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Why we joined the ICA

 

“Let’s join the ICA” we said.  That was in summer 2005.  We had just returned home from our second holiday in Norway.  This time we had gone all the way up to North Cape and come back via the Lofoten Islands.  Now we were about to claim ‘The Order of Blue-nosed Caravanners’, which the ICA awards to all those who venture north of the Arctic Circle.

We had travelled on our own, but there had been ICA journeys to Norway, as well as to many other countries.  Since joining the ICA we have attended four AGM rallies and three others - two abroad and one in the U.K.  Our first foreign rally was to Friesland, in the Netherlands, which was organised by Dutch ICA members.  We were very impressed.  We stayed on a site at Dokkum, an historic and attractive town.  There were only three English units; the rest were Dutch.  We were taken on tours round this very clean, flat but interesting part of the Netherlands, which, rather like Cornwall in England, sees itself as somehow different from the rest of the country; and we saw places that we would probably not have discovered on our own.  We were well-fed - each morning we looked forward to our mid-morning coffee and cake, and never knew in advance what delightful food was to follow.  It was challenging - the site was water-logged the last few days of our stay and we paddled across to the marquee where we met of an evening; and when we left, every unit had to be towed off.  The rally lasted ten days, but we had a fortnight in the Netherlands, spending two nights at Amsterdam on our way there and another two nights near Enkhuizen on our way home.

This experience had whetted our appetites for more, and we saw in the bi-monthly magazine a rally in Western Australia advertised for the autumn of 2008, where we should hire motorhomes and travel south from Broome to Perth over six weeks, seeing ‘more animals than people’.  This sounded exciting, so we put our names down.  During nearly two years we dreamed of this trip, where the starting point for most of us had changed to Darwin, in Northern Territory, thus making it a seven- week tour.  Normally members make their own way to the starting point of the rally - some from home, others from wherever they were staying before!  We were to learn that some members of ICA are hardly ever at home; and many, having travelled to a rally, then went on - either to another rally, or to visit friends, or just to explore on their own.

The West Australian trip had been organised from Wales, with the help of a wonderful Australian couple from Perth, who accompanied us on the tour.  A great itinerary, which involved so many interesting places; a variety of weather (some expected, some quite unseasonal); and meeting many Australians, as the local Caravan Club members organised evening barbecues, dances and entertainments for us.  One day all who wished to do so spent a whole day as a couple with an Australian couple, who showed them round Perth and Freemantle.

This tour was different from the Dutch rally, because there were several nationalities involved.  ICA has members in many countries.  It began in the U.K. and we have more members than any other country.  The Netherlands (not far away and speaking good English) also have many members.  In our group (larger than most rallies, with twenty-six outfits) there were people from England, Wales, the Netherlands, the USA, Australia and New Zealand; and each group had its national evening, when they provided food and entertained the rest of us.

We found that rallies were organised by the members, and could involve a particular interest e.g. walking, arts and crafts, computing etc.  Walking rallies were popular, ranging from short rambles to the Coast to Coast Walk.  We booked to go on the second half of the Jurassic Coast Walk in April 2009 (the first half took place two years ago).  We used three sites and walked east from near Sidmouth, via Charmouth, to a village near Abbotsbury.  There were only ten units on this rally, and walking and socialising together we got to know people well.  This time we were a mixture of English and Scottish couples.  Again the sites were good and the weather varied.  Medical problems, as before, were dealt with by a retired Health Visitor in Western Australia and Devon/Dorset; and in Australia we also had a retired dentist.

Each rally also gave people some free time to explore on their own; and social gatherings of an evening, though enjoyed by most, are not compulsory.  Some people have been members for many years; others have joined more recently.  We found them to be a friendly group and welcoming to newcomers.

That’s our experience of ICA to date.   Why not come and join us?

 

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