sites in Forestry Commission Estates can now be booked online via the new Camping in the Forest website:
www.campingintheforest.co.uk. It’s a partnership with the C&CC. Alternatively, call .
GENTLEMAN JACK BANCROFT is a motorhome enthusiast. His family has been camping and motorcaravanning since . Jack and his wife Flora are on their th motorhome, a Autocruise Wandsworth, based on a Peugeot Boxer
ADVICE NEEDED FOR EAGER FIRST TIMERS We are looking for a four-berth motorhome. We would like to pay between £20,000£25,000, with a little in reserve just in case. It would live on our drive, which measures 7 x 2.7m, and there are no height restrictions. We also need a washroom with a loo and shower.
I have category C1 entitlement on my driving license and we are both under 70 so we can happily drive ’vans over 3500kg.
Also, I know it’s like asking how long a bit of string is, but if you could give me a rough idea of running costs, too, that would be a big help. Reg Enderby, via email Jack replies All of the ’vans listed (above right) are British-built and will have turbodiesel engines, power-assisted steering, V leisure battery (which powers the interior lights and water pump), plus a facility to hook-up to the mains, as standard. Cooking, spaceand water-heating will be powered by gas which is bought on a cylinderexchange scheme.
buy you a low mileage model in mint condition.
■ Elddis Autoquest (Peugeot Boxer) ■ Compass Avantgarde (Peugeot Boxer) ■ Swift Sundance RS (Fiat Ducato) ■ 6 Bessacarr E (Fiat Ducato) ■ Ace Milano (Fiat Ducato) ■ Auto-Sleeper Pollensa (Peugeot Boxer or Ford Transit).
We all known times are tough at the moment so negotiate hard and don’t pay the windscreen price. Spend time looking on various dealers’ websites so you will be able to judge if a particular ’van is sensibly priced.
The Ace Milano would match all of Reg Enderby’s touring needs
Accessories that many find useful are a wind-out awning, a bike rack, and intruder alarm systems such as Strikeback or Growler from Van Bitz (www. vanbitz.com). With luck the previous owner will have fitted some or all of these.
I don’t know if you intend partexchanging a car, but assuming you’re not going to, then insist on a discount on the retail price. This may be in the form of a reduction
An Ace Milano would make a good starter ’van for Reg Enderby
These models have everything on your wish list and , , will of the price paid or in the form of accessories fitted. With regards to running costs, here are some very approximate running costs for the size of motorhome I’ve recommended. • A road fund licence cost for months on my AutoSleeper Pollensa in . • Insurance cost per year. This was comprehensive cover, with several named drivers. Use a specialist insurance company such as Caravan Guard (www.caravanguard.co.uk) to get the best deals. • Servicing will cost about per year for both the mechanics and the habitation area. • Start-up costs When it comes to bedding, pots and pans, cutlery and crockery, glasses and the like, I always recommend that newbies take the kitchen stuff from home to begin with and then with experience they will know exactly what to buy. For example, we favour melamine camping crockery but don’t like drinking out of plastic wine glasses. We find nesting saucepans save a lot of storage space and so on.
See if you can get a gas cylinder, hook-up lead and a pair of levelling ramps included in the sale. On the plus side, yearly depreciation on a motorhome (and especially on those I’ve listed) is far lower than on a car or a caravan. I always buy preowned and avoid the initial (heavier) first year’s depreciation and paying a large chunk of VAT (currently %) to the taxman.
If you have further queries on any motorhome-related topic, feel free to write in again. In the meantime, reading Practical Motorhome regularly will give you lots of tips and hints. We’re all enthusiastic motorcaravanners!
YOUR HOME IS WHERE YOU PARK IT I plan to live in a motorhome, touring the UK on a long-term basis. Is this okay and is there any advice you can give me? JC002d, via email Jack replies It can be the
14 | July 2012 | www.practicalmotorhome.com Visit our archive of Gentleman Jack’s answers to the questions he receives most regularly at our website. Go to www.practicalmotorhome.com, then click on the Blogs tab to find everything from towing dos and don’ts, to full-timing advice.
