Nick News, Spotlight

Nick’s News – Overnight parking in Northumberland, sleeping bags and the Knaus Südwind 580QS

Exterior of the Knaus Südwind 580QS

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

It’s turning out not to be a cheap one this week, or rather month. It’s MOT time plus, with nearly 90,000 miles on the clock now, my Volkswagen California campervan is due its next full service. Running a campervan, or indeed any motorhome or caravan, is never going to be cheap, but the travel memories I’ve built up over the years are worth an absolute fortune, if only to me.

In the news

Get an import – grab a great deal?

There’s some good news for bargain campervan hunters. JMT Leisure, a dealership that specialises in lower-priced pre-owned motorhomes, has announced a new project to retail campers based on vehicles imported from Japan.

It’s not a new idea, but I speak from experience when I tell you these vehicles can be absolute bargains. For some four years I owned a Toyota Granvia that was imported and converted by Wellhouse Leisure.

Yes, it was a bargain. Yes, it was a very well equipped base vehicle. And yes, it lived up to the Toyota name for reliability. It was a well-made conversion too and we had plenty of adventures together.

Back to the present day, and JMT Leisure, based near Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset, is using the services of a local campervan conversion specialist. It will be selling campers based on Toyota’s Alphard, which is the successor to the Granvia and altogether more sophisticated.

JMT’s boss Jeremy Bray told me: “Vehicles can be tailored to customers’ requests and we will offer a number of variations on finish. While the base vehicles are not new, the conversion is. They are very competitively priced and offer a very cost-effective alternative to your traditional VW and Transits.”

Prices will be around the £25,000 mark, with plans to introduce Toyota HiAce-based models at a later date.

Overnight for less – the Northumberland coastal way

It looks like motorhomes are going to be allowed to park up overnight for a small fee at selected car parks in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council has confirmed proposals to allow a limited number of vehicles with their own washrooms – specifically toilets – to stay overnight, using their own facilities, in the car parks near the beach at Beadnell, Amble Braid, and the main area opposite Bamburgh Castle.

It’s an encouraging move and will surely entice motorhome users to visit the area and – even more importantly for the local economy – spend a bit more time there. It does, of course, rely on folk acting responsibly and not dumping any waste inappropriately or making too much noise into the night.
The only question that remains it how much small fee will be? That’s still to be decided, as I write.

Caravan crush

Knaus Südwind 580QS – seven up?

It’s rare to find a true seven-berth touring caravan these days, let alone one that gives you so much luxury on a single axle. And yes, it does have a floorplan like no other, starting with a permanent French bed where nearly every other caravan on the market has its main lounge.

At the centre of the van is the kitchen and a U-shaped seating area, while at the back is a triple bunk bed arrangement, as well as a pretty spacious washroom. I told you it was different…

You’ll love the solid feel to the fixtures and fittings, complete with everything from the wider-than-average habitation door (although do note it’s on the UK offside) to the chunky furniture and equally solid mouldings. But you may not be quite so happy with the 1,900kg MTPLM (although this does seem to vary), nor the £40,000 price tag.

Three good: Multiple berths, quality build and it’s something different
Two bad: Pricey and hefty
Perfect for… Serious caravanning families
Also consider: Hobby Prestige 720UKFe

Gadget envy

A good night’s sleep – it’s in the bag

Sleeping bag or duvet? It’s a perennial question when it comes to bedtime preferences in your leisure vehicle. A for me, I use both. It’s typically a duvet when there’s two of us and just a sleeping bag when I’m on my own, although a fully-opened bag also makes for a very effective undersheet.

But who doesn’t sleep better in their leisure vehicle than at home? Mummy-shaped sleeping bags are certainly the cosiest, but they can feel a bit restrictive at times. Outwell says its latest Birch mummy-shaped bags – there are standard, Lux and Supreme variants – are wider and longer than most.

It also has an L-shaped two-way zip that means you can open from the bottom – to allow your feet to cool, for example – or you can even zip two together for a very upmarket duvet.

The Selk'bagOr maybe you prefer the idea of a sleeping bag you can wear? That’s the Selk’bag concept, making them great for sleeping in, as well as wearing when the weather takes a turn for the chill. There’s a range of unisex designs and colours here, plus options include removable booties.

If you do go for a sleeping bag, an additional liner is a great idea. Not only does it give you an extra layer of insulation, use one regularly and you only have to wash it rather than the whole bag. Look out for the Fleece Liner, Thermalon Insulating Liner or Silk Mix Liner or Poly Cotton Liner from Snugpak.