Wales – The Brynowyn Caravan Park at Borth

A Caravan Holiday

“I would like to go back to Wales. I’m obsessed with my childhood and at least three times a week dream I am back there” – Anthony Hopkins

I last stayed in a caravan in about 1970 and I said that I would never ever to do it again.  I have consistently maintained that I just do not understand caravanning at all or why people subject themselves to the misery of a holiday in a tin box with no running water, chemical toilets and fold away beds, there is no fun in it whatsoever.

To be fair I suppose it was good fun when I was a ten-year-old child but I remember thinking that I never really wanted to do it ever again.  Caravans as I remember them simply had no temperature control, they were hot and stuffy if the sun shone (so that wasn’t too much of a problem in Wales, obviously) and they were cold and miserable when it rained, which I seem to remember was most of the time.  So they were either pizza oven hot in the day or freezing cold and damp at night.

Brynowyn

I am pleased to be able to report that modern caravans are much improved and imagine my shock then when I tell you that I was so impressed with our holiday caravan accommodation in Borth because it had all of the facilities of a modern home with running water, a bathroom, electricity and a fully equipped kitchen and after preparing and enjoying a full English breakfast I walked out with a spring in my step on a voyage of rediscovery.

The only thing I don’t like is that these places allow pets and let’s be honest that means dogs because people don’t normally take their cat or goldfish on holiday.  There is a high chance therefore of occupying accommodation where dogs have sat all over the furniture or slept on the beds and with my aversion to canines that made me a little uneasy.

Brynowyn Holiday Caravan

The Brynowyn caravan holiday village seemed strangely familiar and it didn’t take me long to establish that this was the actual caravan park that I had stayed in with my parents and had such a miserable time in 1966 or thereabouts.

Our caravan then wasn’t like this today of course.  It had no bathroom so we had to use the communal camp washroom facilities, it had no electricity so we couldn’t watch TV, it had no kitchen so we couldn’t cook breakfast and it didn’t have heating so when it was cold it was really cold.  The only thing it did have was a bottle of Calor Gas and a one ring hob for boiling a kettle and for lighting hissing gas lamps at night which attracted insects and created so much condensation that after an hour or two, water was dripping off the ceiling onto our sleeping bags on the floor and we were sleeping in a puddle..

But I was nevertheless delighted to discover that this place was indeed a part of my never-to-be-forgotten childhood and somewhere that I had spent a week or two with my family.  As I get older I appreciate more and more what my parents did for me.  In Wales, here in Borth, they took us to the seaside for a holiday in a tiny caravan and I can only imagine that they hated it, it must, after all, have been mind-numbingly boring, spending endless hours in a biscuit tin with only the popping of the gas lamp for evening entertainment, especially when it was raining.

Holiday Beach Shop Borth Wales

After exploring the park I walked to the seafront and came across a beach front shop which I hoped I had correctly identified as the same one where I spent all of my pocket-money in 1966.  I clearly remember beach shops before they were replaced by amusement arcades, they were stacked floor to ceiling with loads of cheap souvenirs and beach games, cricket sets, canvas wind breaks, kites, lilos, buckets and spades, rubber balls and saucy seaside postcards.  The floor was covered in sand which we brought in on our feet and they had a curious smell of seaweed, salt-water damp and old stock.

I asked the man behind the counter how old the shop was and he proceeded to give me the full history.  I knew that I was in the right place when he told me that where there was now a café and an ice cream parlour, once there was a timber structure, painted bottle green, that was once the shop before it was demolished and I knew immediately that I was in the right place.  What a discovery.   Memories were sticking to me like Velcro!

Borth Wales 1970

I can’t be absolutely certain but I am fairly sure that this is a family picture taken at Borth, my Sister Lindsay, me, my Mother Joan and little brother Richard.

