Caravanning Anonymous

Hi, my name is Hannah and I went on holiday and stayed in a static caravan!

There, I’ve said it.

I’m aware it’s not a big deal, in fact some of my happiest holiday memories as a kid were from vacations to caravan parks, but as a new friend pointed out to me the other day: “I think perhaps you’ve been spoiled by your holidays in America”.

She’s right, a pool drenched trip to Palm Springs or a few days snowboarding in Mammoth were at our fingertips (because we lived so close and it was affordable) and it’s probably for that reason that, like some sort of unnecessarily embarrassed idiot I’d whisper details of my British based holiday to my friends across the pond for fear of being judged.

“I hear you’re going away next week, anywhere nice?” some friends in America asked.

“Yes, just a little trip to the coast,” I replied. “A place called Woolacombe Bay, it’s supposed to be beautiful.”

Then I’d gulp when they asked if we had a house there or if we were staying in a hotel before revealing: “Nope, I’m staying in a static caravan.”

caravan park at woolacombe bay holiday park devon
Juxtaposition? This isn’t my car by the way!

“Ohhhhh. Like a mobile home?” they’d enquire, and I was sure they were envisioning me kicking back in a downtrodden ‘trailer park’ chewing tobacco, with the kids running around half clothed and caked in dirt.

Why is it that I’d happily tell them I was going camping in a muddy field where I have to pee in a bush, but I was worried about saying the words ‘static caravan’.

I had butterflies – I”m not 100% sure because of what. Excitement? Trepidation? Terror? – as I pulled into Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park to begin our four-day trip with my husband, our two kids, a friend and his daughter too.

My first thought was that we’d be transported to the set of Dr. Who and we were staying in a Tardis – because for six of us to fit into one of those homes, I presumed that’s what it had to be.

After picking up my key from the VERY VERY VERY animated man at the front desk (I see the bright lights of Butlins in his future), I could see my 6ft 2 hubby almost breaking out in hives as he unlocked our front door and practically had to get down on his hands and knees to get inside.

Our friend (who is a seasoned static caravaner) strode in confidently admiring “the spacious living room” and marveling at the “ample amounts of seating.”

Both my husband and I were more concerned about the toilet situation considering our pal had joked before we got there that the movie tagline for our holiday could be “6 humans, one bog, no mercy”.

Also our daughter has taken to shouting “Roll up, roll up, who wants to wipe my bum?” after using the toilet and I didn’t want the neighbours thinking the circus had come to town.

woolacombe bay beach devon
Sunny, but chilly morning at Woolacombe Bay beach

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover we had two loos! I mean my husband says he had to straddle it to be able to shut the door and whoever decided crepe paper was a sufficient material to use for the interior walls of a caravan clearly wasn’t thinking straight.

But lets look on the bright side, no one wanted to waste time sat in there reading a book and you could turn the kettle on while taking a wee, if you got the angle right!

Did the kids notice any of these quirks though? Of course they didn’t. They had pools, playgrounds and beaches (almost sounded like I was back in LA there) on their doorstep.

sunset woolacombe bay devon

Plus you couldn’t help but smile when you heard them roar with laughter every time my better half hit his head on the door frame or they heard each other’s bedtime toots through the wafer thin walls.


It wasn’t just about the kid’s enjoyment either. We loved the daily woodland walks down to the incredible coastline and the sunsets were out of this world. I’m not saying we grew to love the caravan itself. Our names aren’t down on the waiting list for next year! But we did have a great holiday with a lot of laughs, many of which wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for our choice of accommodation!

The Dangers of Rural Living

The other day a friend asked me if I felt safer living in the British countryside rather than in LA and I didn’t know what to say.

I lived in a few different neighbourhoods, as they are called there, during my life in California but the majority of it was in a historic (1938) – which by Los Angeles standards is ancient –  block of lofts in the heart of Hollywood.

Lofts at Hollywood and Vine

Friends used to visit and be bitterly disappointed because they’d assumed I lived in a mansion in Beverly Hills and that my local supermarket was on Rodeo Drive.

