I'd made the decision that I would like to buy a caravan. Josh's palette is limited to say the least so staying in a hotel would result in a week of not eating and one very stressed out parent. My thought is that the four walls remain the same in our tiny house on wheels, but the scenery outside changes. Plus Arlo can come along as well.
I've been looking round for a while for a van that I could work with, something that I would feel comfortable towing, and something that would suit our needs. Budget is limited (now there's an understatement!) so this was a tall order.
I looked at one van locally that was advertised as being solid and watertight. I know little about caravans other than what I've read, so I dutifully walked round the inside of this first van, feeling for spongey floors - trying my best to look knowledgeable. I opened a cupboard door to find great swathes of black patches - not a good sign! I had a look in the front corner and it was stuck together with silicon sealant or something similar. My best guess is this is a van with a significant damp issue (I might be wrong) but I back away gracefully.
The Sprite popped up on Facebook Marketplace for the princely sum of £150 so I shouted "I'll have it!" and started to ask questions later. I was told that it was towable and watertight, although it had been in the garden as a playroom for 4-5 years.
The van was located a mere three hours away. I dutifully nobbled a willing driver (I don't have a tow bar on the car just yet) and we set off for a grand day out on the Sunday.
Jerry and I had a lovely drive down. The weather was clear (in a week where the Beast From The East was making headlines) and found Alyth without any trouble at all. (Yes, there were several terrible jokes about a Town Like Alyth and such like - we couldn't help ourselves - we don't get out often!)
With the van hitched up and all safety checks performed we duly set off for our return following trusty Tom Tom. It turns out Tom has a slightly sadistic edge as he tried to send us over the Lecht (read scary big hills, tiny little roads and snow drifts). Having said that we were going to take it easy on the way back we found ourselves heading up a single-track road with snow-laden edges. The sign for Glen Shee was the deciding factor that this was not a good option. Tom Tom was reprogrammed for Pitlochry so we could rejoin the A9 - a road with two lanes, white lines - the fully shebang!
Tom sends us off on another road, which at this stage we were quite glad about, then tells us to turn right. Jerry looked down the road (says she, shifting blame here) and said he didn't like the look of that road and we would head back to Blairgowrie. The road climbed, the snow drifts at the side of the road deepened, we headed over cattle grids and the car was very quiet. We were unintentionally driving the Cateran Trail, complete with caravan!
We passed a group of parked cars pretending like it was perfectly normal to be driving round with a 46 year old caravan in tow, in the snow, in March. Then the tarmac wasn't visible anymore as the snow was lay on top of it. Poor dotty was getting clarted in mud and slush, all of which was sticking to the front of the van. We went over another cattle grid, and the van was still attached and following on. The descent began and we could see tarmac on the roads again, then the descent became more severe. At one point we came down a road that wouldn't have been out of place in a theme park ride. Jerry kept his cool and continued on. At the bottom of the hill we ceased to see snow, we turned onto the next road which had road markings on, and we could breathe easily again.
The rest of the journey was uneventful. Conversation even resumed in the car. By the time we got back to Elgin the mud had dried up and dropped off the front of the van.
We pottered the rest of the way back home. When we got there Jerry did the most amazing thing. He reversed parked Dotty on the drive. I was seriously impressed and filled with dread at the same time. This is something that I am going to have to learn to do!
However, that's Dotty home, complete with a view of the sea. I'm looking forward to getting her all ready for adventure - although I think that journey is adventure enough for a wee while!