Meet Mum Michelle, Dad Sam, 4-year old William and baby Henry. Together with Ted the dog, they are The Caravanning Family.

Michelle tells us how they got into caravanning – specifically the new Elddis Avante 868, of which they have the Glossop Caravans Chatsworth special edition. Baby Henry entered the world just days before the first UK Lockdown and the family’s choice of such a child-friendly caravan was cemented – and celebrated all the more!

“I bought my husband Sam a ticket to the caravan show at the NEC in Birmingham for our first anniversary ‘paper’ present, really just to window shop… but we fell in love with the 868 instantly.

“We quickly decided that it shouldn’t be a dream for our future, but an amazing hobby for our family right now!

“It is so much more than a caravan to us; it forces us to step out of our busy lives and away from the carousel of chores at home to spend quality time together.

“Sleeping under the stars has given us memories of a lifetime that no five star hotel could. Over the last year we’ve fallen asleep to the sound of sealions barking in Wiltshire and lions roaring in Norfolk, eaten our breakfast waving at passengers on a heritage steam train in the Cotswolds, reading bedtime stories on a clifftop in Cornwall as the sun went down and, last month, we found ourselves taking part in the World Conker Championships in Peterborough!

“We love that the caravan gives us a way of opening our children’s eyes to new places and experiences, with the familiarity of a home from home at the end of the day when their little legs are tired – and that goes for our dog, Ted, too, who no longer has to be left at home when we go on holiday… one of our favourite things of all.”

 

Follow the family on Instagram for ideas on where to visit and the best campsites to stay: https://www.instagram.com/thecaravanningfamily

 

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Let the adventures begin! Yesterday we collected our first caravan and even Storm Ellen's high winds and torrential rain couldn't stop us. We'll be sharing our adventures around the UK and maybe further afield when the world allows....why not join us for the ride?

#thecaravanningfamily #caravanningfamilylife

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It's the quirky little things we love discovering on our travels, like this bug hotel opposite our pitch. We stopped to check it was ok with the bugs to take these conkers away from their garden before hitching up and heading home this morning.

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Bedtime stories in the caravan are one of our favourites and choosing which books to take this weekend will be easy! Excitement is growing in this house for our first Halloween spent caravanning.

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All set up on site ... definitely our smoothest set up yet; we even had time to carve our pumpkins and make pizzas. That may have something to do with the decision to leave the awning behind!

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This was our last stay in a hotel before we swapped the option of booking a maximum of five stars for sleeping under all the stars when we bought our caravan.

This weekend in London last Christmas cemented our decision to buy a caravan. We've always hated leaving Ted at home and, as nobody could look after him this particular weekend, we decided to take him with us. Yes, negotiating trains and the tube with a dog as well as a toddler was daunting but it was amazing. Being able to visit less attractions meant we spent much more time than usual just walking around and taking it at a slower pace. We saw a whole new London - we were greeted everywhere with smiles and couldn't walk more than a few steps without people wanting to stop for a chat or to politely ask to stroke him (including police officers and even the security guard at Somerset House's ice-skating greeted us with "hey, didn't I see you guys having a coffee at Temple St tube station this morning?!") It felt like a much more intimate, local atmosphere than the usual tourist trap of dashing around.

Here's a few snaps from Ted's first adventure to the Big Smoke. He watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, saw the London Eye, went up Tower Bridge and stood on the glass floor, visited Downing Street and Piccadilly Circus and roamed around the Southbank Christmas Market.

One of the first things we said we wanted to do when we got our caravan was get Ted a pet passport so we don't have to leave him at home when we take our first trip in it to Europe.

Sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone gives you the luxury of discovering the world in a completely different way.

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Looking back at 2020 and our highlight has to be finding out our three is soon becoming four. Good job we chose a caravan with bunk beds!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy living room New Year's Eve from our house to yours.

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And then there were four

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If ever you want to put your parenting nerves to the test, agree to play hide and seek with a toddler in a tulip field!

We stopped at this flower field in Norfolk on the way to a long weekend in a static caravan at Pinewoods caravan park in Wells Next The Sea for Easter two years ago. It was that weekend where we seriously started to think about the possibility of having our own caravan. We love exploring and couldn't settle on where we'd want it to be so our minds started opening to the idea of touring and the rest, as they say, is history!

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It's supermarket delivery day in this house...the weekly highlight of our lockdown life. We try and shop locally when we're away in the caravan to support independent retailers, sample local specialities and to basically indulge in visiting shops like this one... we're suckers for a traditional shopfront.

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We often get comments from children that Ted looks like a lion but when we stayed at the @candmclub sites in Longleat and Burford the usual rush of youngsters wanting to stroke him was replaced by nervous little faces .... then we realised you can hear the real lions roaring in the animal parks close to both sites from the safety of your caravan and they thought the roaring was coming from our soft old Ted wanting his dinner.

Hearing the animals from your caravan is amazing though - we especially loved hearing the sealions at Longleat. We've booked to go back to both this year to hear them again.

Here's Ted soaking up the sun at Wells Next The Sea in Norfolk. He's usually really smiley but definitely has a resting lion face.

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Counting down the days until we're walking a trail of sand from these beach huts back to our caravan when it's pitched at Pinewoods and riding the miniature train into the town to pick up fish and chips.

Anyone else play "which beach hut would I have?" No? Just us then. For anyone wondering, ours is the navy and white striped one with the red door.

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Where did your family's caravanning journey begin? Ours started on our first wedding anniversary as we sat underneath the blades of this windmill and Sam opened a ticket for the Caravan Show as his "paper" present. We went to look at motorhomes really but fell in love with the idea of caravanning more as soon as we went inside one.

