This summer our family experienced its first crack at a ‘drive-and-arrive’ holiday. Thus our week’s trip to Cornwall in Practical Motorhome’s resident Bailey Approach Advance 665 was infused with the spirit of adventure even before the off.
The rig had spent the previous week on a photoshoot that included a beach, so as to make it feel like home, all four of us got to work on making it shipshape in time for the long haul down to the north Cornish coast.
It quickly began to feel like home. Such was the level of excitement, we were hard-pushed to convince the children that they must sleep in the house until we left!
Packing for every eventuality, a pastime my wife pursues with vigour, preceded the first positive tick in the book. However hard she tried, we still had space to spare… The very antithesis of the archetypal EasyJet experience.
The large, premium-feel rear lounge was to prove both spacious for living in as well as handy for holding gear when travelling. It even provided a very useful panic room from the over-tired, turbo-charged children in the evenings.
Hitting the road
The journey down from Kent was broken up by a short stay at my father’s house in Dorset. This was an opportunity to test the Bailey's full capacity on a drive one afternoon to Poole with six of us all comfortably stationed within the travel seats.
The running noise, one of the very few downsides of the ’van, ensured I missed out each time the wine gums were passed around, but at least I got to see the Red Arrows on display across the coast at nearby Bournemouth.
It was during this ‘pitstop’ we discovered the leisure battery wasn’t charging. Despite a valiant engineer making the voyage down from Hull overnight, it stubbornly refused to grasp onto life. This wasn't a massive problem, though, because Hendra Holiday Park was our destination, and we had a luxury pitch with water and a mains hook-up.
Once on site, the Bailey took on a whole new persona. I found myself falling slowly in love with both it and the experience.
Enough space for you to have, well, space, but snug enough to feel close to the family, the Bailey Approach Advance 665 provided for a fulfilling bonding experience.
The dinette easily coped with the carnage of breakfast, lunch and on one occasion tea, and then transformed to my son Finn’s delight into a bunk bed which dropped down from the ceiling. I was less chuffed to discover it needed a hand on the way back up (a legacy of the mortally wounded battery).
Transforming the Bailey into a sleeping station was considerably easier then getting out of bed – which we found to be comfortable and warm. But we learned very quickly that in order to function without family dispute, the ’van needed to be tidied back into a living station during daytime.
We chose Hendra for its five-star, family feel and it was excellent – sort of like Centre Parcs without the mud and nosey deer. The facilities were excellent, with two huge swimming pools, a bar (essential), three on-site restaurants and even a charging station for hybrid vehicles. And the interlinking roads also doubled as an excellent race track for the dozens of be-scootered children who charged up and down them with abandon. I have no frame of reference, but it seemed to me that this was a fantastic caravan park, and those who I asked on site agreed.
We took a car along because Practical Motorhome's Group Editor Alastair Clements had raised an eyebrow at my confident swagger on the subject of country lanes around the stunning beaches of Mawgan Porth and Padstow.
But he needn’t have worried! The ’van handled the roads with ease. Although above 55mph it did tend to feel a little ‘floaty’ (on the motorway).
The whole experience delighted us, and we were sad to make the voyage home at the end of the week. Although I think the Bailey might have had enough of us – the centre light crashed down from the ceiling on the A303!