Dad’s birthday, which we usually celebrate with him, is in October. When Dad announced he would be spending his birthday in the USA it slowly dawned on us that this year we could go to the Ball, well the October Motorhome and Caravan show at the NEC anyway.
5.30am is an unrecognised time in our household but with Twitter chums to meet and caravans to see we practically leapt out of bed. A slight exaggeration perhaps but we arose with slightly more enthusiasm than usual. We have been caravanning for three years and still get ridiculously excited at the prospect of a caravan show.
As is customary we had an unplanned tour of the Warwickshire countryside en route but were soon back on track. A hearty breakfast with aforementioned Twitter chums set us up for the day. We said our goodbyes and prepared ourselves for the job in hand. We joined a large but good-natured queue and planned our route to our first target, Trip Buddy.
We were immediately smitten by Trip Buddy’s funky, original appearance and were over the moon when the red cordon was removed and we were invited inside. Wow! The leather seating, faux leather ceiling and mood lighting shrieked luxury whilst the lack of overhead lockers gave an overwhelming sense of space. Clever use of the interior to facilitate a full wet room was particularly impressive. The rear door forms an integral awning onto which two additional double bedroom areas can be added. Leaving the door open at night means zipping oneself into Trip Buddy; we would prefer more security. Those with generous behinds and/or back trouble (I have both) may find the seats of insufficient depth. All in all a great challenge to the traditional white box.
We were pleased to see Dub Box drawing a crowd. Based on the instantly recognisable VW camper design, in amazing colours, this caravan is another challenger to the white box brigade. It was here that I nearly succumbed to my first purchase. No, not a caravan, but a collapsible silicon pan which would complement my collapsible silicon kettle beautifully. Shockingly I found the willpower to walk away.
Our own white box, Cleo, was born in 1993 and is a French folding caravan with basic but comfortable accommodation. As a result our own interest lies in the cute and quirky of the caravan world. We were therefore drawn towards Opus; a folding camper with a light and luxurious feel which folds down to become a camping unit capable of transporting bikes and kayaks on top. At the other end of the scale Calder Leisure’s Eco-Lite 5th wheeler was the centre of much attention but we chose to admire from a distance and continue our search for more modest ‘vans.
We fell in love with the Venus range when it was originally launched. The object of our desire was the tiny 322 with an MTPLM of 905kg; well within the pulling power of our Peugeot Partner. We entered excitedly and once again fell for this divine little Goddess of Beauty and Love.
The name Gobur is synonymous with folding caravans; a brilliant concept for overcoming anxieties associated with storing and towing a fixed side van. Gobur caters for more traditional tastes in decor. I personally would like to see more vibrant options available.
We spent considerable time in the Holt Kamper at a previous show but couldn’t fail to admire the Dutch trailer tent’s sexy, curvy shape as we walked by.
As one would expect Bailey had a significant presence. We were ushered into a Unicorn Seville. The light from the huge front window was impressive and the lounge comfortable. Our poor Peugeot would cough and splutter if we asked her to tow it though.
We ambled past the Bessacarrs but the beautiful high-end caravans held little interest for us; overweight and over-budget!
By this point we were caravanned out. Shopping always lifts a girl’s spirits so we sought out the Duvalay stand and purchased two storage bags for our much loved Duvalays; ingenious cosy sleeping bags incorporating a memory foam base.
Having had a quick look at the offerings from Swift, lunch was in order. A hasty over-priced snack later and we were ready for round two. The halls were heaving and our feet ached but we were determined to view as much as possible.
Freedom had two dinky caravans on display. We were smitten with these little cuties and would give them serious consideration if we were newbies to caravanning.
Our next stop was the Airstream stand with its iconic silver beauties and the gorgeous little T@b. Quality was obviously the theme now and we headed off to the AS caravan stand. We were particularly attracted to Kensington and Mayfair. Washrooms with glass basins and huge showers were truly fabulous but we remain unconvinced by the inclusion of a hair dryer resembling the ineffective affairs found in some hotels.
I was very lucky to win show tickets from Eterniti and after all the hype and Twitter chat we were intrigued to see the product in the flesh. The caravans, with their slide-outs, resembled beautiful apartments on wheels. We were delighted to observe Eterniti’s popularity but the crowds rendered it impossible to spend as much time scrutinising the new kid on the block as we would have liked.
We finished the day with another cutesy favourite; Elddis Xplore 302. This dinky little caravan is small but perfectly formed with a wonderfully comfortable L-shaped lounge. At only 4.9m long with an MTPLM of 935kg it is a serious contender as our next caravan.
We left the show five minutes before its closure at 6pm. We were footsore and exhausted. We were also happy and content. Would we do it all again? You bet we would! Now Dad where would you like to spend your birthday next year…….? How about the NEC?!
22 October 2012
Photos courtesy of Allison Regan