What do the radio DJ Johnnie Walker and the comedian Marcus Brigstocke have in common? They are both motorhome fanatics. While Mr Walker has toured Europe in his Auto-Trail Cheyenne 630 LB, Mr Brigstocke enjoys family holidays to France in his. He told the Daily Mail: “My daughter’s fondest memory wasn’t our visit to Disneyland Paris, but ‘waking up in the can’, as she put it.”
The unique selling point of a motorhome is that you can set up home where ever you wish without the hassle of pitching a tent or looking for a decent hotel.
It’s called wild camping – and as long as there’s enough gas and water it’s a comfortable experience. We visited the Isle of Wight where it was possible to find free parking in a plethora of lay-bys.
A 45-minute crossing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne with Wightlink was just enough to make us feel like we had travelled abroad and the right amount of time for Harriett, who enjoyed being on deck and watching the waves tossing against the side.
Our home for the week was the Lifestyle 624 manufactured by Marquis Motorhomes in conjunction with Swift. The five-berth vehicle uses a Fiat Ducato cab and a capable and efficient Fiat Multijet Diesel 130bhp engine. The five-berth vehicle uses a Fiat Ducato cab and a capable and efficient Fiat Multijet Diesel 130bhp engine coupled to a six-speed gearbox. It easily returned around 600 miles on a tank.
This sub-£40,000 model was loaded with equipment, making it feel a very good value proposition. The cabin was equipped with air conditioning and electric windows together with a good quality stereo. Comfortable and luxurious chenille fabrics made for a particularly cosy homely environment.
Typically we made sure that we were out and about before 11am, having prepared our packed lunches in the kitchen with its ample surface space. While I made sandwiches baby daughter Harriett thoroughly enjoyed rearranging the floor standing cupboards and generally creating mayhem.
One day we returned from a bracing walk to Ventnor and really fancied a hot chocolate. No problem, we just fired up the Thetford cooker and boiled some milk, really quickly (watch the video at www.travelwriter.biz).
Our longest stay was at Ventnor (two days), which we fell in love with because of its proximity to the beach and some stunning walking routes. We parked at the roadside directly outside the park and bowling green. When the motorhome ran out of water it was easy to fill up the watering can in the public conveniences at the park. And when the cassette toilet needed emptying where else could be better to do this when not on a campsite? The Lifestyle’s cassette toilet was fitted with wheels and an extending handle, making it so much easier to transport. However, I did get some odd looks on walking through the park with it, although I hoped that passers-by might think it luggage…
Come night we tried to keep to a strict routine so that little Harriett could stick to her usual sleeping pattern but this is always difficult on holiday. Anyway, we usually rustled up something to eat at around 5.30pm each day. No culinary delights here, instead tinned ravioli and spaghetti stretching to a fry up on one occasion.
Living in a motorhome makes you much more aware of your fuel and water consumption, if for no other reason than you know it is not endless – there was a 65-litre fresh water tank. Consequently, washing up was done under the trickle of cold water to ensure that there was enough Calor Gas for heating and hot showers.
The Lifestyle’s shower room was well set out, particularly when comparing it to the Nuevo II, for instance, which I tested last year. There seemed much more room in the Lifestyle where passengers could walk throughout, even into the cabin, which was a helpful feature when Harriett, sitting in her car seat at the rear, wanted food or her teddy.
She slept in the double bunk above the driver’s cabin but insisted on waking up at 3 or 4am for a feed, something she had stopped doing at home. We put this down to a change in surroundings.
Our less comfortable bed was created by manoeuvring the seats in the centre of the vehicle. It was useful that the dining table formed part of the base of the bed meaning that it didn’t have to be stored in a cupboard as in the Nuevo II. Bed making was done quite quickly.
A motorhome really is a marvellous way of travelling with a young family.
Price: OTR £39,881, save £1,386, offer price £38,495!
Engine: 2.3-litre diesel
Economy: 600 miles on a tank
0-60mph: don’t push it!
Top speed: it’ll cruise at 70mph with the best of them.
Marquis Motorhomes, The Causeway Great Billing, Northampton NN3 9EX
www.marquismotorhomes.co.uk. Tel: 01604 402888