We often say that when you are choosing a motorhome, you should consider its capabilities beyond touring – in other words, its performance as a day-to-day vehicle, perhaps with the ability to act as a load-lugger.
I had plenty of experience of the latter, when I combined a short break in our long-term loan Bailey Autograph 74-4 with a mission to collect my son’s stuff from his student digs in Bristol, because his time at university there has come to an end.
The mini-break proved to be as comfortable as all of the previous tours I have taken in this motorhome. I chose to spend a couple of nights at the best motorhome site in our Top 100 Sites Guide, Old Oaks Touring Park, near Glastonbury in Somerset, and a short walk to the famous Tor.
Unfortunately, my trip began inauspiciously, with a two-hour standstill on the M1, owing to one driver having a problem with their car.
Old Oaks asks guests to arrive by 6.30pm, but I knew that I was unlikely to make it to the site by 8.30pm; so after calling to let them know, I made an unplanned stopover near London, and then continued my journey the following day.
The site is located in a really idyllic spot, and immaculately kept. I got the feeling as I stepped into the smart reception area that this is a site that people come back to again and again – with good reason. Knowing a campsite like this is here might even persuade me to break my resolution and go (just the once) to the Glastonbury Festival.
The festival site, which was being set up while I was there, is a few miles down the road – perhaps walking distance, but certainly cycling distance.
A peaceful night’s sleep in your comfortable motorhome, with a cup of coffee in the morning from the site shop, has to be a million times better than a muddy night under some flimsy plastic!
Impressive when packing
So, what of the ’van’s other duties? Well, the sat nav is a standard automotive model, not designed specifically to take account of a motorhome’s larger dimensions – you can find ones that do in our best motorhome sat navs guide.
Bailey is by no means the only manufacturer to fit such devices, but it is sometimes easy to forget its limitations.
The route this sat nav planned into Bristol ended up taking me right over the top of the Mendip Hills, down some twisty and often single-track lanes. At one stage, I thought we were going to create gridlock, but in the end, I was impressed how the 7.37m-long vehicle – and its gearbox – managed to cope so well.
Parking the motorhome, even in the middle of Bristol, was no particular challenge, either. There’s a line of parking spaces along Hotwell Road, just down the hill from Clifton, where you can park even quite a large motorhome without having too much trouble.
We managed to pack in all the necessary items, with plenty of space still left over. Then, while I dropped my son off to catch his train at Temple Meads station, we took the vehicle right into Clifton proper and down Park Street, without any issues. But I did make sure I took the wider A37 on the way back to Old Oaks.
Opening the doors
Over the course of having this motorhome on loan, we have experienced a couple of minor teething troubles – with trying to open the fridge door, which is a bit sticky, and occasionally with opening the habitation door from the outside.
The door on the Dometic fridge in our Bailey is a design feature of that particular model, which means you have to open it at more or less 90 degrees. Or so Tony Goodley and Richard Whitesmith, from Dometic Outdoor, who we met at a later industry event, told us.
However, the problem with the vehicle’s habitation door was just a matter of a plate in the handle being slightly out of sync, they explained. And they were kind enough to repair that for us, there and then. Simple!
Bailey Autograph 74-4
- Price: £71,999 OTR
- Berths: 4
- Belts: 4
- Base vehicle: Peugeot Boxer/Al-Ko AMC
- Engine: 2.0-litre, 165bhp turbodiesel
- Length: 7.37m
- Width: 2.49m
- Height: 2.71m
- MTPLM: 3500kg
- Payload: 445kg
- Expenses: None
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