Nick News, Spotlight

Nick’s News – Salop Leisure’s extension, The Caravan Handbook and Bilbo’s Celex

Bilbo's Celex parked up

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

What’s the biggest issue regarding taking the campervan over to the Netherlands and then across Germany at the end of this week? It’s the worry over whether we’re all sorted as far as Covid regulations are concerned.

I’ve been following all the updates from our own government as well as the Dutch and Germans, but there’s always that nagging feeling that I’ve missed something. Or I’m going to get caught out by a sudden change in policy.

And the only way I’ll really find out for sure is at the actual borders, which is why, two days before departure, I keep checking and double-checking. Still, it’s our first venture abroad in two years. I just hope we make it!

In the news

Salop Leisure’s ambitious plans

What’s the UK’s most impressive leisure vehicle dealership? It simply has to be Salop Leisure, whose premises on the outskirts of Shrewsbury just seem to grow and grow.

Its café alone is bigger than the showrooms at most places, plus it is has Love2Stay, the award-winning camping and glamping site it developed some four years ago, as part of the complex.

The big news is there’s another site in the offing, just along the road. Salop has embarked on ambitious plans to adapt a nearby fishery into a campsite, compete with fishing, of course.

It’s called Spring Lea Park and the plan is for 20 touring pitches, some hire activity and 40 or so caravan holiday homes, some of which is already in place, but all to be completed next summer. That’s quick work. Watch this space

Go buy the bookThe Caravan Handbook

If you’re going to buy one book to enhance your enjoyment of caravanning and understand the many workings of the caravan itself, make it this one. That’s The Caravan Handbook, by Sammy Faircloth.

Self-published earlier this year, it’s on sale for £15.99 via Amazon, eBay and – if you prefer to deal with an independent organisation – the Alan Rogers Travel website.

It’s also available as an eBook on Google Play and iBooks. The price is £15.99 but you’ll easily recoup that in terms of the advice it gives on everything from maintenance to storage, winterising, towing and more.

Do I really need to hint it’s the ideal Christmas present for the caravanner (newcomer or old-hand) in your life?

Don’t stop now?

It’s October, so it must be… National Tyre Safety Month. As the weather changes and we start making our way into winter, it’s a good time for reminders to check our tyres regularly. Or even consider switching to winter tyres.

You probably know all the usual stuff: under-inflated tyres wear out more quickly, properly maintained tyres can actually save you money, defective tyres are a danger to yourself as well as others, but there’s still no excuse for not checking regularly.

TyreSafe, the organisation behind it all, is a charity set up to raise awareness of the importance of regular tyre maintenance. Even visual checks of your tyres – including the sidewalls, especially if it’s a caravan or motorhome that’s been sat for long periods – could help prevent something more serious happening.

I checked mine at the weekend and discovered a single dust cap was missing. How annoying is that?!

Motorhome for me?The interior of Bilbo's Celex

Bilbo’s Celex – why the stretch is worth it

I’m very impressed by the Celex campervan from Bilbo’s. The standard version is good, but the long-wheelbase variant is far, far better. There’s only a 40cm length difference, but that’s huge when it comes to campervans.

Hence the otherwise standard side furniture/rear bench seat/double bed benefits from extra floorspace, more permanent kitchen worktop and a shelved cupboard unit. Believe me, that adds up to a lot in a VW-based camper. Bilbo’s really does put practicality to the fore, making its own furniture with an easy-wipe finish, as well as its own design, safety-tested rear seat and elevating roof.

Behind all this, though, is an independent manufacturer that really does go about things in the right way, with its ISO 9001 manufacturer accreditation, GB National Smaller Series Type Approval, UK trade body the National Caravan Council approval and now part of a very small band of converters that are in Volkswagen’s Motorhome Qualification Scheme.

Three good: Long-wheelbase means more space, Bilbo’s practicality/quality/heritage, plus background qualifications
Two bad: It can get a bit pricey and can appear basic
Perfect for… If you want a VW-plus campervan!
Also consider: Hillside Birchover Classic LWB, Jerba Cromarty or Rolling Homes Columbus S