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Test Run - July 2017

August 9, 2017

Try before you buy seemed to us to be the obvious thing to do before lashing out hard earned cash on a motorhome as we didn’t want to rush headlong into the purchase only to find we really didn’t like it!

After doing some basic research we narrowed down the type of home we wanted (fixed bed, four berth, etc.) and then set about finding one we could hire that was similar.  As luck would have it, we found a company with an Elddis Impressa 155 almost on our door step and did the deal.

On the day of the pick -up Mike at BTL Rentals took us through the basics and we were on the road in just under an hour.  Driving a 7.1m vehicle was fine, just like driving a large van, and the manoeuvrability was a pleasant surprise at just how easy it was.

Our first stop was our drive, where we immediately discovered that, although it fitted on, it was a bit of a lump and certainly an attraction to all passers-by!  In one conversation with our neighbours they told of us of a caravan storage facility in the next village and within day I had booked a provisional place for the planned motorhome as it was clear the drive was not going to work for either aesthetic or security reasons.

Next day saw us head off to Thetford in Norfolk for our first ever overnight stop at Puddledock Farm.   Considering our experience levels at this point were zero we found the whole set up process easy and completed in about half an hour.  We had chosen a hard stand pitch with electric hook-up so didn’t feel the need to level the home as it was level enough to use.

If you like walking in woods then this campsite is for you as Thetford Forest is just thorough a gate in the fence!   Toilet and shower facilities here were good – which was another pleasant surprise as I had imagined the worst – although the site shop catered for the essentials only.

Departure the next morning was just as straightforward but it was then that we made our first big rookie mistake!  Using Doris, our sat nav, we selected a route and set of in sheer ignorance of what was to come!  Doris had been programme to find the fastest route for a car and doesn’t have a function to select a route for larger vehicles.  Consequently, we soon found ourselves driving down a B road that was getting narrower and narrower by the mile, and at one point found ourselves driving through the centre of a small town in what seemed to be a pedestrian area; it wasn’t but it felt like it!  At times, the road was so narrow we had only an inch or so either side of the vehicle to squeeze down.  Being our first time, it probably felt worse than it was but had we encountered any low bridges this tale could have been even more interesting to tell!  Note to all, get a sav nav you can programme for larger vehicles!

Arrival at our main stop, the West Runton Caravan and Camping site, was down an interestingly narrow lane with lots of overhanging branches but by now we had mastered the ‘driving down small roads malarkey’!

Setting up here was a little more involved as we had opted for a grass pitch with a hook-up (so as to compare the two types of pitch) so we had to level the vehicle – which once again we accomplished without incident.  We were joined by our best friends in their monster long new 6 berth caravan and had a fabulous few days in glorious British weather – wall to wall sunshine! 

West Runton is an ideal spot to explore the coast between Cromer and Sheringham, from where you can ride on the North Norfolk Poppy Line steam train - highly recommended.

The site was great, with excellent shower and toilet facilities, although the shop was again limited in what it offered.  There is a very well stocked caravan and camping store in West Runton which was handy for our friends as stuff on their new van seemed to be a tad fragile!

Overall, we learnt an enormous amount about life in a motorhome during the trip and returned one hundred percent agreed this was what we wanted to more of in our impending retirement. If you are thinking of getting your first motorhome then trialling this way huge sense as it informs your decision on what you want, from size of water tanks to size of fridge!

On balance, the week we spent was one of the most relaxing holidays I have ever been on – and we have been on some holidays in our time believe me!

Stats: 

Total distance travelled: 186 (split into one hour or c45 mile sections)

Cost per night:  Between £19 and £21

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