Monday, 23 April 2012

The van - three weeks in and time to assess; April 12

It is probably time to review whether our caravan decision was a good one. And the answer is yes, with some reservations. So this being me (RW) I shall start with the plusses which we both will agree on before I indicate a few problems of which I will probably be the major source.
First, the objective was better and easier sleeping - absolute winner.  The permanent single bneds are brilliantly comfortable and not having to make them up each night and knock them down each morning is a total winner. The kitchen is as good as the Bailey which we thought it might not match. The sitting and dining area (which is also the second sleeping area if needed (four berth) is more comfortable and better designed than the Bailey. The clothing storage is greater than the Bailey, although the wardrobe is one single large instead of two smaller singles. But it works very well. The systems are very good in performance, with a better toilet system than the Bailey. Water, electricity and gas servies are identical so very good. Being twin axled it tows very straight and follows the tow car very well (The Kyron is proving a good tug as expected. And Ssang Yong dealers are it seems everywhere in Spain - we even get parked along side other S-Ys!)
Downsides? Well it is very long, as in very, very. I thought it would be 1.5 metres lomger than the Bailey but it appears to be about 2.5 longer. And of course it is twin axled. On the road this is great but to be fair it can be a pain when OFF the hook. We had a mover fitted but it seems under powered to turn the vehicle (which was the prime objective!) This may be an issue on our return; as in litigation issue if necessary!
Design of the van is very good but to keep the price down Adria has used some less than preferable installs.No problem with the key bits - water, gas, electric, but windows? Cheap stays are unreliable. Vents? Two of the roof vents are very cheap and will be replaced when we get back. Main door is crap. To be fair it has been forced in the past (issue with the vendors to come) but it is not a good design. It uses a plastic on plastic lock and latch. Now in sunshine this will bind; indeed it nearly welds together!. But this would be OK if the outside handle gave as much 'swing' to the  lock as the inside. It does not. So twice we ended up locked out. In blazing sun, which was a bit of a clue as it has not been common! Eventually I found that, counter intuitively, pressing the door against the lock while actually pulling the handle got it open. So  I bevelled the nose of the lock and the hasp on the latch - ipso, it now works OK cos that means the under-movement of the handle is less critical. Of course since we did this sunshine has been absent! We shall see (we hope, if you see what we mean!)
 Decent vans are fitted with both fly screens and blinds and so is this. But I have to say I do not expect them to last all that long.
On site the size can be a bit of a pain and especially on the continent. Over here the accent is on shade for the summer which means hedged and tree lined pitches of about 6-9  metres square. Since all manouvres have to be carried out inside that space a van 8 metres long is abit of an issue. In the UK and on 5-star sites you can often drive in one end and out of the other - but not here in 2- star locations. So to be honest we are struggling a bit.
The first site we went to looked fine but had a really steep and u-turned entry. Committed on entry I had no choice so we set up. When we came to leave there is no doubt that wthout four-wheel low gear we would have struggled; even failed.
The site we moved to at Foz was, as I have said tired (although we now know the patron is in hospital having a heart op. Anyway Galicia rhymes with rain. It does, it does!  And this site, so wonderfully close to a super coastline gets rained on a lot. We arrived for four days of sun and thought it was great. Ten days later it had rained every day and every night and sometimes very hard indeed. Our pitch was it turned out ruined by having no drainage courtesy of the roadways. So we paddled about literally with water seeping up through our fancy awning floor.
A motor home stuck in the mud asked for help so, with 4x4 and a low ratio box and 'winter start' gearing available i tuugged a Kon Tiki out of the mud - got a beer for it;  sadly the good beer he offered me was not cold enough so his wife kindly passed over a cold can instead. It was rubbish! Gift horse thus toothless!
 I feared we might not get off ourselves. We had pitched so that with the wet a forwad departure was not possible so we had to back the van off. I made sure we had the best chance by using our fancy flooring as trackways for the tyres. We cruiised it frankly, although it was a slow process. So, flooded grass, the caravanner's nightmare is now a thing of the past
But for all that I/we love the van and will get a few of the niggles sorted and replace some of cut-price fitting in due course. And if weever get a decent sized pitch it will be even better but that is unlikely this side of the channel!

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