24th October 2017
A warm welcome from “The Overnighters” - Hello intrepid explorers!
Bailey of Bristol, the oldest caravan manufacturer in the UK, recently asked us to keep them posted about our motorhome adventures. We are now, as my wife Mel likes to call us, “roving ambassadors”. Ever since the 1980s Fererro Rocher ‘Ambassador’s Reception’ advert, I have been waiting for some sort of ambassador status. We are truly honoured and really rather excited about this whole new chapter in our lives.
We love nature, we love travel and we have big plans. Mel is a multi-talented wonder-woman who excels in photography, whilst I particularly appreciate the satisfying flush that you only get with a Thetford cassette toilet. It’s the perfect blend. And our twelve year old daughter Lois? She has no say in the matter.
Having already taken in quite a bit of the UK we are now planning our next British sojourns, plus a big European trip in 2018. I think this makes us officially ‘motorhome-heads’ (is this a recognised term, or have I just made it up?).
Back in late 2016, I knew almost nothing about motorhomes. Just a year later and I have finally worked out what the blue liquid is for. (Still not sure about the pink). We are also members of the ‘Twittersphere’ and you can follow us if you like. We are @TheOvernighters. On Twitter, obviously.
Anyway here’s my latest blog. Picture the scene…
A MOTORHOME (BAILEY)- B4583, PEMBROKESHIRE- JULY 24th
MEL (wife, 40s) in the front passenger seat, with a large map on her lap, her hand in a tube of Pringles.
RYAN (husband, 40s but younger than MEL) in the driving seat, driving at a comfortable speed, despite being in need of a ‘comfort break’.
LOIS (daughter, 12) in one of the two rear passenger seats. She eats Haribo ‘Tangfastics’ and stares at her phone. She is ‘on’ Snapchat and so using expensive 4G.
RYAN looks at LOIS in his rear-view mirror.
You’re not on 4G are you?
RYAN nods. He looks across to MEL.
Can I have one, please?
MEL hands him a stack of six Pringles. He expertly fits them all into his mouth.
LOIS looks up, breaking from her fixed iphone stare. She shouts towards the back of RYAN’s head.
So now we’ve got this motorhome, Dad… are we ever going to go on a normal holiday again?
RYAN looks into the rear-view mirror and attempts to reply
That’s the beauty of motorhoming…
Fragments of Pringles fly out of RYAN’s mouth.
MEL bends down from her seat, picking up said fragments.
RYAN finishes his mouthful, swigging some flat Pepsi-Max
The point is Lois… nothing will ever be normal again. Our lives have changed forever!
Oh my god! You two have gone completely mental.
LOIS bites the head off a fizzy cola-bottle.
Don’t eat all of those.
MEL turns the map around.
I think we’re going the wrong way.
It’s been a long and action-packed summer. Yes, it rained for most of July, but who cares when you’re in a Bailey Advance 615? It’s been a stonker for the Philpott family and we’ve had a ball. Very much a game of two halves. Actually, it was more like three halves if you count the 3 weeks I spent in Newquay in June.
I was filming a German movie (playing an alcoholic fisherman, despite having little angling experience!!) and staying in the beautiful Headland Hotel next to Fistral Beach. I had a few days off and Mel flew down for a long fun-filled weekend. We visited the quirky coolness of Port Isaac, Rock and Padstow. We surfed all day at Polzeath, of course, I mean body-boarded. We feasted on fresh crab and quaffed Sharp’s and St Austell beers. In between burps, we talked about coming back to Cornwall in the summer holidays with our motorhome (or as we like to call it ‘the van’. Sounds cool, right?).
But, there were two snags.
1) We’d already booked a hot holiday at a villa in Kefalonia.
2) Mel’s got a thing about getting the van stuck down narrow country lanes, during the busiest time of the year in the most popular UK holiday destination known to man.
Which brings us to the ‘second half’ of the three halves. I know, what you’re thinking. “How can you have three halves?” Well, it’s my blog, so my rules.
Anyway, after much discussion and prevarication, it was mutually decided (by Mel) that the three of us would avoid the craziness of Cornwall in the summer holidays and instead head for the equally beautiful, but palpably less overpopulated Pembrokeshire coast for the last week of July. We loved it. Hooking up our van at three different campsites, we surfed, we ate, we drank, we laughed and we got lost a lot. It was as wonderful as Cornwall, but with its own glorious western Welsh tint.
The city of St David’s is beautiful, Whitesands Beach breath-taking, and Newgale Beach a surfing must, even when it’s peeing down! Anyway, apart from admitting that, as usual, Mel’s instincts were proved spot-on, that’s all I’m going to give you. For the full story check out Mel’s blog, covering our Pembrokeshire motorhome odyssey.
And so to the much hyped ‘third half’ of our summer.
In late August, along with grandparents, aunts and cousins, we flew out from Stansted to a stunning villa with all the trimmings, in Fiscardo in the very north of the Greek island, Kefalonia. Lois is an only child and she loved her week with the family and her cousins. Mel and I both loved the luxury of the villa and quality family time is priceless for us. But, we still found ourselves double-taking passing motorhomes or campers. We watched one drive onto a ferry departing for Italy. Early one morning we found a parked up camper with blissfully sleeping inhabitants right next to a tiny beach.
We spotted an ancient and decidedly knackered caravan halfway up the side of a cliff (how did it even get there?) We found ‘Sami Beach’ camp-site, one of only two on the entire island. We met a French couple in their seventies who hated Italians and swore that the Greek islands were the only place to bring your van! We vowed to return. In our van. One day.
So, now we’re home. It’s October. Mel is back teaching at her school and Lois is settled into Year 8.
The other weekend, we took the van out for a spin, trying to temper the end of summer blues. We spoke of attempting something special next year. Something intrepid. Something daring.
A MOTORHOME (BAILEY), CAR PARK, WALLASSEY ISLAND RSPB RESERVE, ESSEX - SEPTEMBER 17th
LOIS, MEL and RYAN are sat at the table drinking Diet 7Up and eating cheese and pickle wraps made by RYAN. In the middle of the table sits a bowl of Tesco ‘Cheese Balls’.
MEL is studying a map of Europe. It is the right way up.
Sure we don’t want to sit outside?
Dad, it’s freezing!
I’ll put the awning up?
What difference will that make?
MEL looks up from the map
It is a bit grim.
RYAN takes a massive bite of his cheese and pickle wrap. MEL returns to the map. RYAN looks expectantly at MEL.
Well…I would say…six days.
To drive the van down to Kefalonia next summer.
What?! That’s like a Greek Island, Dad!
It’s not like one, Lois. It is one!
You’re serious aren’t you?
RYAN has stopped listening to LOIS. He is instead doing ‘driving maths’
And that’s going at a leisurely pace, Mel. I bet we could do it in 4 days if we split the driving.
MEL nods, whilst reaching for a ‘cheese ball’.
Oh my god! Who are you both…and what have you done with my parents?
Maybe driving all the way to a Greek Island is a bit too ambitious for novices like us? Maybe a pootle around France and Spain might be more realistic? Half the fun’s the chat, anyway. And we’ll keep chatting. We’ll keep thinking. We’ll keep dreaming.
The holidays are over… long live the holidays!!!