THE old gag about ageing is the pomaded chap who told his pals: “I knew I was getting old when the barber asked if I wanted something for the weekend, and when I said yes, he offered me his caravan at Saltcoats.”

Now leaving aside the fact it’s been many a year since barbers discreetly offered to sell prophylactics, it is the crushing acceptance that going anywhere in a caravan is deemed as a bleak sign that you are over the hill, a stranger now to having a good time.

Bob, my old news editor on The Herald, had a caravan in Anstruther where he would disappear to at weekends. Us younger reporters then, the ones that editor Arnold Kemp referred to as his “boulevardiers”, who saw the weekend as a time to mingle with models, loud-suited businessmen and crooks in Charlie Parkers bar in the city centre, quietly chuckled at the idea of a caravan in the East Neuk.

Now I’m not so sure.

Bob’s point was that it was an escape, a place to wind down and forget bills, gardening, shopping or any of the other minutiae of your domestic life.

So at the weekend I stepped cautiously into the Scottish Caravan Motorhome and Holiday Home Show at the SEC to see if Bob was right, that a caravan was a simpler way to de-stress than learning to tuck your legs into impossible yoga positions.

I tell Jamie Taylor, the cheerful director of the Caravan Show, that I haven’t stayed in one since I was a holidaying teenager with my pals in deepest, darkest, North Wales. “Cold and full of condensation I bet,” he says. “You won’t believe how they’ve changed since then.”

Not on the outside, concedes Jamie. They are still, as he agrees, basically white boxes. “Most of the changes,” he says, “are on the inside. The manufacturers are constantly doing things to the interior. Come and have a look at this one. It’s nicer than my house, to be honest.”

Swing open a door and there is air conditioning, climate control, lights and heating doing your bidding from one little electronic device in your hand. Big TVs, satellite dishes, USB ports, stunning fridges and cookers, comfortable seating, luxurious beds are all cleverly fitted inside. “It’s a five star hotel on wheels,” says Jamie.

He knows he has a little difficulty with the word “caravan” because of its association with pensioners and blandly attired people who carefully buy their clothes from catalogues. Caravanners flock to the show. Many of them change their caravans every three years or so because of the technological changes inside them.

Younger attendees are more difficult to attract. Ironically younger people are drawn by the idea of the freedom-of-the-road feel of the old Volkswagen campervans, which amuses Jamie as, he says, they were “rubbish, tiny, slow and smelly, although people do have an affinity with them”.

And that’s when he reveals the big seller which is slowly taking over from caravans – motorhomes. Not the giant motorhomes in America, which are the size of articulated trucks. No, smaller, more discreet motorhomes that are as easy as driving a car.

Don’t want to go to the effort of attaching a caravan to the back of your car and worrying about how you reverse the thing? Then buy a motorhome.

It costs a bit more of course. Your basic caravan comes in at £14,000. Small motorhomes are double that. The one I really like is inevitably the most expensive I can find – £105,000. Yes I know, more than most of us paid for our first house, but it is a thing of beauty. But that’s probably for the couple who are going to be spending months on end in their van touring Europe.

There are small vans where the two front seats in the driver’s position can be unlocked and swivelled round to help form a room at night with a fold-down bed and a roof that extends upwards to give you head-room.

It’s the sort of vehicle a young couple can drive to a remote beach for some surfing, then sleep in at night.

Or you can go to a caravan site. I chat to Nick Lomas, director general of the Caravan Club, which looks after the needs of a million caravanners in Britain, and I ask him about the traditional bugbear – being stuck on a road behind a slow-moving caravan. “Be honest, when did that last happen to you?” he asks.

Well, let me sit down on a little foldaway canvas chair and think about this. And I have to admit he’s right. I cannot remember the last time I had to hit the horn behind a white box and curse these people who tow their temporary homes behind them.

Maybe it’s because we spend so much time on motorways now that being stuck behind a caravan is less likely. “I don’t think it happens in real life,” says Nick. “I think we just imagine it does.

“And if we are on a congested road behind a caravan, it’s likely that the caravan is being held up by what is up ahead just like yourself.”

Nick also confirms the growth in motorhomes in the past five years. He waxes lyrical about the improvements to caravan sites with those that have their own cinemas and golf courses. He talks too of the huge boost caravanning brings to the rural economy of Scotland.

He enthuses about the luxury, insulation, central heating and electronic devices caravans now have. He sells me the idea of having all your favourite things around you, and not having to pack your bags every morning when you are on holiday.

So I slouch around in a few caravans, impressed by large shower stalls, luxury fridges, and comfortable leather chairs. There is a new Volkswagen van called the California, to make you dream no doubt of idling along the Pacific Coast Highway. Maybe I should give Bob a call and see if I can borrow his caravan. After all, Charlie Parkers is closed down, so I need somewhere else to go.