Ok so fairly large parts of my job involve looking at evidence and making decisions (I work in finance - yawn) and from the links over there on the right about thinking straight and evaluating evidence then you would think that I should have a handle on making decisions myself. Wouldn't you?
So let's see how I got on travelling around southern France picking out a static caravan/mobile home for family use for the next few years. Not the biggest decision ever, but a significant one and one it is important to get right.
First of all, bear in mind that I have seen this;
The more choices you have and the more effort you put into the choice then generally the less satisfied you will tend to be for various very sensible and counter-intuitive but obvious with hindsight reasons.
So we made of list of things we wanted from the caravan itself and the site. We honed this into very important things and nice to haves. We did some careful budgeting and we even went to see some caravans for an afternoon here in the UK to get a feel for what we did and didn't like.
We also decided that we would find one we liked and then stop looking.
Yes I actually got the long suffering Mrs Psi to watch that video talk ;-(
Here is my roughly kept journal of the trip;
Woke at 3.08 am - alarm set for 3.30 - typical!
Kept nodding off and dreaming I had not set the alarm and therefore kept on waking up with a start and my heart pumping in my ears about six or seven times.
Finally fell into a deep and restful sleep at about 3.28 am.
Alarm 3.30 - feel crap.
Trip to airport lovely - very quiet roads - car park wet and drizzly - parking close to terminal building - tick.
One huge queue at check-in. That was why the roads were so quiet - everyone was here before us. Were eventually called out of queue and pulled to one side when we were 3 families from the front - this was done to speed up check-in for our flight but we are now fifth in a queue with one check-in desk and not third in a queue with five or six ;-( - This is not evidence based queue management.
We got checked in with not questions about my "travelling guitar" at all.
Queued to buy water ad snacks for the flight and then remembered at the last minute we hadn't been through the security check yet - doh! Put everything back.
Mrs Psi removed her belt, earrings etc. etc. and still made the machine bleep - security woman commented that the machine did not appear to like "Clarke's Shoes" today.
Plane and flight both fine. Seats pre-booked to confirm to best place to survive a crash according to some documentary I once saw - this meant we were over the wig whihc blocked our views - Mrs Psi and Miss Psi would rather have a nice view while burning to death so we will sit elsewhere next time.
Approach to Nice was very pretty - Alps and Monaco beautiful - coast is exquisite here.
Cases in first half dozen off the plane.
Car hire firm don't know we wanted a satellite navigator - no problem - we all filled with boundless, groundless and witless optimism and laugh in the face of this minor set back.
Realise we have no directions with us - no problem - there will be signs!
Bus to car collection point arrives three minutes after we do - tick.
Mrs Psi nearly got into drivers seat - ;-)
Straight on to A8 motorway - tick.
Mrs Psi finds some directions in the brochure of the camp site we are going to be stopping in which we drive about looking for caravans and sites - hurray!
We leave the A8 at the junction indicated in the directions - and the roundabaout and junctions decsribed in it fail to appear. We try every exit from the roundabout in turn and never spot anything remotely related to the directions given.
We realise that the directions are for people leaving the motorway from the other direction - stress, shouting, despair.
We finally decide to head in the direction of Frejus and see what turns up.
We finally spot a sign for our destination. Much rejoicing and apologising.
We see a sign for the road we were looking for the D4 - OK it was my daughter who spotted it.
We pass one of the camps on our short list and then finally arrive.
I ask Mrs Psi for her initial impressions of the camp we are staying in;
Disappointing - crappy music and dirty toilets by the pool area.
Siblu not present until 4 pm - it is 10 am.
Scruffy and rough and ready camp.
No sunbeds by the pool.
Pizzas nice - freshly made.
Spider spotted by Miss Psi on Mrs Psi who looks at my and quietly says through gritted teeth, "get it off me".
Mrs Psi lovely in hat.
2pm - Mrs Psi has gone read and stripy - I put the sun cream on her back and shoulders and perhaps might not have been as diligent as I should have been. In fact nice untanned pattern on my finger s on one shoulder - luckily just out of her sight.
Miss Psi tells me that the water is warm and so it would be good to enter the pool for the first time by using one of the slides - yes of course I know she is fibbing - but we both enjoyed the little game - I come to the surface spluttering with the cold and we have a little pretend chase and then I throw her back in.
Miss Psi then makes a friend in 1min 30 secs, "Annie" lives seven miles from us in Yorkshire.
Did some shopping in the camp shop; wine, bread, wine, cheese, wine & maps.
Finally we checked in - caravan is nice but old fashioned type.
