The Fountain of Friendship
Practical Caravan|May 2017

A trip to one of the finest historic sites in Yorkshire provided Sam Johnson with a chance to meet up with old friends, and make some new ones!

Sam Johnson

READERS WITH LONG memories might recall our first Weekender, which told the story of the maiden voyage in our newly acquired caravan, to Dyrham Park in Wiltshire (Practical Caravan, April 2016). A few things happened as a result of this:

First, the magazine helpfully suggested five alternative deer parks. One of them – Fountains Abbey, near Ripon in Yorkshire – looked particularly exciting, with more than 500 red, fallow and Sika deer.

Second, my old friend from university, Sarah, got in touch to say that her husband works at Fountains Abbey, and that they would love to see us if we made the journey.

Third, our friend Rebecca and her nine year-old daughter Daisy read the story, came to see our van and longed to have a go in it.

Finally, my sister determined that I was unequivocally the world’s biggest nerd... But I can live with that.

And so it was arranged that Rebecca and Daisy would come and join us for their first caravanning experience over a long weekend in August. No prizes for guessing where!

Surprisingly, given our track record for being late for everything we ever attend, Rosemary and I arrived first at our chosen campsite – The Cud Life, near Harrogate. And, though we still occasionally make the odd mistake while caravanning, setting up the van on site is getting easier with practice. (Note to self: setting off from home with the key left in the caravan door is not a good idea, especially if it’s the only key you have with you; fortunately, it didn’t fall out.) We had just finished erecting the awning and boiling the kettle for our first cup of tea when Rebecca and Daisy arrived.

Ripping yarns in Ripon

Duly refreshed – and following a rather impromptu game of football with some of the other guests on the campsite – we headed into Ripon for a lovely meal at the Water Rat pub, followed by a visit to the Market Square to see the Ripon Hornblower in action. The story behind the hornblowing is something that is related in a very entertaining manner, but I’m afraid that it is difficult to recall accurately if – for instance – you’ve spent at least the previous hour eating fine food and drinking real ale. However, I believe that it goes something like this...

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