"Go On... try some!?!" she insisted. "Go on, it's beautiful". Carol was determined to get us to try one of her pork sausages. The only problem was that they were Pork and Black Pudding sausages. It's a risk you take when you accept and invitation from your Caravan Park neighbours.
"I will if you will" I told Jo. "Errr-ugh" was her short reply. But a welsh grandmother is a hard person to refuse so we both loaded our bread roll with a sausage, squirted some sauce onto it and tucked in.
What I can report is that it's not a flavour I'd go looking for. Even with the sauce and the bun and the margarine and pork you could taste the black pudding.... but it wasn't too bad, especially considering my food tastes have two basic rules. "I don't do Offal, and I don't do feet" I had firmly told Carol.
We were based at the Bridgenorth Camp ground and this was our third night in the caravan. Steve and Carol and their three young charges were our direct neighbours. Catharine, Christian and Keiron. Despite Steve and Carol only being our age they are the grandparents of the three children and their permanent carers.
What those children have missed out on with their parents, they have easily made up by having their these two take them in. They are an inspiration in the way they handle the children and the way they take their lot in life in their stride. Carol has had to give up work and Steve took a new, and less enjoyable job for the extra money. Despite the downside, the love and care in that family is obvious from the moment you meet them.
That afternoon was our first social introduction to the caravan life. It was by any measure a lovely way to spend the evening. We sat out the front of the vans with a smoky barbecue sharing cheese and wine and ....... black pudding sausages.
While the adults ate and drank, the children dodged Caravan Park traffic on their bikes and scooters. The traffic was tolerant and most drivers even waited for the kids to get off the road before driving past.
Living in a van is not something I imagined ever doing, and while I hate towing the thing, dragging our aging box on wheels behind us like a bunch of homeless wanders, once we are set up and the kettle is on and we've said “orright?” to the neighbours, it really is an easy and cheap way to live.
So far we have dragged this blessed box from Bridgenorth to Edinburgh, and now onto Inverness. We are a bit hampered with site availability because this is the busy time of year, but it does mean we keep moving. The parks are great, the facilities first class and most can be booked online. It's just the driving from one to the other that gets me.
Driving on a Motorway is an exercise in concentration in just a car. The speed limit is 70mph, but many drivers are doing 80 or more. To overtake you need to keep a good idea of what is coming up behind, and how fast it's coming. It can be frightening even in our racy little V6 wagon, so imagine throwing 1000kg of caravan into the mix.
The van gets blown all over the place like the proverbial "mad woman's sh*t" and at 50 or 60 mph that gets a bit scary. When a truck overtakes at 70mph and a theres a Barina in front doing 50mph and the cross wind is blowing the van to the right but the truck is pushing it to the left and you are closing in on the Barina and there is nowhere to go.....argh... I hate caravans!
But... when you are sitting with a Welsh couple you just made friends with, eating freshly cooked barbecue food, drinking some local wines and sitting in the afternoon sun watching the children play, mostly happily, together, the caravan life has a lot going for it.