It’s a vivid memory for me, the first time I thought “this is how a holiday should be done”. Though to be honest I had been on holiday this way since I was a child. You know, the “Canvas Holidays Way” where you rock up at your campsite and move into a fully set up tent. We had done several when I was little but I hadn’t taken any of that on board, being nine you don’t really. What would be interesting would be to see if I could convert my kids. And also to convert my thought that campsites were only in rural France.
My kids are not used to holidaying on a campsite, though they are used to holidaying in France. So in an effort to convert them, and myself, we went in at the deep end. A campsite on the outskirts of Rome. Just off the main road into one of the greatest cities on earth.
We’d landed in Rome, struggled to find our car hire office, Mr B getting slightly agitated as time passed and the office should have been closed but ‘the nice man’ was still there at his desk, knowing that we were due in. As I stood in the car park I really began to think this was a seriously bad idea.
I shouldn’t have worried though. It was a relatively easy drive from the airport to the campsite, despite us having to tackle Italian roads and Italian drivers. Reception at the campsite were ready for us, with security wrist bands, a map of the resort and a promise to help with anything we needed during our stay.
You know, it’s not really fair to call them campsites now – they’re resorts where you can stay under canvas or in chalets, and Rome had a big swimming pool, bars and restaurants. Pizza restaurants, gelateria, one of the best stocked small supermarkets I have ever seen. Mini golf, tennis courts, a train to ferry small people around. And all of this just off the main road (whilst shielded from the trees so noise was never an issue) that had a bus stop into town so you didn’t need to battle the traffic again
We were in a chalet, and when you arrive, there’s very little to do: make the bed, open the wine and that’s about it! Even if you’re under canvas, your tent is set up ready. All you have to do is unpack your toothbrush and then kick back and know you are finally on holiday.
Actually, we arrived in Rome during the final of some football tournament, so Mr B didn’t even unpack his toothbrush. Apparently the bar was hand-delivering pizza to drinkers, so he was happy and only came home when it was all over, but found the four teens safely ensconsed in their chalet with beers from the shop, playing gin rummy, and me sitting outside the front of our chalet with a bottle of wine and a good book.
The big thing for me was just how easy it all was. Four teens (ish) moved in, in ten minutes. We’ve never had anything that painless. Ever. And they loved it. It was painless for us but crucially it was painless for them. Four of them in a chalet with two shower rooms, a huge fridge and a realisation that they could pretty much what they wanted for the next week. They could go to bed when they wanted, get up when they wanted and play on their ipads all day if that was what they wanted to do. They had hot running water, en suite loos, enough plug sockets to charge every device they all had and they were happy.
And that was when I was converted.
But more importantly they were too. They saw that camping doesn’t mean a muddy field in the middle of nowhere. There doesn’t have to be a midnight traipse in the dark to the loo. Or not being able to charge mobile phones or having to read by torch.
They’ve been doing this longer than anyone else and it shows. The couriers (they do much more than just ‘repping’) learn how to do things “the Canvas way” and deliver a great mix of being attentive and letting you get on with your holiday. It might have been how I holidayed in the 70s and 80s but that doesn’t mean Canvas are still doing things as they were done back then. They have moved with the times and now offer the perfect family backdrop for your next holiday.