Simon MortimerSee other Blog articles filed in ‘A tour that changed my life’ written by Simon Mortimer
It was quite a surprise when gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg advised me on how best to negotiate the traffic jams clogging the centre of Rouen, but I had to hand it to the fellah, he knew his stuff! Within minutes we had found our way on to the E402 and resumed making good progress south towards our rendezvous with features editor Clare Kelly in the Loire Valley.
It wasn’t the real Snoop Dogg, of course. As far as I know, he doesn’t cruise the highways of France in a motorhome. No, for this trip I had borrowed my brother’s sat-nav in case of just such a traffic situation, and as I plugged the unit in, I found out that my big bro had played a little trick on me by changing the voice on the unit!
Until recently, my first love has always been for touring caravans, as I have worked on Practical Motorhome's sister title Practical Caravan for several years. However, when I was asked to drive a motorhome to our Reader Rally in Devon last year, I jumped at the chance to find out how the other half lives.
As much as I enjoy the freedom that caravans give you once you are pitched up on site (it’s so easy to take the car out on day trips, for example), I was completely won over to motorhomes when I discovered how much easier the journey to the West Country was.
First of all, the driving position gives a commanding view over the road, and the driver’s seat in a motorhome is more like an armchair! Second, the freedom to be able to pull over to the side of the road and not have to go outside just to make a cup of tea in the van was a true blessing – even more so when it was raining cats and dogs.
That very first trip convinced me that I wanted to tackle something a bit more adventurous, so when the opportunity came up to join Clare in France for a photo shoot, I enlisted staff writer Bryony Symes as co-driver and we headed across the English Channel.
Our Auto-Sleeper Symbol performed faultlessly throughout our tour of the picturesque Loire Valley. It was small enough to take everywhere we wanted to go and wherever we pointed our cameras we seemed to get excellent photographs of the bridges, châteaux and French countryside around us.
The only slight hiccup we encountered was that there was quite a long delay in Rouen. It turns out that one of the main bridges had been closed, and the day we drove through happened to coincide with a tall ships meeting.
Just as well we had Snoop Dogg and his impeccable knowledge of the Rouen's traffic routes to back us up!
Have you got a ‘tour that changed my life’ story to tell? Just write 500 words about how you discovered the freedom of motorhomes and email it to us with a couple of photos of you and your 'van on holiday. If the Editor likes your story we'll use it in a forthcoming edition of Practical Motorhome and on the website. We pay for the stories we publish.