14/05/2019
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Our Vans: Bailey Pegasus Grande Messina

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Caravan Test Editor, Val Chapman, has a new long-term test van, the Bailey Pegasus Grande Messina

Exploding tonic water, a greedy heating system — and a ‘charging table’; our Messina’s first weeks with us reveal tips to pass on and lots to like.

Two-room caravans work!

Within minutes of taking over the Messina we had taken the freezer section out of the fridge and stowed it under the bed. That’s not just about maximising on food storage space. It’s about the quantity of our orange juice and grapefruit juice, in litre bottles, that we always have in our fridges.

And anyway, we’re not great fans of frozen food. It’s great that Dometic’s 145-litre fridge gives you that option, we decide.

Our coffee machine (that’s just as important as the fruit juices) is installed on the G-shaped lounge’s two-person table. That’s a compromise; we’re missing the extension to the kitchen in our previous long-term-test Barcelona, where our coffee machine was happily out of the way.

We find an unconventional hideaway for the packets of Tassimo coffee that feed our love of coffee machine coffee — in the slim cabinet aft of the kitchen, along with the free-standing table. This cabinet isn’t meant for coffee –or anything else except a table. But we find the space alongside the table is the perfect dimension for the coffee packets.

Lessons in refrigeration

After a few days we learn a lesson — a tip to pass on to owners of caravans with removable freezer compartments: turn the fridge down low if you are going to take out the freezer box, otherwise the fruit juice and anything else in there will begin to freeze! Our cauliflower imitated an iceberg, a big tomato froze completely and a bottle of delicious aromatic tonic water exploded, sending iced, pink tonic water all over the fridge…

But if this sounds like a list of carpings, it’s not. These things underline the versatility of the Messina. And immediately we find we love the idea of a separate bedroom, with its solid sliding door. If we don’t have time to make the bed, we just close the door on the untidiness.

Pegasus Grande heating

We had wondered how we’d get on swapping an Alde-heated caravan (the Unicorn Barcelona) for one which relies on warmed air being pushed out through four outlets — two in the lounge, one in the bedroom and one in the washroom.

After all, Alde’s even-heating system spoils you — and we’ve heard it a thousand times that, once people get Alde heating they don’t want anything else. Well, our initial experiences were not good — and it was all our fault.

We know that the Truma Combi system is designed to auto-select gas or electricity — and it did.

What we didn’t know is that, each time you turn off the 12-volt main switch, the Truma heating system loses any settings you may have put into the control panel. That includes selection of EL2 (for mains power), rather than ‘MIX’, which allows the system to help itself to gas when it needs to do that in the interest of maximum efficiency.

In the cold days of spring the system decided it needed gas — and hence we used up three cylinders of gas in five days before we realised what we were doing wrong. Costly, yes, at £23 per refill.

The inconvenience of buying refills proved to be a challenge, given our work-oriented lifestyle which means we can only get to caravan dealerships at weekends… Which means we were not cooking on gas — but on the hotplate and in the microwave. Actually, it proved to be easy to juggle two pans, one after the other on the hotplate, until the contents of each were cooked.

Clearing the electronic clutter

And all the time we love the big G-shaped lounge — and the amount of floor space in the central washroom.

We’ve decided we like living in half a caravan and going to bed in the other half. Many models have this layout in various forms. It’s not until you ‘live’ in the concept that you truly appreciate it. Take it from us — it works well.

The more time we spend in the Messina we find more things to like. Another example of Messina excellence is what we have called “the charging table” in the bedroom. It’s on the offside forward end of the bedroom. It provides plenty of space for two iPads and a couple of phones.

The table is intended to be for a television (connections are here) but our Avtex TV sits conveniently on a shelf by the door, facing the lounge. We’ve never been bedtime TV watchers so, for us, the bedroom table finds a much better use.

So, after a couple of Messina months, all is definitely good — and we’re looking forward to spending more quality time in it as the weather gets hotter (hopefully!).

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