Monday, 10 September 2012

The Motorhome Show, Shepton Mallet

The internet is a wonderful thing when you are thinking of doing something you have never done before, such as buying a camper van. Buying a half-decent even small camper van requires the spending of a fair few thousands, so information is essential in reducing the chances of making a sorry mistake.

Many years ago we had a camper van, a conversion built on a Sherpa body, bought in haste, with all the consequences of buying in haste, including - in its later years - a pop-up roof which not only leaked buckets, but would pop-up whether you wanted it to or not if you exceeded about 40 mph. We still have fond memories of the fun we had, though.

Now we want to have more fun, but realise that £2,000 will not get you very much more than what is called a "project" requiring a total re-build.

Yes, the internet is a great starting point, but nothing beats actually being able to climb inside these things and have a good look. Last weekend was our chance. The Motorhome Show at the Royal Bath & West Showground at Shepton Mallet.

Arriving early, it took a while to get our bearings. The place was full of dealers selling motorhomes at breathtaking prices, and plenty of stalls selling every possible gadget for the motorhome or caravan owner. Our two particular "favourite" items were the miniature folding toilet brush and the astroturf and pot-plant, ready-made miniature garden. There were some possibly useful items, too, but not many for people who want to use a motorhome for travelling and seeing things rather than reproducing their suburban home on a campsite, complete with television, a garden and neighbours to compete with.

After about an hour, we actually did find a small motorhome which seemed to fit our essential specs: footprint about the size of an estate car, liveable layout, shower and toilet. And at a price we could afford. We didn't buy it on the spot. Never buy in haste, remember! But at least we discovered that such a thing existed, which was nice.

That job done, it was time to look around in wonder at those crazy American RVs parked up and inhabited by what we discovered was a community of people who showed every sign of political leanings which no doubt would engender in them some uncharitable views on "Gypsies" and "travellers". The pictures give perhaps some idea of both vehicles and inhabitants:

A very common sight was a collection of over-sized cuddly toys ranged behind the windscreens of these amazing vehicles, and, of course, the flags (Cornish flag in the picture above, for example).

At the end of the day (that's actually at the end of the day, not the cliche), we concluded that people who own motorhomes fall into two broad categories: the Way of Lifers and the more or less adventurous holidaymakers, who like a bit of spontaneity and flexibility and who like to leave home behind, not drag it all with them.

A final thought. Some things you Just Know. And one thing I just know is this: when it comes the time to empty the toilet cassette, it will be my job.

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