Nick News, Spotlight

Nick’s News – Best cities for nature, top certificated locations and the Swift Select 122

Exterior of the Swift Select 122

Nick HardingNick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.

My week

Are you thinking of heading abroad any time soon? I recommend you check the small print when it comes to regulations around Covid tests and vaccinations if you are. That’s the one thing I discovered after the past week away in the Netherlands and Germany.

See my comments last week about getting into the Netherlands via the Harwich-Hook of Holland ferry. Coming back on the same crossing was just a little bit fraught too.

For the return leg, my partner and I had to complete Passenger Locator Forms, then order a lateral flow test to be delivered to our home for taking within two days of our return. They were priced at £23.99 each, but I think our little saga is over now.

In the news

From Plymouth to Aberdeen – our best cities for nature lovers

Congratulations to Plymouth, as it’s scooped an award as the best UK city if you’re a nature lover. The results are based on research covering aspects ranging from stargazing spots to outdoor activities, rare species of animals and National Trust sites.

It all sounds slightly random, but up there with overall winner Plymouth were Bristol, which was dubbed best for star gazing spots; Aberdeen for its natural hotspots; and Newcastle, where rare animal species including red squirrels can be seen.

If that’s all the excuse you need for visiting, then who are we to question it?!

Poole’s win – the Club announces its top small sites

More congratulations are in order. This time they go to Poole Farm, which is the latest winner of the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s annual Certificated Location of the Year (CL) awards, as voted for by its members.

Adults-only, pet-friendly Poole Farm is on the Devon and Cornwall border. It boasts electric hook-ups, Wi-Fi, a toilet and shower room, and tourist information stop, which is way above the norm for a typical CL

There were other winners too, as Rails End Nursery in Worcestershire came second and Cae Bugail in Anglesey third. The Best Newcomer award went to Walnut Tree Farm in Norfolk.

What is a CL, you may be asking? It’s a minimal facilities place that’s limited to a maximum of five vehicles at a time, and authorised by the Club, which carries out regular inspections. They can be anything from a farmer’s field to grander affairs with hardstandings, mains electrics and more. Simple camping is the essence, though.

There’s a hitch, albeit a little one. You have to be a Caravan and Motorhome Club member to use its 2,000-plus CLs. Believe me, it’s a small price to pay.

Motorhome for me?Interior of the Swift Select 122

Swift Select 122 – a perfectly pitched van conversion

Are you looking for a six-metre long, two-berth, end lounge, Fiat Ducato-based van conversion? There’s no shortage of contenders for your £50,000-plus here. You’ll certainly want to put Swift’s Select 122 on your shortlist.

It is indeed a straight two-berth, with just the cab seats for travel and a rear lounge of two inward-facing settees, with kitchen and washroom midships. And Fiat’s latest, series 8 Ducato has plenty of upgrades to make it worth the leap.

There’s everything from the new 2.2-litre, 140bhp diesel engine to improved steering and gear change, and enhanced handling, to a much racier dashboard.

Also, Swift has never been afraid to turn on the style, complementing the new Lanzarote Grey paintwork with some nifty graphics, while inside it’s all very swish too, without feeling cramped.

The only factory-fit option is some £3,000 for automatic transmission. But that could be to your advantage in the current climate of a stuttering supply of new motorhomes. Your dealer will be in a better position to add specific extras to suit, either at the time of purchase or a future date.

Three good: Latest Ducato base ups its game, Swift clout and a user-friendly floorplan in a compact overall length
Two bad: Washroom misses a few tricks and dealer options only
Perfect for… Two, in search of a bit of style
Also consider: Auto-Sleeper Warwick Duo, Auto-Trail V-line 610 SE, Elddis Autoquest CV20 or Benimar 120