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We've stayed at Love2Stay in Shropshire three times in our short time caravanning but haven't made it into the natural pool yet. It's going to be our first trip after Lockdown but we've booked a session on the beach instead so looks like it will still have to wait until another (warmer) visit ... good job we plan on going back many more times!

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We'll just leave this here to remind ourselves of what he's talking about when he's 25 and telling us he met a giant king on the cliffs of a castle. We can't wait to hear their memories of our caravanning trips when they're older

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You know that joy of seeing a place on social media that grabs your interest, tracking it down and finding it's as good as it sounded? That was us when we eventually tracked down the little hut at Barricane Bay in Woolacombe that sells Sri Lankan curry for just a couple of hours each evening in the golden hour. There's something about ending a hot summer's day by getting your beach takeaway on a 'real' plate from a menu that has just one or two options and eating it with sand between your toes among others all doing the same thing in their little clusters while the sun starts to set that's just a bit special. This back to basics dining experience is one for the list if you're heading to Devon...if you like Sri Lankan curry of course!

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Who in your family is most excited about getting back out exploring? This one is a strong contender in our house!

Here's Ted kitted out in his lifejacket for a weekend boating on the Norfolk Broads on one of our pre-caravanning adventures.

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We went to the caravan shop earlier to get the essentials for cleaning the van tomorrow and the cashier said they've had loads of people in who are setting off at midnight tomorrow.
It's lovely feeling everyone's excitement growing on social media about getting back out there....

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We're back in our happy place, the steadies are down...aaaaand breathe!

Now to enjoy our first trip away as a family of four (plus two stowaways from the look of this!)

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The joys of trying to get everyone to look at the camera (aka mom's phone) propped up on the car wing mirror on self timer. The struggle is real!

Lockdown meant there were no baby showers or head wetting for Henry and he's yet to meet many of his family and friends in person but we introduced him to his caravanning family home this weekend with a shedload of balloons and homemade banner.

It took us full circle as Love2Stay was where we announced we were pregnant to our family and friends back in August. Oh, and we finally popped the cork on the bottle of Moët that's been patiently chilling since before he was born ready to toast his arrival.

Welcome to caravanning Henry and the start of creating special memories with Mom, Dad, William and Ted which you will hopefully treasure for your whole life. We love you so much, baby boy. Here's to the start of our adventures!

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Henry's first night in the caravan ... done!!

And we're pleased to report it was a success and nobody has muttered anything about selling the caravan yet!

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Broadway... our family has fallen a little bit in love with you this weekend. If you know of a site with quirkier pitches than these that would capture our three-year-old's imagination like this site has by being right next to the steam railway line, let us know as we think it's pretty hard to beat! We basically planned our afternoon yesterday around the steam train timetable so we could wave to the passengers!

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Yesterday I unintentionally dressed our three-year-old as a Broadway ice-cream seller. Didn't stop him digging deep to find his pocket money though. Sorry, son!

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Bedtime stories and milk next to the heritage railway line under the setting sun. Getting home yesterday and all having a bath and sleeping in our own beds after three nights in the caravan was nice .... who am I kidding; we want to be away again already! Luckily we only have a couple of days to wait this time until our next adventure.

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This one is away with us, honestly! He's just been asleep in his pram throughout every trip we've taken away from the caravan so far, but he's settled into caravan life well. Here he is though having a chill under his big brother's special blanket his grandparents gave him to snuggle under in the car.

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How nice it is to be able to get away again though, rain or shine.

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All set up at Sandringham Caravan and Motorhome Club site but we could only get on here for three nights so then moving just down the road to the other club site so we get to compare the two - which is your favourite?

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Let the battle of the bunk beds commence! I only put Henry there while I made the bed but swiftly got quizzed about what was going on Goldilocks-style

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I guess this is a sight on pitches up and down the land this morning. #bankholidaymonday

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A new day, a lovely new campsite but come evening we could be anywhere; love cosy nights in our home from home #elddischatsworth

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A little tip for anyone staying the Hunstanton side of North Norfolk who loves Gurney's fish shop in Burnham Market (or just a decent fish shop full stop), we discovered this little gem at Drove Orchards so thought I'd share as I never realised it was there so guess others might not either. This, plus a quality fish and chip restaurant/takeaway, a yurt restaurant selling creatively topped pizzas and a decent general store/fruit and veg shop make it worth a drive out for foodies staying nearby. If you ask William he'll tell you the shop sells dinosaur eggs; they were quail eggs but who am I to shatter the dreams of a three-year-old.

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Consulting this food map on where we need to visit while we're still in Norfolk....while filling my face with Lindt chocolate.

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Does anything else unite generations like a steam train? If you're close to Wells Next The Sea this summer, consider a 30-minute ride on the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway to support this lovely volunteer run attraction which makes the grand claim of being the World's Smallest Public Railway.

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Finally got these little toes back in the sea ... and what a beach it was! Wells Next The Sea, you're up there with our favourites.

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For the last two days we've rented this beautiful little beach hut and been here from morning until dusk. Being able to cook bacon sandwiches for breakfast on the beach without getting sand in them, having everything you need to make a cup of tea and being able to wash up afterwards, having somewhere to store the million things you take to the beach as a family - not to mention the amazing shade underneath it for Ted, all while looking out at a view like a watercolour painting - it's been the best beach days we've ever had in this country.

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Isn't it funny how everyone's perfect pitch is different .... I guess that's what makes it work

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Doesn't caravanning make you realise how fast your children grow between trips. It doesn't seem five minutes since we took this photo of Henry at @love2stay after his first night in the caravan... now look at him!

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For Father's Day we entered Sam into the World Conker Championships. Today we got to watch him in action. He made it to the second round before his conker took a beating - all the conker's fault of course!

Thanks for always being such a good sport, Sam