above image from here
It's hardly received good press, from that episode of the Inbetweeners where the gang find the caravan site is not the home of drunken debauchery they had been promised to the My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding series, which portrays the travelling community in a less than flattering light. The Blighty Traveller's website gives 10 reasons why caravanning is in fact cool, but none of them seem too convincing, particularly the assurance that even Mark Owen from Take That is a fan of this past time traditionally reserved for pensioners. If anything, that's just another reason to steer clear.
So contrary to social convention, I accepted an offer to go caravanning with my boyfriend and his friends in the absence of anything better to do. After a less than pleasant drive in a torrential downpour, we finally arrived at the site. However, our mission to put our feet up with a scrumpy jack was slightly delayed by the fact there was no bloody signal so we were unable to locate which of the giant sardine cans our friends were in. Despite a rocky start, I was pleasantly surprised by the cosy interiors of the caravan (which we promptly cluttered up).
So what does the caravan dweller really do for entertainment and how does it compare to the campsite disco from the Inbetweeners or the gypsy tradition of "grabbing"? Well, it's not a million miles away from what you'd expect. On the Saturday we went to Crealy Adventure Park, which was cute, but....crealy not that great (I'm sorry). Highlights include a soft play area, a few rides (but most were closed), and some animals which included the ever so adorable pygmy goats; but the cages did not seem big enough for some of the animals which made the whole thing feel a bit bleak. There was an eatery in which pretty much the only food was jacket potatoes or fried chicken, so that lost some points with me too (especially as a vegetarian). I had fun, but I wouldn't go again.
Back at the caravan site there was an arcade and a bar, which we did wander down to later that evening but not before plying ourselves with a little alcohol to help brace ourselves for possible lame-ness. On stage there was some of the resort staff in their uniform busting their best shapes to the music (which to their credit, looked properly choreographed) whilst some parents swayed drunkenly to the music with their young children falling asleep in the chairs next to them. Needless to say we only stayed for two drinks.
On the Sunday we had a roast and spent the rest of the day wandering the beach and climbing rocks, which for me was infinitely more fun than going to any kiddie theme parks (despite me describing myself as a big kid at every available opportunity, I just don't think I was Crealy's target audience).
So would I recommend? Yeah, it was nice to go somewhere different, and there was 7 of us so it was fun to stay up drinking and playing cards and generally being noisy in a manner reminiscent of living in university halls of residence. I think with less people the experience could potentially be a bit boring, but maybe if you're like 100 years old that might be your kind of thing.