One of the most challenging things about our holidays is finding somewhere that allows dogs. And over the years, some seaside resorts and towns have blown us away as to how friendly places are.
Whether it’s a restaurant, fish and chip shop, B&B. But more often than not, we’re regularly looking for campsites. We’re not always lucky though.
And to me, our dog is part of our family. Wherever we go, he goes. Just like the time we got our collie, Hans a dog passport and took him to France. Twice. I’m happy if he’s happy.
So a couple of weekends ago, we went away in a New Marque motorhome. It was a far more luxurious experience than our usual self converted camper van. Note, if you want to see our usual camping abode, then you can take a glimpse here.
And although there’s only two of us (and a dog), we took a ride in possibly one of their biggest motorhomes, in a 6 berth mean machine. If you’ve never heard of New Marque, they are based in Longstanton in Cambridge.
Yes, we had many spice museum Partridge jokes along the way. It’s been almost 20 years and they’ve gotten old.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Annoyingly I forgot to take photos of every ins and outs of their Italian Fiat Ducato Auto Roller 707. It’s easily done when you’re prioritizing in video, so feel free to scroll down to watch our YouTube vlog and tour.
But in the background, you can see bunkbeds at the very back. Funnily enough, the width of these looked the same size as our rock and roll 3/4 camper bed. Then a bathroom with shower on the left, followed by a massive tall style fridge/freezer, tons of storage, an oven, grill, sink, three hobs, a wall mountable TV, two sofas and a fold-able dining table in the middle. Everything you need, really.
It was nice than our house. Apart from the fact that it didn’t come with a bath, but what motorhome comes with one? Although we have occasionally found a campsite with one believe it or not! But, depending on the size of your party, they do have a range of layouts to cater for peoples’ needs.
I was pretty nervous about driving something so big; particularly for a vehicle that wasn’t ours. So, we stuck to places where knew we’d have easy access, parking and just took things steady. In fact, there’s a handbook in one of the cupboards offering advice and one of which is, if you need nervous driving, just pull up and stop for a break.
My fiance is much more confident with big vehicles and usually whenever we’ve needed to hire a van for house moves, he’s always done the driving. I’m the passenger that tries to navigate.
DRIVER’S LICENCE DETAILS & HANDOVERS
One thing we did need to do before collecting was get a code through the DVLA online that gave access the New Marque about our driver’s licence details. This is probably about a 2 minute job and quicker than you might anticipate. I had a good understanding of this as I’d done this previously to test drive towing a caravan at the Caravan and Motorhome Show (Birmingham NEC).
You’ll also need some paper bills, such as council tax, utility and a couple more that are no older than 6 months as proof of your address. All this can be scanned or photoed and uploaded to New Marque’s Check In area on their website which we trialed for the first time.
Luke also gave us a handover and tour before we set on our way and understood how things worked. I listened carefully about the heating as it was quite a cold and windy weekend. I’m not a fan of being cold and this was incredibly cosy!
WHERE WE WENT
Now, something we arranged which I’m not sure is their usual thing, was to leave our camper on their locked premises as I didn’t want to make two trips by us driving in separate vehicles to New Marque, then head back home before packing. For the sake of two nights, it wasn’t worth it.
Also, it’s worth noting that they don’t technically offer weekends, but did do on this occasion as we were testing it. I completely understand this as can imagine cleaning after frequent little trip isn’t going to be cost effective. And as we collected late Friday afternoon, instead of struggling to find a campsite, we headed to Lincolnshire to see our in-laws and camped on their large front drive.
The next morning, we all went to Skegness to go out for breakfast at the Lakeside Cafe just off South Parade. It’s recently changed hands and now become dog friendly. The breakfasts are great, however, I wish they’d start serving proper coffee. It’s also a great location for motorhomes as during off peak, there is what’s usually free parking on South Parade. In fact, I think we’ve seen motorhomes stay there overnight, but as far as I’m aware, it’s not actually allowed.
TIPS ON FINDING A CAMPSITE
But now it was time to find a campsite for the night. One thing I can’t stress enough is to take google searches with a pinch of salt. We’ve tried and tried to search “campsites near me” and checked “open right now” and quite often, they’re not a real campsite and nor are they open.
If you’re looking for a place off peak, then my first search would be campsites UK and check to their location, facilities and whether they’re dog friendly. We also pretty much ignore reviews as what one family may require, may not be to our taste. What we usually look for is quiet, campers parked spaciously and ideally a lovely view and place to walk Hans.
And if we’re still struggling to find one that’s not overcrowded, we then get our Camping and Caravanning Club members app out and the Caravan and Motorhome club and check for those that are so exclusive, they don’t come up immediately in a google search. Prices can vary massively. Expect to pay around the £30 mark, even if you’re a member, for more family oriented campsites. However, we seem to find some beautiful certified locations of theirs around £7-10. Anything below £18 we often don’t think twice about if we like the look of it.
We’re so fussy though that we never book a campsite in advance. We like to check them for ourselves and if we don’t feel it’s good value, the Yorkshire in us says to walk away and give business to someone else.
