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.
Well, I’m not sure if many of us are going anywhere at the moment. The fuel crisis has taken hold and, frankly, it’s not looking great if you use a vehicle for leisure purposes, because there are more worthy causes out there.
Hopefully, soon after you read this things will show signs of starting to return to normal. If they don’t my advice is, if at all possible, to stay at home. At the very least, keep your leisure vehicle travel to a minimum.
Then again, I’m fully expecting the fuel shortage situation to be back to normal pretty soon.
In the news
No NEC shows? No bother
The lack of any of the leisure vehicle sector’s main shows at Birmingham’s NEC is causing, er, not much concern at all. In fact, a few manufacturers I’ve spoken to say they actually prefer to go down the alternative route of showing off their new-season vehicles via special events across their own dealer networks.
Indeed, more than one manufacturer has happily told me that its roadshows guarantee more sales and indeed, a better quality of sale than the pre-Covid bi-annual Birmingham bunfights.
The latest manufacturer to announce a series of special shows at its dealers is Bürstner. If you’re in the Portsmouth area this weekend (October 1st to 4th), check out the goings on at South Downs Motorhomes.
It’s operating a ticketing service whereby you can book a specific time slot online. Other Bürstner dealers are hosting similar events throughout October and beyond.
As ever, I do think the more casual nature of an open weekend, or similar, at a local dealership is a far better environment for you, the purchaser, than high-pressure surroundings where dealers are literally fighting each other for your leisure vehicle pounds just so that they can meet sales targets.
Anyway, here’s my not especially original solution to what I do see as an industry problem… by all means have showcase events to fly flags for the whole leisure vehicle sector, but that’s exactly what they should be: showcases, with no direct selling.
That way folk can go and find out more about the whole pastime. Leave the actual selling to events that individual manufacturers and dealers can lay on for themselves.
Have a Quiet time?
It might call itself The Quiet Site, but this open-all-year, carbon-neutral Lake District hideaway overlooking Ullswater rightly makes lots of noise about its environmental credentials.
On its list of reasons to stay here, it offers up: a clutch of top environmental awards, a zero-waste shop, 60kW of solar panels, a ground source heat pump, 300 beech trees planted this year, and a reed bed water treatment plant that’s now in its 14th year… the list really does go on and on.
I’ve been there on a few occasions and loved it every time. There’s even a brilliant bar here, which of course serves local ales. Somewhat modestly, it calls itself one of the most sustainable campsites in the UK. I think it’s the top one, but you might know better…
Campervan quandary – quality concerns
With demand for campervans seemingly unquenchable, it’s time for a rain check. Estimates are there could be as many as 2,000 companies out there claiming to be campervan specialists and, as you can probably guess, it’s the inconsistent quality of work that’s causing concern, particularly over matters of safety.
Another estimate is as many as 10,000 campervan conversions have been produced over the past year alone, which could only qualify as “dodgy”.
That’s because there’s little in the way of standards when it comes to cutting holes in a vehicle that was initially registered as a van and adding electrical, gas and water systems, as well as safely installed seating, furniture and ventilation.
What’s the future? Some kind of association of campervan converters, or similar, whereby some standards can be applied across the board seems logical. Specialist insurance companies could help by insisting certain safety standards are met too.
If you are buying a campervan of little-known provenance, do check as a minimum it’s registered as a motor caravan with the DVLA and comes with certificates to prove the safety of the gas and electrical installations, plus any rear seating, if it’s designed for travel.
It’s great if it’s all certified by UK trade body the National Caravan Council (NCC), as well as having appropriate Type Approval. At the same time, do check out the manufacturing qualifications of anyone you’re tempted to ask to do any work for you.
Motorhome for me
Hymer Grand Canyon S CrossOver – let’s go off-road
If I was going to take a proper motorhome off-road; if I was really determined to head off into the wilds; if I had the budget; if I didn’t care about looks… I’d pick a Hymer Grand Canyon S Cross.
Prices may start at just under £100,000 for this outrageous model from Hymer, but you’ll soon find yourself paying anything up to ten per cent more to get the spec you want. Because I’m assuming anyone who buys one of these really wants to be… out there.
It’s a four-wheel drive, with suspension lift and all-terrain tyres, hence the appearance of being on stilts. One thing’s for sure – Hymer’s conversion work is unlikely to be shaken to bits by the more adventurous approach this kind of vehicle is asking for.
Plus, Hymer says the specification is such you can go self-sufficient for anything up to ten days. Just don’t ask how they came to that conclusion, especially with a 90-litre fridge and a 100-litre fresh water tank. I’m joking!
Three good: Mercedes and Hymer combination, genuine off-road capabilities, and something different
Two bad: Price and appearance
Perfect for… Heading into the wilds
Also consider: A Land Rover and a sleeping bag