Family travel

Variety spices up a chilly start to 2013

I’ve always been a fan of variety and that’s certainly what we got in our first month of caravanning this year.

Undeterred by sub-zero temperatures and snowy showers, we spent Easter rallying with our Caravan Club centre at Mary Hare School near Newbury. The Rally Officers worked non-stop throughout the long weekend to keep us entertained with themed evening socials, cooked breakfasts and the obligatory Easter egg hunt.
When we weren’t filling our faces with naughty treats, we were trying to work off the extra calories on long walks across nearby Snelsmore Common.
During the rally’s organised ramble we were introduced to The Winterbourne Arms – a traditional pub in the heart of quiet Winterbourne. We liked it so much that we decided to return the next day for one of their amazing hot beef baguettes.
With all our energy being expelled on bracing walks, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when Baby Tin Box chose the Easter weekend to have her first seven hour overnight sleep. Caravanning certainly seems to agree with her! She even got her first rally plaque.
Our next stop was the Caravan Club site at Slinfold in West Sussex for a quiet week on our own.
This £11 per night venue is on the site of a former railway station, which is obvious when you see its elongated layout. It also sits next to the South Down link – a cycle path that uses the route of the old tracks to bridge the gap to the North Downs.
When we arrived our washing basket was at breaking point with all our warmest clothes already used up. So, as the snow was persisting, our first mission was to find the nearest launderette. Thanks to a bit of research by the extremely helpful volunteer wardens it wasn’t long before our wardrobe was restocked and ready for the unseasonably icy weather.
Wrapped up in our thickest jumpers and a snow suit for Baby Tin Box, we set off to explore what the area had to offer. Our day trips took us to Petworth House, which is looked after by the National Trust, and Arundel, where we browsed around the numerous antique shops. Both are highly recommended for visitors to West Sussex.
Not so highly recommended are the National Trust’s directions to its walks in the area. On three occasions we tapped the advertised postcodes into our SatNav but were only able to find one. It was a bit disappointing for our Lab Retriever, who was cooped up in the boot while we did circuits of the country lanes.
Typically, the bitterly cold weather continued until our final day when we were at last able to break out the La Fumas and enjoy our books in the sunshine.
We left Slinfold extremely relaxed and looking forward to the caravan season ahead.