In a bid to extend the summer for as long as I possibly could after having cycled across Canada I recently borrowed an Alliance 59-2 motorhome from those lovely people over at Bailey of Bristol – support local 😉. In my three weeks of #vanlife I learnt a few little lessons that I thought may be useful to share for other people new to life on the road, vanlife and motorhomes in general! Here goes:
It’s easy. The hardest bit is deciding where to go but I ended up deciding that along the way anyway. Having owned a couple of VW vans I’m used to driving something bigger than a car, so I wasn’t too concerned about driving the moho along our lovely little roads. What I was worried about though – having had some ‘fun’ with aforementioned vans… – was what happens once you’re off the road and setting up ‘camp’. The sorcery that is; hooking up electric; leisure batteries; toilet cassettes; how the water gets from the tap on the site into my kettle (priorities); connecting the gas and other little things that, actually, are a piece of cake. I DID take a look at this page a few nights before picking up David (the Bailey) which put my mind at rest but it’s all v straightforward once you’re in.
Wildcamping is a joy. I love a sneaky bivvy. I love a hidden tent. And with the moho, now Chops 🐶 can join in the fun. Wildcamping in a moho isn’t quite as rustic (obviously) but there’s still that slight smugness with waking up to a great view in the middle of nowhere knowing no one’s close by. In the moho, getting up and out isn’t quite such a rushed affair and keeping warm isn’t an issue either, so get the kettle on and enjoy. There are also loads of great apps/sites to help find great wild spots too if that floats your boat.
Corkscrew. Bring a bloomin’ corkscrew. Now I was fine to not carry the extra weight (😉, once a cycle tourer always a cycle tourer) and rely on some quality screw tops, but friends that joined me obviously didn’t get that memo… Cue: much hilarity with trying to open a bottle of Chateauneuf du pape with a screw, a knife (don’t worry, that was quickly abandoned) and finally a wooden spoon. Btw, if you do forget/misplace the corkscrew – PUSH the cork in and keep a tea towel handy.
Unpack half your clothes. And repeat. You won’t need them, seriously. I’ve worn about a quarter of my #moho wardrobe and I thought I was being canny! Yep, I needed the all-weather gear (I wore the waterproof trousers I’ve not used in 2 years), sports clothes, cool stuff, warm stuff, comfy stuff etc. but I was surprised at how little that actually is…! I DID however wear ALL of the shoes I took and even wished I’d taken the road trainers too. Oh and I took little slippers, WIN. On a packing note, I should have been more reasonable in what I expected to do in the first week too… the paddleboard hogged all the (generous) shower space and we didn’t even get it out of the bag!
Get a bike rack. This is probably my only regret with the #moho. I wished I had a bike rack. I picked up my bike in the second week ready for adventures and for the next seven days it lived in its flight box ready for assembly – taking up precious space in front of the cooker. When I put it together in the third week it took up less space but was more difficult to move around and tended to move a bit when driving…! If you’ve got a bike, get a bike rack. End of.
Things come alive during a drive. Even after three weeks I still forgot this and when it comes to ‘making’ dinner an hour later am nearly taken out by Lloyd Grossman’s tomato sauce launching itself at my upturned, hungry face. Or at bedtime – when all is still and Wanda’s twitching with doggy dreams – often squealed at pillows jumping from the cupboard.
The water pump is very thirsty. Now I did have trouble with the water pump a couple of times (pressure switch which needed replacing and then the sensor) but on top of that realised that the pump is happiest when the water tank is half full. Just like me. I’m not always hungry, I just don’t like to be under half full. And there’s always room for another hobnob. Me, not the water tank.
You probably don’t need the factor 50 towards the end of September. Well, I didn’t anyway. I had great weather (especially the second week!) but let’s just say there was not much chance of sunburn…
Shakira is a great driving companion. As is Bruce. And Gaga. Now I love a road trip and also a singalong and so when the two come together in a heavenly mashup somewhere on a quiet road (that isn’t too narrow) in Devon I am a VERY happy (and loud) bunny/karaoke queen.
I LOVE it when people (ok, men, I mean men) assume I can’t park. Especially a 6 metre moho. No really I do. Because then I can be all nonchalant and cool when I nail a parallel park on a busy high street, leaving them dazed.
It’s a moho party out there – and we’re all invited!! I’ve had minis (proper and new), classic cars and VW campers and my right hand still twitches when I see any of them on the road. Turns out motorhomes wave at each other too!! And they’re not picky – Baileys, Hymers, Chaussons, Swifts, whatever, we’re all in the same luxury moho boat here, singing our hearts out to Shakira and loving the Moho life.
Things that I forgot/wish I’d taken: Microwaveable plate/dish/something. Corkscrew (see above). Downloaded TV stuff for those nights when you’ve read everything on your kindle.
David (the Bailey) is VERY easy to drive. As I mentioned above, I’m used to driving campers but I was still expecting to find the moho a bit cumbersome. I stand corrected! At 6 metres long it was still easy to manoeuvre and is only slightly wider (I have no idea how much…) than a van which meant that – until I got to Devon – the roads were FIIIIINE and dandy.
Devon has some very narrow roads. And some big old lorries use them at speed. There was quite a bit of sudden breathing in on approach 😉.
I was loaned the Motorhome by Bailey of Bristol for this post/review, but everything is just me, my thoughts and photos. They didn’t tie me to a chair and make me say anything nice, they just want the truth out there. They’re good like that.