My grandparents were almost in retirement when they bought the camp. I knew my nan wanted to be by the sea and I knew that my grandad bought the camp for her but I had never really considered that it was a slightly odd thing to have done at their age. My nan had always had a thing about having a caravan by the sea. It had been her dream and my grandad had known this over the many years of their marriage. They had probably been married for around 35 years by that point. Then something changed: My grandad’s brother, my great uncle Bert, got married. Not only did he get married but he also bought his new wife a caravan by the sea. This really got my nan’s back up, and so Grandad had no choice but to pacify her and agree to start looking for one. But my ever frugal grandad couldn’t just buy one, he wanted to buy a few so that the revenue from letting out the others would pay for theirs.
They had a lovely summer visiting different sites, and for the first time in years had time to relax. They eventually stumbled across the camp which was up for sale; they visited, my nan fell in love, my grandad saw a business opportunity, and made an offer. Thelma the owner wasn’t ready to sell and it wasn’t until a few years later when she telephoned out of the blue to ask if my grandad was still interested that they had their chance. So my grand- parents then came out of retirement to work night and day at the camp with my parents. Typical Grandad.
We were all devastated by my nan’s sudden death. It was the week after Princess Diana’s death and I remember I travelled home from my digs in London the following day. I watched the state funeral sobbing, but for my own loss, wondering how my grandad was supposed to carry on without my nan beside him. My dad will often say that he wonders if things would have been different if we’d never bought the camp, that maybe she would have lived longer without the stress of it all. He doesn’t want that to think that could have been the case. But when I read my nan’s diary I think that it had to have been worth it – she loved it, really loved it there. If she’d never done it then a whole really important chapter of her life she would never have experienced, and we wouldn’t have had all those summers altogether, all those family meals on the little tables in the bar all pushed together before opening time, all those happy times.