I'm having a lovely couple of weeks in a luxurious mobile home in the SW of France (very kind parents-in-law). My two boys are out playing football until midnight and I'm sitting on the sumptuous couch wondering at how nice it is to have no less than two bathrooms, a state of the art kitchen and spacious decking. The boys' bedroom is at one end and mine at the other. What planning!
Caravans weren't quite like this when I was little. They didn't use to have showers, or toilets for a start! The one we spent our holidays in was at a place called Green Acres in North Wales. Nearest beach was Black Rock sands.
The van was pale green and cream, with a large living area and bay window (some things don't change). I remember we cooked on gas because my mother left it on regularly, but failed to see any of us off, luckily. In those days, the smell was powerful. We had bunk beds to sleep in. Cramped, no head room and hardly long enough to stretch out. We zipped ourselves into sleeping bags and hoped we wouldn't need a wee in the night.
We went to the beach no matter what the weather was like, put on crinkly swimming costumes and ran up and down to keep warm. My mother tied a line to our wrists when we went in the sea, as though the three of us were ungainly kites, taken by the treacherous currents rather than the wind. We had a dinghy, too, which caused a great deal of bickering as it wasn't big enough for all of us at the same time.
At the end of the day, when we were blue, Mum stuck our heads through specially made ponchos so we could get dressed without showing our bottoms, then we would be allowed to sit on Dad's lap and drive the Volkswagen Camper Van up and down the beach, veering towards the waves and screaming loudly.
If we were good, we went along 'the rabbit run' to Criccieth, singing 'Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run...' whenever one bounded into the road ahead, as they often did. It was a winding road and, in the dark, the whole adventure was even more thrilling. In Criccieth, after we'd looked at the castle, we had fish and chips, sitting on the sea wall, followed by a Cadwalader's ice cream, with its secret ingredient, which was rumoured to be honey.
Home again and out like a light while Mum and Dad sat outside talking and laughing, having a drink and a smoke in a rare moment of calm under clear, starry skies.
Those were happy days, indeed.