August 2020

It's mid August 2020. The 'blog of brilliant things' is under starters orders.

For myself, and many, Covid has turned life upside down. I'm fortunate to be still working (never stopped) as an essential worker. Travel plays a big part in my life and the overseas holidays have bust! 2020 was a bucket-list year and the biggie (Diving in Galapagos) is dust.  Many days spent screaming in frustration, which I'm sure most can relate.

So, where do we go from here? and, it's not down to the lake I fear... showing age  ;-)

Staycation, a new word spawned from the Covid generation. Yes, in many years from now we'll all be looking back at the Covid generation, for sure! 

So a week away in the UK presented itself. Can't recall last time I actually had a week off on our own isle, but an opportunity fell to share a house rental in North Wales with our friends Mandy & Paul (with Olly the dog). Just outside Portmadog a small place called Borth-y-Gest.  Off we went, husky in tow, armed with my Olympus camera gear, to a wonderful detached house overlooking sea and the stunning Harlech castle perched on its rocky plinth. Wow, what have I been missing, what a fab place. Great walks, fab beaches and the first time seeing our husky swim in the sea. She was like a Porth MADDOG :-)

Aurora, our husky - sea swimming.

Aurora Swimming in Sea

Harlech castle

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That week in Wales was a catalyst I suppose. When looking back it will be that moment in time when we decided to join the Staycation bandwagon (Little did I know at the time that most of the country were doing the same!). It got Deb & I thinking perhaps we should invest in a holiday home, or even a Motorhome, or a caravan or just go camping a lot more. Wales is a beautiful country and we felt like seeing more of it, along with the rest of the UK. 

The calculator came out and we chewed over options. Even to the point of 'Grand Designing' the holiday home we were staying at (that wasn't ours!...c'mon you've all done it!)..... "I'd change this room and build that room". I knew then we had reached the slippery slope to Staycation utopia.

Back home Deb & I continued our musings - Motor home vs Caravan vs Holiday home. The desire to travel far and wide killed the permanent residence idea. Having researched motor homes like you would not believe, the sheer cost (Minimum 30k for a half decent one) for a house on wheels, reduced inside space vs caravan, & an engine to maintain, at this moment in time,  soon dissolved out enthusiasm. Our own village is a motor home city, every other house has one on their drive. Most sit there all year too!

So that left the caravan route. Let me start by saying I have never fancied the idea of towing a caravan, and which put me off buying. We have stayed in plenty of statics over the years and I have also towed many a horse box and inflatable RIB (diving). You would not believe the virtual verbal stick I have given caravan drivers whilst overtaking/dodging on many a Motorway! Not for me, never I vowed.

Never say never. Blame Dickens for that one, but he was right! OK let's have a look what's out there. After Googling caravan sales, Auto Trader, Facebook (Marketplace) and Ebay for days on end, trawling the industry advice/reviews, Deb and I would constantly WhatsApp each other with everything that took our fancy. Used, new, retro, cheap and expensive we covered them all. We just could not decide what to do. 

Like any first sift search you look at the top end,  "Can't afford that" and then the cheap used market, "Not buying that dated Granny can" and end up going round in circles! In such circumstances we decided to start looking in the flesh. First port of call, just down the A5, 20 mins away was Venture Caravans. We had researched our contemporary desirable in the shape of the Bailey Discovery D4-2. Cracking modern, bright design, very light and compact.  The sales guy at Venture was superb, very informative and no pressure. The yard, normally full of caravans was half empty. This is when the impact of Staycation hit us. A combination of caravan manufacturers putting Lockdown brakes on and an explosion in the UK holiday market (caravan sales) meant for a half empty outdoor showroom. Ouch! 

To be honest we loved the Bailey so much we almost dropped a deposit. Fortunately we took the facts away to ponder. £16k + was a serious investment. I'm glad we slept on it. In true 'bloke' fashion, next day I said right we're now gonna look at a cheap used van to get a comparison. At £7k a 2011 Coachman Amara (solid build) popped up locally (10 mins) so I drove over for a peek. Private sale and genuine reason I actually quite liked the van. Bit dated inside but plenty of room, full size bathroom with shower and plenty of floor space (for the dog). Spotless inside, it even came with a new unused awning and motor mover (a gizmo that sucks onto the wheels and allows remote manoeuvring). I was getting right into the techie lingo :-) Deb was working on my initial visit so arranged a follow up for her thoughts. To be honest I'd almost made up my mind. Why blow over £16k on a new van when you can get a used van in top condition for a fraction of the price?  The bloke thing didn't last long!

Another day, another visit and "Nice, but not sure, don't get that Bailey feeling".  Time out moment was called for!           

Bailey D4-2


Coachman Amara

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A timely few days off from the caravan search dilemma saw us visiting our besties Mandy & Paul (& Olly the dog). We downloaded our experiences and chatted. At that point Mandy said "Have you seen one of these?" - pointing at an Eriba caravan on her tablet. A funked up retro machine at an eyebrow raising   price.  I did come across these funky rockets during an early day search (the Puck model) but quickly discounted as no loo/washroom and the high price.

After Googling Eriba, the model range and the used market we found our baby. It was a 2011 Eriba Troll 530 Touring GT. Spotless in and out, cared for and as sexy as Suzi Quattro in her heyday :-) The cost was high but the product was worth it, so we pushed the boat out and the rest, as they say, is history.

We sourced her through an Eriba specialist in Norfolk - Dom Fox. Dom has been fab through the entire buying process. These retro rockets don't hang around long, very desirable, hold price well and have a cult following. No time for the long drive to Norfolk, our deposit was planted and we are now part of the Eriba clan.

#ETGT is born.


Check out this excellent read on 'How to Plan the Best Staycation Ever' by Porch

We have all spent a lot of time at home in the past 12 months and this can sometimes make our days and weeks feel monotonous. For many people traveling has become a nostalgic memory. That's why I have started this blog and why decided to write an article about How to Plan the Best Staycation Ever

Enjoy the read which will hopefully help you find the special within the ordinary. In it, you will find unique ideas to create the ultimate vacation experience, from living an exciting adventure with family and friends to having a relaxing and much-needed self-care weekend.

Stay safe.

The winner - Eriba Troll GT aka #ETGT

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