Life’s a beach

20140414_181306The Easter hols have begun! We have left Ella at home to revise and Doughnut to sit and have headed east to The Caravan on a Norfolk beach which is parked three feet from the beach wall so all you can see is sea, sea and more sea.  The beach is even closer and smoother thanks to last winter’s storms.  It’s not ours, but for two or three weekends a year it feels as if it is. Whenever I ring up to book it, at the last minute and always for odd days, Norma in the office tells me flatly that there’s nothing available, then rustles her diary and says, “Ooh wait a minute – there is this,” which always turns out to be The Caravan, the cutest and best-positioned van in the place. And now, while everyone else is still asleep and I stretch my laptop cable dangerously across the floor so I can type facing the sea, I feel as if I’m Carrie Bradshaw, gate-crashing a house party in The Hamptons, so long as I keep my eyes strictly ahead and don’t look at the bin bag to my left or the creaking Pub Grub sign to my right. This is the time of day when you realise what, despite three wheeled suitcases and two back packs, we forgot to pack– slippers, snuggly blankets and a beach-proof waterproof fleece. I lived in a caravan for two years when I as a kid so I should remember how cold they get first thing – we are after all sleeping in a glorified tin can with inside plumbing, lace curtains and a laminate floor.  It was lovely and toasty when we went to sleep, but this morning I feel as if we should be part of a research team collecting samples of permafrost.

I can’t remember the last time I woke up with cold toes and fingers and had to brave the dash of delayed gratification away from the duvet across the floor to light the fire. We haven’t been to The Caravan so early in the year before so it must have been when I was 11 or 12 and we lived in a caravan in the garden of the house mum and dad were doing up when they decided to return to civilisation after living in a boat for five years.  We shared it with a hamster and a sparrow called Fiona, which my mum nursed from a nestling, feeding her on worms and Trill, from what I can remember. We released her when she was old enough to fly but she always came back at night and lived with us for years. Anyway, that caravan was bloody cold and although Dad eventually installed a wood burning stove (as I’ve said before in many ways he was the 70s version of Jeremy Boden, albeit dressed in a boiler suit for 90 per cent of his waking hours). Originally it just had tall cylindrical paraffin heaters that would probably be considered so dangerous today they would be enough to have us taken into care.

This caravan’s much easier to heat – ten minutes of having the gas fire on and I can feel my toes again, so with luck the kids won’t wake up and think they’ve been transported to the Antarctic. Which reminds me – it’s time to leave basecamp for my newly reintroduced morning run before anyone’s around to see me. I’ve left a note. I may be some time…

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn


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