The Caravan

Last Thursday night I had the most vivid dream about the caravan that my parents and I owned for just under eight years. Located in a caravan park in Acol near Birchington in Kent, we owned it from May 2002 until selling it on to new owners in April 2010. It wasn’t one of those caravans you hitch to the back of your car and that you can tow wherever you please, it was a ‘static’ caravan, as my Dad used to describe it, whereby it was hooked up to water, gas and electricity on a fixed site, along with 40 or so other caravans, all of which were rented by people from the owners of the site, with the caravans being situated on their land. 
We spent many weekends there, in fact every other weekend for that matter, and the majority of school half terms and summer holidays were also spent there, exploring the coast and places of historical interest in the surrounding Kent areas. Many happy memories were spent there, all of which I treasure and are very special to me. As well as the memories that were made there, I practically grew up with visiting the caravan being part of my life. I was only 11-years-old when we first bought it, and I was 18-years-old when my Dad decided to sell it on, due to the fact that my Mum had passed away and I would soon be going to university just 25 minutes up the road from there in Canterbury.
It may sound sad to some, but the day we sold our caravan was probably one of the saddest days of my life. To others, it was just a metal caravan that we went to for weekends away, short breaks and holidays; an alternative to travelling abroad for ‘hot beach’ holidays, as my Mum couldn’t stand the heat. To me though, it was a place filled with laughter, happy memories, adventure and quality time spent as a family with my parents. The place was, and still is, filled with bittersweet memories of the times I had there with my Mum, and letting go of that caravan was almost as hard as attending her funeral. That may sound like a strange comparison to many, but saying goodbye to the caravan, where all of these memories had been made, was like losing a piece of my Mum all over again. 
After my Mum died in September 2008, we continued to go to the caravan as normal, particularly in half terms and school holidays, and whilst it was still in our possession, the memories that had been had there were still in my grasp. It was like they still belonged to me, because we still had the caravan. Not that these memories have become any less mine in the six years since we sold it, but I felt closer to them when I was there. Being at the caravan was a clear reminder to me that these memories had existed and had actually happened. They were still alive and still there for me to see when we were there. Nowadays, and ever since April 2010 when we left the caravan for the very last time, they’ve just become distant memories of a place and a time that are no longer a part of my everyday life. That connection has been broken between the past and the present, and whilst I will always hold these memories close to my heart, the fact the place where they were made is no longer there makes it harder to comprehend that they actually took place.
It’s a strange feeling, and it was an overwhelming feeling that seemed to maximise the grief I had for my Mum even more. For me, the caravan represented all of the special times we had had there as a family, and it had become a part of our family as much as our old pet cat. Losing it was like losing another part of our family all over again. 
I’m sure I will experience a similar feeling when my Dad and step mum eventually move out of our house, a place where I have lived my entire life (bar the three years I lived away for university), which has been owned by my Mum’s side of the family since it was built in the 1930s, and where I have all of my memories of living with my Mum. 
Although I often think about my memories of the caravan when reminiscing about times spent with my Mum when she, my Dad and I were a family, but I seem to be thinking about it even more lately after hearing from a member of my step mum’s family that all of the caravans are being cleared off the site and replaced with new holiday homes. Again, it may sound silly to many, but that news really hit me. It makes me sad to think that this place that meant so much to me, despite simply being a metal caravan situated in a caravan park in Kent, will be gone forever. 


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