Our columnist’s musings about touring
THE SAGA OF our caravan purchase continues. If you remember, last month we had a near miss with a secondhand caravan scam, which could have resulted in our hard-earned money supporting the GDP of some far-flung despotic regime. Instead, we settled on the comfortable familiarity and professionalism of Raymond James Caravans near Coventry, who, last time I wrote, were in the process of preparing us a rather lovely Elddis Avanté, which had passed the rigorous suitability requirements of the entire family. Who would have thought that guinea pigs would exhibit such a keen sense of interior design and dogs could dictate the number of axles from a stability perspective? But everyone chipped in, and our new six-berth was now undergoing the spit, polish and elbow grease of a thorough servicing and valeting, prior to our collection. Then came the telephone call. “There’s a bit of a problem with part of the roof,” said the lovely Bill. “It hasn’t passed our rigorous testing criteria and so it’s in the workshop being stripped back. “We understand if you want to go for another caravan instead, but it will be rectified to better-than-new standards.” And herein lies another cautionary tale, and an additional reason why buying a secondhand caravan from a reputable dealer is really worth any extra you might pay over a private sale. Not only had Bill’s team discovered something that I probably wouldn’t have noticed, they were also doing an absolutely sterling job of sorting it out. On top of that, they were providing a two-year guarantee on the caravan. Even so, I thought I’d like to see the problem they’d unearthed. I was filming nearby, so decided to pop in to their workshop. Kevin (who used to build caravans for Avondale) was sitting in the middle of what I can only describe as the real-life equivalent of one of those Dorling Kindersley engineering-pop-upcross-section-3d construction manuals. Bits of roofing panel, internal mouldings, wiring, upholstery, cabinets, flooring, sections of metal and various pieces of pipe had apparently exploded out from where the inside of a caravan used to be. “You have to take it right back to basics,” said a surprisingly unfazed Kevin. “But she’ll go back as good as new,” he smiled. It turned out that a small bit of failed sealant around the chimney had led to a dribble of water, which over time, had seeped into the fabric of the van. Now I’m used to seeing houses in a fairly dishevelled and raw constituents kind of condition, but faced with this gigantic jigsaw puzzle, even my imagination was rather stretched. “But will you be able to rebuild it OK?” I asked, a bit nervously. Kevin gave me a friendly but knowing look. “She’ll be fine,” he said. Sure enough, less than two weeks later, we collected our shiny new-to-us caravan. And unless Bill and the team had done a secret switch with another model from the forecourt, the pristine interior gave no hint of its recent transformation. The staff at Raymond James could not have been more helpful or friendly, and this felt like another fine example of one of the great joys of being involved in the world of caravanning. The people who do it, and clearly also the people who make their business out of supporting the people who do it, are a genuinely lovely bunch. I’m going to suggest to my local MP, who just happens to be Jacob Rees-mogg, that they let us caravanners take over the Brexit negotiations from this point on. With an intrinsic lack of animosity and sensible, practical heads, surely we can solve even this great conundrum!
Guinea pigs and other pets should have a say in the choice of a family caravan
Visit Martin’s website www.martinroberts.co.uk for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter @Tvmartinroberts