My Father's Garden: Caravan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Caravan is a chapter from R J Dent's novel-in-progress, My Father's Garden.

Submitted: April 28, 2016

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Submitted: April 28, 2016



My Father’s Garden: Caravan

by R J Dent



1: Maroon


There was considerable excitement in our family when our mother mentioned that we might be getting a caravan. We talked it up into something more than it was, so that when it finally arrived on our drive, it was something of an anticlimax.

The caravan itself was a bit scruffy; it would need painting before it was ready for use.

My father, as ever, was ready for the challenge.

He and my mother debated the colour-scheme.

– Beige is nice, my father said.

– Dove grey is nicer.

– Magnolia’s nice too.

– Dove grey is nicer.

– Pale green is also nice.

– Dove grey is nicer.

In the end, my father conceded.

– I think dove grey would look nice, my father said, but only if it’s contrasted with a brighter colour – something like maroon or lime green.

– You can paint the roof maroon, my mother said, but the rest of the outside needs to be dove grey.

My father got out his plastic bucket of flamingo-pink mixed paint and added a bucket of red to it. He emptied a bottle of cochineal food colouring into it, just to make certain it was red, and then mixed in a tiny drop of black paint.

– That’s just to give it that maroon-y, purple-y tinge, he informed me, as he mixed the paint lees together with a wooden spoon he’d borrowed from the kitchen.

– What about the dove grey? I asked.

– It’s in the shed. Four tins. But I have to do the roof first.

He then climbed the step-ladder he’d got out of the shed and started painting the caravan roof.

– Can I look inside? I asked.

My father fished in his pocket, pulled out a key and threw it down to me. I caught it.

– Pull the door to behind you when you go in, he said.

– Right.

I mounted the two rubberised steps and unlocked the caravan door. I pulled the door open and stepped inside, pulling the door nearly closed behind me.

It smelled of old carpet. The curtains were closed, but the skylights were open, so it was gloomy, but not as dark as it could have been. Despite the gloom, I could see it was neat and tidy. I was in the kitchen. There was a stove, an oven, a fridge, a sink and draining board and some cupboards.

My father provided a running commentary, which, because of the open skylight, I could hear perfectly.

– It’s a six-berth caravan. Each room has sliding compartment doors, and double or twin beds.

– Where’s the kitchen bed?

– It’s in the wall.

I saw it. It looked like an ornamental wardrobe.

– Yep. I see it, I said as I walked the length of the caravan.

Cream walls, grey carpet and leaf-patterned upholstery throughout.

I went back outside.

– Well?

– I like it, I said. When’s it for?

– When we have holidays.

– Where’s it going?

– We’re putting it on a static site by the sea – so that we can go and stay in it whenever we want. Bank holidays, Summer, Easter, even long weekends if we want to.

I nodded.

– That sounds really good, I said. Is there much work to do on it?

My father shrugged, and then continued painting the roof. He’d nearly finished.

– A coat of paint and a few fixtures and fittings that your mother wants adding.

– Fixtures and fittings?

– Yes. Your mother wants a few things added – a collapsible ironing board, a shower. She’s also making an awning, so that we’ll have extra room.

– An awning?

– Think of it as a caravan with a conservatory.

– Oh.

– And it needs a skirt.

– What’s that?

My father finished painting the roof and climbed down the stepladder, brandishing the maroon-coated brush. He used it to point at the space beneath the caravan, where the metal legs and the wheels were housed.

– A skirt covers those and keeps the caravan a bit warmer than it would be without it.

– And what’s it made of.

– Skirts can be made of anything. Breeze block, brick, wood, metal, plastic, cloth; whatever you like, really.

– And what are you going to use?

– I’ve got some lovely stone cladding I’m going to use. It’s perfect.

– Stone cladding?

– Yes. It’s Portland stone cladding, so it’ll look really good, especially with the picket fence around the garden.

– Garden?

– Yes. Your mother would like a small garden too.

– Is that possible?

My father sighed.

– Oh, it’s possible. It’s just a bit of a nuisance. Right, now I need to get on with the grey.

And he dashed off to wash out the paintbrush and start work painting the caravan walls dove grey.

I looked at the bright maroon roof. Despite the caravan’s odd colour scheme, I couldn’t help but feel a bit excited about the promised holidays on a static site by the sea.




My Father’s Garden: Caravan

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)


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