The Bailey Unicorn Barcelona: Why it works so well
The Bailey Unicorn Barcelona is the only twin-axle, Alde-heated, side-bed, rear washroom caravan on the market. It has a big fridge and a big kitchen.
Val Chapman comes to the end of a year living in a Barcelona and explains why it works so well.
Caravan's long-term-test Bailey, the Unicorn Barcelona, is coming to the end of its stay with us. In its place, Bailey is keen for us to put the new eight-foot-wide Pegasus Grande Messina through our long-term test paces; it's arriving with us in March — so, watch this space!
We've heaped praise on the Barcelona's large kitchen with its ample storage and its 190-litre fridge (we're not the only ones — Caravan chef Monica Rivron has used the Barcelona's kitchen many times for her recipe series and is quick to sing its praises.)
We love the open-plan layout; this is now the only twin-axle, Alde-heated, side-bed, rear washroom caravan on the market. The on-trend island bed layouts have all-but swept aside the Barcelona's layout.
And we love the Barcelona's towing characteristics; it and our SsangYong Rexton make a super team.
Why it's the best Barcelona by far on the road
The Mediterranean weather that marked out our Barcelona year as one of the best; one that has, without doubt, boosted caravanning in Britain. It was during the hottest part of the year that we took the Barcelona to our favourite place in Cornwall, Pentewan Sands Holiday Park.
Three firsts marked the trip.
- It was the first time we'd towed a long distance with our new SsangYong Rexton (our second) and, although we'd had our long-term-test Barcelona for some months,
- this was its first trip to the sunny south-west. And the third first?
- That was about who did the towing. My first day of holiday turned into a day of emails and phone calls; just as well, then, that our son Richard has the B+E licence qualification — and enjoys towing.
Early on in the four-hour tow from our base in Lincolnshire to Somerset to join friends for dinner en route, Richard was drawing my attention to the Barcelona's exemplary towing characteristics and was doing his best to distract my attention from my email activity with comments like:
"So smooth", "So responsive" and, after many miles of A45 and eventually on the M5: "This is the best Barcelona by far on the road."
That got my attention.
What's so good about the Series Four Barcelona?
Our experience of Barcelonas goes back to the first model, unveiled in 2011 (which we still own) and we've towed, extensively, all three successive Barcelonas since then. The current model is the Series Four Barcelona.
It has a different layout to its predecessors although it retains the fixed bed the defining feature of the model since the launch of the first Barcelona.
Bailey's designers have managed, by factors including furniture placing in the interests of optimum weight distribution, to improve what was already a good road-manners caravan.
Whenever road conditions would allow, Richard maintained a steady 60, slicing through traffic smoothly and deftly and leaving lesser outfits behind (sorry!).
"It's well-balanced," he interjects as he pushes it into another overtake, and I am yet again interrupted from my laptop-passenger seat workplace.
Our stay at Dulhorn Farm Holiday Park
I had discovered Dulhorn Farm Holiday Park in the course of work with our Premier Parks group and since then we've overnighted here en route to Cornwall many times.
This time we stayed for two nights in as perfect weather as one could imagine.
We discovered that this year, this splendid, spacious farm site at Lympsham, near Burnham-on-Sea, has more hardstandings than previously, in a field called Mendip View, with a backcloth of one of Somerset's highest hills, the famous Brent Knoll. That's the location of our pitch.
We make the most of our time here. My husband, John, and I follow the signed farm walk, through a shady glade, around field edges, taking us close to the farm's two herds of beef cattle and within sight of the farm's magnificent Charolais bull. Staying on a working farm is a delight.
Journey advice: The route to Cornwall
We bowl along the M5 smoothly the following morning, Richard at the wheel again. "No, you can't tow it today. I enjoy towing this rig too much to share it," he firmly states.
We reach the A30, between Exeter and Bodmin, and we appreciate the newly-completed dual carriageway section of this backbone of Bodmin Moor, previously famous for traffic queues where two lanes went into one. Towing to Cornwall has become a lot easier.
I'm typing these notes into my iPad as Richard pilots the Rexton-Barcelona combination over Bodmin in gorgeous sunshine (rare for this high land often mist-shrouded) and in no time we see the left turn for St Austell — and the sea.
The pace slackens and it's not long before we get our first view of the sea.
All about Pentewan Sands Holiday Park
Our first glimpse is of Pentewan Bay. The coastline is spread out like a map from our high vantage point as we tow down the hill on the last open stretch of road. For a second we could be approaching the Mediterranean, such is the intensity of blue of sea and sky.
A Bailey Ranger 620 towed by a Range Rover overtakes us on this stretch. No caravan had overtaken us since we left Lincolnshire. I catch Richard's surprise and, for a second, it appears things might get competitive. But Richard sees sense and doesn't join the Range Rover-Ranger outfit at 70mph. It disappears into the distance.
Then, as we near St Austell, we see the same outfit two vehicles ahead at traffic lights. Seventy didn't gain him much, we remark. In a few minutes, we pull into Pentewan Sands — behind the same Ranger 620.
The occupants of the Range Rover aren't quick to get out of the car to check in. Competitive Richard sprints to the office, checks in and gets back to the Rexton before the holidaymakers ahead in the Range Rover are out of their car.
We're through the barrier onto the park before them consequently.
"There's no justification for exceeding 60mph," Richard quips superciliously as he swings the outfit onto the park.
Palm trees, flowers and, beyond, a tantalising glimpse of the blue sea is our vista — and we are instantly in holiday mode.
More journey advice: Cornish lanes!
This journey, from the M5 to Pentewan Sands Holiday Park, must rate as one of the easiest to a caravan park in Cornwall, the county famous for its narrow lanes.
The only potential challenge is a half-mile narrow stretch a mile from Pentewan, where rocks and foliage threaten the caravan sides of the unwary.
Using a Lock'n'Level
We have a pitch on the fringe of the sand and there's only one task apart from unhitching. We are in possession of Lock'n'Level's system for lateral levelling and attaching the second AL-KO Secure wheel lock to a twin-axle caravan. No lateral levelling is necessary on this pitch, so we only need the twin airbags and our tyre pump.
In just a few minutes we have the first lock on and the second wheel off the ground just enough to rotate it to fit the second lock. It's a fabulously simple system which we loved when we tested it in Lincolnshire and now it's actually in use.
A device designed by two caravanning friends who saw a need to overcome a problem and invested in developing a device that, in our opinion, is indispensable equipment for all twin-axle caravan owners, just because it does away at the need for jacking the caravan to fit the second wheel lock.
Amid Mediterranean weather, for two weeks we get a reminder that we are still in England with the arrival of a wind that whips up the waves in Pentewan Bay and brings an unexpected spectacle on one day.
A kite surfer of considerable expertise gives us a demonstration of his skill and our beachside pitch affords a perfect vantage point. Again and again, he leaps above the water and then lands perfectly.
The high-wind interlude reminds us of the Mistral that bends the oleanders of the shores in the south of France and, indeed, in the Barcelona area of Spain — and then quickly abates, as it does in Cornwall on this day, and Pentewan returns to its imitation of more southerly climes.
Our Verdict on the Bailey Unicorn Barcelona
Our 'Year in (the) Barcelona', some of it in Mediterranean weather and some of it cocooned in Alde-heated luxury, has been awesomely enjoyable.
The Bailey Unicorn Barcelona has been our office, our photo shoot base, our accessory review base, our cosy home-from-home and, yes, also our holiday accommodation.
This lone bastion of the side-bed, rear washroom layout works well, and we can't praise it highly enough.
Find out more about the Bailey Unicorn Barcelona in our video review below!