There has been a general outpouring of disbelief that we should even entertain the idea of going camping in December/January.
However, having invested a sizeable amount of hard-earned cash in a campervan, it makes complete sense to use it all year round, rather than just May -September, and it is actually really good fun camping in winter.
Our van, though small, is perfectly formed and has proper central heating, a full kitchen with oven, hob, fridge, and drinks cabinet. It has a compact shower room with shower, WC and washbasin. We can seat 6 adults in comfort for a full 4 course meal. Not for us the normal camping fare of beans on toast or spam fritters. We cook proper dinners using fresh ingredients, complete with chilled wines, romantic candles, twinkly lights, music, conversation, general hilarity and at the end of the evening, when our fellow campers have staggered back to their vans, we fall asleep looking at the stars though the Heki rooflight.
Winter campers are a breed apart. There is real sense of camaraderie and fellow feeling. The campsite we're going to is fully booked over the holiday period and EVERYONE will be fully entering into the spirit of the season.
I cannot understand why people spend thousands of pounds on state of the art caravans/motorhomes then winterise and store them away from the end of October when the seasonal campsites close, through to Easter when they all open again.
OK, so you can't sit outside in the winter, and BBQs, although not impossible, somewhat lose their lustre in sub-freezing temperatures. The daylight hours are short but that just leaves more time to cosy up inside and while away the evening hours talking, playing games, eating/drinking and generally having fun, freed from the tyranny of the internet and TV.
Actually, we do have a TV in the van, but it is monochrome, has a 4" screen and only works properly when one of us is standing on one leg with our head out of the Heki at an angle of 45 degrees precisely.
So we don't use it.
Similarly, we don't close all our blinds as soon as the sun sets. One of the joys of camping is doing the evening dog walk around the site, which is an opportunity to peer into other people's vans and extemporise their life stories.
There's the young family who have just bought their first caravan. The two kids are leaping from one bunk bed to the other, totally hyper, while their harassed mum struggles to put a meal on the table from a kitchen which consists of a three-ring hob and dad is outside under the van with a torch trying to work out why the bathroom sink isn't draining properly.
There's the retired couple who love caravanning but have lost the knack of communicating. He sits glued to the football match on the flat screen TV while wifey, having cooked dinner and done the washing up, knocks back the rest of the bottle of generic Vin Rouge and tries to concentrate on her book.
There's the group of friends, all sat round the table, eating, chatting, laughing.........ah,wait.... hang on a minute. That's us.
Seriously though, most winter campers are sociable animals. Dog walkers (who are generally quite sociable anyway) will stop to pass the time of day, or night. A stroll around the campsite will almost never be complete without a chat with several other campers en route. And why do the washing up in your van when you can put all the dirty dishes in a bucket and trot over to the communal washing up area where the seasonal fun continues en masse. If you haven't washed up under the stars with snow falling softly all around then you simply haven't lived.
Similarly, a trip to fill up the aquaroll, or empty the water waste or chemical toilet can bring you into contact with all sorts of interesting people. Actually, to be honest, not many women ever empty the chemical toilet so the few intrepid women who do achieve mythical status.
So I am anticipating a few days of fun and frolics. We will spend far more time in the great outdoors than we would otherwise. We will eat/drink and talk/laugh ourselves hoarse.
I wish everyone a very, very Happy New Year, and let's all hope that 2010 is a better year all round.