As the evenings continue to draw in, November is a month where traditionally our thoughts turn to staying at home rather than getting out and about in the caravan. Summer fades into the distant memory as we begrudgingly admit that the dark days of winter are upon us.
The caravan gets left looking forlorn and unloved, out of sight and out of mind in a remote storage compound. Or it’s parked somewhere near the house, but as you come and go you look at the ground in a guilty manner like a shopper averting the gaze of the charity collector outside the supermarket.
As you might have come to expect from me by now, this isn’t the seasonal list about what to do in order to prepare your caravan for hibernation. Hibernation is for frogs.
It never ceases to amaze me how some people buy a centrally heated, fully insulated double-glazed living space, then only use it in July and August. A caravan is a major investment for most of us, and the more you use it, the better return (both financially and spiritually) you are getting from it.
If you’ve never tried off-season caravanning before, give it a go. It doesn’t take a huge amount of thought and planning.
You may be surprised to find that site availability isn’t as abundant in the winter as you might think. This is because many sites reduce the amount of pitches available, often exclusively using hardstanding pitches. This is no bad thing, as caravanning in mud can be a tiresome business in a mucky kind of a way.
In addition to condoning the all-weather pitch, I hang up my ‘off-grid’ hat at this time of the year and admit that an electric hook-up becomes a necessity for any trip that lasts longer than a couple of nights. Bottled gas is an expensive way of heating your caravan in the winter.
Speaking of gas, you need to make sure you’re using propane (red cylinder) and not butane (blue cylinder), as butane can freeze at low temperatures. Can’t remember which is which? The word ‘butane’ starts with the letters B and U which are prominent in the word ‘blue’. Butane is blue. It’s how I remember it anyway.
As for getting out and about, the choice is endless. November is the month to get out and enjoy the autumn colours and recharge the batteries kicking up the leaves on woodland walks.
December is of course all about Christmas. Shopping, celebrating, spending time visiting family, or escaping from the festivities altogether. January, February, and March are all about the sales, skiing, brisk walks, and escaping the winter blues. City centre sites such as the ones found in Bristol, London, Edinburgh, and York come into their own. Or simply find a site like Broadway in the Cotswolds and spend your time eating cake in cosy tearooms, or enjoying a pint and a good book in a country pub while absorbing the heat of a flickering fire.
When you think about it like that, winter isn’t so bad after all, is it?