TALK experience of a lifetime; so good in fact, that it’s common for people to stay away for much longer than first planned.
a ‘permanent’ address (family or friends?). At that address you can be registered at a local doctor, receive mail and so on.
You haven’t provided me with your age, gender, or any of your personal circumstances, so what follows is very general advice: What you intend to do is called ‘full-timing’ and is quite different to those who spend a few months at a stretch away. This is called ‘long-terming’. If you have a fixed sum of money to spend, the more you spend on the motorhome, the less you’ll have available for touring. Our personal recommendation, based on experience, is to not give up a permanent residence until you’ve been full-timing for at least two years. However, if you are an owner-occupier this doesn’t mean you can’t use the equity in your property to finance the exercise. Re-mortgages have dried up so we advise doing what we did, which was to buy a smaller property in a cheaper area ( miles away in our case) and use the difference to finance the trip. While we were away we let out the property and this gave us an additional income and also serviced the mortgage. When we wished to give up the nomadic lifestyle, we had somewhere to come back to as well. If you don’t own a property, or choose not to keep your property, it will be much easier if you have
A relative agreed to do this for us and she also dealt with our mail, paid bills and the like. It is ridiculous in the age of electronic communication, but insurance companies frequently won’t insure you unless they have ‘an address’ to send some completely unnecessary piece of paper to. Do not spend a lot of money on a motorhome until you know exactly what you want. If you already own a ’van, start the tour in that. If not, buy a cheapie until you’ve experienced living in one. If you are travelling with a partner or friend, the most important thing is neither the accommodation nor your itinerary: it’s your relationship with each other. You will need at least a day apart per week and you’ll have to learn to communicate effectively. It is difficult to sustain the holiday spirit for much longer than three months. That idyllic Scottish beach may not look so appealing on a wet Thursday
MOBILITY SPECIAL Later in the year we shall have another Ask Jack special. This time we will be bundling together all your mobility queries. So if, for example, you’ve wondered about VAT exemption, or how to get a wheelchair user aboard, or if you need advice on modifying your existing motorhome, contact Jack. As always, every query will get a personal reply, even if it is a duplicate or if pressures on space are likely to prevent publication.
Make sure your ’van is fitted with an up to date fire extinguisher and a fire blanket in case of an emergency afternoon in February. Many full-timers in the UK migrate in the winter to sites in or close to urban areas. Consider vehicle security and also whether you need a bank safety deposit box to keep items of monetary value or emotional significance. Do your research. Buy a copy of Go Motorhoming by Chris Doree and Meli George. It’s a great primer and an invaluable source of reference, plus it’s written by experienced practising motorcaravanners. See www. vicariousbooks.co.uk for details. Just go for it! I’ve never met any former full-timer who has regretted the experience, even those who decided it wasn’t for them and gave up after a couple of months.
HOW DO I KEEP MY ’VAN SAFE FROM FIRE? We’ve just bought a Talbot Swift Capri Royale 540 and I was wondering where we should install the fire safety equipment. Presently, there is an ancient fireextinguisher clipped into the tall cupboard at the side of the cooker and it would involve gymnastics to get it out if it was urgently needed. Karen Booth, via email Jack replies It depends on whom you ask. The last time I checked, the suggested location for a fire extinguisher on an end-kitchen ’van such as yours was by the caravan entrance door. A fire blanket should also be kept just inside the driver’s cab door, where it can be easily reached both through the door aperture and from the interior.
The extinguisher should be in date and the gauge on the top must be in the green area. It should be mounted where it can be easily grabbed, certainly not in an awkward-to-reach cupboard.
However, I’d be tempted to transpose the recommended positions, as I feel that a blanket would be of more use in a kitchen fire and an extinguisher more use with an under-the-bonnet fire. My own opinion is that the most important thing is to get everyone safely out of the ’van and a safe distance away before calling the emergency services, alerting the campsite staff and warning neighbours. Then you can assess whether it is safe to commence fighting the fire. ’Vans are replaceable, people are not.
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Ask Jack is for general motorcaravanning queries. For specific or complex technical advice, email email@example.com www.practicalmotorhome.com | July 2012 | 15