11/02/2014
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Coachman Vision on tour (part two)

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How to get your kids interested, how to enjoy a holiday and how to get things stolen: Hans tells all...


Read the article below and watch the tour video here.


To you and I, Castle Howard is well worth a visit. It’s a stunning stately home in Yorkshire where they filmed Brideshead Revisited. To my four-year-old son Oscar, a trip there is currently being greeted with the sort of embarrassing meltdown that’s enough to make you think I’ve told him that Father Christmas is a cruel invention dreamt up by cynical marketing executives at Toys R Us.

I’ve never seen anything like it: there he is, on the sofa of the Coachman Vision 580/5, tears streaming down his face and back arching theatrically as if he’s a Premier League footballer who’s just been felled by a particularly aggressive blade of grass. Looks as if I’m going to have to play my joker early.


Tricked by technology, and an animated cat

I beckon him forth to the iPad and open it up. The tears in his eyes soon make way for an inquisitive glance, quickly replaced by transfixed wonder. I flick through to our movie library, where he immediately spots a new one: Garfield: a Tale of Two Kitties (see what they did there?). We start watching it.
Thumbs up for the Coachman 580/5 caravan
“Wow, look at that big house, daddy!” he soon says. Manipulating children is depressingly easy at times. “Would you like to go and see that house?” I ask smugly. “Yes, daddy. YES! COME ON! LET’S GO RIGHT NOW,” is the excited reply. Ha!

All of a sudden, with the assistance of some Apple-assisted weaselry and a film starring a fictitious ginger cat, a visit to Castle Howard has just become a matter of extreme urgency.

Sadly Oscar has forgotten one vital thing: mummy and daddy need to have a shower, because:

A) We’ve been vomited on several times in the night by Oscar’s milk-scoffing baby brother, Morten, who does that kind of thing because he’s only four months old, and...

B) If we’re going to be in Caravan magazine we want to avoid looking too much like a pair of tramps.

Clean up and clear off

The Coachman’s shower is impressive because, well, I can actually fit in it without having to do that Hunchback of Notre Dame manoeuvre required in some caravans. At a crushingly average 5ft 11, I can stand up in this shower like the one in my house – a small but important detail that can make staying in a caravan just that bit more pleasurable.

A forceful jet of water from the showerhead makes me feel that this Coachman is packing some pretty decent plumbing equipment, though I’m not getting too excited: my fairly limited experience of caravanning has taught me to get in and out of showers as quickly as possible – none of this taking your time nonsense and lengthily rinsing your hair as if you’re in a Timotei advert.

Sure enough, the water goes cold after about two minutes, which isn’t bad seeing as missus Alex went in first and reported a “lovely hot shower, thanks very much.” Next time we’ll turn the water heater on more than 15 minutes in advance. Amateurs!

Caravan magazine goes on tour in the Coachman Vision 580/5


On the move, outfit and all

Once we’re ready, I unplug the power cable and full Aquaroll and leave them neatly by the EHU post, then reverse the Tiguan into hitching position. I forgot to mention that we’re taking the Coachman with us for the day – all those pretty pictures of us driving round Castle Howard aren’t going to take themselves, are they?

As we all bundle in to the smart VW Tiguan, I set the sat-nav from our campsite at Flamingo Land to Castle Howard – two slightly different sounding destinations if ever there were any. Once arrived, we started with the quaint courtyard, its farm shop and little café. Here’s a good tip for you: try the café for lunch. Because the yard is sheltered from the wind it’s possible to sit outside on a crisp winter’s day without developing hypothermia, and the food is really good!

Great Lake, great views and a great time

The main house is positioned with incredible vistas across formal gardens and beautiful parkland, down to the Great Lake and beyond to the North Yorkshire Moors. Inside the house there are lots of exhibitions about things like Castle Howard during the war and how they renovated the rooms for the filming of Brideshead Revisited, with plenty of experts on hand to tell you interesting facts. 

It’s all pretty decent value too: high season is broadly from April to December, when it’s £14 per adult to get into the house and grounds or £9.50 for just the grounds; from December to April the house is closed and it’s just £6 to amble around the grounds.

From road to rails?

With Oscar excited, Morten finally asleep (at last – see the Facebook gallery) and Alex counting down the hours until it’s wine o’clock, we move on and I tap ‘North Yorkshire Moors Railway’ into the Tiguan’s sat-nav (it’s so easy to use that even I can do it).

Pickering is only 15 miles away from Castle Howard so it’s not long until we’re there, and a bit of pre-trip internet foraging means I’m well aware that this railway line runs between Pickering and Whitby, and takes about an hour and a half each way. The good and bad news for our wallet is that children under five are free, but an adult ticket allowing unlimited travel for the day between Pickering and Grosmont is £24. It’s obviously quite steep, so you’ve got to be really committed.

On this occasion, we decide against it so I spend my time reminiscing of previous train journeys, chilly weather and a Rick Stein-recommended chippy in Whitby. The last train of the day has huffed its way past, and we all agree that it’s time to get the Coachman back to its pitch, get the heating on and have a nice warming cup of tea.

Coachman's Vision 580/5 caravan on-siteBack 'home' for a surprise on site

The gloomy onset of winter means it’s already dark by the time we get back to Flamingo Land, and we wearily slide past the now-silent rollercoasters towards the caravan park. I’d temporarily forgotten I had to reverse into the pitch, but it goes surprisingly smoothly and I inwardly congratulate myself on the fact that I’m getting the hang of this caravanning malarkey.

I get out, unhitch and level the caravan. Next on the list: get the electricity plugged in so we can have some heating and sort the aquaroll.  I go to set everything up, and that’s when it dawns on me.
I definitely left it here. Right here...
Don’t tell me someone’s nicked our power cable and Aquaroll!
 

Tell us what you think!
 

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