While there was an abundance of celebrity filled restaurants and trendy hotels,  sex shops, smoke shops and tattoo parlours were dotted between them too.

My dad used to make me laugh when he’d try to look at the positives, and point out that “it’s nice that they’ve got so many individual and non-chain shops here”. I’m not sure the ‘Adult Warehouse Outlet’ or ‘The Pleasure Chest’ were really franchise material!

Perhaps it’s pretty apt that my apartment block featured on the start of the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ and is regularly zoomed in on for the crime show ‘Bosch’.

Hollywood on Bosch

There’s a reason Hollywood was often referred to as Hollyweird, I mean among other things I did witness two grown men dressed as Spiderman being arrested for having a turf war, like a couple of prostitutes.

But I grew to love the city and all it’s quirks.

My daughter has always been able to sleep through pretty much anything, and I believe thats thanks to the police helicopters and ambulances that used to fly over and race past every hour of the day.

Sounds horrific to many I’m sure. BUT I did feel strangely safe.

Now, when I moved to the countryside, I was still excited not have to worry about earthquakes, roaring traffic and the other obviously perils of city living.

But it turns out I can’t get away from it all and when it comes to driving here, I’d take a major 5 lane freeway any day!

I’m not good behind the wheel anyway and it’s been pointed out that the majority of the time I actually breath in when I pass a car and practically crap myself when I see a tractor headed my way.

small roads countryside
This photo did the road justice!

Case in point, I’ve just returned from a little holiday to Cornwall with my FLF (food loving friend), you may remember him from a former blog post.

I was in charge of driving and much to his dismay we had to abort a mission to get into a local village when the roads became so small I feared I’d meet my death wedged between, what was admittedly a beautiful Rhododendron and the way-too-late sign post that indicated ‘narrow road ahead’.

I had to do an ‘Austin Powers’ style 25 point turn to get out of the corridor – because I swear to God the route between my kitchen and bathroom is bigger –  and drive out of the village with sweat pouring down my face as my daughter pointed out repeatedly “daddy’s right, you can’t drive”.

Then there are the insects. Going for a hike in Los Angeles meant avoiding rattle snakes or the occasional cougar – both the animal and the older lady seeking a younger man variety.

Here it’s become apparent that it’s the smaller things I should be concerned about. My anally retentive and arachnophobic  – slight exaggeration – husband informed me he’d purchased a ’spider catcher’ after he claims he saw “one with teeth, hiding and ready to pounce” underneath his towel.

I had visions of this Spiderman inspired device that shoots a net out to gather up the critters faster than lightening. Turns out the ‘spider catcher’ is just a ridiculously expensive Black and Decker hand held vacuum cleaner.

My dad leaving the hedge cutter in the kid’s sandpit drew way less concern than when I thought my son had a tick! I flipped out even more than when I believed I saw a flea in his bed – hedgehogs carry them you know – and I may now have scarred him for life.

hedge cutter in sandpit
“It would have been very difficult for the kids to turn on” said my mum

I had him pinned down in the garden as I argued with my husband over the best way to remove it. I knew from having a dog decades ago that you shouldn’t just pull it out and you needed a special device, but the wireless didn’t stretch from the house and there was, as usual, no signal in the garden, so Googling was out of the question.

Lyme Disease raced through my mind as I stood there arguing with my spider fearing husband about who and how we were going to pull this disgusting thing from my, by now, terrified child’s leg.

It was perhaps a tad overkill, because when I gritted my teeth and took the plunge I discovered it wasn’t a tick after all, it was just a leaf.

There’s also a sheepdog, who has a reputation for being a biter up the road and there’s a pack of cows who saw me dive head first into some brambles to escape, what I believed was, an inevitable stampede the other day.

But wilderbeests, creepy crawlies and ridiculously small roads aside, I’m happy to say we do feel safe here!

If I could just get this mosquito out of the bedroom to ease my fears of catching West Nile virus, I’d be able to sleep just that little bit better.