It was the summer of 2009 and I was living in The French Alps, Serre Chevalier in the Hautes Alpes to be exact. My eldest daughter was 5 years old and my newest baby girl, nearly 2 months. I had lived in the French Alps for about seven years and both my parents and my parents-in-law were all still very much alive and reasonably well, but not great travellers now that they had reached their mid 70s. As they all live in the UK, the only real option was to visit England so that they could meet their new granddaughter.
Of course their were other considerations too such as an old friend of mine was having a 50th birthday motorhome hire party, and there were my two brother-in-laws that my wife and I hadn’t seen for over 2 years.
I thought long and hard about how to do all this: it was my plan to drive my car to England, but then what? This was August, which is prime time holiday season in the UK – places to stay would be either booked up or just simply too expensive. So I thought about camping, but only for a minute, before my wife pointed out that this very very impractical with a newborn baby. I had to think of something else…
I decided to hire a motorhome from a UK based company. The company had nearly 500 motorhomes dotted around the UK and surprisingly enough still had some available for August even though I was making my enquiry at the end of July. I chose to hire a motorhome in Reading, Berkshire which was a fairly central location for our travels. I called a UK Freephone number, 0800 612 8719 to make the enquiry and I spoke to the very pleasant Sheena who helped me with my booking. I was surprised how easy it all was, a credit card number confirmed the booking and then there was a minimal amount of paperwork just to provide the ‘legalities’ for the motorhome insurance.
On arrival in the UK I decided to drop my family off at my brother-in-laws in London, I then went off to the motorhome hire pickup point in Reading where I met Anne who showed me around the motorhome, a 2004 Eldiss Autoquest 200. She showed me all the features that I would be using such as hot and cold running water, gas central heating (yes it can get cold in the UK, even in summer!). My only concern at this point was how I would fit my child car seats into the motorhome for when they are travelling along. Lap belts were provided in the rear but they weren’t facing forwards, which meant I couldn’t point my kids in the right direction. I decided to ‘work something out later’ as it was getting dark now. I left my car at the pick up point as agreed.
The drive back to London was fine, I’ve driven some quite large vans in my time, so the size wasn’t a problem and indeed the 2.0l diesel engine seem to take it along the M4 at 70mph with no problem. The radio/CD player kept me company on the way back into London. When I got back home I realised there was a way I could thread the rear seat belts differently to at least give my baby the correct orientation.
The next day we packed up the motorhome with all our things and set off for Paignton in Devon, where my ‘little’ brother-in-law lives. This was an easy stop as we just parked in his driveway and ran everything off the auxiliary battery and gas. We stayed in Devon a few days, which included 3 nights at Beverly Park – a campsite with a kids club, crazy golf, plus indoor and outdoor pools. We had a day at Paignton Zoo and a day on the beach at Torquay, so all was good.
The next stop was my parents up in Stoke-on-Trent, not the most amazing of places, but 5 year old Maddy loved seeing her Grandparents. The motorhome just about fitted in the driveway of their bungalow and we had to level it using the ramps provided. I had thought of hooking it up to the mains, but it seemed to be no problem to just use 12 volts and gas. Our trip was sadly coming to an end now, but we still managed to squeeze in my ‘in-laws’ in Leighton Buzzard, an annual reunion from my wife’s ‘art school days’ in Muswell Hill, London and even the 50th birthday in Watford and a trip to see some old friends of ours from France who now live in Toppesfield, Essex.
Overall I was pleased with the Eldiss Autoquest motorhome and the overall motorhome hire experience, but next time I would probably look for one with a permanent double bed at the rear and some single beds nearer the front that would double as seating for the passengers. I will probably buy a motorhome one day, but I really do think I will hire a few first to get a feel of what is on offer by different manufacturers and which is perfect for my family and the way we will use it.
If you are interested in motorhome hire in the UK, you can call 0800 612 8719 anytime of the day or night to arrange it.
This is the largest motorhome and campervan hire network in the UK, with nearly 500 campers spread all over the UK.