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Well, we had bought it, got all the equipment we thought we needed so I suppose we better try it out!

Where to go was the next question. As it happened, a chap had joined the Caravan Talk forum and was canvasing for help from the contributors…. what did they want in a caravan site. Now, that was a bit of a leading question and as expected, he got answers fired at him with both barrels… and what one person wanted was soon shot down by others as not being what anyone else wanted at all. I kind of felt sorry for him in a way, but admired him for actually taking the time to respond to all the posts. It was decided, we would visit this site for the weekend, so I ring up and booked in for Friday 22nd July for two nights. Oh yes…. I guess you want to know the site, Lady Heyes near Frodsham.

We loaded up the Freelander with all our provisions and clothes and went over to pick up the caravan. We loaded everything into the caravan and I checked the nose weight… 91Kg exactly. That will do. I had worked out before we bought the caravan that our towing ratio was 86% so ‘should’ be a stable match according to the pundits, and having the Freelander ment we could go up to a hitch weight of 140Kgs, the limit being the AL-KO hitch’s 100Kg max though.

".....within 45 minutes the wine and beer were being served..."

Hooked up, we set off down the motorway towards Frodsham. The caravan towed perfectly at 50… and at 60 and a quick test at 65… it was rock solid. I settled down to a comfortable 2100 RPM in 6th gear rather than a speed. Working in RPM or Power Settings is a pilot thing… pilots will know what I mean. Anyhoo, 31 miles later we arrived at Lady Heyes. Where it only took us about 20 minutes to set up in the caravan we had hired, this time, it took us a bit longer. I guess is was down to me faffing about more… but within 45 minutes of pulling on to the pitch, the wine and beer were being served.

Lady Heyes was a good test, far enough away to feel like we had achieved something, but close enough to head for home if anything had gone wrong. The facilities on site are excellent and a lot of thought has gone into the layout. My only criticism at the time, not that we are experienced campers was the fact the pitches felt close together. With hindsight, they seem to be about average when compared to the other sites we have been to since. The planting of shrubs was well underway and I think over then next year or so, the site will sit perfectly within the environment.

So after two days here had we learnt anything…?

We didn’t want an awning… it seemed like a bit of a performance putting them up and taking them down. We did see a motor home with a pull out type roof… it had Fiamma written on it, so that was something to investigate when we got back. We also decided we needed some sort of wind break and a different step. The step we had came with the caravan and was a plastic affair. Sue has a bit of a dicky hip and she said it seemed a bit of a step down when leaving the van…. so spying an aluminium one that had two steps

The view north from our caravan - and the small dot in the sky is a Hawker Hunter

on an adjacent caravan meant that was something else to be investigated. Other than that, the mains water unit for the Aquaroll worked fine. The Safefill gas bottle was also a good investment. We could have gone the conventional route and paid a deposit on a steel rental, that to me seemed short sighted. With the rented ones, you probably end up renting two, so you can make sure you use all the gas in them and paying the price carrying them about and not being able to stuff much into your nose locker because of the increase in nose weight. Well, for us it seemed an ideal solution, I could make sure the cylinder was full before every trip so we would only need one Safefill bottle, they carried slightly more gas than the equivalent physical sized steel cylinder and they were lighter. In fact, when I was loading the caravan up before we set off, I had to move stuff forward inside the van, and move things like my EHU Cable, all the hosepipes, wheel chocks, wooden steady pads I’d made and put them into the nose locker to get my 90Kg target weight.