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The End of an Era

The End of an Era

They say that all good things must come to an end, which seems a bit of a swizz to me, but it does seem as though they are right.

We bought our very first caravan in 2008 – a 5 berth Swift Blakemere – which we dubbed Sir Percy. It had a rear dinette, which turned into a double bed and you could also add a bunk above it. The front dinette also turned into a double bed. As it was just the two of us most of the time, we used to leave the rear dinette permanently made up as a double.

Sir Percy layout

This made us realise that what we actually wanted was a caravan with a fixed bed and a couple of years down the line, we swopped it for another dealer special- this time from Michael Jordan in Surrey – a 4 berth Swift Charisma Expression with a fixed bed. Perfect – or so we thought. We called it Mr Munsch.

Our first fixed bed layout van

We ventured abroad for the first time in Mr Munch and loved it. But – there was still all that clambering over one another if someone need a nighttime visit to the loo. This made us realise that what we actually wanted was a caravan with a transverse fixed bed, so when that nocturnal call came, the bed could be exited from either side.

We popped the the Caravan Show in late 2014 and it was there that we saw our forever van. Another dealer special – this time from Lowdens near Nottingham. It was based on the Sterling Eccles Sport 584 and was known as a Hi-Style. By now we had started blogging and our trip up to Nottingham in Spring 2015 is chronicled here.

For some reason we didn’t name this van, but it has been a joy since day one. It has not been without mishap but we have travelled thousands of miles with this fab van. And of late, it has been our home.

Our preferred layout

In case anyone is wondering how we dealt with servicing, which must be done annually by an approved engineer. Instead of haring off to Surrey or – worse – Nottingham, we used a Swift/Sterling approved engineer – the lovely Paul at Total Caravan Care. We have been using him so long, he feels like a friend. And his work is faultless. We would highly recommend his services.

And now it’s time to say goodbye to caravanning and hello to boating. I must admit to shedding a tear on the day we sold the van and again today, when the new owners picked it up. We hope they make as many happy memories as we did.

We have absolutely loved our caravanning years – all 12 of them. We have explored places all over this country and also in France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. We’ve seen and experienced things we would never have seen without the van. And the 8 weeks we spent earlier this year in Spain were an adventure we would not have missed for all the world. Even though that adventure culminated in us having to race home because of the dreaded pandemic!

We spent the entire lockdown period and thereafter in the van in Newtown. It was initially a worrying time, as the Government had decreed that all caravan sites must close. Luckily, they appreciated that some people – like us – who were using their vans as accommodation between houses would be in a right pickle and agreed that we could be allowed to stay.

It was such a strange time, but we will actually look back on this last period here at The Traveller’s as one of the happiest times we have ever experienced and we are very grateful to the site for shielding us.

But – our house is sold, our narrowboat will be launched sometime in November (delayed because of Covid-19) and it’s time to move on. So this is us, posting our last as The Sumpners Again. It’s been a blast and thank you for coming with us on our travels. In Canada, with The Sumpners, in the USA with the Sumpners Go West and at home and in Europe with this blog. It’s been good to know that they have been appreciated, even though we created them so that we could look back on our travels in our dotage.

We will still be blogging, though, and you can follow the exciting build of our new boat “Old Nick “ from shell to launch and beyond on our new blog – The Sumpners Afloat.

Hasta la vista.

Last days at The Traveller’s.

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