We've neglected our caravan somewhat over the last year or so taking the chance to visit a few overseas destinations before my husband's health condition makes travelling abroad more difficult. Venice and Rome were exhausting enough without a disease which impacts breathing and energy.
This year however our caravan will be released from spare bedroom duties and given a chance to shine as we plan to take it out around the UK hopefully visiting some of this places you always mean to go to but actually never do.
The bonus of staying in this country is that our autistic daughter will be able to eat her preferred food with no hassle. We spent quite a long time in French supermarkets last year checking if pizzas had "green bits" on and the cost of her favourite fast food treat was waaaaay higher than here.
So. Caravans, like cars, require maintenance and this is the ideal time of year to book in a service before the big rush in early spring. We've just had a big service and some minor repairs carried out by a fab mobile technician - it cost just under £500 and we can flush the toilet properly again now!
Make sure you choose a member of the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS) for your annual caravan service. This scheme was set up via a collaboration between The National Caravan Council, The Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club. This way you know the person checking your vital gas, electricity and water systems and chassis have been rigorously inspected, have recognised qualifications and have agreed to adhere to the industry's code of practice.
You can check your own tyres. Depending on mileage and the kind of roads you are driving over they may need replacing more often than the recommended lifespan of around 6 years. Those gritty, bumpy farm tracks can take their toll and I'm not even going to mention the bumper crop of potholes we seem to have in the UK at the moment. If in doubt, swap them out. A blow-out could be dangerous and devastating, especially at speed on a motorway.
And now the fun part - start planning some trips. We are terrible at leaving it to the last minute finding our chosen sites are fully booked. The is especially true if you want to go somewhere popular like coastal sites or those near big attractions. It took us a few attempts over three years to snap up a spot on a site near Swanage on the Jurassic coast. It was well worth the wait mind.
Our children think we are dinosaurs from that era now because we bought an actual paper map of the UK to pore over while planning our trips. We are planning to get one of those scratch off maps of the UK as well to record which counties we manage to visit over the next twelve months.
So - what part of the UK should we not miss out on? Where have you been which you think everyone should visit? From historic sites to child-friendly attractions I'd love to know.