It was with mixed feelings that I read the letter from Peter Barclay in the July 2017 edition of Caravan & Outdoor Life about The Willows Caravan Park. Especially notable is the fact that there are now security guards at the park.
I literally grew at the Willows Caravan Park. Almost every holiday was spent camping there in my folks’ caravan. I remember all the fun- lled days (long before there was a Marina), sitting fishing in my polystyrene canoe, just off the front of the caravan park. I remember how full the park always used to be. I remember playing hide and seek with all the other kids while big braaivleis fires lit up the park.
I remember the smell of hot cross buns being toasted in the mornings. All these memories are still clear in my mind and very close to my heart.
So, it was with a very heavy heart when, on a cold winter morning in July 2011, all of these past memories suddenly became lost and insignificant. I had taken my own family and friends on holiday to the Willows Caravan Park for a weekend of fishing and relaxation. Upon arrival, we quickly set up camp and launched the boat, setting off up river to catch some fish.
Later that night we built a roaring fire and sat around joking and laughing while we braaied. So many memories of when I was a kid at this same park came flooding back, only this time it was my kids who were running around playing.
The next day, for lunch, we all climbed on the boat and headed across the river to enjoy lunch at the Spur. After lunch, we all climbed onto the boat again before dropping the ladies off at the Hotel Spa for an afternoon of pampering while we men (and boys) went and sat in the mouth of the river to try to catch a fish or two.
Just before sunset we pulled up the anchor, went to collect the ladies from the Spa, and headed back to the caravan park again. Again we had a relaxing night around the fire. As it was really cold that night, everyone went to their own tents and climbed into bed early.
At 4am the next morning, we were awoken by a knifewielding robber. He stole all of our cellphones, wallets, iPods, cameras, car keys, money, jewellery… the works.
He had hit 3 other caravans and tents before ours, but none of those people had woken up. As a result of all the commotion that ensued, the caretaker (or whatever he wants to be called) arrived and announced that there had been a spate of such robberies in the previous months prior to our incident.
After this incident, nobody in the family wanted to go camping again. The word “camping” was now taboo. It is only in the last year or two that we have once again started going camping.