Nick’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 Motorhome Week
Look, no motorhomes! It’s a bit different, but my latest trip away was to the tiny Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel for a short stay in a disused lighthouse. Bad weather saw two nights turn into three, then switch from a ferry to helicopter on the return leg, which put paid to a visit to Stowford Farm Meadows campsite near Ilfracombe in North Devon.
Hey ho. It was, er, interesting and, to be honest, yet another reminder of how cost-friendly and flexible a leisure vehicle trip can be. Lundy was lovely with its seclusion and ‘away from it all’ vibe, but it’s back to campsites for me now.
In the news
Cookie cutter campsites? Me neither
The latest news from France’s prestigious chain, operating under the Les Castels banner, stresses they’re not “cookie cutter campsites”. Not a phrase I’ve heard of, but I sought answers and was given the following explanation:
“Cookie cutter sites mean places that are all chips off the same block – formulaic and all the same – so it can apply to hotels, or anything really! Ibis and Novotel would be good examples in the hotel business.”
I get it now. And how apt in respect of Les Castels, whose 25 top-drawer, independently owned sites – often in the grounds of a chateau, or similar – really do offer something above the norm. Indeed, the introduction this year of the Castels Suite concept – pitches that are already reckoned to be some 15 per cent larger than rival offerings, but with their own amenities blocks adjacent (yes, your own shower and toilet) – takes social distancing to appropriate new levels.
It’s not a completely new idea, as I do remember staying on a site in the Netherlands providing the very same facility, over a decade ago now.
Campervans – the revolution continues
Do you need further proof that campervans continue to increase and increase in popularity? Revolution Campervans, which would readily admit is hardly up there amongst the real big players (yet) has announced it’s spent some £1m on new factory premises, capable of producing up to 500 campers a year. What’s different here is the company says it’s happy for folk to come along and see how its campervans are made. So, if you’re anywhere near the Oundle Marina at Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, you might just want to go there and find out more for yourselves.
Motorhome for me
Bailey Adamo 69-4 – first of three
I’m rather impressed by Bailey’s approach (pun intended) when it comes to its Ford-based coachbuilt trio under the Adamo name. The floorplans are just a bit different (more continental, says Bailey) and it’s a notable move away from the Peugeot/Al-Ko chassised vehicles Bailey has served up to us to date.
Of the initial Adamos, it’s the 69-4 that’s proving most popular in terms of sales. Effectively a four-berth, thanks to an electric drop-down bed over the lounge, which itself can also be converted to a double, the clever stuff also includes individual travel seats that fold out from each settee base when you want to take a full complement of four on tour.
I say effectively, but I’d have to argue it’s far more comfortable as a two-person motorhome – especially as the kitchen, full-width washroom and extensive shelved wardrobe at the very back, set over a decent garage space – really do help it add up to a formidable motorhome.
And that four-berth capability comes at a cost – the rear travel seats take up a lot of useful space that would otherwise be given over to storage. The easy-driving Ford Transit base – complete with smooth-shifting automatic transmission as standard – does help complete a good, all-round package, though.
Three good: Four-berth capability, well specced Ford base and drop-down bed
Two bad: Rear seat travel is not the best and the table could be sturdier
Perfect for… Couples!
Also consider: Benimar Tessoro 483 or Chausson 640
Multi-tools – they’re magic
Why carry a payload-grabbing, space-thieving toolkit when you can have a multi-tool? Leaving aside the argument that having both would be best of all, there’s so much to be said for a multi-tool – those handy items not much larger than a penknife but offering so much more in terms of fittings.
Few would argue against Leatherman as the top name in multi-tools (well, it was the originator of such products). It’s added to an already extensive portfolio with the all-stainless steel, 6.6cm-long Bond – possessing 14 features (a mix of the usual screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, strippers, openers and more), all backed by the usual 25-year warranty.
Better still, the main blade is short enough that the Bond can be with you at all times without fear of falling foul of the law governing the carrying of knives. There are plenty of other ‘names’ to look out for here – Gerber, Stanley, Skeletool, SOG, Victorinox… it’s a long list.
Just don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve got a real bargain with some low-priced unknown. You really do get what you pay for here.