"I don't mind admitting, when you first told me about this, I thought it was A FUCK IDEA," my 74-year-old Dad is saying. He is rather drunk and making strange new use of rude language, but is also expressing his enthusiasm for our motorhome, which does indeed seem to possess all of the features required to make a life on the road quite possible. Later that evening he will walk out of his front door in total darkness, fall over and start talking to a frog that is sitting in one of his plant pots.
Fast forward three days, and I'm lying in the strange extra-single bed space at the back of the van next to the bog. I got a bit pissed myself last night, on Dark Fruit Strongbow ("When In Rome...") in a horrible bar on a campsite near Cromer that occupies the elusive middle ground between the outdoor experience and Butlins. As a result, I wasn't confident to clamber over a sleeping M in the double bed, so I ended up here.
This campsite cost us thirty quid for a small space on a steep slope that served to empty the sink onto the gas hob and has stopped one of the rings working. Admittedly I might've noticed this happening if I'd drunk less nasty cider, but then I would have suffered more from the soul-destroying awareness that campsites like this are no way of discovering the geographical area in which they exist.
The night before, I got even less sleep as I was nervous. Our first night sleeping in the van, we were determined to go stealth or rogue or wild or whatever it is, and lay awake in a van that bounced and swayed through some truly awful weather in the enormous riverside car park at Walberswick. The famous old lady with a beard who ran the campsite next door is surely no more, and we wouldn't have been able to get the van down the narrow track to it anyway, but there is a perfect understanding throughout the family that this project won't work if we have to go looking for a place to park and sleep in each locality where nobody can come and tell us to piss off.
Admittedly, the man with the gorgeous wood-and-glass-built home looking out to sea, who was our nearest neighbour that tumultuous night, would have been quite mad to brave these raging elements just to tell us to sling our hooks when he surely could not have seen or heard us, but a combination of new experiences meant we could not rest easy. We will get used to it, M and I, we expect, but we have some way to go before we give as little of a shit as the kids do. They slept like logs.