Mike Le Caplain

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Come behind the scenes on a recent Practical Motorhome photoshoot with Test Editor Mike Le Caplain – as they say, every picture has a story to tell

Here at Practical Motorhome, we put an awful lot of effort into making our cover photography as good as it possibly can be. But just occasionally fate conspires to throw a jumbo-sized torque wrench into the works.

In theory, putting a new motorhome through its paces should be pretty straightforward: find a test vehicle, sort a location, pack your notebook, camera and overnight bag, and do some testing. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? And more often than not, it really is. But occasionally, things don’t go entirely to plan and force you to think extremely quickly on your feet.

Because, while temperamental weather and sheer rotten luck may come and go, the show must go on. And here’s a very timely example of the often fraught stories that lurk behind all those peaceful-looking photos.

If you’ve got hold of your copy of the December 2014 issue of Practical Motorhome magazine, then you’ll already have had a taste of ace snapper Bob Atkins’ epic photography, both on the cover and inside the magazine. Our chosen location, Bamburgh Castle, was an obvious place to visit in keeping with our film and TV location feature, and having photographed another motorhome here in the past, we knew we could get the shot we needed.

Unfortunately, no one had bothered to tell Mother Nature that we were visiting the area. Having collected our (excellent) Swift Escape 696 from the factory, it was a four-hour haul up to my overnight stop at the River Breamish Caravan Club site in deepest Northumberland, and there was no getting around it: the weather was getting worse with every passing mile.

Following a stormy night’s sleep, our final 40-minute drive to Bamburgh, the following morning, was marked with howling winds, driving rain and – briefly – the most incredible rainbow I’ve ever seen. It was all very spectacular, especially set against the naturally dramatic coastline thereabouts, but not exactly conducive to photography.

We pressed on regardless, and found the squirrelly little coastal road we were looking for with suspicious ease. Unfortunately, as it turned out, so had the BBC. An enormous filming unit had chosen the very same day to begin filming a new TV series. And just about every car park, layby and turning point in the immediate vicinity was filled by a bewildering array of cars, trucks, minibuses and catering units. Worse still, those that weren’t occupied were neatly cordoned off.

Rather inconveniently, we only realized all this after we’d committed ourselves to what turned out to be a dead-end road. And while the Swift Escape 696 is no oversized Winnebago, it’s not exactly a Wheelhome Skamper either. Squeezing through the serried ranks of double-parked lorries, then, was rather, erm, focusing.

One rather nerve-wracking eight-point turn in a crowded golf course car park later, and we were back on course. With a convenient layby surreptitiously reclaimed from Aunty Beeb, we rattled through what must surely rank as the fastest (and certainly windiest) cover photoshoot in living memory, before making good our (no pun intended) escape.

Thankfully, the sun broke through an hour or so later!

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