I carried on now and walked along the seafront and to the top of the cliffs that were crumbling dangerously away and towards a war memorial on the headland with a sign saying that the original had been destroyed by a thunderbolt in March 1981 and rebuilt three years later.  There were good views from the top stretching all the way to Snowdonia National Park and to Anglesea in the North and in this moment I remembered that Wales is one of my favourite places.  I thought I was in Iowa!

On the way down I stopped to talk to a man mowing his lawn and I bored him with my story of returning to Borth after fifty years and staying at the same caravan park and going to the same shop and he surprised me by telling me that fifty years ago he was the farmer who owned the land and the caravans.

Together we looked out over the bay and he told me that this is the only place that he would ever want to live and I like to think that I understood what he meant.  My journey of rediscovery was complete.

Borth and Snowdonia in the Distance

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30 responses to “Wales – The Brynowyn Caravan Park at Borth

  1. Well, that turned out to be a satisfying trip back, in so many ways.

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  2. I’m always intrigued when I see or read about British holiday caravan parks. If we have them in the US, I haven’t run into them or they are fairly new. Mostly you have to bring your own trailer/RV and rent a space for it for however long you are staying. Lovely to find memories.

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  3. Oh, brilliant…your return to Wales was actually quite rewarding !

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  4. It’s great to wallow in nostalgia sometimes and your blog took me back (I’m not prepared to admit how far back although it is a few years more than your own reminiscing) to holidays spent as a child in a timber chalet in the sand dunes at Hemsby in Norfolk.

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    • Norfolk was on our family holiday schedule as well Richard. We used to go to a chalet at Walcott-on-Sea. They were on top of a cliff and every year there was one less as they fell one by one into the sea!

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  5. Those beach shops were lovely. All those slightly suppressed bright colours. Every night in Skegness we’d go to the same café and I would get a Kitkat for my supper. A small one, not the four finger giant. Looking back, how much more I preferred that to some very much more expensive things I have done as an adult on holiday.

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  6. A lovely trip down memory lane, Andrew. It always amazes me what people and places we bump into when we go back and visit old haunts. I remember holidaying in a caravan park near Tenby in the 1980s and hating every moment of it. It hadn’t changed much to your description of a caravan holiday in the 1960s. I hated the shower block, but the social club wasn’t a bad place, especially with cheap beer. However, I don’t think I can be tempted back.

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  7. A nice trip! How different from your Spanish travels, yet still very satisfying!

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  8. Andrew how fantastic that you could return to the same spot all these years later. Here in North America caravans are referred to as RVs ( recreational vehicles). Well I assume that’s what they stand for. I swear some of them are bigger than our home and really that isn’t’ exaggerating. I camped a lot as a kid/teen but we haven’t done much of it through our married years. Maybe once Dave retires and we have more time for holidays.

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  9. Glad you got a chance to return and relive the good memories. I was so impressed with the caravans we saw in Europe this springtime – really small but so well-designed. I could happily spend some time in them traveling around 🙂

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  10. So glad that your trip turned into a pleasant walk down memory lane, Andrew. And weren’t those seaside junk shops something else! As a kid the trinkets all seemed like treasures. As for a caravan, Peggy and I have a small, 22 foot RV that we love. And there was a time I looked down my nose at RVs. Ours has a kitchen, a restroom, and a kingsized bed that turns into a comfortable sitting room during the day. The passenger seat turns around and serves as my writing chair while Peggy occupies our sitting room with her numerous projects. A WiFi hotspot on our phone means we usually have access to the Internet when we want it. Altogether we have travelled over 200,000 miles and four years in our tiny home away from home all over the US and Canada with some time in Mexico as well. –Curt

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  11. We holidayed in a caravan every year when I was a child, I had the same view as you especially when, about 5 years ago we also stayed for a few nights in a caravan in Austria. This reinforced my view caravans were not for me, however this looks pretty tempting, I could be convinced…

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  12. Sticking to you like Velcro! I love it 🙂

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  13. Pingback: South Wales, Taking The Fosse Way to Trecco Bay | Have Bag, Will Travel

  14. Pingback: Postcard Maps of 2016 | Have Bag, Will Travel

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