Testing Technology

… and you may read that how you like. 😀

We’ve been caravanning for 35 years, or thereabouts. The Caravan Club even sent us a fancy sticker proclaiming “30 Years Membership” to slap in Guillaume’s window. This, of course, makes you feel like a complete prat when you cock something up.

Although my initial reason for wanting a modest caravan was to avoid tent pegs – I’d had trouble smacking pegs into the ground on more than one occasion during our earlier tenting times in France – I eventually bowed to pressure [no prizes guessing from where] and, In our 35 years, we’ve now amassed quite a catalogue of sun canopies and porch awnings.

A sun canopy was our first choice to provide Mr. Sunburns-Readily with some shade against the otherwise delightful Mediterranean sun that he loves so much. A sun canopy is (or was then) like a full width awning but without the enclosing front panels; really just a roof and side panels pretty much the same size as the caravan. You get quite steamy sitting under/in them beneath a blazing sun but at least you don’t burn.

I learnt a lesson with a sun canopy in the west of France one year. We’d arrived at our chosen campsite near the oyster beds around La Tremblade with a good, stiff breeze blowing. Foolishly, I now know,  once we’d chosen our pitch and set up, I started to erect my head-saving sun canopy. With no protective front wall, the wind got inside and grabbed said canopy giving it a darn good shaking, whereupon the centre roof pole came loose, fell, swung down and dented the side of our caravan. “Bother”, said Pooh, remarkably crossly. This was entirely my fault.

Eventually, largely for some shorter trips in the vagaries of UK weather, I weakened yet again and we tried a few porch awnings, which are really an enclosed cover for the caravan door in which to store a table, chairs, walking boots etc, in the dry. [Give me the Mediterranean sun every time.] I think I can count four such contrivances of varying designs.

One of these designs had carbon-fibre poles one of which was a sort of U-shaped horizontal hoop with both ends braced against the caravan to hold the awning out. Other poles, of course, held the awning up. I was amazed how a half-sized porch awning could require more of the effin’ pegs that I’d been so keen to avoid in the first place, than did a full sized sun canopy. Nonetheless this one did. I was even more surprised when, during one particular windy day, the perfectly safely erected porch awning rattled against the side of the caravan causing the U-shaped pole ends to dent the caravan side panel. “Bother”, repeated Pooh, extremely crossly once again. For this mishap, I disclaim responsibility.

Time and technology have moved on. Prior to this Norfolk trip we ordered yet another porch awning, one of the new-fangled “air” porch awnings. This is at least our fourth and may be our fifth. Gone are the poles that can damage the side panels of caravans. In their place is/are one or more inflatable rubber tubes with a diameter of about 80mm [I’m guessing]. Now, instead of carrying a bag full of poles, you have to carry a ruddy great pump to blow the 80mm tube(s) up to 7psi. We Click-and-Collected our new “air” awning on Saturday afternoon after we’d arrived and got settled.

I must say that the erection process went smoothly. [Insert smutty comment here.] I think, however, that my tubing may be over-inflated. I take full responsibility for getting too stiff. There’s a handy pressure gauge on the pump but, with the non-return valve to prevent deflation, having pumped, said pressure gauge drops rapidly back to zero before you can see what pressure it’s attained. No matter, at least it’s a good, firm erection. [Insert smutty ….]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI  find this air technology a bit flaky. Granted, there are no poles damaging yet another essentially new caravan. I’m a little leery of the rigidity of a 7psi tube, though, even if over-inflated. I wouldn’t want to lose it in the middle of the night, if you see what I mean. As luck would have it, we are pitched looking at an example of a limp air awning and here it is; it sags in a most unattractive manner. It’s a sad sight and I feel very sorry for this chap who keeps coming out to try and blow it up again.

Tonight and tomorrow will be a good test of our flaky technology. This evening we have a >95% chance of rain with winds gusting to 45mph. In that poor chap’s place, I think I’d adopt the approach that if you can’t keep it up then it’s better to save face and take it down. [Insert smutty …] If a 45mph wind gets hold of that collapsing awning it could be quite entertaining.

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Posted in 2021-05 Norfolk
2 comments on “Testing Technology
  1. BlasR says:

    The fun is in deflating these air-filled “poles” and later packing the structure away.

    • Franco says:

      Yes, I can imagine, and I’m not looking forward to it. I suppose I could adopt the Glastonbury approach and just leave it here – just buy a new cheapest-one-you-can-find awning for each trip and ditch it.

      Socially irresponsible but somehow appealing.

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