Dreamy little caravan for sale, said my ad on Trade me. The title came from my heart, as it was a dream of ours right from the start.
The dream to get away for little breaks.
To re-energise when my parents were both unwell, and I was working full-time, and we just needed to stop and breathe for a bit.
To go on very small trips- to the hot pools of Te Aroha, Miranda and Mt Maunganui, to bush clearings, wild beaches, urban camp sites in Thames and Remuera, behind the pub in Raglan, and by the dramatic harbour in Kawhia.
There were some bigger trips like family camping at Paekakariki, beside the river in Whanganui, and at the racecourse in New Plymouth for WOMAD. The last time at WOMAD was the night of the Christchurch Mosque shootings. I will always remember the deep sad silence of the crowd around the Bowl of Brooklyn that night, as the news got worse and worse.
The caravan never did travel over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, or
Unwittingly, we #backed our own backyard long before Covid-19 hit ; now this is a rallying call to Kiwis to save our endangered tourist industry.
But for us, the caravan was more than cute accommodation in a scenic spot – it was a way of being. It was a means of escape, and enticement to slowness and simplicity, a cocoon of contentment.
We would drive up, choose a shady spot, find someone to back the caravan, put down the steadies, set up the water and power, unfold the pink camping chairs, assemble the kitset table painstakingly made by my dad, pour the first glass of wine, and breathe. Easy as that.
Dominic the dog, us two, a view of a mountain or sea, the promise of a walk or a hot pool, and later watching the stars in an uncluttered sky.
Simple and sweet as.
Alongside the pleasure, there was a lot of learning- how to empty the toilet, how to rescue the awning in a cyclone and accepting the fact that successful backing was not a skill we possessed.
When Covid-19 hit, and we were together all day every day, the caravan became my private studio.
But reality also hit-the inevitable change and ageing. The lifting, packing, unscrewing, winding, heaving, stowing, pulling, stopped being fun and became a pain.
We had one last trip, as soon as level 4 was lifted, to Miranda. Under a wintry full moon and through the steam of the hot pool, we said, ‘We can’t do this any more’. The time had come.
Five years of a lovely dream had come to an end.
So we had a big family clean and polish. Son-in-law climbed a ladder and scrubbed the roof, grandsons washed the
walls and cleaned off the lichen, we cleared out the lockers and
arranged the colour matched crockery, daughter and granddaughter posed for the photo shoots.
Finally there was the handover to a young family who live locally. The dad had been camping with a pop-top caravan, as a child and he now wanted his own children to experience the joy and simplicity of that life.
We delivered the shiny van and all its accoutrements early on a Friday morning. It was to be a surprise for his children. He texted later that, when his daughter saw it after school, she was so happy she burst into tears.
We know that feeling, and we are very happy to pass on the happiness.