which had been lined with ingenious anti-slip matting. After coaxing Nicholas down from the roof, we gunned the engine and roared off within the course of the coast. Taking Simon’s recommendation, we known as forward, so the car-park attendant, Craig, was anticipating us. He lifted the peak restriction barrier and we steered in our 9.four ft-high behemoth.
Climping Seaside (the identify comes from an Previous Norse phrase which means ‘lumpy’) is hardly the Riviera however we had a whale of a time. Divided by picket groynes, the shingle seashore descends to the Channel, which that day was churned by blustery winds to a grey-green shade: just like the Limpopo however not as heat.
Thomas and his household loved breakfast on the cafe beside the ‘pleasant Swanbourne Lake (above), watching swans cruising throughout its glassy floor’
‘Climping Seaside (pictured) is hardly the Riviera however we had a whale of a time,’ Thomas writes
The sight of different teams of beach-dwellers struggling to cease their seashore towels blowing away was like one thing from a Beryl Cook dinner portray and extremely entertaining. We additionally loved the dip we took within the briny. Pretty when you had been in.
One factor we thought we seen. Persons are a lot nicer once you get out of London. Or maybe it’s simply the campervan neighborhood. Nicholas quickly made mates with a few lads on the seashore: George, six, and Harry, 5. Crimson-haired Harry insisted on giving me some stones he had discovered, together with one which was very like an egg. I thanked him for his kindness.
For £15, we had been permitted to spend our second night time within the automobile park at Climping. This was higher than it sounds, with solely a few different autos and not more than an egg-shaped stone’s throw from the ocean.
The following morning, I rose early and had a imaginative and prescient of myself taking a bracing dip. Think about my dismay after I found the tide was half a mile out. I needed to mince and wince my approach for 30 minutes over viciously sharp stones, earlier than lastly shedding endurance and floundering about in some knee-high water.
On the final leg of the journey, Thomas and his household drove again to Arundel Citadel for a tour. ‘As official journey photographer, Nicholas took an image of each single factor within the place,’ says Thomas. Above are the fortress’s gardens
With the weekend over, Thomas and his household returned their motorhome to its proprietor in Chichester, West Sussex (above)
Go to goboony.co.uk to take your decide from greater than 3,500 motorhomes. Go to simonwickinsclassiccamperhire.co.uk for distinctive motorhomes from £125 (observe – Black Booty is not out there for hire because it has been offered).
Again at Black Booty, Georgia had conjured a fried breakfast, which we ate on the grass on the fold-out desk Simon had supplied. Afterwards, we performed backgammon. It was me towards the mixed forces of Georgia and Nicholas. Infuriatingly, they gained. However we felt like actual campervanners as different autos arrived, the ocean returned and the seashore got here to life.
Lastly, we clambered aboard and drove again to Arundel to discover the fortress. As official journey photographer, Nicholas took an image of each single factor within the place. This completist compulsion of his usually proves helpful on journeys. Wanting again via the spool of snaps, I noticed fantastic furnishings and, specifically, dazzling work. The 14th Earl of Arundel, often known as ‘the Collector Earl’, amassed a formidable artwork assortment, together with a pair of Van Dycks, some by Mytens and a ravishing Millais of the twinkling options of Cardinal Newman.
Lastly, we returned to our campervan, climbed aboard and drove again to Simon. It was with some reluctance that I handed over the keys to Black Booty. As we headed house, sun-struck and art-addled, we agreed that we had squeezed the adventures of per week into simply 48 hours.
True, our journey couldn’t have been known as ‘romantic’ within the conventional sense. However there had been a sense of romance within the freedom of the street — and in being reminded that, when the solar is out, there may be nowhere on Earth that’s extra stunning than England.
CAMPERVAN TOP TIPS
Deliver a deckchair so you may simply escape the confines of your automobile and sit within the shade
- Plan your route. Ebook a berth at a tenting web site or, higher, seek the advice of native data without cost parking spots.
- Deliver deckchairs. Settled into some leafy glade, it would be best to escape the confines of your automobile.
- Use public services. Our Thetford toilet, with guide hand pump, was useful, however it was a reduction to flee to the general public services at Climping seashore.
- Take care reversing. Ask your co-pilot to leap out and sign instructions.
- Secret luxurious. The secret’s to really feel that you simply’re roughing it whereas sneaking in some luxuries. Produce an costly bottle of wine on the primary night time.
- Spotify playlist. Make a particular themed playlist on your journey. Ours included Don Henley’s The Boys Of Summer time and, naturally, Caravan Of Love by the Housemartins.
- Disposable barbecue. These will be purchased for a number of quid at most supermarkets. They’re easy to make use of and provide you with that genuine smoky style.
Thomas recommends making a particular Spotify playlist on your journey and packing a disposable barbecue
- A very good guide. Go away your laptop computer at house and rediscover the thrill of a rewarding learn. Attempt Jerome Okay. Jerome’s Three Males In A Boat.
- Pack key provides. Whether or not it’s mustard, a pot of Marmite or a bottle of Metaxa, be sure that your private peccadillos are catered for.
- Sling up a hammock. If you happen to fancy an evening out below the celebs, you will have an air mattress and sleeping bag, or a hammock to sling between bushes.