There’s a word they use to describe settling into a beachside caravan park at holiday time – freedom.
The freedom to cut lose from the rat race, storm up the coast in a hatchback crammed with the tools of freedom – surf board, esky, several pairs of underpants – and reconnect with the rat race on the front deck of your luxury refrigeration container: I mean beachside villa.
A millions miles from anywhere, but pretty close to just about everyone by the time the park fills up. The great ritual. All seemingly triggered by some school holiday sense that it’s time to gather, and barbecue and maybe get a little messy after dark, every night, drowning out the fruit bat colony down the beach.
We had the cabin three sites from the park entrance. The advantage of that was you could sit on your verandah for the entire week watching the comings and goings, like Norman Bates, checking out who knows what about assembling camper trailers, reversing lorries, and whether the food is agreeing with residents over at the amenities block.
It’s a park-life rhythm you fall into – transient, self-contained, slightly voyeuristic. A bit like watching the tide come in and out.
As the holidays start, the park is pretty empty, the sense of freedom expansive, claustrophobia just another big word. Then like Jaws, the big fish start sliding in. Turbo-powered fourbies pulling their extended chassis chalets, cutting edge Winnebagos, rebirthed school buses defying most modern emission guidelines.
And like the soundtrack to that Spielberg classic, you hear the donks throbbing, and then the electric brakes of their payloads as they glide over the park speed bumps, or was that a kid on a bike? Same thing.
Each new arrival evidence that freedom is an evolving concept limited only by your pulling power, and maybe the last Mad Max movie you watched.
Naturally its gives a freedom-loving man like Norman ideas, the main one being he should maybe one day get a semi-trailer. The hatchback, tricked up with roof racks, seems to pale in comparison. And those roof racks hadn’t come cheap either.
Nor is staying at a beachside caravan park these days. It’s certainly no longer the pursuit of washed out bums with nothing left to live for but the courtesy bus up to the pub each afternoon. But you can make it look like that if you give it a fair crack. It goes so show freedom’s not just another word for nothing left to lose – there always happy hour, and you don’t want to waste any time getting that started on hols, even if it is 9am.
Of course there are the little fishies too: Jucy van itinerants, station wagon backpackers trysting in their tents, local thieves. Norman loves to give them all a wave, and more often than not get one back, or a sense someone should call security.
Ultimately a beachside caravan park holiday affords a man the freedom to dream. Not about buying a beachside property, because the prices are ridiculous. I mean dream about next year getting the cabin four spots from the park entrance.