Last year Christmas was spent alone in my Ford Transit van on a camp site in Bexhill surrounded by snow. This year Christmas was spent with my two children in my four birth caravan on a camp site not surrounded by snow. In fact the weather has been very mild this year. I had prepared for the worse, but fortune has so far been on my side - no frozen water barrels and no snow whatsoever.
Space is always at a premium when three beings are cooped up in a small trailer. The girls normally bring a small bag each with their clothes for the weekend and these, along with their various toys can be stored in the awning. For this visit there was no awning. My ventura porch awning was quite an investment at over 600 pounds but apart from its storage value in winter, it is hardly ever used. In summer it is great to have some shade and to be able to relax on a deck chair on the outside, even when the rain is falling. But in winter I never use it. Also it makes moving a real pain and so having taken it down a few weeks ago, I have decided not to put it up again until the summer months arrive. The items I had stored in the awning are now stored in the Transit van. Imagine that, to be able to use a camper van to store most of your belongings!! For me this is great, to be free from all that tat we never use but equally never seem to throw out.
So this visit from the children was a bit of a challenge since they are staying over Christmas and the New Year celebrations. They had a good deal more clothes to bring and also I had a fair number of presents to give them on Christmas day. Storage space was going to be a challenge.
The presents pre-Christmas were stored in the camper van. I decided to keep the bunk beds up and I would sleep in the lower bunk and the upper bunk would become a super shelf for all their stuff and presents after they had been opened on Christmas day. Also, the lower bunk would be used to store the duvets the kids required at night. Here is a pic with the setup.
The sleeping arrangements worked well. The L shaped lounge provided the two beds for my children and the lower bunk for myself. No need to mess around setting up the double bed each night and collapsing it in the morning.
Christmas day was a fine day indeed. I had stocked up with food and the fridge was completely full along with the pantry cupboards. I cheated a little on the Christmas meal. While all the vegetables were completely fresh, I didn't fancy roasting a turkey in such a compressed space and so the turkey meat came from a couple of Christmas microwave meals. The vegetables that came with these meals were thrown out as I didn't even think next door's hound could have stomached them. The children thought the meal was fine, and so once again the mighty microwave proved its worth.
On boxing day I drove the kids west to the New Forest to see my Sister and two Uncles and Aunt and cousins and Aunt-in-law and Nephew also. The Aunt's parents were there and they had visited us in Australia many years ago when I was a teenager - but I had no recollection of this visit.
This day refined a great Christmas and we had some real turkey and a fine walk and a great catchup with the family. The sister offered to look after the children that night and return them to the caravan the next day. And so I drove back to the trailer on the field and had some peace. It's great to have the children but it's also hard work and this little respite was appreciated.
And finally a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all those who have been following the eccentric blog over the year. I am sure 2012 is going to be superb and full of adventure also.