I'm one of the lucky ones who, in their youth, did The Grand Tour … Australian style … in a VW Kombi van purchased in the street outside Australia House, London. Nine months travelling, nomading, across Europe into Morocco, East Berlin ... via Checkpoint Charlie, Portugal, Denmark ... No set journey. No set plan. Just wandering, soaking up art, culture, food, wine … oh, yes, lots of wine.
It was supposed to fulfil my lust for travel, but it did quite the opposite. Fuelled it instead. Plan foiled.
And now, in what could not be described as my youth, having done lots more travel to distant lands, I want to do it all again across Europe, Australia, America. Be a grey nomad. A nomadic, caravanning, motorhome-ing, officially retired, grey haired person with no set destination and no set schedule.
But what to do it in and how and where and when? Will we venture to Europe first? Will we do the around Australia version of The Grand Tour? Known cynically by my brother as "The Lap of Honour". Will we house swap? Will we do a bit of both for shorter stints? Will it be by caravan or motorhome?
And hence I find myself, friend in tow, at the Sydney Caravan and Camping Show. Window shopping. Tyre kicking, as some call it.
Last year, my poor Number 3 niece was the victim of this experience. She is still boasting about it to her friends. Not! Youngest person at the show by far!
Last year, I was entranced by the Airstreams but, to my utter dismay, there was no sign of them at this year's show. I mean, what is a caravanning show if it doesn't have Airstreams?!?
But there was enough to confuse me, overwhelm me, bring back memories of "not another Gothic Cathedral!" from The Grand Tour of youth or the "I'm not going into another castle unless it's almost prehistoric" from the raucous tour of Ireland.
Caravans with interiors that would shriek in terror at the first sign of sandy feet or wet swimmers.
Some even have island benches in their kitchens. When did that happen?
Where, I ask, are the red gingham curtains and tablecloths of my Nanna's tent?
Where is the floor made from sugar bags stitched together by my mother?
The kerosene fridge?
Motorhomes are just as luxurious.
MLP's motorhome of choice. See that external barbie.
I didn't mind this one,
I could imagine it with red gingham curtains.
Luckily, we still have some time before we make the plunge, the purchase.
For now, we continue to look and dream and way up the pros and cons. And attend the shows to see the latest innovations and search, in vain, for red gingham curtains.
What is your experience: caravan or motorhome?
Extended "Grand" style touring lap of honour or shorter stints?
Red gingham curtains or schmick modern styling?