Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Not in a tent but camping all the same....

For backpacking and family camping a tent serves it's purpose, but there are some times when it might be an attractive proposition not to have to pitch and dismantle a tent. This may be if you are travelling from campsite to campsite or if there are two of you then it may be more practical to have a bed ready to hand (and don't think you have stumbled onto the "love in a tent" blog by mistake, i am keeping it clean here).
A perfect solution might be a teardrop trailer. Teardrop trailers are like mini caravans and are sturdy but usually light enough to be pulled by a car with a smaller engine. They have been around since the early 1940's and come in many shapes and materials. For a retro and classic vintage feel there is not much that compares to a Diddyvan. These little cuties are made to order in the UK, Coventry to be exact.
So what is it like in a Diddyvan? We took the show van out for a spin to Norfolk and took some pictures with a model who looks the part, staying at Breck Farm campsite in Weybourne. The campsite suited the individuality of the Diddyvan, there are no set pitches as such as the site is part of a farm and it is a case of pitch where you want in the fields available. The biggest attraction for most people is the ability to have a campfire and they even have logs that you can buy so you don't have to spend your time foraging or space on bringing logs with you. All too few campsites now allow fires and it is great to be able to sit out when the nights are that bit chilly or even when they aren't as it seems to fulfil a primeval need for the men in the party.
As usual the Diddyvan and the accompanying volkswagen camper van drew an audience - this sort of camping is not for you if you don't like to draw an admiring crowd, asking what it is and letting them look inside where they will invariably exclaim; - "OO there is more room in there than i thought" as they see the 4 foot wide and 6 foot long polka dot covered mattress through the porthole windows.
The hatch at the back lifts up to reveal space for cooking and storage for the leisure battery that runs the lights and cigarette lighter (handy to charge that mobile). Inside the Diddyvan deluxe model are cupboards and shelves to store bits and bobs to keep things in order - we always say that "a tidy camp is a happy camp" (that annoys the children) but part of the beauty of having a place to store things and a Diddyvan is that camping is simple. This was demonstrated as we saw a couple opposite in the final stages of striking camp in their tent - she was heavily pregnant and we weren't sure what they had come camping with (possibly lots of coal or some strange craving items for her) as their car was full to the brim with camping gear - they looked enviously across, as our answer to camping was to open a door and hop in.

After an evening spent chilling around the fire, the peace only interrupted by various people from the campsite who hadnt had the courage to come and ask about the Diddyvan whilst sober but after a few pints of Dutch courage came and satisfied their curiosity, we retired to a comfy double bed. In the morning we popped to Cromer for a photoshoot on the cliffs - again causing a bit of a stir and making many new acquaintances, and then took the dogs for a walk on the beach at Wells-Next- The- Sea. The car park isn't really supposed to be for caravans but they made an exception for the Diddyvan as i dont think they knew how to classify it - we returned to find more admirers - and apologise to the parents whose little girls were saying - "why can't I have a Diddyvan mummy?". Wells is a great little seaside town, and the beach to the left of the car park backs onto Holkham beach - even when car parking is difficult you can usually find a less crowded piece of beach, but make sure you take account of the tides. Wells has some lovely beach huts which probably cost more than the national debt, though i think you can hire some too. The harbour website has a live webcam. and in the summer a little train takes people from the town to the beach where you can find toilets, a cafe with basic but good picnic fare and cakes, a boating lake and mini golf. Pinewoods holiday camp is a great place for camping as although it is a large site with static holiday homes as well as a campsite, it's position next to the beach is very handy indeed.

After the obligatory chips we hitched up the Diddyvan and drove back home along the coast road, the Diddyvan has a chassis made especially for it by Al-ko so towing even along those winding narrow roads is a breeze though watch out for stunned drivers who wonder what that shining aluminium trailer is and take their eyes off the road. For more information look at the website :

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