We are all knackered by 6.45 RT (real time), 7.45 JFT (Johnny Foreigner Time).
The night was very cold. Got up in the night to look for blankets.
We will need to buy a caravan with radiators.
Dappled sunlight on the curtains wake us up.
Over breakfast Mrs Psi announced that she was not confident in finding a camp we would like (she liked). I pointed out we had only seen one so far.
Put on fire in lounge - much better.
Did pots while listening to Astrononmy Cast podcast and watching the sun shine through the forest trees - cool.
With the use of our new maps we are no longer lost. planning to see two site today - Douce Quietude - small family run site a few miles away - perhaps have lunch there - then another site just down the road.
Also meeting saleswoman at this camp today at 4.00 JFT.
Mrs Psi worried about navigating but carefully crafted words of encouragement from me we were off.
1.5 miles later we are in stationary traffic. After 30 mins we decide to change plans and look at 3 sites on this very road - we are hoping the traffic was due to the bank holiday and not a regular occurrence.
1st site - nothing for sale - had a look anyway - very pretty, up and down hillsides and plenty of flowers. This one is not in a wood so shade much scarcer.
Very nice pool with very nice sunbeds (why none at our home base?) - overall very nice.
Next park very small & nothing for sale - bloke recommended we ask in September re next year - not encouraging.
Final park - more camping than static vans and no one at reception - Mrs Psi condemned it as scruffy anyway.
Weather warm but very windy - mistral.
We are looking at this day's activities as progress - three camps crossed off the list.
Now back at La Baume - been in sauna and pool - fire &amp; ice ;-0
Mrs Psi now taking the p*ss out of this journal - she wants me to note that she disagrees with the "carefully crafted words of encouragment" comment earlier ;-)
Met the saleswoman in the make of Caravan we had picked out in the UK as right for us. Told her this good news plus the bad news that La Baume is not the right park for us. Traffic noise is both unwanted and more noticeable than usual as you are in a forest.
Arranged to meet her at a localish site tomorrow am and then follow her to a more distant site near St Tropay afterwards.
Had pizza, chips, French bread & salad for tea followed by ice cream.
Watching DVD of "Contact" with Miss Psi at the moment.
After an idle comment from me about it being nice to lay out on the settee in the caravan Mrs Psi had a bit of a panic that the model we had picked out did not have huge acres of settee - she seems more settled now though.
Busy day on Tuesday - we have now seen seven camps in total.
The first one yesterday was close to the motorway so suffered from the same traffic noise as La Baume - ruled it out for us.
We were kindly driven by the sales woman to Gassin. Traffic very busy but kept moving. Apparently the previous day's jam was due to a main road collapsing - it was a major item on the news and will take two weeks to repair.
This second camp was my favourite so far - hillside, quiet, lovely big emplacement amongst trees. Mrs Psi didn't like the drive here, Miss Psi did not like the lack of slides in the pool.
Finally on to Noggerie (or something like that) Mrs Psi liked the neatness and some flowers. Emplacement is basically just an open grass pitch - I am not keen - Pool is very good with excellent slides for Miss Psi.
We also looked at the next size up caravan in La Baume - a bit further from the motorway - but you can still hear it. The camp itself is growing on us a bit as we can now appreciate that it does have lots of facilities.
Miss Psi was extremely good being in the car for most of the day.
Has a lovely sweet in La Baume restaurant with friendly service - may go for a meal before we go.
Need dressing gown.
Only got two more to look at - the one we were to see first until the road collapsed! and a new one just bought by Siblu which won't be built until next year!
Weds am - tour of lovely quiet camp which has been left in disrepair for a few years, Siblu have just bought it so lots going to be done to it. The finished article does sound nice but it would take a large leap of faith to buy now on the strength of that alone.
This afternoon we are going to Douce Quietude which looks good on paper and then perhaps revisiting Nogerie as well.
Weds PM 6.30 JFT - back at La Baume having purchased a caravan in Douce Quietude. Mrs Psi said "wow" a lot when we arrived and all three of us loved the place.
Hilly & Flowery.
Nice pools and slide.
Decent shop and restaurant.
Very handy for coast and only a few miles from A8 so about 45-55 mins from the airport.
Family run since 1979.
Rang the poor saleswoman who had toured us around earlier, she was very professional and understanding - she knows Douce Quietude - so can see why it suits us.
8.30pm JFT Mrs Psi still reading leaflets and list of crockery etc. for our new "home" with self satisfied look on her face.
Spent 40% of budget on caravan. 40% ;-)
Mrs Psi has now pointed out to me that she found this site on line after much research about 42 times this evening.
I don't mind.