And as our motorhome was fully equipped with LPG gas, electric, heating and even a generator (although we certainly never needed it for two nights), we didn’t need anywhere fancy or many facilities. Just a bit of land to park (preferably hard standing) with water, waste disposal etc.
Luckily after trying several expensive places, we found this quaint spot for £7 a night in Anderby Creek, about five minutes walk from the beach. Several places down the road wanted about £20 and not as lovely as this.
WHAT YOU NEED TO PACK
When we picked up our motorhome for the weekend, we didn’t expect it to be fully equipped. In fact, we thought we’d need to take our own cooking equipment, plates and everything in between straight from our own camper. This wasn’t the case. The only thing we needed were toiletries (obviously) towels, bedding and pillows.
They do provide the bed sheets and you can opt to hire additional things supplied. Also, at time of this blogpost going LIVE, we also used our own cafetiere, but I know they said they never provided one because they may break over time. Thankfully we are camping pros and have a chrome one for this very reason as have found glass ones can be too fragile for travelling.
PACKING FOR A WEEK OR TWO
The size of their fridge in our 6 berth home was definitely big enough to go off grid and do some wild camping away from shops. There’s also absolutely loads of cupboard space in almost every area, so it’s ideal for stocking up and not worrying.
We do like to take as much food as we can while we’re away, particularly wild camping in Scotland. And yes, one of the reasons is that shops are few are far between in the prettiest of places. But when shops are sparse, prices can be sky high. It also came with a box freezer (you can see it in the video below), which is bigger than you’re average small freezer compartment that you sometimes find in fridges.
Of course, some things you will need to buy often need to be fresh, such as milk, bread, perhaps sirloin steak to go with store cupboard essentials. But the rest of it can be packed for, no problem.
WHERE THE BEDS ARE
It really depends on each party’s requirements. Not each motorhome layout is the same and come in various lengths, depending how many beds you need. You can see a whole range they offer with birdseye view layouts to choose from. But I always assumed the above-the-cab area was a bed. Again, that wasn’t the case.
Ours had a very impressive levitating bed that lifted up and down with the press of the button (just above where you see the black window is in the picture above). The area above the driver and passenger seats were just storage.
Also, we were happy to see our camper was packed with sun reflectors to regulate the temperature, but also offer us privacy while we slept. This is something we’ve used for years while camping and very important to us.
You can see out sleeping bag on the bed, trapped between the ceiling and while up in the air, has spotlights. You will need to remove a couple of sofa head cushions though to use it (see below).
If you’re worried you won’t be able to climb up on to the bed, there are also some ladders in the back. This is where I was lazy and would climb and roll in to position. I’m 5 foot 4 and just about managed it.
Just above the cab area was also a very handy shelf for belongings while you sleep. We used it for our phones.
Something else that I found nifty was how perfect the TV wall mount was positioned. It could be angled to also watch TV in bed which was pretty sweet. This took me back to my youth as we no longer have a television in our bedroom.
The TV also had ports on the back where we could open Netflix and watch things through our phone to the telly. Bare in mind though that uses up a lot of data, but we have around 20gb with our mobile phone packages and almost always use our home WiFi data instead.
As for tuning in the TV in a new area; this couldn’t have been easier. All I needed to do was click the big red button in the middle of the remote to scan all channels. That was it and had well more than just channels 1 to 5. Luckily I found Carry on Camping on ITV 3 in the day. You just can’t make it up! Camping holidays are a far cry from what they used to be.
SO HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE ONE?
Well, it depends on the time of year of course. At the time of going LIVE, New Marque motorhome holidays are around £995 for the week. Whereas off peak (from what I remember) are around the £750 mark.
There’s several reason why I like this as an option instead of owning one. And here’s my thoughts:
- To outright buy one, you’re looking around £50-60k
- I don’t have to struggle finding where to park it on my drive along with our other vehicles
- Burglars are more likely to know when you’ve gone on holiday
- I don’t have to worry about MOT, services, tax.
THINGS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER
- They’re taller than most height barriers, so would limit you from occasional wild camping spots you may find
- They’re not as discrete as camping in a camper van, but offer far more home-from-home luxury
- If hiring, you may feel extra cautious as it’s not really yours
- And feel the need to clean it obsessively for when returning
YES, I FINALLY DROVE IT!
Towards the end of our holiday, I wanted to try driving it at least once, otherwise how would I know whether I liked it or not? I kept to straight long roads. Nothing fancy and it actually felt far better than I expected. Obviously due to the height, you need to think more about your surroundings, such as trees, where you reverse, etc.
I drove about 10 miles and eventually swapped, but that’s because I was very aware that I created traffic behind me. It’s not the kind of vehicle to be fast in, or at least I don’t think so. But I now know I can definitely do this again and perhaps go a bit further.
If you’d like to find out more about New Marque Motorhome hire in Cambridge, then feel free to visit their website here and let me know how you got on if you do decide to go with them.
OUR HOLIDAY VLOG
Disclosure: We were gifted this motorhome to trial for the weekend. All opnions are truthul and my own. I was not asked to be positive and had free editorial control.