Today is an important anniversary for us because, exactly one year ago, we arrived for the first time here at Vilanova Park. We had just spent January 2013 coming down from Genoa to Ventimiglia, across into France and then west along the entire south coast to a final overnight stop outside Perpignan before hitching up and driving through the gap in the Pyrenees into Spain, or more precisely, Catalonia.

What we knew of our destination was restricted to a photo of a swimming pool on the back of a Caravan Club booklet offering 3 weeks for 200 Euro if we booked a sea crossing with them. That was a fair deal and one we took up, making Vilanova Park the first and only site we pre-booked on our European Tour. It also made it the venue for my 60th birthday, so we were hoping it would be a pleasant place for us to celebrate with the boys who were going to fly out to be with us.

Let me paint you a picture of the previous sites we had stayed on in Italy and France prior to our arrival here. On November 1 (Mary’s birthday) we were in San Marino, busy at the weekend with a good restaurant. On Sunday everyone left, and we were pretty much the only ones on the site on that Monday. 500 kilometres south, Manfredonia was in the middle of nowhere with 2 other caravanners and a restaurant open one night per week.

Across Italy to the Med, and Pompeii had other guests but no facilities and the streets around it were out-of-bounds after dark, which was 3.30 p.m. Rome’s site was a nightmare to find, had the most beautiful toilets in Europe but only 3 other people and it rained constantly. North to Assisi and the scariest site ever, on top of a mountain, completely alone, freezing fog and temperature never above zero. Siena wasn’t much better and we were the only ones there on a site with no facilities. Montopoli in Tuscany was deserted as well. In Deiva Marina in Cinque Terre we were alone again on a huge site with nothing but freezing toilets and a stream to drive through to get on the site.

After Christmas and a week in Turkey, we resumed with 2 Italian sites hidden away in some obscure corner. Again there were absolutely no facilities and we were the only guests. In San Remo we at last found a site with lots of people, a bar and a restaurant so that was a pleasant change although it was rather expensive. The 3 French sites were small and hardly anyone else was parked up except us but we appeared to be back in civilisation and the weather had improved to the point of being pleasant.

Bearing all that in mind we drove into Vilanova Park with fingers crossed. We were greeted by a guard at an automatic barrier, ushered into a bustling reception area where we were checked in and given several leaflets, a map of the site and a carrier bag with the campsite printed on it. Our eyes opened even wider when we were escorted to our pitch on G block and left to settle in, surrounded by dozens of other caravanners, mostly English-speaking. We staggered back in amazement upon inspecting the facilities to find a beautiful restaurant and bar busy with customers, many of whom were watching live football on a large TV. The rest, as they say, is History!

We stayed 3 weeks, celebrated my birthday with the boys and Karen, welcomed Mum and Kate for a short stay, flew off for 3 weeks to Oz to see Scotty, came back here for three weeks, went off around Spain to finish the Adventure, but came back and had another 3 weeks! By then we knew we were coming back to live here, so left the Magic Caravan here in storage and drove the Audi back to Scotland for the summer. We came back here on 7 September 2013 and have lived here ever since, except for a wee holiday back to Dundee for Artemis’ christening.

So you can see that February 1 last year was hugely significant to us in terms of what has happened since and indeed what will happen in the future (although that has still to be decided). Vilanova Park may not be perfect but we can assure you it is by far the best site we have found anywhere in Europe. It has the best facilities, best staff, is best-maintained, has the best security, has the best transport links, the largest amount of fellow guests and, believe it or not, is the cheapest site we have stayed on! The weather is of course brilliant but I won’t put that down to the site management themselves!

As my 61st birthday approaches, we can announce that we will be sharing it here with Joe and Mo (my brother and his wife), Mary’s sister Claire and her son Andrew, all of whom are flying out in mid-February to see if all the above is true. Our previous guests (George, Gavin, Greg, Scott, Mum, Kate, Renée, Teresa, Becky) all seemed to have a great time on the site and indeed Greg and Karen will be coming back for another dose of Vilanova life in March. All we can do is encourage any of you who have a few days holiday to jump on a Ryanair or Easyjet flight to Barcelona El Prat, book a Lifestyle Holidays chalet here for £20 a night and try it out. You won’t be disappointed!

God bless the first of February!

It's in the bag!

It’s in the bag!