With children on their summer break, our motorhome travels are usually more family orientated during August.
Some of the month being warm and dry, the best that one can expect from an English August, we have taken the motorhome for a few days out. We spent the last week of July in Wiltshire where it was neither seasonably warm nor dry; but we enjoyed it anyway. The sound of rain on the roof is a favourite, luckily.
The first visit of August was to the lovely National Trust managed Ickworth Park, Suffolk. A huge estate with concreted walks and cycleways, sheep grazed meadows studded with ancient trees and patches of woodland. The motorhome fitted nicely into the overflow car park and we enjoyed a snack before setting out on a longer walk than we had intended.
We celebrated our second wedding anniversary amongst the beauty of Dunwich Heath and neighbouring RSPB Minsmere. Hobo Trudi had fancied a swanky afternoon tea at a hotel but they were fully booked. Any lingering disappointment soon evaporated and we both agreed that the motorhome was the best place to celebrate our special day…with a Tesco meal deal of course!
The motorhome also went to Norfolk to visit family. We love our old, motorised gypsy wagon. A bit like dog-lovers who bring their dogs on visits, we assume that everyone else does too!
Actually, they usually do. Seeing what our old girl can offer, several of the family have said they would like one. Motorhome life is sweet.
Some would travel as a couple, others as a motorhome family with children. We do both.
Motorhoming with Children
We sometimes travel with an eleven-year-old who enjoys the recharging function of the solar panel for his technology. But of course, we are sneakily giving him plenty of time away from those screens too by travelling to different places.
We do not have a television on board but youngsters have their own array of tablets, phones and gaming devices. Finding acceptable alternatives can be difficult but not impossible. The van gives a taste of outdoor life without the discomforts of tent life in damp weather so we emphasise the “wilderness” aspect.
The motorhome carries sports equipment – balls, racquets and a cricket set at least. The bike rack means we can take a couple of those. Plus there is usually a walk to sites of interest (well, of interest to US anyway; he indulges that, bless him!) He is rewarded by a motorhome cooked pizza or similar on our return, of course!
The lad is also turning into a pretty savvy photographer, which is brilliant for getting him outside into the fresh air!
A motorhome makes for a great family holiday!
The Bigger Family in a Motorhome
One set of grandchildren love it when “the Mystery Machine” arrives to spend a night on their driveway. They come a-tapping at the door in the morning with their chocolate spread tightly gripped ready for “Mystery Machine Toast”. So precious!
We took the motorhome to meet that same little bunch for a day out in nature. It is so convenient to have just about all that a group of three under fives could need in one vehicle. Food, drinks, toys, somewhere to feed and change the baby. Plus the thrill of doing a wee in The Mystery Machine facilities!
Our van almost has a comparable MPG to their mother’s “mum bus” too!!
Then into the woods! This part is being typed in King’s Forest at West Stow. Actually, from a woodland layby which was far prettier than the nearby car park. And free! We like free! It is great to find parking in natural spaces where we can write and enjoy the day away from concrete and tarmac.
During the month we have been researching Saint Edmund for an upcoming ebook. It has been revealing and exciting! Plus, we met fellow T4 owners in Thetford and enjoyed a van-geek chat. Those moments are wonderful when we find people as interested in vans and van life as we are.
Rural roads in a Motorhome
We enjoyed some tiny roads on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. We have found some soul restoring, peace-filled places during our look into the life and times of the East Anglian King, Patron Saint and the pilgrimage routes people took to Bury St Edmunds to see his tomb and relics.
Carrying with us all we need for a couple of days away is the sheer wonder of driving a home on wheels. Well, so long as we can get along the roadways; rural 6’ 6” bridges are too narrow for her ample girth. Poor girl!
In this case though, Hobo Gav poured over the map in Famous Five terminology and found us an alternative route.
Is wild camping in a motorhome finished?
During our research trip, we slept at a compact CS at Sedge Fen, within calling distance of Lakenheath RSPB which made for a peaceful night. It really was lovely, and we intend making a return visit.
Of course, the temptation to “wild camp” is strong, on grounds of expense as much as excitement, but Suffolk is not necessarily the most welcoming of places for that. This site was £13 per night which is very reasonable. However, the cost of some club sites is prohibitive now. Certainly to us Hobos.
Many of our favourite wild camping spots have been fenced off. In one case, this was already in discussion but brought forward due to altercations between van-lifers and locals during lockdown. Doubtless these travelling individuals moved on, leaving local motorhome owners fewer places to park.
Rising campsite costs
So, councils are withdrawing permissive overnighting, driving us onto campsites. Many campsites are increasing prices as a result of that demand. It is one of those pincer situations where one party is going to lose out. That party being us.
Prices have risen over the past year or so; the holiday budget can be blown over a weekend on site fees. The most usual comment we get is that if one can afford a £60,000 motorhome then….! But ours was a fraction of that cost and our budget is equally slim.
There are the smaller, sensibly priced affiliated sites of course. But we are considering our membership of “the big two” since we want to drop our expenses. The CLs and CSs are lovely but the cost of membership required to access them at £42 and £54 is a huge chunk of cash.
However, we would not always want to wild camp in the motorhome with a younger family member. Stories of abuse and even damage are emerging and whilst we will risk a bit of “banter” ourselves, we would not want to traumatise any of the family children.
Alternatives to campsites for motorhomes
A couple of years ago, we were recommended Britstops by a fellow van-user. We spoke about it, considered it, and forgot about it.
Now we have renewed our interest and have joined up. Actually, we are quite excited about it.
In an upcoming journey to Wales, we intend using Britstops for the entire road trip. We’ll let you know how that goes!
Ongoing is our wait for a replacement exhaust. We thought it would be easy to secure one for a VW T4. Hardly a rare vehicle. However, we were wrong.
Internally, the shower tray has cracked, but we can wash down with a flannel so sealant will suffice until we secure a replacement.
The ants which appeared to have found a home within the van body have gone. Not comfortable with the wholesale slaughter of any living creature, we used deterrents – lavender oil seems to have worked. The motorhome had been stored on long grass which possibly explained their presence. The storage owner has now put down hardcore cum tarmac. This has brought a few issues of its own – a 3 ton vehicle and freshly laid hardcore. Picture it! We got her out eventually with a shovel!
Hobo work has been re-wording the wild camping page, working on ebooks and new content for the website. A page about the Cree Indian tribe has been published – our very own Autotrail Cree inspiring the research.
The re-wording work was due to people who live along the NC500 contacting us about motorhomes emptying their black cassettes into public toilets. We asked for evidence that it is actually liquid motorhome black waste which causes the blockage. We cited baby wipes, sanitary products, nappies etc. as more likely culprits. They have assured us the evidence will come so we will share and publicise that when it does.
In the meantime, we have seen more distressing and disturbing pictures of damage and mess left along this lovely route. Watch any television footage and you will always see a motorhome slinking off into the distance. The inference is that the following photographs of discarded camping chairs and tents along with “toilet waste” have been left by that vehicle. Tents? Us?
But, the sad fact is, motorhomes are being blamed for anything and everything along that route; probably even the weather and those little biting beasties too. If you’re on your way up there, then make sure that your visit is one that would be welcomed again and again. Use designated waste disposal sites, shop locally and leave nothing bar tyre tracks.
You know the script! If not, it’s on our wild camping page.
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