Our Return to Touring

A Mitsubishi Shogun LWB with a Coachman Laser Xcel 855 attached via the tow ball

In December 2019 we took our last caravan holiday to Globe Vale in Redruth. We’d had our Compass Camino 660 all of 8 months, but we felt the caravan had a curse. A number of (in reality) very small things had gone wrong in a short period of time, and we felt that the caravan had to go, despite these things being easy fixes. We also felt that AirBnBs were now so cheap and easy to find that we could continue our adventures with ease. On the 6th of March 2020 we sold our caravan on, to a lovely couple (be assured we’d fixed all of the issues before I advertised it), and just over two weeks later the world descended into quiet chaos, as each country locked down for COVID-19. One of our first feelings was one of relief that we’d managed to sell the caravan before lockdown, but as we left the first lockdown we needed an adventure.

Our life has revolved around exploring new places, taking the dogs for nice walks, and discovering amazing food nationwide. We started to look at AirBnBs but the costs had gone through the roof. We weren’t prepared to pay upwards of £400 a night for a 2 bed cottage in Cornwall!

“What better way to explore the wonderful coastline we live on than to buy a boat”, we thought, so after many viewings (some more successful than others) we found the perfect motorboat to explore the South Devon coastline. Now, we did have some amazing adventures and have seen things that most people don’t get the chance to see from the shore, but its incredibly hard to walk the dogs on water, despite Jumble giving it a go once or twice! We even upgraded our boat to one that would allow us to travel further, more safely, but boat life really wasn’t for us. The dogs shuddered every time the engines started, and we were terrified every time the engine warning noise bleeped, never mind the costly marina fees and the servicing of two engines.

We sold the boat on to a friend and once again had that feeling of relief that it had gone, Charles and I looked at each other and we could see it in each others eyes. We’d made a mistake selling the caravan, one that we had to rectify! Now, this is something that Charles doesn’t know, but I looked at caravans the same day we sold the boat. I realised that the second hand stock was low, and the wait times on new caravans was long, as everyone else had had the same idea. We’d have to bide our time, at least it would allow us to save up some more money to get the caravan we really wanted!

Fast forward a year to February 2023, we visited Highbridge Devon and found a Coachman Laser Xcel 850, which if you didn’t know has a massive bathroom! It was almost the perfect caravan, but we wanted more bedroom space, for the dogs. They don’t sleep on the bed, but they do carefully place themselves in age order around the bottom of the bed! We had a quick look online and spotted the Coachman Laser Xcel 855, which to us is the perfect layout. Similar to our Compass Camino 660, but with an ‘L’ shaped lounge. But boy the spec of the Coachman was much better than the Compass: E&P Self Levelling, solar panel as standard, TV, 210kg payload (with the weight plate upgrade), underslung water tank (as opposed to one under the bed), hob extractor, composite work tops, and on top of all of this, it felt like luxury. Is it possible to fall in love with a caravan? We certainly think so.

We didn’t want to traipse all the way to the NEC for the caravan show. We’ve done it a couple of times, and we know how busy it gets (and we knew which caravan we were buying), so we called Highbridge Caravans Somerset, and they offered us the same deals they were doing at the show, without having to go all the way to Birmingham. A decent discount off the van (this is our 5th caravan and 6th leisure vehicle from them after all), and a decent discount of the necessary all wheel drive electric engage motor mover. It would be about 3 weeks until we would be able to collect, but that worked just fine for us as we had a few days in Spain booked.

On the 17th March we collected our Coachman Laser Xcel 855, and had one of the most thorough handovers we’ve ever had. The E&P works like a dream, if you’ve ever fitted Alko wheel locks to a twin axle van, you’ll appreciate how easily you can raise one side of the caravan to turn both wheels and get everything aligned! We’re currently one week into working from the caravan instead of working from home, so we can explore new places with the dogs, without having to take time off. Some things from the pandemic have certainly made the working world a better place!

We’ve learnt an important lesson over the last 3 years… never be without a caravan!