Posts Tagged 'Swift'

Britstops

We’ve just returned from our first trip in Madge. She performed well through the Lakes and the Peaks and, barring one or two minor niggles, we are impressed. 

Another first for us was the night spent at a Britstops location. Having paid £25 for the book (and automatic membership until March 2013) we were determined to try one of the many free sites listed. Our options ranged from pubs through farm shops and breweries to official UK ‘aires.’ Motor homing members are welcome at every site, entirely free of charge and with no obligation to buy from the hosts. No facilities are provided other than a secure place to overnight, which is what most of us really want.

We chose the Blue Cow Inn at South Witham, Lincolnshire. The car park slopes a little but that never bothers us. We don’t carry levellers; if we are on an incline we simply change our sleeping position to compensate. This pub brews its own beer at 4% ABV, a palatable cask ale from first sip to the downing of the fourth pint (and no doubt beyond if we hadn’t reached our capacity). Food was straight forward and tasty home-cooked pub-grub with no fancy pretensions. The welcome we received from the proprietors was sincere and friendly. The Blue Cow provided an excellent introduction to the ethos of the Britstops scheme and we believe that the cost of the book is money well spent.

From there we went to Keswick and met in quick succession both the most miserable camp site warden in the country and one of the most pleasant. A booking mix-up meant we couldn’t go where we’d originally intended and had to move to the nearby affiliated site in the middle of town – a stroke of luck arising out of misfortune.

We walked on the fells (Catbells) during the one day of shining sun and bought new walking boots in town on the one day of constant rain. Then home via Saddleworth Moor, Snake Pass and Castleton, bringing our brief but interesting first trip to a close.

A small snagging list of minor issues will be attended to soon. In the meantime, we’re about to find out whether paying for a Superguard external protective coating was worthwhile. Madge is filthy, mainly because of sugar beet and potato harvesting around home.

meeting madge

At last we break our silence. Our trusty Hobby 690 GES has left home to take up with new partners and, after we had a brief but unfulfilling flirtation with Triggy, Madge has joined the family. She’s a Swift Mondial GT, a sleek and comely dark-grey-blue panel van conversion.

We made a deliberate decision to downsize. Hobby was great for comfort but she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) reach some of the places we wanted to venture. Now, Madge at 6 metres long is a perfect fit. Anywhere an ordinary van can go, we can go, and we have much more scope for exploration in places where narrow and short is a distinct advantage.

Having said that, we do have a puzzle. All documentation and records show Madge as being 6 metres long. Even the very helpful customer service department at Swift confirmed that the van is a standard Peugeot Boxer as it arrived from the factory and is (if anything) a fraction less than the declared 6 metres. Yet my tape measure definitely measures her to 6.2 metres, suggesting she’s grown in the two years since Swift produced her. She shows no signs of post-factory modifications, so we have a mystery.

Does this mean we’ve bought the first truly organic camper van in the world? Has Madge grown by 0.2 metres since 2010? And what are the implications for the future? Has Madge experienced some terrestrial big bang and is expanding at a universally alarming rate? If such growth rates are sustained, she’ll be as long as our Hobby within 10 years. Will her internal organs such as lockers, seats and storage space also grow commensurate with her length, or will we find gaps developing in her layout? Too many questions again; too few answers.

A new era begins, the start of the Madge Epoch. The trouble is she cost us so much we can’t now afford to go away in her.


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