The Test Run

Before setting out on a grand tour of Europe for 6 months I thought it would be a good idea to take Trixie on a test run. Not only did I want to get used to driving her (Manoeuvring a left-hand drive vehicle on UK roads is not easy), but I also wanted to make sure that I knew how to use all the equipment.

Test Run

Test Run

This is what I learnt on the test run: 

  • Make sure you know where you are going and remember that turning round a motorhome on a single farm track is not easy. 
  • A watering can works with any water tap fitting and you get more exercise. 
  • You can’t use melamine plates in the microwave. 
  • When something doesn’t work – check the manual – it’s probably the operator and not the equipment.

Devon seemed like far enough without having to spend hours driving and I picked the sleepy seaside town of Sidmouth because there was a reasonable choice of campsites and I’d never been there before. I enlisted the help of my teenage brother as co-pilot / DJ and he immediately declared the stereo system to be ancient (CD player and no ipod jack!). Also the speakers were as awful as the British weather which followed us down the A35. Views of the rolling Dorset farmland were obscured by low cloud and drizzle.

As we neared Sidmouth and the location of the campsite, we took a minor road towards the coast, following signs for the Donkey farm, which I knew was next to the campsite. However, as the road became narrower and the hedges started scraping the sides of the motorhome, I realised I’d made a mistake and had to turn around in the next farm entrance. We backtracked to the main road and discovered I had turned off about 50m too early.

We arrived at dusk but you couldn’t really tell as the drizzle hid any sunset. The reception was closed but the campsite warden showed us to our pitch and the ‘comedy of errors’ began. A dodgy electrical hook up light left me wondering whether I was actually hooked up to the grid or not and the water tap was a type which didn’t fit any of my random hose connectors. Luckily I managed to flag down one of my new neighbours and borrow a watering can. It only took me 10 journeys to fill the water tank! Bizarrely, Trixie’s rear end was flashing red but I couldn’t work out why and eventually gave up. At least the gas hob worked and I whipped up a stir-fry for dinner.


My brother, Harry, on the coast path to Sidmouth

The next day the weather was kinder but I was still failing to master the complexity of operating a Motorhome – no hot water! Luckily the campsite had nice shower facilities with 60’s music to sing along to. I bribed my brother out of the comfy bed with the promise of a pizza for lunch in town but didn’t tell him about the 4-mile walk along the coastal path to get there. It was a bit muddy in places but the views were fantastic and we feasted on wild blackberries along the route.

Sidmouth Harbour by Reading Tom

Sidmouth Harbour by Reading Tom

Sidmouth is a quaint seaside town and fishing port which seems to be stuck in a time. As we crossed the mouth of the River Sid we found a local fisherman carrying his catch to the fish market. The scallops and mussels looked great and I wanted to buy some. However, my brother was on a mission to find pizza so we headed inland until we found a nice pub that would satisfy us both. Later, we found a hardware store to buy a watering can.

We were saved from an uphill trek back to the campsite by a free shuttle bus that operates during the summer season. The weather was still fine so we took a few turns on the putting green before setting up a BBQ for dinner. This time we enjoyed a stunning sunset and I finally discovered how to heat the water.

We stayed at Salcombe Regis Camping and Caravan Park. £20 per night for hardstanding, including electric and water.


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