I have never motorhomed before. I’m not even sure if it’s a verb or not, really. Being a road tester for Practical Motorhome's sister magazines What Car? and Autocar, this is a whole new pop-up and fold-down world, and an exciting one at that.
Five nights and 400 miles later, we were still enjoying it. 'We' being me, my husband and our three-month old baby, and for the last night my in-laws, too.
Home is Camberley, and the ultimate destination for meeting up with our motorhome-owner brother was Symonds Yat East Riverside campsite, in the Wye Valley. We chose to break up the drive, so en route we spent a couple of nights at The Holford Arms campsite. It's near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, a convenient location with what looked to be an excellent pub on site.
The Bailey was faultless on the road, and since electrical hook-up is offered for £5 per night on top of the £10 per head charge, we had a fully functioning motorhome at our disposal. Something that we weren't entirely sure would be the case since we'd been warned that there was an issue with the leisure battery.
As such, the Bailey proved remarkably comfortable. We had enough space that the dining table could become an easy changing area and cot space for the baby, while we had the big double bed at the back. It felt almost verging on luxurious. The facilities at The Holford Arms were decent, too, not to mention a homely-feeling pub that served faultlessly friendly service and properly impressive food.
It was a great start, so it was on to Symonds Yat, a breathtakingly beautiful spot on the Monmouthshire border.
As the miles passed, some niggling irritations with the Bailey started to come to the fore. Why only one cupholder up front for use on the move? Why no facility to secure glasses or mugs in the cupboards? We were also facing two nights in a campsite without electricity points, and it turned out that 48 hours on charge hadn’t resuscitated the leisure battery, so we were without power.
Still, the aforementioned brother was on hand with a fully-functioning Roller Team, so most of the merriment took place there and our motorhome served as a bedroom – thankfully one that wasn't too cold thanks to the mild nights.
The Symonds Yat campsite – also £10 per per person per night – is pretty basic, but there are two hardstanding plots, toilets and showers, and some truly poetic scenery. Nothing disturbs you but the owls by night and the canoeists by day, so if it's peace and stunning walks or river trips you want, this is perfect.
The car parks and pubs do get busy at the weekends, though, so book in advance if you want to eat out. And on that note, try the Saracen's Head, which is hard to beat for great food with a view.
Finally, the journey home went without incident. Baby Florence was belted in securely (it seems odd that there are no Isofix fittings), and I didn't find the ’van hard to drive, other than needing to be very aware of the rear overhang. We even managed to park it no problem in Tetbury and Monmouth town centres.
The whole trip was great fun. And while the lack of power was at times a frustration, and a night spent four-up plus baby was a bit tight for space, it didn't dampen the simple joy of having a comfortable place to rest your head and cope with all the tribulations of life with an infant.
Overall, the Bailey was fun and comfortable, and enabled us to enjoy a spontaneous trip away that we would likely have dismissed as being too expensive if we'd gone down the hotel room route. That, I guess, is the real joy of a motorhome.