Tried and Tested: Beverley Thrills Caraglamping, Warwickshire
As unsettling as it was, some lovely things came out of lockdown.
One is Beverley Thrills Caraglamping: a vintage ABI Marauder transformed into a laid-back, breezy West Coast-style retreat in rural Stratford-upon-Avon.
As my friend Donna and I rolled up to the peaceful green campsite, I felt my shoulders relax. It was a late April afternoon, the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to staying in a cute caravan for a couple of days.
Aly, Bev's owner, was there to welcome us. She greeted us with a huge smile, and we chatted about how ‘Bev' had come to life... the short version is that after a few lockdown Proseccos, Aly bid on the caravan in its sorry, unloved state, then roped in her handyman stepdad Mike to help with the makeover!
They've done a fabulous job: Bev is now so distinctive that intrigued ‘old-school' caravanners frequently ask Aly if they can look inside to see the full transformation.
Image credit: Beverley Thrills Caraglamping | Harriet at Brush Mag
The décor throughout is delightfully quirky and creative (Aly is an art curator and interior designer, so this wasn't surprising) with a blue-and-white chequered floor and terrazzo surfaces for a cheerful ‘retro ice-cream parlour' feel.
Aly's background in design and hospitality also means that practicalities are well-covered, too. We noticed plenty of ingenious space-saving shelves and cupboards, and we appreciated the thoughtful little extras provided, including earplugs and fresh-ground coffee.
Combined with the ‘no-frills' calm of the site itself (there are brand-new toilet and shower facilities, but no noisy children's play areas or buildings), the atmosphere took me back to fun, carefree family camping holidays in the Eighties... only this time, without my Dad's heavy snoring to contend with!
Once we'd properly checked in, Donna and I headed to The Farm, a local-favourite café and farm shop that's a short stroll along the lane, for coffee, planning... and greeting the resident piglets.
We'd already decided to don our walking boots and set out to Stratford via the Monarch's Way; a historic trail that follows the escape route taken by King Charles II back in 1651, following his defeat in the Battle of Worcester.
(Honestly: who could resist something that sounds so grand?)
The trail weaved its merry way through some astonishingly beautiful hills and fields - not to mention the occasional golf course! Though we did get lost a couple of times and had to ask for directions, the scenery was so wonderful that were glad to see even more of it. There was an ‘other-worldly' sense to the whole walk; it felt like we'd left our busy lives back home far, far behind.
After a chatty evening of wine, snacks, and sunset-watching from Bev's al fresco Adirondack chairs, it was time for bed. We didn't fancy snuggling up in the queensize together, so we created a second single bed from the table and chairs. This was ridiculously easy to do, and a full contingent of ultra-soft bedding was thoughtfully provided.
Seeing as the sun was shining again the next morning, it seemed rude not to set out on the Monarch's Way a second time, especially now we knew the route!
We spent a full, glorious day in Stratford, shamelessly behaving like the tourists we were (Shakespeare's Birthplace? Check. Anne Hathaway's cottage? Check. Meandering riverboat tour? Check.)
Later on, well-earned afternoon snacks were gratefully devoured at Bobby's Deli Café; a fabulous converted train carriage on the Greenway (around 10 minutes' walk away from the town centre) overlooking the racecourse.
"It'd never have occurred to me to book a break like this," Donna mused when we returned to Bev's welcoming arms, whipping up a last-evening supper on the two-ring stove.
I knew exactly what she meant. In a world of bustling hotel rooms and city-centre boltholes, there's something incredibly refreshing about being among pure-and-simple nature like this, resting your head somewhere so unique and well-loved.
(I think it's fair to say we'll be back).
Author: Nina Jervis
Main image credit: Beverley Thrills Caraglamping | Harriet at Brush Mag
Image credit: Tom Bird