So what’s it like then? Well, it’s like living in a two-bed, top quality studio apartment on wheels. Hymer are the granddaddies of motorhoming and have learnt a thing or two over the centuries, and all of it is on display here. The quality is a notch above Dethleffs – if you could think that possible, probably because at 4.2t they’ve been able to make everything a bit stronger. It feels like it will last forever.
By chance we seem to have taken a punt on buying a van that dealt with Doris’ pinch points and somehow overcome them. We needed a separate shower: tick – bigger than expected and one you can use without any prep. We wanted a larger lounge: tick – the photo of Jen and James having supper with us shows how big the front end is. We will sit six easily, and for two of us it’s positively Victorian eating, with me at one end of the table and C at the other. It has a proper fridge and freezer and, where Doris’ lounge was often dark, Doris Too has a lightness made by big windows, a window in the habitation door and wide sides.
The kitchen is corner shaped and has so much more working space. I have been able to wash up without needed to put dishes on the floor. That’s a novelty.
She has kept all of Doris’ strong points. A massive bed over a much bigger garage (with a bed that moves up and down if you’re prepare to put your shoulder into it – that’s another story). And she has the German quality – we did look at Autotrails which are renown UK-made long-termers, stretching to 8.5m (Doris Too is a mere 7.3m), but their quality can be suspect. Plus, like Doris, she has a sat TV (self seeking) and solar panel.
To cap it all she has a bank of batteries that would fire up a nuclear power station. Plus a 2,300w inverter which means, when off grid, we could use 240v appliances if we want. This is all good for us as we do wild camp for extended periods. And the rear wheels are fitted with air suspension which we can inflate as we need to. Hurrah!
And the downsides are?
She is pretty much unmarked, outside and in. But the electrical system worries me. It’s all been professionally fitted by VanBitz, but on 240v it doesn’t seem possible to run much more than 2kw before the inside RCD trips, which is annoying. This should be fixable. A couple of bulbs have gone and, surprisingly, both side windows in the lounge and kitchen, leak a touch, pooling water in one corner. Again, assuming no water damage, this is all fixable. Thankfully we have a year’s warranty with Chelstons, so all of these things will be sorted. Oh, and there are at least three switches that I don’t know what they operate. Such is electrical complexity of the van.
Of course, what about driving? She’s fitted with the top-of-the-range Fiat 3.0, 6 speed, with the ultra low Fiat/Alko motorhome chassis and gets to 70 quicker than our Focus. I’m going to be lucky to return 25mpg, but will give it a good go, and she has cruise, climate control and blah at the front end – all mod cons. But what’s she like driving? Big. And left hand drive. I have yet to drive her down any tight roads – that’s for tomorrow when we take her to Wells – but I’m going to have to be careful. The overhang is longer than Doris’, so will take some getting used to, and at 6 inches wider – whilst that allows me to lie flat out in the bed (tick) – we going to have to avoid bushes and other vehicles without breathing in. So, the jury’s out.
What else? C has remained poorly with a chest infection and, thankfully with Doris Too, she’s been able to lounge about without getting unnecessarily hemmed in. My first day at work was great fun, and I may have picked up some more in the margins. I have been working on a 6-page summary of educational leadership which I’m loving – I’ll try and get it published somewhere. The weather has been just rubbish, so much so I’ve not been able to sort our Doris Too’s huge garage yet – that’s today’s plan.
Last night we popped into Wales (£6.60 can you believe it?) and had supper with v long term friends of C’s, Julie and Steve. It was great to meet (for me) new people and, as has always been the case with this itinerant lifestyle, hopefully we should be able to maintain a contact we’ve not been able to for 30 years.
Tomorrow we heading down to Wells to leave Doris – I’m going to have to call her Doris – at our mate’s Nicky’s back yard whilst we head off to Hampshire to house sit for Hilary and Stephen, a wonderful couple we met travelling last year. I have to be back in Wells on Tuesday for more work, and we’re going to spend next weekend in Wells. More work the following week in Cheshire, and who knows what after that.
Hoping for some good weather – please. Have a great week.