Oooh there’s gremlins in the blogosphere today…it wouldn’t let me upload until now…

Maybe the ethers are as giddy as I on discovering that this year is the 80th birthday of Britain’s first motorhome!

Don’t laugh.

I LOVE a good motorhome. Unlike the caravan, which is an unsightly and cumbersome appendage, essentially a pull-along tent with a loo, the motorhome is your ultimate Wendy-House on wheels.

Sometimes also called an RV (but not a campervan, they’re for retro-hippies) the motorhome is built for pure, effortless pleasure. RV stands for Recreational Vehicle thereby clarifying that its sole purpose is to provide you with a space in which to play house and generally arse about wherever and whenever you please. 

My Dad’s had a motorhome for years. She’s called Margaret* and wherever Dad goes, he’ll always send me a pic of her in some dramatic location. Here she is in Austria…

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Lovely, isn’t she?

You might think I’d rather have a pic of an actual human, like say, my actual Dad, instead of a gleaming white box on wheels. But that would entirely miss the point about how important she is.

Dad’s first wife (my mum) died when he was in his early forties. His second wife died when he was in his fifties. Now, in his sixties, we are in no rush for him to marry his current partner, just in case the ring’s the thing…

Likewise, Margaret has been replaced and upgraded over the years –  OMIGOD that sounds AWFUL! Dad knows what I mean! – but whether her bed was up a ladder, hidden in a sofa or huge and ready-made, she has always been called Margaret. He bought her after his second wife died (Margaret isn’t named after her, she’s not some kind of morbid motorhome memorial) and she’s been his ticket to happiness ever since.

Mostly he bombs about the UK and Europe with her, but when he had a big important job in London and needed to attend an evening function, he’d often shun the five-star hotel room on offer, preferring to park Margaret in the carpark of his swanky office, happy to head back to her at the end of the night in his tuxedo, leaving the industry big-wigs braying at each other in the hotel bar while he had a cuppa and watched the news.

When he comes to stay at our house, he parks Margaret on the road outside. Before he arrives I have to go round all the neighbours, asking if they could leave a space free and assuring them that he is allowed to sleep in the house, I promise, but honestly prefers to do his own thing. I get it. Who wants to be woken by ten-thousand decibels of screaming grandchildren? Plus I don’t have to make any beds up…

Last weekend, that first British motorhome, designed by a Captain Francis Dunn in 1936, was sold at auction for £34,000. A bargain considering it still runs like a dream. He designed it after contracting polio on his honeymoon. He wanted to still be able to get about and travel with his wife at a time when hotels and wheelchairs did not mix. For years after he died, his wife would pop out and turn over the engine every now and then, to keep it going.

His pursuit of freedom and happiness has afforded my Dad the same. When he sends me a pic of Margaret, it tells me he’s happy, he’s free and doing his own thing, which is something I very much want to always know. 

I hope he and Margaret can drive on for many more years to come. In no way am I secretly wishing he suddenly goes off her so he can gift her to me, his darling daughter who writes lovely blogs about him but has to wake up every morning to the ten-thousand decibels of HIS grandchildren and could really, really do with a writing cabin which I’d probs only park in Tesco’s round the corner but at least I’d be ALONE with MY THOUGHTS and a bottle of wine in the fridge, just me and Margaret and the open carpark…

Until then, happy birthday British motorhomes…may we all get to break free with you at least once in our lives…

*Margaret’s real name has been changed to protect her identity.

If you want to see pics of Captain Dunn’s lush motorhome, they’re on the Daily Express website today. I can’t publish them here coz I gets all in trouble…